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Money Diaries An accountant on €73K living in Dublin

This week, our reader is busy juggling socialising and working and wondering where all the money goes.

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 software engineer living in Dublin, this week an accountant earning €73K details life and spending in Dublin.

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I am a 31-year-old woman living in Dublin on €73,000 a year. I have lived in Dublin for about ten years now. I am an accountant which is an acceptable middle-class job. Ireland’s economy is so dependent on financial services now that accountants are everywhere, for better or worse. 

My relationship with money is strange. I think I am paid too much relative to how much people make doing actually socially valuable work such as teachers, doctors, bus drivers etc. Yet despite that, by the end of the month, I am always running out of money and I save nothing which means my spending must be reckless. I oscillate between a rational justification of this (“What would I be saving money for? A house?? Hahaha…”) and emotional despair that financially, I could be forced to leave Dublin if my rent continues to spike.

I work a minimum of 50 hours a week because unpaid overtime is such a chronic feature of finance jobs. It leaves me tired and drives me to spend too much money under the guise of self-care.

Occupation: Accountant

Age: 31

Location: Dublin

Salary: €73,000

Monthly pay (net): €3,602

Monthly expenses

Rent: €1,700 

Bills: €200 approx

Pension: €500 (employer pays €600)

Health and dental: Covered by employer so I incur BIK tax

Subscriptions: €10 on Substack

***

Monday

3.00 am: This morning, I was woken by a woman crashing into the recycling bins outside my window before puking on the footpath. There was a man with her gently saying, “it’s ok”. I’m unable to fall back asleep after that. 

7.30 am: I leave the house to catch the bus. My early rise means I’m tired and I buy an iced coffee (€4.50) and a hot coffee (€3.80) to drink one after the other. Usually, when I get on a Dublin bus in the morning I feel good-natured towards my fellow commuters but today, I am grumpy. Standing on the bus (Leap card = €2) with a coffee in each hand means I can’t grab a pole so I am bumping into people when the bus stops and starts. I am annoying the woman beside me and she glances up from her phone periodically to glare at me. The joys of public transport.

11.00 am: By mid-morning, a pulsing headache is creeping in so I duck out to buy paracetamol (€3.50) and another iced coffee (€4.50).

1.00 pm: For lunch, I buy a garlic chicken bap (€11) and another coffee (€4) and a lottery ticket (€6) because I feel the universe owes me. Money is literally no object today. By the time I get back from lunch, the caffeine is truly starting to kick in and I am skittish and obnoxious with my colleagues. I try to tease one guy about his promotion but I’m sure I come across as jealous instead.

7.30 pm: I walk home (free). I am trying to reset my mood so I can try to be a slightly better person to my boyfriend when I enter the flat.

9.00 pm: My boyfriend is sweet and loving towards me and we go to the cinema to see Barbie (€22, including snacks) and then McDonalds (he pays) before getting the bus home.

Today’s total: €61.30

Tuesday

7.40 am: I am feeling generous this morning so after I get off the bus (€2), I buy my colleague a coffee and a pastry (€7.50) to silently apologise for being a rude coworker yesterday. He is always a little paternal towards me and tries to pay me back to which I vehemently object. After lunch, I find a fiver (-€5) slipped in between the keys of my keyboard.

11.00 am: Sipping on my my third coffee of the day (€3.60), I keep my head down because I have to get out of here at a reasonable time in order to get across town to a friend’s birthday party for 7.30 pm.

1.00 pm: I have made my own lunch and two of my coffees have been made in the staff kitchen. I am so frugal!

7.00 pm: I am out the door and two buses and over an hour later, I arrive in Rathmines. Moving around different neighbourhoods in Dublin in rush hour traffic is a fool’s errand as Dublin is not a city but clusters of large towns pushed together. There is not even a pretence of being able to move around somewhat efficiently.

8.00 pm: I get teased for always being late and we bar hop for a while. My card stops tapping and I’ve forgotten my pin so I spend the night Revoluting people money for drinks (€66). I get a taxi home (€30) and eat reheated leftover pasta at 2 am before going to bed.

Today’s total: €104.10

Wednesday

8.00 am: I am very hungover. The bus (€2) is loud and the windows have all fogged up because it’s been raining.

8.30 am: I get into work with a few half joking “what time do you call this” comments. Honestly, it’s Gen X, not Boomers, that are the most grating. I bring two coffees from the kitchen to my desk and work for two hours before heading out for an iced coffee and breakfast burrito (€13) with extra hot sauce. Anything to fight the feeling.

1.00 pm: For lunch, I get two slices of pizza and a Coke (€11). The pizza slices are greasy but I guess that’s the point.

1.30 pm: I indulge in more moping back at my desk before I text my boyfriend to say I am not coming to our friend’s book launch this evening as I’m too hungover. His response was to ask how I managed to dirty so many utensils reheating pasta last night. “Ok, see you tonight,” I write.

4.00 pm: I have a report due for 5 pm New York time which, theoretically, is more time than I could possibly need, but my brain feels like a wrung sponge, so I take two paracetamol and a double espresso and get to work.

8.00 pm: I hit send and check that the email did, in fact, send. My mouth feels dry and fuzzy and a tiredness headache is tapping away on my temple. I get a taxi to the bookshop which is only a 20-minute walk away but I am conscious that I’m already late and right now, walking downstairs feels like it could break me. The taxi costs €20 (whyyy).

8.30 pm: At the book launch there is free wine. I am drunk after the first glass but proceed to drink two more. I buy a copy of the book (€13) only to discover my boyfriend has bought one too. We hang out way after the bookshop locks up, all of us drunk, getting into debates and strawmanning each other’s positions. Boyfriend and I get a taxi back home (€27).

Today’s total: €86.00

Thursday

6.45 am: My tiredness feels physical this morning so I make a resolution to leave work at 5pm and go home and take it easy.

7.30 am: I get an iced coffee (€4.50) before hopping on the bus (€2).

7.50 am: I need coffee in an IV so I get an oat cappuccino when I get off the bus (€4.60) and pick up a croissant because I didn’t have dinner last night (€3)

8.00 am: There’s no energy for chitchat this morning so I work undisturbed until lunch when I go to Tesco to get a meal deal (€4.95) and go for a walk around the block.

1.30 pm: Back at my desk I pay the electricity bill (€170) and the gas bill (€48).

5.00 pm: Leaving work at 5pm feels like I’m on a half day! I swing back into Tesco to pick up stuff for dinner and, because I’m in a celebratory mood, end up overspending by buying little treats such as olives, beer and kombucha (€45.17). When I am packing up my groceries I get a call from my boss. I lose my head somewhat and leave a bunch of celery and parsley behind me as I sprint out the door so I can call him back. He agrees he can pick it up with me tomorrow once he realises I’m not in the office. Hanging up the call, anxiety is fluttering in my chest.

7.00 pm: Boyfriend texts me to say he is preparing for a press conference tomorrow and will be late home. Listening to Sinead O’Connor (that voice!) I fry up some tofu for dinner, drink a kombucha and watch Alison Roman’s latest YouTube video. I fall asleep on the couch and am awoken by boyfriend at 10 pm arriving home from work.

Today’s total: €282.22

Friday

8.00 am: Friday! My favourite day! It’s usually OK to be in the office by 9 am but I have an 8 am appointment at the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. The coffee plays havoc on my teeth as well as my nervous system it turns out. The hygienist implores me to drink my coffee using a straw but I’ve already invested in, and am fond of, the reusable coffee cup I own already. I say I’ll consider it. Without my morning coffee, I was in no mood to argue with her. My PRSI contributions mean there’s no charge – yay! So now I’m on my way to work after picking up an oat cappuccino (€4.60)

1.00 pm: For lunch, I get a supergreen salad and a kombucha (€18). That’s the price of being healthy I guess!

1.30 pm: After lunch, I’m yawning and I go to get another coffee with some of my coworkers (€4.50). Everyone is in a giddy mood.

6.30 pm: After work, I get the bus to Kildare (€7) to visit my mother and catch up with childhood friends. I pick up a bottle of wine before getting on the bus (€11). My mother will drink a thimble full amount before corking it up and no doubt, I’ll see it sitting there the next time I visit.

7.30 pm: I’m hit with a cloud of Paco Rabanne’s One Million when I enter the house. My younger brothers are home for the weekend and we all have the same plan to hit the town. I take defrosted bolognese sauce from the fridge and cook some pasta while we discuss the ins and outs of JP MacManus and the Limerick team. All of us dream of a Kildare millionaire taking an interest in the Kildare team.

9.00 pm: Six of us meet up in town. It’s heaving and we eventually find a pub with enough space so we can sit comfortably together. Five (or six?) bottles of wine later we have gossiped about every shared acquaintance and agreed we need to do this more often (€37 – my share of the bill). Taxi back to my mam (€18).

Today’s total: €100.10

Saturday

10.00 am: I am up and smelling rashers and sausages cooking (heaven!). Mam is pressing each of us for the T from last night.

12.00 pm: I take the dogs for a walk on the Curragh and hope it will ease the hangover. I have had four cups of Barry’s tea this morning and two litres of water so I’m pretty much revived by the time I’m back.

2.00 pm: Myself and my mam head into Kildare Village and I buy a coffee (€3.80) but nothing else.

3.00 pm: We play a round of golf. I am a terrible player. My mam, suffering an affliction acutely affecting mothers, thinks I have great potential and should join the club. That’s never going to happen. I pay the green fees (€20) and then we head into the clubhouse to have lunch (€24) and spend nearly three hours there. My mother is extremely sociable and chats to everyone. I’m about to tear my hair out and have a G&T (€7) to prevent myself from saying something cruel. Then we are off to Dunnes to pick up stuff for dinner (€36).

9.00 pm: A chill night, a few neighbours call in for tea and wine. We chat aimlessly. I watch It Happened One Night as my boyfriend and I are trying to work our way through the list of classic Screwball Comedies.

Today’s total: €90.80

Sunday

11.00 am: It’s time to head back to Dublin (€7) and scrub the flat clean, get ready for a new week. Before I leave I give my mam €350 because I know there are a couple of house repairs that need to be done and I don’t know how much she can afford it.

2.00 pm: The battery in my Dyson needed to be replaced so I pick it up from the repair shop (€100). Its two-year warranty elapsed a couple of months ago. This fact makes me irrationally annoyed.

2.30 pm: My book club meets tonight. I’m hosting this month, and I have a chapter left to finish. I pull out Alison Roman’s ‘Sweet Enough’ and decide to make the ‘Cold Carrot Cake’. I head to Aldi to buy the ingredients (€8.50).

6.00 pm: I finish the book. People arrive. We chit-chat for an hour, mostly reading Paul Murphy TD’s Twitter feed to each other to a chorus of “he’s not wrong though!”. Eventually, we get to the raison d’etre. The cake is a little doughy in the centre because I didn’t bake it long enough.

Today’s total: €465.50

Weekly total €1,190.02

***

What I learned -

It’s interesting to see how much I spend. Honestly, I am just happy for an excuse to keep a diary. I’m spending more than I’m earning if this is average. At 31, my parents were married with a mortgage and two kids. Maybe this is attainable for me if I move cities, stop partying and pack my own lunches. My mam says I am part of the generation that cannot commit to their own futures. Maybe I’ll never find direction. But right now, I like how my life is going (if I could only lessen the amount of hours I spend at work and the amount of coffee I drink).

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