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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Money Diaries A nurse on €40K living in Dublin and saving to buy a home

This week, our reader is busy juggling night shifts for work and trying to catch sleep and not spend too much.

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 delivery driver on €25K living in Co Carlow. This week, a nurse on €40K living in Dublin and saving to buy a home.


I am a HSE worker in my late 20s living in Dublin. My boyfriend and I like many others are saving for a house. Unlike others, we are in a very fortunate position that he owns the apartment we live in and our housemate’s rent covers that mortgage.

Because of this, we are able to save much faster without paying rent. It’s something we are very grateful for, but also he worked hard to be able to buy a few years ago. I realise how lucky I am to be in this position. We are hoping to buy a house in approximately two years and then start our family.

Occupation: Nurse

Age: 28

Location: Dublin

Salary: €40,077 gross (this is as per the pay scale, however, it changes month-to-month because of add-ons such as Sunday pay, night shift pay, overtime, etc)

Monthly pay (net): Approx €2,500 – again this depends on any night shifts/overtime

Monthly savings: Approx €1,500 – again this varies with what I’m paid

Monthly expenses

Transport: Leap card top-up – €50

Phone bill: €20 – I’m still on prepay because I hate the commitment of bill pay

Rent: €0

Health insurance: €120 a month for the two of us, which I pay for

Groceries: My share is around €130 (I usually do a big shop every two weeks and we alternate who pays for it, and pick up a few bits in between)

Subscriptions: Spotify – €10.99, iCloud – €1.99, we have Disney and Netflix but are leeching on other people’s accounts (with their permission), contact lens subscription (€20)

Household bills: Electricity bill is approx €90 per month (around €180 every two months) I pay this for the two of us

Union membership: €23 per month

Weekly expenses

€7 to Christmas Revolut vault (€1 goes out each day, and this is so helpful when it comes to Christmas time)

€30 weekly to my quit smoking fund (I used to spend this money on cigarettes)

€10 weekly to a bills/rainy day account



6.30 am: Awake and groggy. After working yesterday and starting four night shifts tonight, I decide it’s fair to go back to sleep for a bit. Before I realise it, the phone is in my hand and I’ve wasted an hour doing nothing!

7.30 am: Better get up before I waste the whole morning. I put the wash on and organise my diary for the upcoming week… while this makes me sound important and busy, I’m not. I just feel like it helps me to get my plans and goals down on paper as if it fills up more space in my head.

8.00 am: I do 20 minutes of yoga on YouTube. I like this because it’s free and I am such a beginner I am happy with anything at the minute. I have my vitamin drink, put the clothes on the horse and head out for a walk. It would be a shame to waste the gorgeous weather.

10.00 am: Back and make breakfast for this morning and the rest of the week, using stuff we already have from last week’s shop in the fridge. Have a catch-up on the phone with my ma to get all the goss on the neighbours.

12.00 pm: I meet a friend for coffee. I buy this time (€8). She’ll get it next time though so it all balances out really!

2.00 pm: Watch a bit of Netflix and then head to bed in the afternoon for a bit of a nap- lots of tossing and turning, I am very restless so read for a while… this is quite normal for my first night shift.

6.00 pm: Scrub myself, have a banana with rice cake, pack my snack, make my coffee and onto the bus for work. The first night is usually the worst, so I am looking forward to getting it over with!

8.00 pm: Shift has started… wish me luck.

Today’s total: €8.00


8.00 am: One down, three to go. Onto the bus home. In my opinion, there are many things Dublin Bus have done wrong, but the €2, 90-minute fare they’ve done right. I snack on some fruit I didn’t eat overnight, and then once I’m home and showered, it’s straight to bed. I feel hungry, having only had a piece of fruit since yesterday evening, and know I should eat something, but I opt to have sleep for breakfast because I am exhausted. That’s the thing about nights – you really neglect yourself. I personally find I either eat way too much, or way too little.

4.00 pm: Wake up feeling good as I managed to have a relatively solid sleep. The weather is lovely so myself and my boyfriend head out for a little walk. We go to treat ourselves to an ice cream but there is a problem with their machine. Bad for their business, but good for our pockets! When we get home, I go to bed for another 30 minutes.

7.00 pm: I have the breakfast I prepared yesterday and I luckily get a lift to work. I bring an energy drink and coffee from home. I usually get a multipack of energy drinks from Lidl before a night shift to stop me buying during the week which I find works out way cheaper. I buy a 7UP for a patient who was asking for one last night but cannot mobilise (this makes me sound very nice, but for full transparency, I don’t always do this!) €2.90 in the hospital shop. Prices are crazy here.

Today’s total: €2.90


9.00 am: Busy, busy night. Short-staffed so a bit late leaving work this morning. Bus home and it’s shower and bed for me. I really love my job, but my God it is exhausting.

6.00 pm: I reluctantly pull myself from the bed and make a coffee. I’m really feeling tired but halfway there. Leap card on the bus and we’re off.

12.00 am: We all decide to get pizza to get us through the night. To be honest this happens every time on nights. Luckily it’s quiet enough so we manage to eat it while it’s still hot. My share comes to €9.

Today’s total: €9.00


8.00 am: On the bus home. I have a banana with peanut butter and rice cakes for breakfast then off to snooze.

3.00 pm: After an hour of tossing and turning, I bite the bullet and get up. Me and my boyfriend decide to go for a quick swim. He also does shift work which can work out really nice or else we go days without seeing each other, but this is a good week!

5.00 pm: I go back to bed for an hour while he prepares something to eat and I end up having a good snooze.

7.00 pm: After a nice dinner (or breakfast I suppose?) I am given a lift to work and start my last night. We stop in the garage and I pick up a treat for one of my colleagues who is having a tough week in her personal life (€6). Sometimes it’s nice to show people you think of them, even if it is just a small silly thing. She is delighted with it!

Today’s total: €6.00


9.00 am: A bit late leaving, the night was very busy with two patients deteriorating, so I stay late to finish up a few notes etc. Bus home.

10.30 am: I arrive home and have a cup of peppermint tea, and then go to bed for a few hours.

1.00 pm: Up! I try not to sleep for too long so I can go sleep as normal tonight. I do a quick clean around the apartment and have some leftover curry for lunch.

3.30 pm: I set off on foot for my eyebrow appointment which sets me back €30 for a tint and wax. I know I could technically do this myself, but it won’t look nearly as good.

4.00 pm: I go to the shop to get a few bits to keep us going. We are due a big shop but avoiding it. The total comes to €11.15. Home and do some yoga from YouTube, and get cooking dinner for the house. We often cook for our housemate and he often does the same for us which is very handy. He is a lovely guy and we are lucky to have found someone we get on so well with.

7.00 pm: I order some bits from Boots online. I often do this for the essentials because I find you can get the best deals and also stop impulse buying (a bit, I’m only human). Total is €98, but I also pick up something for my mam which I think she will like, and the rest will last us ages (I hope). My boyfriend comes home from work and we play some cards, then I do some reading and go to bed by 9 pm as I am exhausted.

Today’s total: €139.15


9.00 am: I have a bit of a lie-in this morning as I’m still adjusting after nights. The weather is gorgeous (God bless back-to-school weather) so we are up and out for a swim and a walk after. I buy the coffees so it’s €7.50.

11.00 am: We meet some friends at the beach by chance so we all stay for a coffee and chat. They buy the coffee and we buy the treats (€15). Afterwards, we go to my mam’s for a third coffee and help with a few jobs around the house that need doing. She repays us with lunch, which is delicious.

4.00 pm: Head into town on the bus to have a drink before dinner, which he kindly pays for. Dinner is delicious and with a drink each and tip, it comes to €75 – again, he pays, as I paid for the show tickets (I bought them months ago so I consider them free, that’s my logic).

7.00 pm: We see Riverdance (amazing!) and I get two drinks and two chocolate bars for us (€20), and we go for one after which I pay (€14.50). Bus home and bedtime for me.

Today’s total: €57.00


8.00 am: Another gorgeous day! Waking up is certainly easier when the sun shines like that. Some eggs and beans for breakfast, and I make sandwiches to bring with us on today’s adventure. A quick (minimal) clean of the apartment and we are out the door.

10.30 am: Arrive to our hiking destination. I pay for parking (€5) and off we go. We both love nature, it’s nice to be out in it. We walk for a few hours, eat our packed lunch and dip our feet in the river. I buy us some ice creams on the way back (€5.10 for Cornettos). We also stop for a few bits to keep us going for the big shop (€9.21). I use one of the Tesco coupons and shop in the reduced section in the evening. They often have fruit and veg which is expiring at the end of the day but still perfect!

6.00 pm: Home and showered, we start cooking for dinner tonight. Risotto with the discounted veg in the fridge. We manage five portions – two for now and three for the next few days. We are both in work tomorrow and he is in the following day so it works out perfectly!

7.30 pm: We play a board game and then watch a movie, which I don’t stay awake for.

10.30 pm: Bedtime, I am exhausted.

Today’s total: €19.31

Weekly total: €241.36


What I learned:

  • The major thing I have realised reading this back is that I really need to take better care of myself working nights! I could say this is unusual as I don’t work night every week, but I do every 4-6 weeks so really it isn’t very unusual.
  • This looks like a typical week spending-wise, however, there was no big shop this week so the cost was lower.
  • Considering last year I decided to stop buying coffee, I still buy a fair bit of coffee!
  • One tip is to check the reduced sections in the grocery shops. The food is perfectly edible there and you cut down on food waste too while getting a bargain!

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