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Money Diary: A 25-year-old primary school teacher on €38K living in Dublin

This week, our reader is eating out and enjoying the company of friends, as well as a weekend away.

TheJournal.ie reader

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 development chemist on €63K living in Cork City. This week, a 25-year-old primary school teacher on €38K living in Dublin.


I am a 25-year-old primary school teacher in my third year of teaching. I went to college in Dublin and have worked here since. I spent the first year and a half of my career living with my parents, as I did through college, before moving out with two friends from college to rent in Dublin during the pandemic. Doubling my commute and expenses by doing so, but the mental health benefits and freedom are worth the price (sometimes).

I have applied for a career break for the next school year so I’ve been trying to save for the last while to fund a few months in South America with my partner. This is proving difficult while paying rent and bills in Dublin on a teacher’s income, making me think I should have saved more during lockdowns rather than blowing it on a few weeks long summer holidays as soon as the opportunity came last summer.

I always knew that money wasn’t great in teaching, but when my close friends from school are earning twice as much money as me in their jobs, it’s quite frustrating. For the hours that go into the job, aside from the contractual 30, there’s no bonuses, incentives or even opportunity to work harder for more/performances appraisals/overtime. And before we go into the provisions teachers can do at Easter and summer, or taking on a part-time job some evenings/weekends, we fall into that unfortunate tax bracket that doesn’t make half a wage worth the hours, particularly if it’s going to impact our performance in the profession. If someone has a better alternative to teach and make more money, I’m all ears.

Some will tell you teaching is a vocation and those that do it and do it well, it’s out of kindness and sort of guilt to do good for the faces sitting in front of them, not the joy we get from planning and preparation in our “own” time.

Anyhow, this is a rough week of expenditure for me, possibly living out of my debt as I totalled up my expenses for the week.

Occupation: Primary school teacher
Age: 25
Location: Dublin
Salary: €38,225
Monthly pay (net): €2,371.90

Monthly expenses

Transport: €80 for petrol
Rent: €700
Car insurance: €650 paid in full January
Household bills: €60
Phone bill: €15
Gym: €25
Health insurance: €55
Groceries: €180
Subscriptions: Netflix €15.99, Spotify €7.99, Amazon prime €9.53.
Savings: €120 credit union, €300 into savings account. Swimming classes I teach €120
Approx expenses: €1,150


7.00 am: Get up and make a breakfast of eggs, turkey sausages and coffee.

10.20 am: Cooked four chicken fillets for lunches this week. Chop them up and put them into paninis with mixed leaves, mayo and cheese.

12.20 pm: Lunchtime. Popped my pre-made panini into the George Foreman in the staffroom and it’s good to go.

3.00 pm: Took a trip to the gym after school and came home for dinner. My housemate was cooking as she does Mondays so we had a garlic crispy chicken dish with rice.

5.00 pm: Sat in and watched a movie (The Gentlemen – 10/10) on Netflix, while tipping away at schoolwork on laptops again.

Today’s total: €0.00


7.00 am: More eggs, turkey sausages and coffee.

10.20 am: Another day, another lunch prepped for work using Sunday’s shop. Chicken fillet paninis again.

12.20 pm: Where would I be without the George Foreman?

3.00 pm: I took an irregular visit to the doctor because I found a lump (always check it out if you’re not sure). I have VHI cover which includes three free video consultations a year I think, but I knew this needed a physical exam so I went to my GP. €60 for peace of mind is a small price to pay. Nothing out of the ordinary – my doctor referred me for an ultrasound to confirm what he thinks and, all going well, it’s nothing to be worried about.

3.30 pm: Trip to the gym with a friend, finished off with 20 minutes on the Stairmaster because we have no intention of wanting to walk tomorrow.

6.30 pm: I cook a prawn fried rice dish for myself and my housemates using the goods from Sunday’s shop in Lidl, plus rice and spices that are always plentiful in the house.

8.00 pm: My girlfriend comes over for the evening and we watch This Way Up on Netflix – definitely recommend, some quality Irish acting. We have some dark chocolate and tea and go to bed. No school work this evening.

Today’s total: €60.00


7.00 am: Yep. Eggs, turkey sausage and coffee again.

10.20 am: More prepped lunches and snacks for school. Roast chicken paninis don’t get old.

12.20 pm: See earlier entry on what I have for lunch.

1.00 pm: I find out we got hit with an astronomical electricity bill of nearly €400 today because we didn’t realise our contract ran out. We ring and got a contract renewed to give us 30% off the bill. It’s still a lot more expensive than usual, but then again, we were home a lot during Christmas and isolating with Covid. (€89.13)

3.30 pm: After hanging back in school to get a few plans and resources ready, I teach a few swimming classes on Wednesday evenings to add to my savings.

5.00 pm: I get half an hour of gym in before teaching another swimming class.

7.30 pm: My housemate cooks a really good katsu curry for dinner and then it’s winddown time with some TV for me while they do some schoolwork.

9.30 pm: Off to bed – 25 never sounded so boring.

Today’s total: €89.13


7.00 am: Breakfast? You guessed it.

8.30 am: Spend €7.50 on Lotto tickets after a morning discussion with my housemate about how the €19 million must be won this Saturday. If you’re reading this, I probably didn’t win.

11.00 am: I had booked a hotel for myself and my partner over Christmas as a surprise. We had to reschedule for this weekend coming because of some earlier Covid outbreaks. The hotel charged my account today, the day before rent is due. . . (€180).

3.00 pm: After a short staff meeting I book in for a haircut after work given the weekend that’s in it. (€25)

6.00 pm: Myself and my two housemates decided to go to a restaurant in town for dinner. The restaurant tried to sit us at a sopping wet table with big holes in the gazebo so I said it to a different waitress passing and they gave us an €80 voucher when they saw me take a picture of the table (only to send to my friends to get a kick out of, the manager must have seen it in a different way). The meal comes to €82 and we leave €8 tip. I send on my housemate €2.30 for the €10 she added to the bill because that’s all I have left in my Revolut.

8.00 pm: We’re home and with no schoolwork to do for Friday, it’s 14 Peaks on Netflix before another 9.30 pm bedtime.

Today’s total: €214.80


7.00 am: Breakfast as usual.

9.00 am: The rent is due. My share works out at €715 after I pay the balance my housemate takes off for bins and WiFi.

2.30 pm: School is wrapped up for the week and I hang back to get ready for the week ahead.

4.00 pm: I meet my partner in the gym for the last session of the week.

6.00 pm: I go and top up the car with €25 fuel and go to Lidl to get some bits for dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast (blueberry and banana pancakes, shout out to Daniel Davey). Have steak in the freezer, so I just need a few other things to do with it -  broccoli and garlic and thyme roast potatoes. Pick up coffee and a few other bits for the house, which total €20.99. We have dinner and make two gin sling cocktails with leftover alcohol from Christmas.

Today’s total: €760.99

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12.00 pm: I drive us down to the hotel, which is only about an hour and a half away. I owe my partner about a year’s worth of driving as I only upgraded from motorbike to car recently and wasn’t very useful for lifts before that.

2.00 pm: My partner gets us lunch to balance out the dinner bits from last night. Spend a few hours before checking in around the shops. There’s a sale in Zara so for €19.98, I get myself two pairs of jeans. They’re dressy enough to wear out (until 8 pm) yet comfy enough for school. A win-win.

4.00 pm: Go to Tesco to pick up some bits for our night away. Popcorn and G&T pre mixes come to €18.70. Forgot to bring some of the leftover alcohol in the house. We spend an hour or so relaxing in the pool and using the facilities before we go for our meal.

7.30 pm: My partner gets us dinner and drinks because I have paid for the hotel. I get another drink afterwards (€7.70). Turns out, I have won €3 in the National Lotto. It’s not the €19 million, but it’s enough to pay the toll back home (or so I think).

Today’s total: €46.38


11.00 am: We have our breakfast in the hotel and check out. We go for a little walk around the grounds and grab a coffee and protein ball before heading back to Dublin. My partner gets our coffees and we call it square between that, lunch and dinner for the petrol money and shopping. At this point, I should note that she is also a teacher and we earn the same amount of money.

1.00 pm: Spend €2.70 for a bottle of VitHit for the road.

2.00 pm: €5 on the toll home because the machine logged my Volkswagen Polo as a heavy goods vehicle and didn’t register coins I put into the basket!

3.00 pm: Get home and decide to get my car ready for the NCT. €12.99 for a wash, €1 to fill the tyres with air. We then go to Aldi to do the weekly shop. €34.18 for me, send €3 on to my housemate for our dinner this evening – carbonara from scratch.

Today’s total: €55.87

Weekly subtotal: €1,227.17


What I learned:

  • More or less all of my fortnightly wages have gone in the week that rent was due among other bills.
  • I don’t think I live out of my means but when unexpected expenses (like the doctor, big electricity bill) come up, it hits hard and leaves no money to save out of this pay cheque.
  • It’s nice to be able to do nice things with your friends and partners, but that seems to be where a good chunk of my money goes. It’s possibly better to be a hermit?
  • I am aware of teaching friends of mine that still live at home with parents, and there’s no shame in that, but at 25 years old, I really thought I’d be living a more sustainable life that allowed for socialising and saving at the same time.
  • Some friends I have that have saved well as teachers are the friends that you seldom see out for even a coffee or lunch and that’s just not a lifestyle to suit me, I’ve never been of the mindset to work and grind it out being miserable for the guts of a year to go and enjoy a month or two spending all that money on a holiday. In the grand scheme of life, it’s too much. We should be enjoying ourselves regularly. So if that means I’ll have fewer savings come the end of June, I’ll find a job and slog away for the month of July before jetting off in August for the foreseeable. If you want something enough, you’ll find a way to work it out.

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