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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -3°C

Money Diaries A manager at an NGO on €53K living in Dublin

This week, our reader is busy juggling work, household and gardening.

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 therapist living in the midwest of the country. This week, a manager at an NGO living in Dublin.


I moved to Dublin 10 years ago to go to college and haven’t left since. I purchased my first home with my partner at the end of last year. It feels a bit surreal that we have managed this – it definitely takes a bit of getting used to – but we are delighted to be in a cosy home after years of careful saving.

My partner and I roughly earn the same amount of money and we split the expenses. I know we’re not particularly spendy people, but I wanted to keep this diary because I’ve found since buying the house that it’s really easy to lose sight of where money is going and how much (if any!) we’re actually saving now.

Occupation: Manager at NGO

Age: 28

Location: Dublin

Salary: €53,000

Monthly pay (net): €3,026

Monthly expenses (my half)

Transport: Approx €40 on Leap card

Mortgage: €680

Life/mortgage insurance: €10

Household bills: €140 (gas, electricity, broadband, bins)

Phone (prepay): €20

Groceries: €150

Subscriptions: None paid by me (I’m shamefully still sharing a Netflix subscription and Spotify with my family)

Restaurants/takeaways: €100

Health insurance: None 



7.30 am: When the alarm sounds, I do the usual turn towards my boyfriend and doze for another 10 minutes before getting up. After getting ready I check my work emails so I’m not heading into any surprises when I arrive. I try to walk to work every day: it’s part of my routine now that I love. It takes about 35/40 minutes, but I enjoy the exercise and I’ll typically be listening happily to a podcast or replying to WhatsApp voice notes from friends. Alas, today is particularly windy and rainy so I end up getting the bus (€2).

9.00 am: I first catch up with my team and we discuss any emerging issues and what’s coming up this week. A HSE report was published that is relevant to my role so I try to get through it while I eat the overnight oats I packed for breakfast. I took a few days of annual leave last week to visit friends in the UK, and this now means I have emails and updates to catch up on and respond to. I prioritise responses, but because things are a little quieter today, I manage to clear my inbox.

5.00 pm: On my walk home from work (the weather has miraculously improved!) I stop into Tesco because I know we’re low on veg. I get a few bits and some chocolate to fortify me for the rest of the journey. (€4.40)

5.40 pm: I arrive home to find my boyfriend doing some gardening. I join him for 30 minutes or so while we chat about our days at work.

7.30 pm: We sit down after scoffing a lovely veggie curry he made for dinner. I wasn’t paying much attention to his various film suggestions and ended up spending the next two hours watching the 1983 horror classic The Evil Dead on YouTube Movies. (€2.99)

Today’s total: €9.39


8.25 am: I’m out the door and walking to work today. I pop into Tesco on the way there to grab some microwave rice to go with my leftover curry. There’s an offer for two packs so I go with that (€4). I notice on my walks to work now that I’m much more observant of people’s front gardens. I guess this is a consequence of my own newfound enthusiasm for gardening!

5.20 pm: I get the bus home and arrive a bit earlier than usual. My boyfriend and I catch up before I go for a 15-minute run. I used to run a couple of times a week but an injury means I’m only getting back into it again now.

7.00 pm: He makes dinner while I’m gone and we eat together. I remember I have to renew a prescription so I do that with the online doctor (€25).

9.30 pm: I read a few chapters of Jane Eyre before falling asleep at 10.30 pm.

Today’s total: €29.00


8.20 am: I haven’t prepped my usual overnight oats for brekkie so I stop at the shop. I keep it simple and just get some brown bread to toast at work before my first meeting (€2.19).

1.00 pm: One of my colleagues wants help on a project of hers, so we eat our lunch together in one of the meeting rooms while we chat through the details. I like having these opportunities for informal peer support: things can be so hectic that we don’t often take opportunities to work collectively like this.

4.00 pm: I’m in the city centre after an offsite meeting. It doesn’t really make sense to go back to the office so I decide to make the most of the good weather and grab a bus home (€2). I stop by my mam’s house on the way back and chat with one of my sisters. She decides to come back to mine with me and help me with the garden for an hour or two.

7.00 pm: I make dinner for my boyfriend and I. After we’ve eaten, I check my emails and there’s an invoice waiting for me from our recent BER assessment, which we had to get done as part of an SEAI grant we received for work on the house. I pay the invoice of €250.

Today’s total: €254.19


8.50 am: On my walk to work I decide to pop into the hardware shop that’s nearby. We need a new clothesline and I find a 15-metre length one (in a delightful bright orange colour….) for €4.95. This is probably my most random early morning purchase but I’m happy I got it because this shop is usually closed by the time I’m heading home.

1.15 pm: I go to the shop around the corner to grab something for lunch with two colleagues. I don’t usually buy lunch as I prefer to make my own. There aren’t any particularly healthy or satisfying options around this part of town for veggies either. Still, it’s nice to get out of the office, even for a few minutes. (€5.00)

5.00 pm: I head for the bus as soon as I finish up because I have a bit of a mission ahead of me at home (€2). My plan for the evening was to sand my oak kitchen countertops and oil them. This is fairly strange weekday activity, but we’re away tomorrow for the bank holiday so it makes sense to let it cure while we can’t be tempted to spill anything on them!

7.00 pm: My mam very kindly invited us to her house for dinner tonight, as she knew we wouldn’t really be able to use our own kitchen. My mam only lives a three-minute walk from us, which is so perfect at times like this. She treats my boyfriend, my sisters, and me to a takeaway. We stay for another while catching up with everyone and talking about the weekend plans.

10.00 pm: I put the oil on the countertop after getting it sanded to my liking and cleaning all the mess up. I’m pretty wrecked now so it’s definitely time to hit the hay.

Today’s total: €11.95


8.00 am: I wake up a little later on Fridays because it’s my work from home day. I check out how the countertops look. I’m happy with them so I apply one more coat. I have very few meetings on Fridays, so it’s an opportunity to plan for next week and catch up on any report writing that needs to be done.

1.00 pm: I have some toast and fruit for lunch before doing some chores around the house. We’ll be leaving in a few hours for the weekend so I want to make sure the place is organised before I go. I check out how all my newly-planted vegetables are doing in the garden. I’m just starting to see some tops of onions and my raised beds have shoots of lettuce and spinach coming up. I’m already excited to see the difference when I’m home on Monday! If this is the banality of adulthood then I am leaning right into it…

3.00 pm: My work finishes at 3 pm on Fridays. My boyfriend finishes a little bit earlier so we can try to beat the traffic. We are heading to his holiday home in Wexford for the bank holiday. I top up my phone credit in the car (€20) and also see that the bin charge has come out of my account (€25.60). It looks like we got charged a bit extra for the black bin, which has been a rather regular occurrence since moving in because of all the building works and inevitable waste that is created when you do up a house.

6.30 pm: We arrive at the house much later than we expected. The traffic was awful, but we also stopped at an Applegreen to grab some snacks and then at a Supervalu to grab some provisions for dinner. My boyfriend paid for these as I had bought a few extra things last week. We generally split money very evenly, but we don’t meticulously keep track. We feel it broadly evens out when we each pick up different bills. We make dinner and have a few glasses of wine in the evening sun before heading to bed.

Today’s total: €45.60


8.00 am: We have breakfast and get ready for the day ahead. We have planned to get the ferry to one of the islands off Wexford to look at the different sea birds that live there and explore. My boyfriend loves any museums or attractions to do with ancient Ireland, so we end up stopping into the National Heritage Park on the way to Kilmore Quay. (€12.50 for the entrance fee)

12.00 pm: After a really enjoyable experience at the Heritage Park, we drive to Kilmore Quay and get some snacks for the island trip. I grabbed a particularly tasty looking slice of carrot cake from a cafe (€4.50).

1.00 pm: The boat arrives and we board as we had booked ahead online a few weeks ago. It was brilliant. We got really lucky with the sunshine and enjoyed looking at the razorbills, guillemots, puffins and gannets on the island with our binoculars.

6.30 pm: We go to a local pub near his house for dinner. They do lovely stone-baked pizzas and we get a pint each. I pay for the two of us. (€44)

9.00 pm: We decide to watch a movie before heading to bed. We choose The Whale on YouTube Movies (€4.99).

Today’s total: €65.99


8.00 am: I’m looking forward to a chilled day today. After breakfast, I read my book for a few hours. I then decided to go for a run.

12.00 pm: We’re both hungry and looking for something to do, so we decide to go to the local cafe for some lunch. The food there is so delicious, I’m slowly making my way through their vegetarian options when we go. I pay for both of ours (€35.80).

1.30 pm: We decide to go for a forest walk in the nearby woods. It’s got lots of native Irish trees so we enjoy spotting loads of different birds for an hour or so.

6.00 pm: I make pasta for dinner from what we picked up in SuperValu on the way. We have two beers and chatted for a while afterwards.

11.00 pm: We head to bed after watching a few things on Netflix.

Today’s total: €35.80

Weekly subtotal: €451.92


What I learned –

  • I think overall, I don’t indulge too much with my money. Small things like bringing my own breakfast and lunch to work definitely help keep the expenses down. I could say that paying for the BER (which accounts for half the weekly expenditure) is obviously an unusual one, but to be honest we have found since buying the house that these supposed ‘one-offs’ are pretty regular!
  • I’m very grateful that I’m in a position where I can walk to/from work. While my boyfriend has a car, we rarely use it, as we much prefer getting around and doing errands by walking, bus, or by cycling. Obviously, that option isn’t available to everyone, but where possible, deciding to live without the car can be a massive saving and benefit your health too.

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