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Saturday 25 March 2023 Dublin: 11°C
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Money Diaries A 32-year-old admin assistant on €39K living in Dublin
This week, our reader is focusing on saving money in order to travel more with her husband and renovate their home that they bought from her parents last year.

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 business operations manager on €45K living in Cork. This week, a 32-year-old admin assistant on €39K living in Dublin.

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I am a 32-year-old admin assistant living in Dublin with my husband. We both currently work for the HSE and live close enough to our jobs that commuting time isn’t long. We bought our house a little over a year ago from my parents who retired abroad. Given the current rental and housing prices, it would have taken us a long time to buy a house. We were blessed when my parents offered us this option.

As we had a good bit of money saved ourselves, we were able to take out a relatively small mortgage and keep our repayments low. We plan to double our repayments in an effort to pay the mortgage early and one day retire early. It made more sense for me to take out the mortgage solely in my name first as I was the higher earner and then just add hubby on to it later.

Our weeks are usually quiet with trips to visit family, the odd cinema trip or date out or chilling at home with a good movie. We are currently saving for a trip away while also paying off a loan we took out for our wedding, so we are having to stay in more and be a bit more frugal with our money. My parents taught me a great deal on how to be frugal with your money while not missing out at the same time and also stressed the importance of having an ‘emergency fund’.

I learned a lot from them on budgeting, saving for unforeseen events while also living and enjoying life. While I admit that sometimes I am living paycheck to paycheck, I try to remind myself that once the bills are all paid and there’s food in the fridge that it’s ok to splurge sometimes. I realise that I can spend money sometimes on items I really don’t need and have recently made an effort to stop this. I’ll ask myself: ‘do I really need it; can it wait or is this really necessary?’ I found by doing this, it stops me from buying items that would waste money.

Hubby and I really want to focus this year on being able to save money so that we can travel more and do some renovations on the house. We didn’t travel through Covid and were working nonstop so this year we want to enjoy some more time away together. I know where I fall down on budgeting some days but have never kept proper track of our day to day spending.

Occupation: Admin assistant

Age: 32

Location: Dublin

Salary: €39,000

Monthly pay (net): €2,100

Monthly expenses

Mortgage: €500

Personal loan: €550

Household bills: Gas – €70, electricity – €70, Bins €25, Broadband €50

Phone bill: €15 (with Gomo)

Transport: €60 per month on petrol (sometimes go over this)

Groceries: €200

Subscriptions: Prime – €11, gym – €85 (that covers myself and hubby), hubby covers Spotify and Netflix.

Emergency fund: €200- €400

Yearly bills: €400

***

Monday

6.00 am: I’m awake before my alarm. I never sleep well on a Sunday night. Perhaps it is the Sunday Fear kicking in every week. Up to let the dog out while hubby gets a few extra minutes of sleep. Pick out some comfortable clothes as Mondays are always busy and grab my breakfast from the fridge. I’m trying to eat breakfast more lately but it’s not working as well as I’d hoped.

6.43 am: Check my bank account to realise that my final Virgin bill has come off (€38). I recently switched to Eir for the Fibre Broadband and got €100 off my bill as a new customer. Given that I work from home one or two days a week and Hubby loves online gaming it made sense to get better broadband. Grab our bags and out the door for work. We both work in the same building which is a god send as it saves on fuel and eliminated the need for a second car.

7.20 am: Arrive at work after grabbing a coffee on the way. Hubby pays for this and we agree that it is the last one. I’ll admit I can be quite bad for buying coffee every morning and have been making more of an effort to have Tea in work to reduce the cost. I was spending up to €25 a week on coffees and the realization shocked me! Get to the office and set things up as I’m the first one in. I usually get in early every day and it’s the best time of the day to actually get things done before it all descends into madness. Time to get the head down and get stuck in.

10.00 am: Quick break to go and drop out the post. I feel as if I’ve gotten nothing done so far today and relish in the few minutes away from my desk.

12.30 pm: Lunch time could not have come fast enough today as I am starving. Didn’t make lunch to bring in so I grab some sambos and water for hubby and I. Pay €13 and swear that it’s homemade lunches from now on. We eat lunch together and chat about an upcoming holiday. We are both feeling the need for a break from work and are really looking forward to getting away for a few days.

4.30 pm: Head to the mother-in-law’s for a visit and end up staying for a quick dinner. My god that woman can cook. We leave happy and fed and race home to sort out the dog.

5.00 pm: Arrive home and immediately hop in the shower. I find a hot shower at the end of a busy day helps me to relax for the evening. Himself goes to play some online games while I start tidying around the house. I usually do a clean on a Sunday evening to re-set for the week ahead, but didn’t have the energy last night so it needs to be done today. Dishwasher on, bins out, lunches made, kitchen cleaned and I decide it’s time to chill out. The gas bill arrived in today and isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I try to pay extra off my bill every month so that the next upcoming bill doesn’t hit too hard and I’m glad I did it this time. This will have to wait until payday as my bank account is extremely low!

8.30 pm: Hubby and I settle on the sofa and watch a couple of episodes of a documentary we stumbled upon recently. We agree to watch either one or two episodes each evening. We tend to binge watch something we like and end up watching the whole thing in two days and spending the rest of the week scrolling through Netflix and Prime searching for something to watch.

10.00 pm: Head to bed and watch some YouTube before calling it a night. (Cue dog spending an hour licking himself. I swear he does this on purpose!)

Today’s total: €51.00

Tuesday

6.00 am: Broken sleep all night tossing and turning and I feel like the walking dead. Usual morning routine and out the door for work.

7.25 am: Arrive at work and head straight to the staff kitchen to make myself some tea. Take one sip and realise that maybe I shouldn’t have put the travel cup in the dishwasher as all I can taste is the dishwasher tab. Throw out the tea and decide to sit and eat my breakfast. I usually eat at my desk while I start up the computer and see what I have on for the day. I’ve found recently that granola pots from either Lidl or Dunnes and this week it’s pods from Dunnes that I found on offer. Bit sour tasting as I generally don’t like natural yoghurt but it’s food so it will do. My colleague who I share an office comes in and we chat a bit before I cave into temptation and we go to grab ourselves a coffee (€4.50). We walk back to the office and enjoy the morning air. We are back at our desks before our official start time and divide the day’s work between us and chat about a few upcoming tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week. Time to get stuck in.

9.40 am: Manager comes in for a chat. I’m extremely lucky that I have a manager who I get on so well with. We work very much as part of a team and can talk freely amongst ourselves. Let her know of a few issues that came up yesterday and she assures me she will look into them. Get a break from the screen by offering to drop out the outgoing post.

12.35 pm: Lunch time and I meet up with hubby again. I stop at the building’s canteen and grab him a bottle of water and crisps for us to share (€5). We chat about the day so far and enjoy our homemade, albeit plain, sandwiches. Feeling a bit fuller lunch is over before we know it and it’s time to head back to the office. I meet a friend on the way back and decide to meet up for lunch soon.

4.30 pm: Hallelujah that day is finally done. Call hubby to let him know I’m finished and he offers as a treat that we grab McDonald’s for dinner. You don’t have to ask me twice. We stop on our way home and go in to eat. Hubby pays. We chat about hiring a carpet cleaner for a day to give the carpets in the house a good deep clean. We Google a few places around and then entertain the idea of actually buying one that we could also use on the couch etc. We park the idea for now until we return from our trip away in a few weeks.

6.00 pm: Home and showered hubby suggests watching an episode of a new TV show he found. We curl up on the couch and battle with the dog as he is in our faces tonight and can’t decide if he needs to be inside the house or outside and ends up staring at us during the entire show.

8.00 pm: Decide on a whim to pay a visit to the in-laws. They live close by so it’s only a 20-minute drive. Stay longer than expected chatting and don’t arrive home until after 10 pm. Head straight to bed as we’re both exhausted and I pop headphones on and listen to a podcast that gets me sleepy. Have no idea what time I actually manage to fall asleep at but I know it’s late.

Today’s total: €9.50

Wednesday

6.00 am: Wake up from a deep sleep dreaming about work and curse my alarm. I feel completely out of it and have to drag myself around the house getting ready for work. Grab our lunches from the fridge and it’s out the door.

7.30 am: Arrive at work and hubby offers to buy me a coffee. I really need to kick this addiction to morning coffee. I rarely have it on the weekends but it seems to have become more of a habit in work. Head to the office to get my day started and eat breakfast. I end up skipping breakfast as it’s not appealing to me today. Realise that today is going to be very busy so get started straight away.

12.30 pm: Lunch could not have come quick enough today! I’m starving from the lack of breakfast and the day has been hectic so far, but I’m grateful time flew by quickly. Call hubby to say I’m on my way for lunch and he asks me to grab him something from the staff canteen. I oblige and grab him a wrap and drink (€5). We find a quiet place to eat our lunch and chat about our day. I’m irritated over a few things that came up at work and he lets me vent. We try to make it a habit of talking about work while at work but leaving it behind when we come home. It’s made our work-life balance much better as we leave our jobs behind when we come home. Yes, occasionally things crop up and we discuss but having that separation of work and home makes a huge difference to our mental health. As usual, lunch flies by and it’s time to head back to the office.

4.00 pm: Leave a little earlier today as it was a stressful day and my manager lets me head out early. Straight home and cook something easy for dinner as hubby isn’t feeling too great. Quick tacos and chips. 

6.00 pm: Scrolling through TikTok and I find someone who offers a free budgeting Excel template. Grab the laptop and eventually find it. It’s quite a good one. I usually keep my own budget sheet in Excel but this one has more detail on it. I check my payslip and then sit down to do my budget. I include every expense I can think of and am grateful when I realise that only two more pays and I will have the wedding loan paid off. That will make a considerable difference to the budget and free up extra money. I make a mental note to take our cash this week for my savings challenge. I started this at the end of the year and it is the ‘Beginner Savings challenge’ from ‘Ask Paul’. Myself and my colleague in work are doing it together so we can keep each other on track. Budget done and I already expected it to be a tough one. I am lucky that hubby and I both get paid fortnightly so I find this a lot easier for managing finances. I could never go to monthly pay! Sometimes I wish I earned more money, but have to remember that it’s not what I earn it’s how I use it.

7.00 pm: Grab a quick shower and get lunches ready for tomorrow. Homemade sambos again. I also sit and make out a shopping list for this week and browse the Boots website for a few things I need to pick up. Anytime I go to Boots, I check the website first to see if the items I want are on offer and how I can get the most out of them.

8.00 pm: Hubby and I settle on the sofa to watch some TV together and fall asleep halfway through the program. We head to bed and I watch some YouTube videos before falling asleep.

Today’s total: €5.00

Thursday

6.00 am: Usual routine. Let the dog out, get myself washed and dressed. It’s finally Payday for both hubby and myself. The first thing I do is pay the gas bill (€220). We are quite conscious of how often we use our heating and given that we have used it a lot this year, I’m very happy with the bill. I then transfer money from my own account into a separate current account I keep for bills, etc. Grab our lunches and it’s out the door for work.

7.20 am: Arrive at work and hubby offers to buy coffee. I realise that we buy coffee way too much and we agree that next week will be no more coffees.

8.00 am: Get to the office and sit at my desk enjoying my coffee and eating breakfast while seeing what the day will have in store. Another busy day so I waste no time and get started.

10.30 am: I bring out the post and my colleague joins me so we can both get a break from our computers. It’s nice to have little times during the day when we can stretch our legs and get away from the chaos for a few minutes.

12.30 pm: Lunch with hubby. We chat about an upcoming holiday and agree that we might need to buy some new clothes for our trip. As usual, lunch flies by and it’s back to work.

4.25 pm: Finally, home time. This week in work has been overwhelming and I’m glad that both hubby and I have tomorrow off. We do this every now and again to make our weekends longer and get a good rest. We decide to treat ourselves to a takeaway as it’s payday. I pay this time (€30). Get home to feed a hungry dog and change into our PJs. Dinner arrives and we chill out watching a movie.

7.30 pm: Head for a shower and play with the dog for a while. He has too much energy and needs to burn some of it off. This way he will settle for the evening.

9.00 pm: Head to bed and read for a while. I am trying to get myself back into reading, but am struggling with finding books that I can just delve into and enjoy. I have a pile of books I want to read but find myself too tired to read them most days.

10.30 pm: Lights out as I am exhausted.

Today’s total: €250.00

Friday

7.40 am: Thank God for days off! Dog wakes me as he needs to be let out and then does the usual weekend dance of wanting to be fed. I leave hubby asleep and tidy the kitchen and empty the dishwasher. Quietly sneak the wash basket out of the bedroom and put on a wash.

10.00 am: Hubby wakes and I make us a coffee. He takes a quick shower and we head to Lidl to do the shop. He hates doing the shopping and I normally don’t mind going by myself but today I’m grateful for the company as the trolley and bags are heavy! Shopping comes in just under budget at €99. I allow about €200 per month on groceries and only do a shop once every two weeks. I pick up bread and milk, etc. as we need it but buy the bulk of stuff we need once in a big shop. I’ve found this has drastically reduced our grocery bill and I only buy what we need.

12.30 pm: Home and shopping is put away as hubby makes us some lunch. Rashers, eggs and rolls from Lidl. We dive in as we’re both starving and hubby goes gaming for a while. I potter about the house and have a look at what clothes I potentially need for our trip. Sort out the washing and chill for a while watching TV.

3.00 pm: Head out to the bank to open a joint account. Delighted that the process was quick and we decide to pop by the in-laws for a visit.

4.00 pm: We don’t stay too long and arrive home to cook dinner. We picked up a pizza in Lidl to try out and it is demolished by us both. Now that we have a joint account, I need to transfer all the direct debits into that account. We already agreed on how much needs to go in every month to cover all expenses and also are putting extra in the hopes of clearing the mortgage sooner.

6.00 pm: I head for a long shower as I’ve got a migraine coming on. Get out and make myself some tea and take a Nurofen. I hate having to take them but I’d rather not be incapacitated tonight and sit watching some TV waiting for the tea and Nurofen to kick in. Hubby comes down and we watch a few episodes of a documentary.

9.00 pm: Hubby goes back to his games and I get myself ready for bed. One hour later and I realise I’d been watching YouTube for too long and put the phone away. I need to get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Today’s total: €99.00

Saturday

7.45 am: Our four-legged alarm clock wakes again. I get up and sort him out. Hubby is awake early today and we have a coffee before getting ourselves together to head out.

9.30 am: Head straight to our local shopping centre. Hubby finds himself a winter coat in Regatta for our trip. I head to Boots to pick up a few bits. I have a No7 voucher to use (one of those ones they give you in Boots) and want to pick up some creams and a few other items. I also have some One4All vouchers left over from Christmas to use up. After the vouchers, the total comes to €30. Not too bad. Hubby buys himself a few t-shirts and I head back to Regatta to try on a coat I saw and hubby convinces me to buy it. I have coats but considering it might be snowing on our trip, I agree that a proper coat is needed. It is a good offer on the coat so I decide not to pass it up. Hubby surprises me at the till and pays for the coat. We decide then to grab something to eat while we’re out.

12.00 pm: Give my sister a visit as she is getting rid of clothes and offered some to me. I take a few pieces and we stay for a cuppa and a chat.

1.00 pm: Home and I get stuck into cleaning the kitchen (yes, again) and tidying around the house. I decide that the bathroom will be tackled tomorrow and end up finishing watching a movie I had started another day.

3.00 pm: Hunger kicks in and I make us an early dinner of French toast. Sometimes a full meal just doesn’t sit right. We decide to pay a visit to the in-laws and end up staying for a few hours chatting. I offer to bring my mother-in-law and sister-in-law out tomorrow for some shopping. Head home to watch some TV together.

9.30 pm: Hubby joins his online game and I head for bed. Scroll through YouTube for an hour and decide to call it a night. Don’t even wake when hubby comes to bed.

Today’s total: €30.00

Sunday

8.00 am: Thankfully the dog decides to have a lie-in today as well. I slept really well and wake feeling refreshed. Cook us a quick breakfast of toast with banana and make coffees. I decide to put on a quick wash and then get myself together to go pick up my in-laws. Grab petrol on the way and am grateful that I own a small car. We tend to stick locally so a full tank can last me three weeks or more. €40 for this fill.

12.15 pm: Arrive at the shops and head straight for Penney’s. I grab a couple of warmer jumpers for our upcoming trip as well as some insulated socks and leggings. Total comes to €50. Not too bad considering I got a lot! Quick stop by Tesco for some bits (€18) and then drop the in-laws home. I stay for a cuppa and decide to grab Subway on the way home after a quick call from hubby stating that he’s starving. That comes to €15. Their cookies are top tempting.

2.00 pm: After much deliberation, decide the bathroom has to be done today so I get stuck in. Sort out the washing I had started earlier and then chill with a book for a while.

4.00 pm: Decide to have a long shower and totally forget I promised to cook a roast today! Rush to get the chicken on and then have time to prep our lunches for tomorrow. Back to homemade lunches. I also fry off some chicken pieces to keep for wraps during the week. We used to meal prep our lunches every Sunday and need to get back into that. It really saves money and takes away the hassle of having to prep lunches every day and figure out what to make. Dinner finally made and we tuck in.

7.30 pm: Stick on the TV and curl up together with some snacks.

9.00 pm: Yet again we almost fall asleep so decide it’s time for bed. Watch YouTube together for a while before I stick on a sleepy podcast and fall asleep happily before 10 pm. I’m determined to start having a good night’s sleep on a Sunday before the weekday madness begins!

Today’s total: €123.00

Weekly subtotal: €567.50

***

What I learned –

  • I really do have an addiction to coffee while at work. I think it’s become more of a habit and luxury that needs to stop!
  • This week was more expensive than most due to the gas bill but standard payday week regarding the shopping and petrol. I make sure to do this every time I get paid so I’m not looking for money when I don’t have it.
  • I really need to track my daily spending more and set myself more ‘no spend’ days. I did this last year and it really helped me stop spending money on things that are completely unnecessary.
  • I do watch my phone a lot and need to find something else to occupy my mind and time in the evenings!

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