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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C

Money Diaries A 26-year-old software engineer on £75K living in London

This week, our reader sees himself returning to Ireland eventually, but doesn’t see the point at the moment with costs being almost as expensive as London.

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 farmer and engineer in Leinster and this week, a software engineer living in London.


I am a 26-year-old software engineer working in an investment bank in London for almost two years. Before this, I was living in Stockholm, Sweden for two years straight after finishing my mathematics degree at a Dublin university. I love playing Gaelic football, heading to the gym and also trying to balance it with a fairly hectic social life! I know a lot of young people can relate to this.

I see myself as very Irish and I will always see Ireland as my eventual home but I do love the buzz of living in a truly global city like London. I do intend to go back to Dublin eventually but with that city being almost as expensive as London, I don’t see the point in going home anytime soon. Besides, half of my mates are either here or in Australia.

I know I am in a very fortunate position financially speaking. My rent is rather cheap for where I am living but it is a very small, run-down three-bed apartment which I share with two other Irish guys. I was originally paying almost £1,000 for my room just five minutes down the road up to last Christmas before this gem popped up. I aim to save around £2,000 per month and I put the majority into a tax-free stocks and shares ISA.
It’s unfortunate that there is no similar tax-free way of investing your money in Ireland outside of maxing out your pension contributions.

Occupation: Software engineer
Age: 26
Location: London
Salary: £75,000 + around 10% bonus and some overtime as well
Monthly pay (net): £4,285.95 (1% goes into a pension each month and my employer tops it up by an extra 9%.

Monthly expenses

Transport: £150 mostly on the tube/buses to get to work and to training
Rent: £550
Household bills: Around £50
Groceries: Around £200
Phone bill: €20 top up for my Irish number
Health insurance: Paid for by work which includes dental
Subscriptions: Netflix (£4.99) Spotify (£9.99) Coursera (£47) Financial Times (£15) GAAGO (€7.99) 
Gym membership: £150 for a CrossFit gym near where I live
Discretionary: Around £1,000 give-or-take on going out, going to gigs etc.
Savings: £2,000 – I normally put it into a tax free stocks and shares ISA but some months I may have to dip into this a little



8.00 am: Wake up. I have a little bit of a lie-in today as I normally work from home on Mondays.

8.10 am: Get up, have a shower, make some breakfast while listening to the Financial Times daily news briefing and get ready to start the working day.

8.45 am: Log into my laptop to start work. I see that there was a major issue overnight in an international branch of work and jump straight on a call to help troubleshoot. Thankfully, the majority of the workload has been handled by the team and I am only helping to verify that the fix was successful.

9.30 am: Go to the coffee shop downstairs and get a cappuccino and a croissant. (£6.80)

10.00 am: Housemate reminds me that rent is due so I revolut him (£550). The morning seems to be quiet at work, so I’m catching up on a software developing course I’m doing on Coursera.

1.40 pm: Head for lunch which is just heating up some chicken and rice I made on Saturday. I decide to pop out for a walk. Unfortunately for me, the heavens decide to open up out of nowhere and I get soaked.

2.05 pm: Back from lunch and after changing my drenched t-shirt, I’m ready to get stuck into work again.

5.05 pm: Log off for the day and head straight to Lidl to get a few bits for the week. which amounted to £42.85.

6.00 pm: Start cooking some spaghetti bolognese for tonight and tomorrow while listening to Eamon Dunphy’s podcast.

6.45 pm: Sit down and relax and start reading a book I recently started called Flow.

7.15 pm: Once my muggle housemates are back home, we start watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

10.30 pm: A little reading before bed and lights out.

Today’s total: £599.65


7.20 am: Wake up and grab a shower, eat breakfast and get myself ready for the day.

8.10 am: Leave for work. The podcast today is a new one for me: The Rest is Politics.

8.50 am: Get into office and log on and start the day.

1.15 pm: Head for lunch but I have my cooking from yesterday. Head for a walk in the sunshine as well. Also had to top up my phone (€20).

2.00 pm: Back to work.

5.00 pm: Finish up for the day and heat up some food I brought at the canteen at work.

5.15 pm: Head out and enjoy the sunshine and read my book on a park bench nearby.

6.15 pm: Make my down to football training which is scheduled for 7 pm.

8.15 pm: Take the tube home after one hard session. We got beaten last week so the gaffer decides to run the legs off us. No harm I suppose!

9.00 pm: Land home for the evening. I eat a quick bite before taking a shower. I also cook some food for tomorrow.

10.00 pm: A little bit of reading and then I hit the hay.

Today’s total: £28.10 (Transport for London £8.10)


7.15 am: Wake up

8.00 am: Leave for work. Podcast today is once again The Rest is Politics. I have to say I really enjoyed it yesterday.

8.45 am: Start work for the day. There is a real buzz around the office as our summer party is tonight!

1.00 pm: Head to the canteen for a quick lunch as I have a lot of meetings in the afternoon.

1.30 pm: Back to work.

5.15 pm: Finish for the day and head for a quick pint with a workmate where I get the first round in (£13) before heading to the party.

9.30 pm: Free bar is finished by now so I have to pay for this septic cocktail. (£8.50)

10.15 pm: I get invited along to another free bar, this time belonging to a client we work closely with.

11.30 pm: I feel it’s time to call it a night, so I take the bus back home as it’s getting rather messy.

12.30 am: Grab a dodgy kebab and a can of Coke from the bossman down the road. (£10)

1.00 am: Bed and I’m out like a light.

Today’s total: £38.55 (Transport for London £7.05)


10.00 am: We were allowed to take a half day any day this month for reasons unknown to myself. I decide it would be nice to take this morning off, hence the late start.

10.30 am: Eat some breakfast and do some cleaning around the house.

12.30 pm: Get two white chocolate Magnums for myself and the housemate. (£4.98)

1.00 pm: Start work for the afternoon.

5.00 pm: Finish up for the day after not accomplishing much, but at least I wasn’t the only one struggling to work today.

5.05 pm: Head to the post office to post a letter back to Ireland for a mate. Comes to £3.79, which seems rather expensive for just a letter. I think I may have been duped.

6.15 pm: Head to football training.

8.15 pm: After training, I get a spin home from one of the older lads on the team who treats us all to Five Guys. Very nice gesture from a man who only tackles the man and not the ball!

9.30 pm: Home after training, watch some Netflix before showering and then head to bed.

Today’s total: £12.42 (Transport for London £3.65)


8.10 am: Wake up and grab some breakfast.

8.30 am: Need to put on a wash but we have no tablets left, so I run to the Londis downstairs and grab some milk, washing tablets and a croissant. (£7.30)

9.30 am: Get a Revolut request from one of the housemates for gas (£36.70) and electric (£14.59).

1.00 pm: Cook up some lunch and head for a walk in the sunshine to help digest the food.

2.00 pm: Log back on and I see there are a lot of issues so I’m stuck on calls for the afternoon trying to help troubleshoot.

5.30 pm: Eventually we get everything sorted and the weekend is finally here. I run straight to the Wetherspoons down the road to meet two of the lads I’m heading to the Arctic Monkeys with. I grab two pints of IPA. (£7.56)

6.45 pm: Make our way to the Emirates Stadium, but first we grab some cans for the journey. (£8.75)

8.30 pm: I buy us three pints before the Arctic Monkeys come on stage. (£23.25)

10.30 pm: They really were unbelievable. Alex Turner has such a stage presence. He really knows how to get the crowd going and I genuinely think he is the musical equivalent of David Clifford.

1.00 am: I end up getting the last round of the night (£25.90) and get an Uber back to a mate’s house. (£15.95)

Today’s total: £145.30 (Transport for London £5.30)


10.30 am: Wake up feeling a little bit ropey after last night. I must try and make my way home as I am heading to the racing at Sandown in a few hours.

12.00 pm: I am horrified to say I just paid £6.95 for a sausage roll. Yes, just a sausage roll. Of all the things I’ve wasted money on, this is certainly up there.

12.05 pm: Buy a Twix and a smoothie from the Londis downstairs. Much more reasonably priced at £2.45.

1.00 pm: Get the tube towards my mate’s and we get an Uber to Sandown from there.

1.45 pm: Entry for the day is £22, which isn’t bad considering the standard of racing is pretty decent.

5.30 pm: Every horse I backed lost, which takes my gambling losses up to £110 for the day. I also got two rounds of pints in for the four of us which came to £58.40. We decide to head to one of the local pubs once the racing is finished up for the day.

7.00 pm: Get another round in. This time it comes to £33 as I dropped one of the pints and had to get a new one. I think I’m starting to lose my way.

9.00 pm: Head back towards London where we end up playing a few games of pool before deciding to call it a night. It’s been a long day!

Today’s total: £241.20 (Transport for London £8.40)


9.00 am: Wake up early as I was in bed early. I make myself some breakfast and basically lounge around the flat for the morning.

12.00 pm: Grab a coffee and cookie (£5.50) and head for a walk around the Clapham Common which is not too far from me. I throw the headphones in and listen to yet another podcast. I also ring my dad as it’s Father’s Day.

12.30 pm: Have to grab an ice cream in this weather. I once again go for the reliable Magnum. (£2.49)

2.00 pm: Head back to the flat and watch some of the Gaelic football on GAAGO.

4.00 pm: We have a big league game on Tuesday so I decide to head for a run to help shake off the cobwebs from the weekend.

6.00 pm: Head to Sainsbury’s to get a few bits which come to £12.25.

7.00 pm: I spend the evening watching both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Time well spent I feel!

Today’s total: £20.24

Weekly Subtotal: £1,085.46


What I learned-

  • I know this week has been expensive, but it’s the summer and as my dad always says, “there’s no hitch on a hearse”. This week has been a bit crazy and I don’t think it will be like this all summer.
  • I definitely need to cut back on the booze a little. I’m not saying this for financial reasons, I’m just saying it for the good of my health. This is going to be difficult when everything in London seems to revolve around alcohol. I need a woman to calm me down a bit I reckon!

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