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Money Diaries: A 22-year-old software engineer on €50k in Dublin in lockdown

This week, our reader is busy programming for work and fun but manages his finances well during the lockdown.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that runs weekly and looks 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 heard from a retired lecturer in Galway. This week, a 22-year-old software engineer tells of his life and managing his finances in Dublin during the early stages of the lockdown.

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I am a 22-year-old male, living in Dublin with friends from university. We graduated recently. We live in a three-bedroom apartment in north Dublin. I normally work near Grand Canal Dock.

Since the outbreak, I have been working from home. Work sorted us out with a home set-up and a lump sum to help with expenses of being home, such as food and bills, so I have had no additional expenses on that front.

I am saving to buy a house and normally put aside €1,800-2,000 a month depending on unplanned expenses, but since lockdown has begun almost all my monthly salary goes into savings.

I allow myself to get one takeaway a month; I am hoping to purchase a home by this time next year assuming all goes to plan. I currently have €25,000 saved up since starting work last year, which comprises savings, my sign-on bonus, and performance bonuses.

I aim to have about €40,000 saved up by the end of the year by working overtime and hopefully keeping my performance to a high level.

Occupation: Software Engineer
Age: 22
Location: Dublin
Salary: €50,000
Monthly pay (net): €3,070

Monthly expenses

Transport: €100 usually – however this is down to zero due to Covid-19
Rent: €685 (€1950 split €685, €670, €595)
Household bills: €30 pp
Electricity (every 2 months): €80pp
Phone credit: €25
Groceries: €120 (taken straight from pay into Revolut on payday)
Netflix: €14.99
Crunchyroll: €4.99
Amazon Prime: €4.44
Pension contribution: €170.00 (paid by me and employer matches)

Monday

7.00 am: During normal times I’d wake up, shower then brush my teeth (you know, the usual). Then run for the train which would normally cost €2.45. However, since the lockdown began I now no longer spend money on this part of my day and wake up slightly later, but am trying to maintain my routine. 

8.00 am: Normally, I would now be in the office. I get free tea, coffee and breakfast at the office saving me a bit more money. These days at home I just have a cup of tea and sit down and sift through emails and code reviews. Make myself a cup of tea.

12 pm: Before working from home I’d normally go for a gym class around this time. The gym membership was also covered by work. At home, I now miss out on this activity and opt for an occasional run in the evenings.

2 pm: Normally, I have a late lunch due to the gym class; lunch is also free when at work. At home, I make a pasta dish I found on the internet.

4:30 pm: This is normally the logoff time in the office but I tend to get very into what I’m working on and continue until I am either tired or can’t figure out how to do something then I call it a day.  

5.30 pm: In the evenings, I keep an eye on Slack in case offices in other geographical locations have questions for me. I am very bad at switching off after work, I think it’s a side effect of working too hard in university.

9.00 pm: Go to bed and a combination of reading and scrolling aimlessly on my phone until I fall asleep!

                            Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

7.00 am: Up and get ready for work. Pick out my clothes which are mainly different programming-related t-shirts and/or football jerseys.

8.00 am: Sit down and start looking through emails. The day kicks off. My housemate comes into the kitchen(where I’m set up) for a morning chat and then we go about our business and go to work. Morning tea!

12.00 pm: When in the office, I alternate running and the gym so Tuesday would be a run day but I don’t do this at home as I just feel very unmotivated.

2.00 pm: Lunchtime. I try not to spend all lunchtimes at my desk (both at work and at home) and speak to my coworkers or currently my housemate or even just go for a short walk.

7.00 pm: I decide to stay late and finish off some coding. When we’re working from the office if we stay late work covers a taxi home as well as dinner. Since I am home, I simply just stay working until about 7 pm and have a small snack then get to bed.

8.00 pm: From about 8 pm, I play FIFA 20 until I get frustrated and turn it off. This is usually under an hour. I then continue scrolling Instagram and texting friends.

10.00 pm: Have a group call with friends and catch on the last few days just as a chance to speak to the “outside world”.

11.00 pm: I turn my phone over and go to sleep.

                     Today’s total: €0.00

Wednesday

7.00 am: My alarm rings once again, and the day begins.  I get ready for the day and head down to my “office”. 

8. 00 am: I log in for our daily call which I sometimes leave on just for conversation. Mainly for asking questions since I’m the newest on the team. Working from home has been quite a change but also a lot of the same since I spending my time programming. I suppose I miss the commute and even just being in the office. Oh, and I get my morning cup of tea: two sugars and milk.

12. 00 pm: Lunchtime, but I think I’ll skip lunch today and get a bit more work done. I grab some rice cakes and continue to try and fix some issues I’ve been working on as well as address feedback on my pull requests (a system of communication we use in work).

5.00 pm: I go out to the green nearby and kick a ball around on my own sadly enough, I’m pretty rusty but it’s nice to get out and enjoy the summer while it lasts.

7.00 pm: I watch some finance videos on YouTube and do some research into the property market in Ireland as well as reading some posts on r/europeFIRE on Reddit. Lately, I have been doing research into ETFs and index funds. Cool concept; Irish tax laws suck.

10.00 pm: Watch some anime before bed, currently watching Tower of God on Crunchyroll and it’s pretty good so far. I watch a few episodes of this since it’s only 20 mins per episode.

                   Today’s total: €0.00

Thursday

7.20 am: I decided to have a lie-in today before getting up and into the same routine.

8.00 am: I log into work and start by quickly flicking through my emails; not much has happened since yesterday. I make my cup of tea and think about what I’ll do for the day.

8.30 am: I decide to read up on some Python programming. I have two books on this and I want to improve on my programming and making things cleaner and more efficient. It does take a lot to get good but I have time and for now, I find programming fun.

10.00 am: My mum calls…. she always manages to call me during work and is surprised when I say I’m working and I’ll call her back in the evening. Haven’t actually been to my family home since early March just before lockdown began.  Then begin to watch some training videos provided by work.

1.00 pm: Lunchtime! Egg fried rice and prawns with sweet and sour sauce. Surprisingly tasted nice and I save some for dinner.

5.00 pm: Finish up on some calls and I’m free once more. I enjoy work but today dragged on, maybe it was just because the weather was good.

6.00 pm: Pre-lockdown I would play football with friends, in the evening after finishing work but now I just kick a ball around with my housemate and relax.

7.00 pm: Work on some personal projects and continuing to learn about the industry; reading some programming books – Python, CPP, etc.

9.00 pm: Do some more financial research and planning; discussing this with friends who also have the same goal of being financially independent. 

10.00 pm: Realise I’ve forgotten to call mum back, will call her tomorrow.

                   Today’s total: €0.00

Friday

8.00 am: I booked today off, my body is so used to getting up early that my lie-ins don’t last very long.

9.00 am: I am up, out of bed and ready. I go downstairs to make breakfast, to mix things up I have cereal instead of the standard tea and toast.

10.00 am: Since my housemate is still working for the day I relax in the living room and cast some Netflix onto the television to chill.

1.00 pm: Time to make some lunch, I make it myself as I’m getting a takeaway later on. 

1.30 pm: Call mum and catch up with her and the family, it’s weird because while they’re nearby this is the longest I’ve gone on without seeing them.

3.00 pm: I start getting quite bored around this time and decide to schedule how I will be working on my different personal coding projects. I’ll have to do some upskilling to do them but most importantly I need to find time to do it.

5.00 pm: I log in just to see what happened in work. I ask some friends from Uni about possible ways to approach my project ideas (AWS is the answer, lol).

6.00 pm:  I use my monthly take away to order Dominos, it’s pretty early in the month but I don’t think I’ll have another chill day like today this month. I get one of the meal deals; large pizza, sides and cookies with two big dips for €28 including delivery.

10.00 pm: Hop into bed and watch more anime, I’m up to date on the ones I’m currently watching with some friends recommending I watch magi so that’s what I’ll start tonight!

                      Today’s total: €28.00

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Saturday

9.00 am: I woke up around 8 am but decided to stay in bed until 9 am because there’s nothing to do really.

11.00 am: I have eaten breakfast which was my leftover pizza from yesterday. I’ve gotten dressed and am ready to go grocery shopping. My housemate messages me on messenger to see if I’m ready and we head-on.

11. 15 am: We drive to the local Aldi and do our grocery shopping. I am quite bad for cooking but occasionally do so. I try to plan out one dinner a day. I eat a lot of seafood mainly prawns but I only ever get two packs per shops since they are expensive. I move my grocery budget for the month into a Revolut vault. This one comes to €22. I have a €30 a week budget and if I don’t use it all it rolls over to the next week. At the end of each month, I move the money back into my main account and start the process again.

A lot of people are wearing masks as recommended but my housemate and I just have gloves so we make sure we keep our distance. The shops are our only outing where we may come in contact with other people. It’s quite weird because we’re so much more aware of when people are in our personal space.

1.00 pm: Get back home and unload shopping back into the house. I need to keep track of what I have in the house as I now have an extra pack of shredded cheese for no reason. Now I’ll chill in the living room with my housemate for a while. We play a couple of matches of FIFA. I lost every game only because the game is broken.

4.00 pm:  Make some dinner since I’ve basically skipped lunch at this point.

7.00 pm: Watched some anime and accidentally fell asleep; I’m usually very tired on a Saturday.

2.00 am: Woke up from this nap, I go downstairs and get some water and a snack. And go back to bed, I scroll on social media and catch up on messages in group chats before going to sleep.

                           Today’s total: €22.00

Sunday

8.00 am: Wake up and get some breakfast and go for a morning walk.

4.00 pm: Hop on a few group calls with friends and just have general conversations just to pass the time, followed by watching TV and chatting to my housemate. I then put some clothes in the washing machine.

6.00 pm: I make dinner and go up to bed to watch anime.

7.00 pm:  After a long day of chilling I get to now relax for the evening – reading and YouTube take up my Sunday.

10.00 pm: Off to sleep I go, the work week starts again tomorrow.

          Today’s total: €0.00

                               Weekly subtotal: €50.00

What I learned –

  • A lot of my spending hasn’t changed hugely simply because I don’t spend much outside of my routine monthly expense.
  • I think it might be tax efficient to up my pension contribution for tax reasons but I keep procrastinating it as it’s just a phone call away.
  • I am trying to figure out more ways to cut down costs whilst not being stingy with money.
  • I need to think of a way to switch off as I am always thinking about work and programming but it’s difficult to draw the line because the main part of my job is also my hobby.
  • I also feel that I could spend my time more efficiently perhaps by planning things out in advance rather than freestyling my evenings. It should be noted that the evenings I mentioned overlapped a lot in terms of how I spent my time I just wrote about the main one on a given evening but I look into finance/programming and watch a few videos daily.
  • I think I’ll make use of the Revolut vaults more as they might be a better way to manage finances. But I’m also working on an excel spreadsheet that I can use for financial planning so I’m not 100% sure where to go from here.
  • Oh, could people let me know in the comments if a credit card is a smart move, just for handling bills and paying all as one big expense from my main account?
  • I didn’t mention dinner much but it’s always something done in the oven or quick to make or just a small snack before bed. I should create healthier eating habits.

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