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Money Diaries: A senior software engineering manager on €233K living in Kerry

This week, our reader juggles remote working and family life, while keeping things simple and saving to buy a house.

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 31-year-old performance marketing manager on $90K living in Toronto, Canada. This week, a software engineer living in Kerry.

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I am a senior software engineering manager working in the tech sector based in Kerry, and have lived in Ireland for the past 14 years (I am originally from the Netherlands). I moved to Ireland in 2007 for work, and really enjoy living here; the friendly people, the beautiful countryside, and the more relaxed pace of life.

I have lived in Kerry for the past six years, and prior to that, worked in Dublin. It was a big decision to move to Dublin, but I have been lucky that I can continue my work remotely and have not had to go to the office since 2015.

I moved out of Dublin due to the city getting very expensive, and preferring a quieter life in the country. I was lucky that my employer is happy for me to work anywhere in Ireland. I have been very lucky and thankful to have a strong career in Ireland, due to the tech sector (I started on €22,000/year back in 2007, and was able to build my career here.) I love what I do and enjoy the work and the problem solving. The hours can be very long at times with a lot of pressure, but I am very lucky and blessed to work in a field I love.

I am the sole provider in my family. I am married with three children, and when I am not working, I love to spend time with my family, enjoying the nature and beauty of Kerry and Ireland, and being in my local area. I was planning to buy a house a few years ago, but Covid-19 and personal circumstances made that tough, so I am considering my options and looking to save to purchase a house somewhere on the West Coast, or I might consider moving back to the Netherlands and buying a house back in Leiden, where I was raised.

Occupation: Senior software engineering manager
Age: 38
Location: Kerry
Salary: € 233,000-year total compensation (€160k base, 20k bonus, 53k stocks) – I invest my stocks every year and my bonus is paid at the end of the year. Both stocks/bonus are guaranteed
Monthly pay (net): Around €7,500 with marriage allowance. Approx. €400/month goes to my company pension – they contribute the same as my amount

Monthly expenses

Transport: WFH permanently so this is quite low. We have a car which costs approx €250 a month for insurance, fuel, etc.
Rent: €1,000 (three bed in Kerry)
Household bills: €150 for gas/electric, €30 for bins, €160 for TV/broadband
Phone bill: €60 for two phone contracts
Health insurance: Covered by work
Groceries: Around €400
Subscriptions: Netflix – €10, Amazon Prime – €8
Charity: Around €450 (several charities inc. Local hospices, homelessness charities). Mixture of direct debits and one-off payments, and I am hoping to increase how much I give going forward.
Savings: Approx. €4,400, which I put into a shared savings account with my wife. We are planning to buy a house sometime next year; we have a good amount saved, but due to market uncertainty, not sure what/when we should purchase, so looking into what works best for the family. The money remaining after bills and savings we leave in the bank account for emergencies etc.

***

Monday

7.30 am: I get up and make a strong coffee. My day has a lot of meetings in the late afternoon so will take it easier in the morning. Put the radio on and listen to some music and news and have a quick shower.

8.30 am: Start the morning checking my emails and my calendar. A couple of issues and coding to work on which took place over the weekend.

11.30 am: Time for a quick break, so I make a tea. Afterwards, since the weather is dry, I take the kids for a quick walk.

12.15 pm: Back to work and have some documentation to complete before the afternoon starts.

1.00 pm: Lunchtime – I have a cheese sandwich with crisps.

1.30 pm: Few meetings and some additional coding to work on for the rest of my day.

6.30 pm: Finish work and help do the hoovering and cleaning up.

7.15 pm: Put the kids to bed.

8.00 pm: Dinnertime and it is fajitas, made all the better with some great spicy dips.

9.00 pm: Watch some Netflix and Sky Sports after we finish eating.

11.30 pm: Time for bed.

Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

7.45 am: Wake up and drink some coffee and water. Have a shower and start the day for work.

9.00 am: A few morning meetings and code to work on.

12.00 pm: Get a good amount of work done and have a quick break to chat with my wife. Have a juice and some pastries.

12.30 pm: A few escalations to resolve before going for lunch.

1.30 pm: Leftover chicken from last night’s fajita with some white bread for lunch and a Coke.

2.00 pm: Time to fill the car with petrol. I get 30l for €51 – the price of fuel is really going up.

2.30 pm: Back to work and several meetings and work to get through.

7.00 pm: Just finished up and been a busy day.

7.30 pm: Read some books to the kids and help get them to sleep.

8.00 pm: It is my brother’s birthday next week so I buy him some PSV Eindhoven tops and clothing (we both support PSV). Should get to him a day before his birthday. €120. I am old enough to remember when Ronaldo played for PSV and we knew in the Netherlands he would be a true superstar. For those who follow football, I admire Messi and Ronaldo, but Johan Cryuff for me is the GOAT (what he did for club and country, and also as a manager at Barca).

8.30 pm: Watch some TV and Netflix.

11.00 pm: Time for bed.

Today’s total: €171.00

Wednesday

7.15 am: The alarm goes off and I have a shower and make myself a strong coffee; I listen to the radio (both Irish and Dutch on the phone), and it is a nice start to the day. My kids wake up 20 minutes after me and start playing with their toys: I see that the sun is shining, albeit cold which is great to see for December!

8.00 am: Go to the spare room and start my day working; a few issues from last night including a software vulnerability and so I get to work. I listen to some music while coding which I find very relaxing, it helps me to concentrate.

11.00 am: Take a break as the work is heavy going, and eat some crisps with orange juice. Get to talk to my wife about plans today, and I have to go to the garage and go to get some shopping. I get to spend 10-15 mins playing with the kids which is one of the great perks of remote working; I get to see and spend time with my kids and wife a lot more since I started WFH.

11.30 am: Back to work and working to process the incidents; I need to loop in a few teams and solve some issues; spend a bit of time coding and have a quick chat with my colleagues over Zoom on how we can share the work.

12.45 pm:  Time for lunch; not feeling hungry, but my wife has made a very tasty soup, and we enjoy it with some bread.

1.15 pm: Off to Lidl to get some groceries, so take the car and get some basics. I love Lidl, I really like Aldi too, but find the bakery at Lidl really good and get myself some fresh croissants and bakery goods with my shop. Overall the cost is €34.75 for a good load of shopping.

2.00 pm: Back home and drop the shopping; back to work! Several meetings and work to get through.

6.15 pm: Finish the day after several meetings and work. Was a pretty hectic day and fair few incidents but feeling good as the team were able to work and resolve most of the issues.

7.00 pm: Very tasty chicken and potatoes dinner with the family.

7.30 pm:  Time to play with the kids, and read some books with them – they really like Mr Men books these days so we have a few which we read and enjoy together.

8.30 pm: We get the kids to bed, and we decide to watch some series on Sky and Netflix.

11.00 pm: Read a little and off to bed.

 Today’s total: €34.75

Thursday

7.15 am: Awake and make myself a coffee and listen to the radio; my wife and kids are having a lie-in; I chat with my Mum and she is doing well, and looking forward to visiting me at the end of the month. She loves Kerry and Ireland a lot, and we chat about our plans. She wants to go to Connemara too, so I look into some places for us to visit; Connemara National Park is a place I have not been to for some time, so we plan on going when she comes over.

8.15 am: Check my schedule for the day and it is thankfully looking to be a quieter day; I spend some time with the family.

9.15 am: Start working and have some morning meetings with my team; we allocate the work schedule and chat about our holiday plans. I have some time off at the end of the month and looking forward to that.

10.30 am: Two hours for some coding and testing work.

12.30 pm: Time for lunch and enjoy the chicken and rice dish. Have some croissants and doughnuts from the shop yesterday, so we have that too.

1.00 pm: Speak to my Mum and Dad, who are looking forward to visiting. I try to offer to buy their tickets but said they are happy to pay for themselves, despite offering a few times. I chat with my wife and agree to buy them some stuff when they arrive instead; my parents love seeing pictures of the kids, so we agree to get some pictures printed of the kids with some nice frames. We get these done online and should arrive by the end of the week; it is a decent price, and we get the photos and frames for €32.

1.45 pm: Back to work and have just two meetings for the afternoon and evening; it gives me some time to do some coding and work.

4.00 pm: Wife texts me that she is trying to get the kids to nap, so best not to enter the kitchen/living room. I take a break and read Sally Rooney; I really like her writing style, and find her to be a fantastic author. I also read some literature in The Stinging Fly, which has some great poetry and literature. Reading is a big passion for me, and enjoy the hour of reading.

5.00 pm: Get a text from a neighbour on my street that she is having laptop issues, and if I can help; I invite her to the house so that I can help fix it.

6.00 pm: Have a few emails and admin work to process before the end of the day at work; has been a decent day with no major issues or emergencies.

6.30 pm: Finish up for the day and help my wife with the dinner – I love chips, so we peel some potatoes (got some Golden Wonder potatoes from Lidl which is great as they are nice and floury for chips) and have some fish fingers from the freezer too.

7.00 pm: Our neighbour from down the street comes; she is very happy to eat fish fingers and chips with the family, and really enjoys the food (we had some nice sauces too to make the sandwiches extra tasty). We have some bread so we make some nice chip and fish finger sandwiches. This is the food I basically ate all the time when I was a student in St Andrews doing my postgrad in Scotland and when I was single, and it is amongst my favourite food to eat. The kids are really excited to play with our neighbour so she plays with them while I look at her laptop. Simple fix, a couple of fixes to her admin rights and remove some problematic programmes, and test. The laptop has been fixed and I advise her on a few things to keep it running well. We have a nice chat about local events and share our sadness on how many businesses are struggling during the pandemic. Our local area has been hit very hard, and it is sad that they don’t seem to be getting the help from Government they need. We have a nice chat and she wishes us a good night.

9.00 pm: Kids are in a good mood and go to sleep quicker than usual. Get pinged on a potential issue at work, but it only requires a small fix thankfully and get it resolved in 10 minutes.

9.30 pm: We watch the news on TV and share some crisps (love crisps, and we share some Thai Sweet Chilli from a big bag) and we have some leftover Ice Cream (Ben and Jerry’s Cone Together which is a great flavour).

11.15 pm: Time to sleep.

Today’s total: 32

Friday

8.00 am: I lie in as Friday is a quieter day at work; enjoy the extra sleep, have a shower, and make a coffee. Myself and wife make the breakfast for the kids, and we have a chat about our plans for the weekend.

9.15 am: Time for work and a few issues come up overnight; they are not too complex, so I am hoping we can resolve them pretty quickly. We have a quick chat and the team works out the root cause so we debug and afterwards have a nice chat. I am very lucky to work with some very gifted colleagues and learn so much from talking to them.

11.30 am: Quick break and grab some croissants and juice.

11.45 am: Have a couple of things to process before the end of the week; they take a bit longer than expected as the documentation needs some work in addition to tooling updates.

1.00 pm: Lunchtime and my wife has made some tasty mezze food; I really enjoy the hummus and warm bread. Friday’s are Fish and Chip day so we agree to get the food tonight around 7.30 pm.

1.45 pm: Back to work and have some pretty challenging code to work through so I block some time in the calendar and put some music on.

4.30 pm: Need to purchase some books for work and to improve my understanding of a new process, so I buy 2 books from Amazon for 25 Euros, delivery should be in a few days, which is great. I look at local bookshops first, but sadly they do not stock them. I try to purchase from local bookstores first, and if they do not have it, I buy from Amazon.

5.00 pm: A few meetings with colleagues from USA and a little work to process.

6.45 pm: Wrap up work. Call the chipper and order 2x Fish and Chips, 2x Cokes, and a medium Margherita with some dips. I love my local chipper, and have been going there every week for several years now. It comes to around €26, and I give €30 to the driver and tell him to keep the change.

7.15 pm: As always, the chipper is phenomenal and enjoy the food with the family; the kids love the chipper and take some of everything too.

7.45 pm: The kids want to watch a cartoon before bedtime; we choose Tom and Jerry which me and my wife both love too, and enjoy watching some cartoons before we put the kids to bed.

8.30 pm: Kids are off to bed and we watch some Netflix; watch The Killing and some other Scandinavian dark thrillers which are great TV.

11.30 pm: Time for sleep

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Today’s total: €55

Saturday

9.00 am: Happy it is the weekend and we spend the morning taking it easy and going for a walk, enjoying the beautiful countryside.

12.00 pm: We go to a local cafe and enjoy a nice lunch - €28.

2.00 pm: Back home and we tidy the house.

3.00 pm: Watch some football on the TV and spend time with the family.

7.00 pm: My brother texts me and is very thankful for the PSV gifts for his birthday which he received; we have a nice chat about football and how he is getting on. My brother got himself an Audi, and we chat about our love for German Cars (I drive a used German car too, and it is a great car and loved their ads when I was a kid- vorsprung durch technik and all :) My brother is a research scientist in the Netherlands, and he always teaches me some great things about the industry for metallurgy. He is busy at work, but I am planning to visit him in the Netherlands in a few months.

8.00 pm: We get the kids to sleep and time for dinner – a spicy tomato soup with bread which is really tasty on a cold Irish night.

9.00 pm: Feeling in a mood for board games, so I play Monopoly and Jenga with my wife; she wins Jenga very easily, and I get a tight win in Monopoly! It is the Irish version, so seeing the streets in Dublin brings back memories when I walked those streets back in the day :)

11.00 pm: Watch a little telly.

11.30 pm: Time for bed.

 Today’s total: €28

Sunday

9.30 am: Wake up after a lie-in, have a quick shower, and the family are already up; we have a nice breakfast together

10.30 am: Ring my parents and see how they are – they love to see the grandkids on the phone video and we talk about life.

11.30 am: Get pinged on a potential emergency at work, and I need some time to check it. After review, it needs some work with other teams (potential system attack), so I process my side, loop in the other teams, and will check later tonight if further help is needed.

1.00 pm: Lunchtime, and we have some scrambled eggs and salad.

2.00 pm: Online shopping and I and my wife decide to buy some new clothes for the kids; we buy some clothes from H&M, which has a great range and great price too. €45

3.00 pm: We go for a walk; getting cold so we have the winter clothes on

4.30 pm: Back home and the kids for a nap. Make a tea and have a chat about our plans for next week with my wife; she would like to go to Donegal next weekend, which I am looking forward to; Donegal is truly a beautiful county and I enjoy my trips there. We plan some stuff for the next week and they have some nice parks and all for the kids. I have a friend who lives in nearby Leitrim so we will give her a visit too.

6.00 pm: Watch some sport on the telly.

7.00 pm: Kids are up from their nap and we watch some cartoons (Looney Tunes).

8.30 pm: We get the kids to sleep and watch some Amazon Prime Video (Hanna); it is a great watch and Netflix (Cuckoo) is a great watch too.

11.30 pm: Time for bed.

 Today’s total: €45

Weekly subtotal: €365.75

***

What I learned –

  • I am very lucky and happy to have the job I do and to be able to do well in my career; I started at €22k/year when I came to Ireland, and by my nature, I do not like to waste money and think that has carried on to this day as I am very happy with simple things in life. I pay a lot of tax, and very happy to pay more really, if the Government invested in people, the areas in which they live, and provide better healthcare/education etc. which I feel should be better in Ireland, especially in rural areas. I am not a party political person (I do hold my own views but independent of political parties really), but I wish more investment was made in Ireland. I also feel tech companies should pay more tax.
  • I am not the most interested person in finance, but having some money in pensions and stocks/investments, with my bank savings, means I have options in case I have to move job/country etc.
  • I come from a working-class area in the Netherlands, and know how hard my parents worked to provide food and all for me and my family; I am looking into providing help for my parents whenever they want and have been able to help them with buying electrical goods and towards their car. They do not like to accept gifts and money from me, but they appreciate the thought. They are not looking to move soon, but will with my brother look to help them if they need help with a new home etc.
  • Cost of living in Ireland is going up, especially for heating etc., and I wish the Government would help those in need; I know in my local area this is a huge issue especially for older people and those struggling de to the pandemic. If anyone knows any charities etc. which do, please do comment and would love to help out. I always promised myself I would give more to charity when I earned more, and glad I am able to, hoping I can give more too.
  • I might move back to Netherlands in the long-term as I do miss my home country at times, but so far, I love living in Ireland; it is a truly beautiful country with friendly people.

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