Money Diaries A laboratory aide on €28K living in Kildare

This week, our reader is busy saving in preparation for moving into a new house with her husband.

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 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 warehouse worker on €38K living in the east of the country. This week, a laboratory aide on €28K living in Kildare. 


My husband and I are currently living in Kildare, renting a room from a family member while trying to buy a house. We both work together in a medical laboratory in Dublin, so we share travel costs, which is good. We have been saving for three years. We are very lucky to have been able to rent from a family member while saving. On a good month, we are able to save €2,000.

We are currently sale agreed on a property in Kildare and things are moving along nicely, so my money diary may look very different in a few months! While saving, we really don’t do much and try to spend as little as possible, unless necessary, so this may not be a very interesting read.

Our biggest expenses right now are food, petrol and savings. We travel 120km per day, at least five days a week (six days most weeks, as we do a lot of overtime) and we put around €100 petrol into the car per week. We make a menu and a list for food each week and go shopping on weekends for the following week. This helps us to control spending unnecessarily.

Our money is put together, for ease. We have separate bank accounts, so I usually put the money into the savings account and pay rent from my account. We then use my husband’s account for everything else needed, or he’d transfer some to me if I needed. We both have Revolut accounts, but this is mostly used to pay rent and the occasional raffle I might enter.

Occupation: Laboratory aide
Age: 29
Location: Kildare
Salary: €28,000 base salary (plus overtime and shift allowance)
Monthly pay (net): €1,866.67 base salary, plus approx. €400 – €600 overtime and shift allowance. On a good month (where we do a lot of overtime), my take home pay would be around the €2,400 mark. My husband earns around the same.

Monthly expenses

Savings: €1,000 – €2,000
Transport: €400 – €500 (petrol)
Rent: €500
Household bills: €100
Phone bill: €40 for two
Health insurance: Covered by work
Life insurance: €56.54 for two
Groceries: €400 approx
Subscriptions: Spotify – €9.99, Kindle Unlimited – €9.99.
Dental: €222.50

Yearly expenses

Clothes: As needed, no real budget. We don’t go mad with shopping. I would say approx. €600 for both of us.
Car tax, insurance & servicing/maintenance: €1,500 approx



4.50 am: We get up, brush teeth, get dressed, etc. to go to work. My husband makes coffee to take in the car for the 40-minute journey to work.

5.10 am: Leave the house, and my husband drives us to work.

6.00 am: Work day begins. A busy enough day. Monday is usually not overly busy, but still a lot to get through.

8.30 am: 10-minute morning break. I make an espresso in the canteen and scroll on TikTok/Facebook.

11.00 am: Break time. Eat sandwiches that I made the night before. We try to avoid buying lunches out if we can.

11.40 am: Back to work.

12.50 pm: 10-minute afternoon break. I enter a raffle to win a holiday (€15).

2.00 pm: Finish work for the day, begin journey home. On the way home, I book in for a wash and blow dry for a christening on Saturday. Paid €3 deposit.

2.45 pm: Arrive home. I put our lunch containers in the dishwasher and wash out the travel mugs. Make a cup of tea and sit down for 45 minutes, scrolling on phones.

3.30 pm: Have a shower and put on some comfy pjs as I’m not going anywhere for the rest of the day. I tidy the bedroom and put away clean clothes that I took off the clothes horse yesterday. General tidying around. Sort clothes for tomorrow.

5.15 pm: My husband starts making dinner – chicken and mozzarella salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing. Very yum.

6.00 pm: We finish dinner and I clean up. Our rule is whoever cooks doesn’t clean and we take turns cooking. I make lunches for tomorrow when I’m finished.

6.40 pm: Sit on the sofa, continue a series on Prime.

8.00 pm: My husband goes to bed. I stay up and watch a series I like on Netflix.

9.10 pm: I head to bed. My husband is fast asleep. Dog barking to be let out of the kitchen, so it is almost 10pm by the time I go to sleep.

Today’s total: €18.00


4.50 am: Same routine as before – get up, brush teeth, get dressed, etc. to go to work. My husband makes the morning coffee.

5.10 am: Leave the house. My husband drives.

6.00 am: Work day begins.

8.00 am: 10-minute morning break. I stand outside in the sun and scroll on TikTok.

10.30 am: Break time. Eat lunch – today it is fruit, granola and Greek yoghurt. While eating, I receive an email from our mortgage broker and we email back and forth.

11.15 am: Back to work. Quiet day.

12.45 pm: 10-minute afternoon break. Again, I head outside on my phone.

2.00 pm: Finish for the day and head home. Stop off to pick up something from the dry cleaners.

2.50 pm: Arrive home. My husband went out to drop our watches to a jeweller to change the batteries. I sort out lunch containers, wash travel mugs. Make tea and chill out for a while. I have a look at furniture online for the (near future) house. Then time for a shower and pjs.

5.00 pm: My husband cooks dinner again. Sausage pasta in homemade tomato sauce with garlic bread. Yum as usual. I clean up. After dinner, I put the leftovers into containers for lunch tomorrow.

6.30 pm: We watch the movie Hustlers on Netflix.

8.00 pm: My husband goes to bed. I stay up and watch The Circle on Netflix.

9.00 pm: Enough of the TV. I’m tired, time for bed. Went straight to sleep.

Today’s total: €0.00


4.50 am: We get up, brush teeth, get dressed, etc. to go to work. My husband makes coffee.

5.10 am: My husband drives us to work.

6.00 am: Work day begins.

8.00 am: 10-minute morning break. I reply to some text messages I received last night after I fell asleep and see a notification that our life insurance direct debit was done today (€56.54).

10.45 am: Break time. Today I have the leftover sausage pasta from last night for lunch. Still yum. Get a call from our mortgage provider to take payment for the valuation on the house (€184.50) and to tell us we’re fully approved. It’s a good day!

11.25 am: Back to work. Uneventful work day, which is good because I’m distracted by the good news.

12.55 pm: 10-minute afternoon break. I make a coffee in the canteen and drink it outside while on my phone.

2.00 pm: Finish work for the day. Head to see my sister and niece for an hour or so. Stop off at the jeweller on the way home to pick up our watches (€43). Once home, I have a shower.

5.00 pm: It’s my turn to cook today. I try to make burritos, which turn out nice, very messy. My husband had a good bit to clean up. Lots of leftovers, so I make a burrito for myself for lunch tomorrow and my husband makes sandwiches for himself.

6.30 pm: Watched the movie In Time. I don’t focus on it fully, but I’ve seen it before. I’m still distracted by the good news and looking at house stuff online.

8.30 pm: My husband goes to bed, I stay up (still looking at house stuff online and reading about mortgage timelines and what to expect next).

9.30 pm: I go to bed, but I can’t sleep – too excited.

Today’s total: €284.04


4.50 am: Same routine – we get up, brush teeth, get dressed, etc. 

5.10 am: My husband drives as usual. On the way, I read the news online.

6.00 am: Work day begins.

8.00 am: 10-minute break. I read about the Johnny Depp V Amber Heard trial verdict.

10.50 am: Break time. Burrito for me, sandwich for my husband.

11.30 am: Back to work. Busy day.

2.00 pm: Home time. Straight home today (except for a quick stop in the shop for some bits, €25) and no cooking to do for either of us. Our housemate is making nachos today, so I have a shower and we both chill out for the rest of the afternoon.

6.00 pm: Eat dinner, very good nachos. After dinner, I make lunches for tomorrow.

6.30 pm: Watch the new Ghostbusters movie.

8.20 pm: Husband goes to bed. I want to stay up but I’m tired so I go to bed a few minutes after him. Straight to sleep.

Today’s total: €25.00


4.50 am: We get up, brush teeth, get dressed etc. to go to work, my husband makes coffee.

5.10 am: I read the news online while my husband drives us to work.

6.00 am: Work day begins. TGIF.

11.00 am: Break time, eat lunch. Granola, fruit and Greek yoghurt today.

11.40 am: Back to work.

2.00 pm: Home time. No work for three days! Stopped at Smyths to pick up a travel cot to take my niece overnight tomorrow after the christening and my husband bought some headphones (€79.98). My husband went to get the car cleaned and to fill up the tank (€121). I cleaned the house, then prepped myself for tomorrow.

6.30 pm: We ordered a munchie box from the Chinese (€30.40 including tip). Watch TV and relax.

9.00 pm: My husband goes to bed and I’m not far behind him – it will be a busy day tomorrow.

Today’s total: €231.38


7.30 am: Wake up and have coffee before taking a shower.

8.45 am: Went to the hairdressers for a curly blow dry. (€35). My husband went to get some breakfast from the deli (€21).

9.45 am: Arrive home, eat, do my tan/make up and get dressed.

11.30 am: Leave to go to my sister’s to help get the baby ready. Paid €55 for the remaining balance of the cake (I had already paid €50 deposit a few weeks ago).

1.00 pm: Time for the christening.

2.00 pm: After party until 6pm. I buy some drinks (€41.10) and have some finger food and cake.

6.00 pm: Went back to my sister’s to get the baby things for our sleepover.

7.00 pm: Head home. I pick up two topped chips from the chipper on the way home (€14) and got bread and milk in the shop (€4.30). I play with and look after the baby for the rest of the night. Eventually go to sleep at around 11pm.

Today’s total: €170.40


7.10 am: Wake up. Baby is still sleeping, so I doze off for a while.

8.45 am: Baby wakes up and she’s in a giggly mood. Play with and look after baby, lots of cuddles.

9.30 am: Housemate made a fry for breakfast. I spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon looking after the baby. Lots of fun.

2.00 pm: We drop the baby home and head to the Lidl warehouse sale. My husband bought a few tools and a USB extension cord for when we get the house (€119.94). I was disappointed I didn’t find anything for the house. We then go to Lidl for our weekly shopping (€121.08), and grab a few bits we didn’t find in Lidl in Tesco afterwards (€41.96). Also go to the butchers to get some fresh meat (€24.49). This is a particularly high spend week for shopping. We pick up some things that we wouldn’t normally get weekly, for example: lunch containers, cans of fizzy drinks, few cleaning supplies that needed to be topped up. We then head home, put the shopping away and have a shower.

5.00 pm: My husband makes dinner. Surf and turf with chips, asparagus and broccoli with pepper sauce. So good. I clean up.

6.00 pm: Chill out time after a busy weekend. We watch a movie (can’t remember the name).

9.00 pm: Husband goes to bed and I go up an hour later.

Today’s total: €307.47

Weekly subtotal: €1,036.29


What I learned -

  • This week was an unusually high spend week. The shopping was more expensive than usual. Usually, we’d spend around €100 per week and we don’t normally have takeaways like we did this week. The end of the week was a busy one for us, hence the takeaways. Also, the payments for the life insurance, mortgage valuation, Lidl warehouse sale, hairdressers, christening cake and drinks at the after party, travel cot and headphones were an extra expense this week. Without those extra expenses, we spent €461.23, which is a more accurate description of our regular weekly spend.
  • Tuesday’s diary is an accurate description for most weekdays, little to no spend.
  • I enjoyed keeping track of the week. It was interesting to see where our money went this week and I have realised that our normal weekday routine could do with some changing up to make it more interesting, but that will probably have to wait until we get our house and sort all of that out.
  • I also realised (well, I knew, but seeing it in the diary made me think twice) that I eat twice a day, having brunch rather than breakfast and lunch. I will look into changing that too.
  • Thanks for reading!

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