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Dublin: 12°C Monday 23 May 2022

Money Diaries: A development chemist on €63K living in Cork City

This week, our reader is working hard in Cork and enjoying a bit of socialising while paying back his Mam.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on The Journal that looks at how people in Ireland really handle their finances.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, what they save if anything, and what they’re spending their money on over the course of one week.

Are you a spender, a saver or a splurger? We’re looking for readers who will keep a money diary for a week. If you’re interested send a mail to money@thejournal.ie. We would love to hear from you.

Each money diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that their situation will not be relatable for everyone, it is simply an account of a week in their shoes, so let’s be kind.

Last time around, we heard from a senior software engineering manager on €233K living in Kerry. This week, a development chemist on €63K living in Cork City.


I’m a 33-year-old currently living in Cork City, working in pharmaceuticals. I have my own house which I bought in 2018. I bought the house with my girlfriend at the time but things didn’t work out shortly after. I kept the house and sorted her out for her share, taking a hit on the savings. It was pretty stressful at the time but that’s life, we move on.

I had thought of getting in a tenant to help with the financial aspect of the whole thing, but then Covid happened and it was just a no go at that stage. I live relatively close to home and all my mates, so it’s grand.

I work a 40-hour week, 9-to-5, Monday to Friday. I’m not saving for anything in particular, but the Bank of Mam needs re-paying as a result of the house so I throw some into a separate savings account at the end of the month. There’s no structure on this, just whatever I can afford.

Occupation: Development chemist
Age: 33
Location: Cork City
Salary: €63,000
Monthly pay (net): Around €3,200
Shares: Company shares, 4% per month.
Pension: 6% share, employer pays 12%

Monthly expenses

Transport: Around €50 diesel would typically do me for a week and a half
Health Insurance: Covered by company
Mortgage: €905
Savings: €300 comes out automatically monthly from my current account to my savings account. Usually put in another bit each month on payday. Revolut spare change x3 vault set up. Around €1,300 in it at the moment, that will take care of the car insurance in February
Phone bill: €50 monthly
Electricity bill: Varies every time – I recently switched providers and they offered a credit cashback system, so for the last two bills, I haven’t paid anything – it’s coming off the credit – so lucky there
TV/Internet: €79 Virgin Media
Groceries: €60-€70 weekly 
Social club: €7 out of my wages
Subscriptions: €17 – I pay for the account, family use it. I use my brother’s Amazon Prime, so it balances out



7.10 am: Alarm goes off. I’m usually trained at this stage to snooze once and get up after. Probably not the best thing to do, but I’m used to it. Up, shower, brush teeth and down to the kitchen in 20 minutes. Pack up the breakfast and lunch that I prepared last night. Brekkie today is grapes and berries in natural yoghurt. I added a few crushed peanuts in there too, dry roasted. Yes, peanuts. I’m not weird, you’re weird. Fight me! Lunch is Mam’s oxtail soup and brown bread that she made and gave me yesterday.

7.50 am: I head off and I’m on the road for just before 8 am.

9.00 am: Usual Monday morning routine – skim through emails, decide which ones I want to prioritise depending on how nice they seem to me. Pick my few and get ready for brekkie. Quick message to one of my mates and I join him in the canteen.

10.00 am: Back to my desk. Send a few emails, answer a few questions, read the weekly Money Diary on The Journal. I have a project meeting at noon, so I do a bit of prep for that.

2.00 pm: Late lunch today, the meeting went over… by a lot. Belly was rumbling even halfway through. Go for lunch with the same buddy. We don’t work together or even have
the same job, so when we meet twice a day, the chat is definitely non-work related. Refreshing.

3.00 pm: Finish off a bit of work and prep for tomorrow for the rest of the day.

5.00 pm: Time to head away home.

7.00 pm: Only home. A road traffic issue jammed up the whole city, so it took me two hours to get home, on a Monday like! It’s amazing how traffic issue going through the tunnel screws up an entire city. Get home, sort out dinner, which is chicken curry. I also have plenty for lunch for the next two days – job done!

9.00 pm: During lockdown, I bought a surprise box of random books online. Nearly 100 came, so since then, I’ve been reading about two books a month. I actually love it. I’m on ‘The Good Soldiers’ war book. I’m all over it!

11.00 pm: Book down, alarm on, lights out!

Today’s total: €0.00


7.30 am: Morning routine, see above. Brekkie again is fruit, nuts and yoghurt. Lunch is curry from last night. Stop on the way to work for €50 diesel.

9.00 am: Go straight for brekkie with my mate. I’ve a bit of lab work to do for a big project due before Christmas that my boss has put me on. He has given me free reign on this so I’m all over it. It’s a pretty great situation, to be honest, he trusts me to do my job and I trust him to leave me alone. Ideal!

1.00 pm: Decide to go for a run at lunchtime. It’s a lovely crisp cold day, so I put the layers and the manky luminous runners I got as a gift on and I’m off! Shower, lunch, back to work.

6.00 pm: Finish work a little later because I went for a run. I’m giving blood today so straight to St Finbarr’s Hospital. It’s my 18th donation, only a few more until I get a pin. I always treat myself after donating so I stop in Douglas on the way home and queue for KC’s. If you’re from Cork and you’ve not been, shame on you! Not a plug, other chippers are available, but still… shame on you! (€11)

7.00 pm: Home, gorge, feel sad for my jeans. Prep tomorrow’s food.

8.00 pm: I’m recently on the Succession bandwagon and playing catch-up. Currently on season two, episode seven. It’s actually a banger. Few episodes for tonight’s entertainment.

11.00 pm: Up to bed, scroll for about half an hour and then lights out.

Today’s total: €61.00


7.30 am: Fast forward past the morning routine. Brekkie is just a few slices of Mam’s bread, butter and jam. I’m a simple man. Lunch is the end of the curry.

8.30 am: Straight into the lab, a good hour’s work before I get hungry. Off to the canteen. Decided I’d get a coffee and a bowl of porridge with cinnamon. Coffee is free which is handy and I’m delighted as I don’t avail of it that often, I don’t need coffee, like. Porridge is €1. Finish up and back to the lab.

1.00 pm: I hate when people organise meetings for my lunch break. Can’t concentrate when I’m hungry. As my auld lad used to say, “an empty sack won’t stand”!

2.30 pm: Lunch on my own because the meeting went over. I was Marvin, no buddy today. Earbuds in and a podcast on. It’s ‘Off Menu’ by Ed Gamble and James Acaster.
Fantasy restaurant with menus of their guests’ choice. Great listen.

5.00 pm: Finish up at work and go straight over to Mam’s. She is doing dinner tonight which is ideal. She does lasagne and wedges – get in my belly!

7.00 pm: Home, a quick shower and straight to the bus stop. A previously topped up Leap card gets me in. Meeting a couple of mates for a few pints tonight. Head into town and we do two rounds each (Revolut says €29). Six fast Covid pints.

11.00 pm: Got the bus home, actually feeling pretty ok. I don’t trust it though, down about two pints of water and a sneaky paracetamol and lights out. Pray for Mojo.

Today’s total: €30.00


7.30 am: Alarm goes off. And again. And then for a third time. Finally, get out of bed at 8.10 am. I’m not hungover or anything, but I’m definitely wrecked. Shower, brush teeth, go. Also didn’t do a shop yesterday because I had a lip for pints, so canteen brekkie
will have to do. I have astro after work so gear into the bag and I’m off. Stop at the garage for a coffee to wake me up and a bottle of water. (€4)

9.00 am: Straight to the canteen for a bowl of porridge with blueberries and a cup of tea (€1 – tea is also free). Plenty of meetings this morning, watch reminds me of not too many steps done and to get up and have a walk – fine. Give my update at the meeting and go stretch the legs.

1.00 pm: Lunch – beef, veg, poppies and gravy. Sup a cup of tea to wash it all down. I’m cured! (€4)

2.00 pm: Back in the lab for the afternoon, finally getting some decent results so it’s all good.

5.00 pm: Leave work and go straight to the pitch for a 6pm run out. A competitive game ended on one step penalties. Glad I’m not a keeper on these cold nights. Nice to get a run out. Glad it’s back after Covid, a game of ball with your mates is always enjoyable. (€7)

7.30 pm: Back home, quick shower and then off to Tesco for a bit of a shop. Nothing major, weekend is the main shop. Dropped €28 on a few bits.

8.00 pm: Had a dinner today at work so I’ll have a bowl of Cheerios as a treat. Cup of tea and a few bickies after. Read for an hour followed by an episode of Succession. After that, I go online and do a bit of Christmas shopping. Mam, brothers and sister told me what they’d like, dream stuff! Dropped some grade on them and then some on myself. (€215 and €193, respectively.)

11.30 pm: Pretty chuffed with myself after that. Lights out.

Today’s total: €452


8.00 am: I’m working from home, so no commute today. Get up at the same time though and go out for a morning run. Spotify in my ears and off I go.

9.00 am: Back home and a shower just in time to log on. Nothing but documentation and meetings today so stayed at home. Brekkie is poached eggs and some proper ham I got in Tesco and a cup of tea. Treat yourself.

1.00 pm: Powered on for the morning. Full document drafted and two quick meetings in the bag. I can really see the benefit of working from home for a lot of people, but sadly I haven’t got a lab in my shed!

4.00 pm: Dinner prep while I’m on a call from the boss. Taking notes and chopping veg, who says men can’t multitask? Stir fry tonight.

6.00 pm: Tinder date tonight, so necessary shower, shave and ironing done. Starting in her favourite pub in town (I’m a gent). Bus and Leap card gets me in. We end up going to a few pubs, I buy the first few, she demands to buy the last. Fair enough, independent woman and all that, who am I to argue? Still find it strange to show an app on your phone to get a pint, but such is current life.

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12.00 am: Date went well. Taxi home. Nuff said. (€88 for drinks and taxi)

Today’s total: €88


10.00 am: Meet one of my mates for breakfast in a new cafe that’s opened up near us. I get pancakes and a cappuccino and we go halves (€16). I head to Tesco and do the weekly shop plus a few other Christmas bits (a bottle of whiskey, just in case). Total ends up at €94.

1.00 pm: Pop out home to say hi to Mam. End up having to bring her to town to pick up a present for one of her friends. Treat her to a hot port from street sellers and I have a hot whiskey, €9 well spent.

3.00 pm: Back to the house. Chill for a while, read a chapter of my war book before meeting two of the lads for a match down the Park. Bus in, Leap card again.

7.00 pm: Match over, good game. It’s nice to see live sport again. My first time since this global blockbuster aired first. End up staying in town and going for a few pints… just cos! Hit up the Christmas market. Agreed to play a round of golf on Sunday morning with
my brother so I only have four pints with a burger from the street sellers. Total including match entry comes to €38.

11.00 pm: I head home and pick out my clothes for the morning before I have a quick shower. Lights out!

Today’s total: €157


8.00 am: Up early. Brekkie is a bowl of Cheerios and some orange juice. I pack up the clubs and go pick up my brother and head to the course for a 9.30 tee time. There’s a competition on that we didn’t know about, so we’re charged the fee. We’re members so it’s only a small fee. Brother pays, I’m already up. Loser buys lunch.

1.00 pm: Free round of golf and now a free lunch! Yes boy! Lunch is a roast lamb with all the trimmings and a pint of Guinness. Can’t bate it. 

4.00 pm: Date night again. We go for a few drinks and go to St Luke’s for a bit of a live performance. I pay (€65). End up having an evening stroll out by the castle. I hope she knows I missed Redzone for this! Taxi home, she pays.

Today’s total: €65

Weekly subtotal: €853


What I learned -

  • I know myself I’m pretty good during the week. I tend to keep my spending pretty low and then go and enjoy myself on the weekend. I tend to put away half of what I don’t spend at the end of the month, Some goes into a savings account and the rest goes into the Mam pay back one.
  • You don’t really know how much you spend on a week when not taking any notice. Revolut is very handy for remembering what you spend your money on, especially the small spends.
  • Spends like weekend street stalls are obviously not planned but we were stuck in the house for long enough, we definitely deserve a little treat from time to time.
  • If I carry on the way I am (minus the big buys) Bank of Mam will be paid back quicker than I had expected.
  • Women are expensive, man!

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