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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 29 May, 2020
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Money Diaries: A data engineer living in Dublin, working from home in the shutdown

This week, our reader works on a new job from home, while he and his partner get through the shutdown.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie running weekly and looking at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, how much they save if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week.

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.

If you’d like to document your spending, or lack thereof and any lifestyle changes during this Covid-19 period, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to money@thejournal.ie and we’ll be in touch.

Last week, we met a 29-year-old contract engineer in the pharmaceutical sector. He lives in Meath but is still commuting to work during the shutdown. This week, a 26-year-old data engineer living in Dublin with his partner and their dog. He started a new job just before the shutdown.

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I am 26-years-old living in Dublin with my partner and our dog. I recently moved jobs and it has been pretty difficult adjusting to a new job while only working from home in the current pandemic. I’m fortunate that my job is unaffected but my partner is now on a four-day week with a 20% pay cut.

Most of our income goes towards a mortgage on an apartment we bought last year. We intentionally took a variable rate over the long term as it would allow us to overpay as much as possible without penalty but scale back if necessary (like the circumstances we are in currently).

We were significantly overpaying to try to clear the mortgage quickly but recently went back to paying the minimum amount to bump up our emergency fund. We’ve got around €25,000 in savings now so we’ll go back to overpaying next month and should still be on track to pay it off in another four years.

We rent a room in our apartment to a friend under the Rent-a-Room scheme so it’s tax-free. That money goes into a joint current account and is used to pay household bills and then €500 is taken out per month and put into a joint savings account.

This is used for all the larger annual expenses like property tax, car insurance, management fees and also acts as a sinking fund for vet bills, car maintenance, dishwasher tablets etc. We bought our car outright last year and thankfully have never been in debt other than our mortgage or credit card which is paid off in full each month.

Occupation: Data Engineer
Age:26
Location: Dublin
Salary: €67,500 + ~€12,500 in bonus/shares
Pension: 5% matched
Rental income: €700
Monthly pay (net): €3,600  

Monthly expenses

Transport: Paid for by work
Car insurance/tax: €50 for my half
Mortgage: €375.96 for my half (usually pay €2000 each)
Internet/Gas/Electricity: €50 for my share
Phone bill: €9.99
Health insurance: Paid for by work
Life insurance: €7.64 for my half
Groceries: Around €200 for my half
Subscriptions: Apple Music €4.99 (student), Cloud Storage €0.99, Netflix €4 (shared family account), Deliveroo Plus €10.99.

***

Monday 27 April

7.00 am: I get up and take the dog outside then get her sorted with breakfast and get myself ready.

7.30 am: I have to get something done before a 9 am call so start work early today. I can often work at odd times because I work regularly with people in different time zones.

12.30 pm: After a relatively successful morning of work, I stop for a half-hour lunch of pasta.

3.30 pm: Have a lot going on in work at the moment and it’s getting quite stressful. I stop for a quick coffee break. Coffee in the office is free (and good!) when I’m there so I know I save a lot by not buying coffee out. Luckily at home I also have a decent coffee machine.

6.30 pm: Lots of calls in the afternoon so I finish a little later than intended. That was a long day.

7.00 pm: I can’t be bothered cooking after a long day so we order food on Deliveroo. Having a Plus subscription makes it too easy but generally we get something reasonably cheap and healthy. €10.52 for my half.

8.00 pm: We take the dog out for a walk. She loves to sleep and doesn’t always like going for walks but she has to get exercise. We try to walk her for at least an hour every evening but she has started to get a little restless during the day with us being home all day every day, so I’m thinking she should start getting a morning walk too. 

9.30 pm: Get home and I am tired so scroll on my phone for a while before reading in bed and going to sleep at around 10.30 pm.

            Today’s total: €10.52

Tuesday 28 April

8.00 am: Get up a little later this morning and take the dog out and get her breakfast. I haven’t been eating breakfast since working from home because I haven’t felt all that hungry.

8.30 am: It’s payday today so I have to do all of my ‘accounting’. Normally €2000 would be paid into the mortgage but this month I just pay my half of the minimum which is €375.96 with the rest into savings. €1300 is moved to my Revolut which gets split up across three ‘vaults’ – one for day-to-day spending, one for travel, and one for material purchases like clothes, electronics etc. This allows me to track spending and budget really easily at a high level with the latter vaults accruing for big purchases. €300 per month gets put into my individual savings account and then €500 from the joint current account gets moved into the joint savings account. Done!

9.00 am: I start a pretty uneventful morning at work but I have fewer calls so actually get some work done.

1.30 pm: Stop for a quick salad for lunch.

3.30 pm: Another coffee break in the midst of many calls.

6.00 pm: I finish work and get started on dinner. With being at home so much we are attempting to try out new recipes. Tonight is sticky glazed pork and actually turns out quite nice.

7.00 pm: We take the dog for a longer walk in the park. We are very lucky to have so many parks within 2km of us.

8.00 pm: I get home and call my mum for a chat. I’ve been trying to call more as I know she’s bored at home all the time and is missing her family. She talked about wanting to read more and I recommended a book I read recently. She said she’d look it up but I know she won’t so I ordered it for her online to be delivered, €8.10.

                Today’s total: €8.10

Wednesday 29 April

7.00 am: Up early this morning and get the dog sorted as usual before playing with her for a while.

9.00 am: Start work which is a bit easier this morning. The routine of it all is starting to get a bit boring.

11.00 am: A new mirror arrives that I bought online last week. I’ve been spending more on home things because I have nothing else to do but it looks good so I’m happy with my purchase. Probably the most exciting thing to happen all week.

1.30 pm: Have a quick ham and cheese bagel for lunch before going to get some treats and supplies for the dog (€4.95 is my half).

5.30 pm: Actually finish work on time for once and get started on pasta for dinner. We’re running low on food and will soon have to go for our weekly excursion from home to stock up.

7.00 pm: Take the dog out for a walk and stop in a garage to get a drink on the way (€2.20) before getting home and watching some TV.

10:00 pm: In bed and read for a while before going to sleep. I’m pretty tired recently so I’m trying to get to bed earlier.

                    Today’s total: €7.15

Thursday 30 April

7.00 am: Wake up and usual routine with the dog. Today is the day we’ll start her morning walk so I get ready while she’s having her breakfast.

8.00 am: Take the dog out for a walk. It’s raining so probably not my best decision to start today but we both enjoy it. I’m actually hungry for once by the time I get back so make some scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast. Maybe this will be good for all involved!

9.30 am: Start work a little later. I noticed I got €25 in my bank account unexpectedly and I can’t decipher what it is from the description. I think it’s a health insurance rebate but I’m not sure how that works with my employer paying it and me only paying the benefit-in-kind. 

12.30 pm: Vegetable soup and bread for lunch. We’re really running out of food. I get a text from my mum that two versions of the same book arrived – turns out she did look it up and ordered it herself. I guess my dad can have the other one!

5.30 pm: Had lots of calls this afternoon but I manage to finish on time. Dig out some chicken from the freezer and throw together some chicken bake with salad and rice. 

7.00 pm: We usually do weekly food shopping together but have since started taking it in turns. I did it last week so I miss out on the excitement of being able to go somewhere other than home and the park. I take the dog out for a walk instead.

8.00 pm: Shopping arrives home so I help unpack. My half is €47.71 which is about the same as usual. We watch TV for a while and chat before heading to bed for 10.00 pm.

                Today’s total: €47.71

Friday 1 May

7.00 am: Up at 7 again this morning for the usual routine with the dog. I decided to take the morning walk shift so I don’t have to take her out before bed, still unsure if that was a good decision because I normally prefer staying up late.

8.00 am: I’m the only one working today though so I’m off duty for the morning walk. Instead, I make myself some breakfast of rashers, poached eggs and toast before cleaning up the apartment a little.

10.00 am: Start work a bit later. I’m pretty flexible with when I start and finish work and am given full autonomy to do so. It makes a massive difference to work-life balance, especially in the current circumstances.

12.30 pm: Have some leftover pasta from during the week for lunch with a salad.

6.00 pm: Finish up work and make lasagne for dinner. We’ve to take the dog for a walk and decide on some costumes for the Quarantine Quiz my brother has organised for the evening.

8.15 pm: Quiz starts and we open a few drinks, everyone puts in a lot more effort with their costumes than we do. Despite some technical issues with a few of the older members of the family we all have a really good time. I was impressed with the extent of production put in by my brother!

11.30 pm: Finish our drinks and head to bed ready for a long weekend of very little.

             Today’s total: €0.00

Saturday 2 May

8.00 am: No such thing as sleeping in with a dog so this is the latest I can get away with. I take the dog out as usual and get her breakfast.

9.00 am: I’m doing a part-time masters and my exams start next week. They’ve all been moved online but I’ll have to spend most of the weekend studying so I make a start. Normally it can be difficult to balance study with work but all this extra time has made it a bit easier.

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11.00 am: I take a break to make a brunch of avocado with poached eggs on toast. Classic millennial. 

2.00 pm: Still hungry, or keen for procrastination, I take another break for lunch eating leftovers from last night.

6.00 pm: I’m fed up so give up for the day and take the dog out on my own for a long walk around the park. The weather is finally starting to improve and I enjoy the time to myself.

8.00 pm: Trying not to spend money, we make a Saturday night “fakeaway” of homemade spice bags with curry sauce. We watch trashy TV and have a few drinks before calling my partner’s parents for a chat. Simple things are becoming the most enjoyable these days!

10.30 pm: Earlyish night with some reading before bed.

                 Today’s total: €0.00

Sunday 3 May

7.00 am: The dog is up early so that means I am too. I get her sorted and I watch some TV by myself for the morning. I actually really enjoy the alone time when I’m up early in the morning.

9.00 am: I start studying again but have very little motivation.

11.00 am: Brunch break with the same thing as yesterday.

1.00 pm: I’m really losing any semblance of motivation. We’ve had the same hand-me-down towels for three years since we moved in together that we have repeatedly said we need to replace. Given I have so much studying to do I of course decide now is the time to look online for some new ones but end up not buying any before going back to studying.

4.00 pm: I give up on the studying and go sit on the balcony to read my book because the weather is so nice. My partner goes out to get coffee because we’ve run out – €3.75 for mine.

6.00 pm: We almost always have a roast on Sundays. Today is chicken and the dog enjoys it just as much as we do when it becomes an unsuccessful training exercise.

7.00 pm: We take the dog out on an extra-long walk with the weather being so nice. We try some sprinting with her but she’s much faster than us and she’s not even out of breath.

9.00 pm: Catch up with more calls with family members. I’m really pleased the older ones are embracing technology so readily, it’ll be a great thing for them even when all of this passes.

10.00 pm: A few more drinks because we’re off tomorrow even though I still have studying to do. I finally finish my book before going to sleep, I’m getting through way more reading than usual and loving it. Despite the awful circumstances I’m embracing the new opportunities I’m getting with all this extra time. I hope to continue with some of them when it’s over!

                  Today’s total: €3.75

Weekly subtotal: €77.23

What I learned

  •  I’m spending way less money than I usually would. I normally have lunch out every day and go out for dinner/drinks several times a week. This has made a massive difference to my finances.
  • Other than the mortgage most of our money goes on travel and weekends away. This has also obviously stopped so I am saving even more money from that.
  • Despite all the savings I am making I would still much rather the social outings and travelling. I might as well enjoy my money and the current circumstances have put a lot of things into perspective.

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