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Money Diaries: A 22-year-old HR professional on €24K, renting and living in Dublin

This week, our reader details how she’s staying fit and keeping her spending under control as she works hard during the Covid-19 pandemic.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie running weekly and looking at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

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

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.

If you’d like to document your spending, or lack thereof and any lifestyle changes during this Covid-19 period, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to money@thejournal.ie and we’ll be in touch.

Last time around, we heard from a 22-year-old software engineer on €45K living in his parents’ house. This week, a 22-year-old HR professional living and renting in Dublin and saving for a mortgage.

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I am a 22-year-old HR professional living and working in South Dublin. I started my public sector job about six months ago, having recently graduated from college.

I am currently renting a house with three other people close to work, which is great as it means I have no commuting costs. The past few months have seen a big change in my spending.

As this is my first full-time job, it is also my first time living (mostly) independently, which means I have to keep track of my money more than ever.

Despite having a small enough salary and a few large expenses such as a car loan, I manage to save about €1,000 a month. I am ideally saving to be able to get a mortgage someday, but that is a long way off yet.

I am lucky that I have always been in the habit of saving money, so it’s practically automatic for me these days to put money aside each month in my savings account. My short-term goal is just to have €10,000 saved by the end of the year.

In my spare time before Covid, I would often meet up with friends or my boyfriend, but at the moment with the Covid restrictions, I mostly spend my downtime watching Netflix or going for a run. 

Occupation: HR professional
Age: 22
Location: South Dublin
Salary: €24,601
Monthly pay (net): €1,708.56 (approx.)

Monthly expenses

Transport: €130 (car insurance); €40 (petrol); €22 (car tax); €150 (car loan); €20 (public transport)
Rent: €520
Household bills: included in rent
Phone bill: €12.99
Health insurance: don’t have any
Groceries: €120
Subscriptions: €5 (Spotify)
Pension contribution: €57 (approx.) deducted from salary

Monday

6.50 am: My alarm rings at 6.30 but I can’t drag myself up until now. I’m running late now – oops. I have breakfast which is always the same during the week – cereal and tea while I scroll through social media.

7.40 am: I leave for work slightly later than I usually would but my commute is only a 20-minute walk so I have plenty of time. I listen to music and eat a banana as I walk.

8.00 am: I sit down at my desk and catch up with a colleague who has been off work for two weeks then start to go through my emails. There’s always loads after the weekend but I only have a couple this morning (thank God).

10.15 am: I take my morning break in the kitchen with a colleague from a different office. I eat some rice cakes and drink a cup of tea like always.

10.35 am: My afternoon is very busy today but I’m alone in my office for the day so I can work away without distractions.

1.00 pm: Lunchtime. I have soup in the kitchen and end up spilling half of it taking it out of the microwave – typical Monday.

2.00 pm: Busy again for the afternoon.

4.30 pm: I leave work right on time today because I’ve had enough of Monday. When I arrive home and go to put out some washing, I find that my housemate has done it for me – fantastic! I get started on dinner instead.

5.30 pm: While my risotto cooks I prepare tomorrow’s lunch and stick on Friends in the background (does it ever get old? I must have seen it all 10 times at this stage).

7.00 pm: After some guilt-inducing emails from Duo the Owl, I decide to do some Duolingo. I’m teaching myself Dutch because I’m fluent in German and the two languages are really similar. I also try to keep up my Irish using the app but I’m not very good at doing it regularly. 

8.00 pm: I pick out my outfit for work tomorrow and get all of my stuff ready. I always do this before bed so that I’m not rushing in the mornings.

9.15 pm: Time for Netflix in bed, and then I call my boyfriend for a while. We don’t get to see each other a lot as he lives in a different county (especially with the latest restrictions) so we call each other most nights.

10.30 pm: I go to sleep fairly late for me – usually I’m asleep shortly after 10.

                                         Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

6.35 am: I actually manage to get up more or less on time today. It can take a while to get ready in the morning because our house has four girls all getting ready for work at the same time, so I like to try and get up early. I get ready and have my usual breakfast.

7.30 am: Out the door to work, stopping on the way to pick up some milk for the kitchen in the office (€0.75)

10.00 am: Myself and a friend from the department go for a coffee in the canteen. She only works once a week so it’s really nice to have a catch-up with her on Tuesdays. As tea and coffee have been free in the canteen since the start of the pandemic, I pay nothing.

1.00 pm: Lunch is spent in the kitchen with some colleagues. I love having our own kitchen in the office because lots of people come in and out during lunch so it’s a great excuse to chat with people who don’t share an office with me. At a distance, of course.

2.00 pm: We have a filing project for the afternoon so I have a welcome distraction from my usual work. I love my job, but at the moment things are moving quite slowly meaning I spend a lot of time checking up on things and following up with people.

5.10 pm: I arrive home from work and my alarm goes off, reminding me that this month’s car loan repayment is due today. I quickly log in to my Credit Union online banking to see that €150.00 has been transferred to my mother, who lent me the money for my car back in June. 

5.25 pm: Stretch and off out for a run on the beach. I run 5km and then hop in the shower.

7.00 pm: Leftover risotto for dinner as I watch some Netflix. I decide to check my bank account and see that €12.99 has come out of my account for my phone bill. The rest of the evening is spent relaxing and getting myself ready for work tomorrow, before heading off to sleep at around 10 pm.

                                                 Today’s total: €163.74

Wednesday

6.25 am: I wake up a few minutes before my alarm and check the weather for the day from bed. 4 degrees – not good.

6.45 am: I finally get up, get ready for work and make my breakfast. Then it’s out the door to walk to work. I have my usual banana as I walk.

8.00 am: Arrive at work and start for the day.

10.10 am: I break for tea and rice cakes. Work isn’t too busy today compared to the last 2 days. I chat with some colleagues while I have my tea. Then I go back to my desk and back to work. I get a lot of work done for a project I’ve been working on which I’m happy about.

1.00 pm: I take my lunch break with a few colleagues. I have a sandwich, fruit, and crisps that I prepared last night. I nearly always bring my lunch with me as I find it saves money and helps me to eat healthier.

2.00 pm: I head back to my desk with a cup of tea. I do lots of filing for the afternoon, which is boring but it gets me away from my desk for a bit.

4.30 pm: I leave the office and head for the bus stop. I am visiting my great aunt this evening, as she lives alone and I am her social bubble. I top up my LeapCard by €5.00 and hop on the bus.

5.25 pm: Traffic was heavier than expected considering we are in a lockdown, and it takes me a while to get to my aunt’s. We have some socially distanced dinner and a gin, while we catch each other up on news.

8.45 pm: My aunt was good enough to give me a lift home so that I don’t have to wait out for the bus in the cold. I get home and, after picking out an outfit for work tomorrow, I get ready for bed.

9.00 pm: My boyfriend and I have a Skype call for about an hour. 

10.15 pm: Off to sleep.

                                  Today’s total: €5.00

Thursday

6.30 am: My alarm goes off but I don’t get up until 6.45 am. I’m finding it harder and harder to get up with the dark and cold mornings.

8.00 am: I arrive at work. It’s warmer today so by the time I get there I’m regretting my hat and gloves.

10.25 am: Break time – tea and rice cakes again. It’s been a slow morning with lots of emailing to do so I’m glad to give my head a break. I catch up on the US Election news from yesterday in the kitchen. I’m not particularly invested but it’s all that seems to be on Twitter the last few days.

1.00 pm: I go across the road to the supermarket to buy lunch today. I buy a sandwich, crisps, and a DairyMilk to keep me going in the afternoon (€5.11). I usually buy myself lunch once a week as a treat. My Revolut balance drops a bit low so I top it up by €15.00. I always keep a small amount of money in my Revolut account for small purchases, as my bank card doesn’t have contactless and my Revolut does.

2.00 pm: Back to my desk with my tea and chocolate.

4.40 pm: I leave work and stop into Tesco on the way home for cereal and milk for the morning (€3.34).

5.10 pm: I get home, get changed, and have a quick stretch before heading out again for a run. One of my wireless earphones dies soon after leaving which is annoying but I keep going.

5.50 pm: I run 4km and then hop in the shower.

6.30 pm: My Dad calls me on his way home from work so we chat for a few minutes about work, then I go downstairs to make tonight’s dinner, and lunch for the morning.

7.30 pm: Dinner is a simple tuna pasta but it ends up taking ages to make it because of a row I have with the tin opener. I eventually head up to my bedroom to eat it while watching Top Gear on Netflix.

8.30 pm: I get my things ready for the morning, and then spend the rest of the evening watching more Netflix.

10.15 pm: I fall asleep very early again.

                              Today’s total: €8.45

Friday

6.45 am: I drag myself out of bed, get dressed, and head downstairs for breakfast. The cereal I bought yesterday is disgusting but I have nothing else so I eat it anyway.

7.55 am: I arrive at the office and notice that it’s very quiet. Lots of people are back to work from home since the latest lockdown, and nearly everyone wants their Friday at home. I don’t work from home just yet, as the work I do is very paper-based and usually requires a lot of consulting with other people. 

8.30 am: My manager brings in croissants and sweets for the team because it’s Friday and it’s been a hectic week!

10.00 am: Break time again. There’s no milk left in the kitchen so I have to steal some almond milk from someone.

10.20 am: I work away for the rest of the morning. My workload has been light the past few days while I wait for some documents to be processed so I take on some extra work from some colleagues who are busy.

1.00 pm: I have my lunch alone today (sandwich, crisps, and an apple again) as so many people are out of the office. I spend my time watching TikToks (so so addictive).

2.00 pm: The rest of the afternoon is actually quite busy compared to this morning. I get some of the documents I was waiting on back so I can move the process along, and that keeps me busy.

4.10 pm: I head out the door a few minutes late because I wanted to tie up a few things before the weekend. I call my Mam and then my boyfriend as I walk home.

4.30 pm: I stop in Spar for a bottle of wine (€9.99). I’m treating myself to wine and Chinese this evening as I received word this week that I’m getting promoted! I’m sad I can’t go home to celebrate but unfortunately, restrictions won’t allow it.

5.00 pm: I order a spice bag and satay sauce from the Chinese. The total is €12.80 including delivery. Then I make a shopping list for tomorrow’s grocery shopping and do some Duolingo. I watch Netflix with a glass of wine while I wait for my Chinese.

5.45 pm: The Chinese arrives and I sit down to enjoy. My sister texts me to look under my car for a parcel so I go out and find she has sent me a bottle of wine and some chocolate to congratulate me on my promotion – such a nice surprise!!

9.00 pm: I Skype my boyfriend for about 45 minutes before heading off to sleep. I go to sleep very early on a Friday too because I’m usually wrecked after the week of early starts. This week the glass of wine has me extra sleepy so it’s not long before I’m asleep.

                                       Today’s total: €22.79

Saturday

8.00 am: I wake up early and scroll through socials. I very rarely achieve a proper lie-in at the weekends – I’m just an early riser. But this is a lie-in compared to 6.30 am.

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9.30 am: I finally get up and make tea and toast, which I eat while watching Top Gear on Netflix again. I don’t really know anything about cars but I really enjoy watching it.

10.15 am: I put on makeup before heading out for my grocery shopping. I wouldn’t usually bother wearing makeup at the weekends but there’s not much better to do during a lockdown, and I so rarely get to dress up anymore.

11.10 am: I go to Aldi for my shopping. The total comes to €25.63 plus €2 for multi-storey parking.

12.30 pm: Put away the shopping, and then have a ham sandwich and crisps for lunch. I watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve only just started the series and I’m really enjoying it so far even though some of the surgery scenes freak me out a bit.

2.30 pm: My afternoon is spent cleaning. I do most of the deep cleaning around the house – my housemates just don’t seem to be bothered. I don’t mind really though because I actually enjoy it.

3.50 pm: Time for a cleaning break with some tea and chocolate, and yet another episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

5.20 pm: I decide to stay the night with my social bubble as one of my housemates is working nights. I drive over this evening rather than getting the bus, and pass through the M50 toll but luckily my car is registered to my mother‘s E-Flow account.

7.30 pm: After catching up on each other’s news, my great aunt and I have dinner (duck and orange sauce – yum!), and I finish the rest of my wine from last night.

10.00 pm: As we’re both wrecked, we have an early night. As usual, I catch up on social media before turning off my light. 

                              Today’s total: €27.63

Sunday

9.00 am: I wake up feeling very well-rested. The beds in my aunt’s house are a lot comfier than my own. We have no major plans for the day so I lie in bed on social media for a while.

10.00 am: Up and off for my run. I only run 2.5km today but as it’s a Sunday I don’t feel like pushing myself.

12.30 pm: It’s a really nice day today so I get out of the house again to go for a walk in the Botanic Gardens. 

1.00 pm: Dinner today is roast lamb which we have very early but we’re from the country so it’s a habit I suppose. We have apple tart for dessert and then relax for the evening.

4.45 pm: I hop onto the M50 off home. Again, the toll goes onto Mam’s account.

5.30 pm: I start to get a bit hungry so I walk to the shop near my house. My Revolut balance has dropped low again so I top it up by €15.00 and buy a frozen pizza which costs €2.50.

6.00 pm: While waiting for my pizza to cook I get myself ready for the morning and do some housework.

6.10 pm: I see that an Irish blogger is holding a fundraiser for Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s Hospitals so I donate €11.50 to that.

7.15 pm: Yet again, I call my boyfriend on Skype to catch up on his weekend.

9.00 pm: I’m A Celebrity is coming back next week which I’m very excited about, so I watch a programme about that on Virgin Media before going to sleep early.

                                    Today’s total: €14.00

Weekly subtotal: €241.61

What I learned –

  • I think I am doing well to save so much per month considering my salary, and I will hopefully get to save even more when I move into my new role in a few weeks and my salary increases to €28,749. As I don’t expect to have any extra expense in the next few months, all of the extra money will go to savings.

  • I realise I am very lucky that my parents have supported me so much, from loaning me the money for my car to paying for my college fees so that I could save all I earned.

  • I am also lucky that my Spotify and Leap Card costs are still on a student rate as I have only just graduated. I’m not sure if I’ll bother continuing to pay for Spotify when the fee goes up next year. 

  • I am definitely a creature of habit, and probably spend a bit too much time watching Netflix. That being said, there’s not a whole lot else to do while in lockdown, and I’m usually doing something slightly more productive while it’s on, such as cleaning.

  • This was definitely a “treat yoself” kind of week due to my promotion. I wouldn’t usually drink or eat so much but I felt I deserved it.

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