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Money Diaries: A university administrator in Limerick working from home who is starting to socialise more

This week, our reader has been spending lockdown working from home but is now starting to socialise with friends, prompting an increase in spending.

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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 woman living in Dublin City Centre starting a new job as a data analyst. This week, our reader is living in Limerick and working from home but she’s started to socialise with friends again.

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I am currently living in rented accommodation in Limerick city centre with two housemates. I have been in full-time employment since finishing my four-year degree in May 2019 but I am still getting used to saving larger amounts of money. I worked part-time all through college but have always had questionable spending habits. 

I joined the work Christmas Club so I will have an €1,100 nest egg to fall back on at the end of the year. I also try to keep a rainy day fund in my savings account that hovers between €1,000 - €2,000 depending on how rainy it is that month.

I have a Revolut vault that collects spare change averaging at about €30 a month. I have a staycation booked up north for August and have put away an additional €600 for this from my June pay. 

I have no interest in owning property. I would like to save up enough money to cover driving lessons, a car, tax and insurance but there is a long road ahead of me and Covid-19 has slowed it down further as I haven’t even been able to book a theory test. 

I would normally have spent a few evenings each week going out for dinner, to the cinema, a few drinks or at work events, but since March I have spent most evenings watching TV, reading or playing video games. I am currently working from home so I have saved a lot of time and money on the commute.

Occupation: University administrator
Age: 23
Location: Limerick City
Salary: €32,500
Monthly pay (net): €2,268

Monthly expenses

Transport: Usually around €80 on my Leap Card but €0 since March
Rent: €470 (€1,400 split between three people)
Household bills: Approx €40 per person
Phone bill: €10
Student loan: €240
Groceries: €80
DropChef: €108
Spotify: €4.99
Independent.ie Premium: €9.99
Amazon Prime: €4.50
Christmas Savings Club: €100 taken from my pay to be paid back to me in November


Monday 13 July

8:30 am:  I get up and have a coffee and an apple while starting the work day from home. 

11:00 am: I take a small break to make another coffee before getting back to work. Work is getting busier each week and I’m finding it difficult to leave the computer even to get a coffee at this stage. 

1:00 pm: I have a bagel for lunch and watch an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix (paid for by my sister). It is not good and leaves me frustrated because it is, as the title suggests, unsolved. 

2:30 pm: The delivery driver arrives with my weekly DropChef order. I pay €26.85 for three dinners and usually get at least two lunches from the leftovers. I unpack the ingredients and look forward to cooking later. 

5:30 pm: I’m not quite finished with work but I am starving so I take a break to cook the pad thai from my delivered ingredients. It takes 30 minutes and makes a lot more than I thought it would. Cooking for one is harder than you would think. I enjoy the meal delivery service because even though I might pay a bit more for the luxury, I am creating less waste, cooking more and eating more vegetables.  

7:30 pm: I return to my makeshift work station in the sitting room to finish up some tasks so tomorrow is not too hectic. Working from home means I can never fully switch off. I can’t decide whether to put the TV on in the background or listen to music, so I put on Pitch Perfect on Netflix.

9:30 pm: I make myself shut down the computer and go to bed. I would like to say I slept at this time but the reality is I stayed awake until 1:00 am: scrolling through TikTok. 

                              Today's total: €26.85

Tuesday 14 July

8:30 am: I start the day with a cup of coffee as usual. I think my friends noticed how much I was spending on coffee and they got me a Nespresso machine for my birthday a few months ago. A small step but the savings have been significant.

10:00 am: Work is extremely busy and I have two Zoom calls – it is nice to interact with my co-workers and I can’t wait to be back in a real office setting. 

11:00 am: I take a quick break to grab a bagel and check on the dog before going back to the laptop. The dog stays in the kitchen while I’m working so she doesn’t get too used to having someone at home all day and then have a breakdown when I go back to the office. 

1:00 pm: One of the perks of working from home is being able to do boring things like a shower on your lunch break. I am meeting a friend after work so I am able to start getting ready on my break. I eat the leftover pad thai from yesterday for lunch.

6:30 pm: I finish work and stroll into the city to meet my friend who I haven’t seen since February. I have a pizza and three cocktails. It is refreshing to meet a new face and a novelty to be out and about, especially in a restaurant setting. We split the bill and I spend €41.

9:00 pm: I walk home. 

9:30 pm: I have an argument with my housemate about plot holes in Frozen. 

11:00 pm: I head to bed but can’t sleep, probably from the sugar in the drinks. 

                         Today's total: €41.00

Wednesday 15 July

9:00 am: I wake up a little later than planned and start working from home.

11:00 am: Another Zoom meeting. One of my neighbours is power washing so I have to keep myself on mute a lot. Moving to the city centre was a fine idea when I had a quiet office but now all the noise drives me a bit mad when I’m trying to concentrate on work. 

1:00 pm: The Zoom meeting lasts for two hours. I order Boojum for lunch on Deliveroo and it costs €15.70. I probably get lunch delivered once a week and justify it by considering that I used to buy lunch every day pre-Covid. 

3:00 pm: Another Zoom meeting that lasts for nearly two hours. I find days filled with meetings particularly stressful because my other work gets backed up and I just leave the meetings with more to-do lists. 

5:00 pm: I answer some emails and finish up work after the meeting. I have the rest of the Boojum for dinner. 

6:00 pm: My housemate comes home and we take the dog for a walk. She (the dog) chases swans in the river.

7:00 pm: It is the dog’s birthday so we eat cake and give her some new toys and treats purchased earlier in the month. We took in the dog after finding her on the street in February and when we finally found the original owner they told us they didn’t want her anymore, so we felt a celebration was deserved. 

10:00 pm: I can’t stop thinking about all the work I have to do tomorrow, so I make a to-do list before going to bed so I could sleep easier

                               Today's total: €15.70

Thursday 16 July

8:30 am: I wake up and put on a load of laundry before turning on my laptop – another perk of working from home.

12:00 pm: I make myself a coffee before going into another Zoom meeting. 

1:00 pm: I toast a bagel for lunch. Over the last few weeks, I noticed I was not taking a full lunch break, so now I have to make a conscious effort to move to the other chair in the sitting room for my lunch hour and mute all incoming email notifications.

3:30 pm: I log in to a webinar and spend the afternoon presenting and answering questions for potential college students.

6:30 pm: One of my housemates comes home from work and we decide to take the dog for a walk and get ice cream. I thought Spar had an ice cream machine but they didn’t. I felt bad leaving without buying anything so I got a Capri-Sun for €0.75.

7:30 pm: On the walk home I stop in Supermacs to buy ice cream for everyone. I also give in to temptation and come out with a garlic cheese chip. I spend €9.60.

9:00 pm: I watch the season finale of New Amsterdam on Amazon Prime. It doesn’t tie anything up or have cliffhangers like a regular-season finale because they had to stop filming early due to Coronavirus. 

10:00 pm: My best friend emigrated to Belgium in February and all of our visitation plans were cancelled. It’s her birthday tomorrow so I email her a €50 Zara voucher and a €25 Amazon voucher before going to bed. 

                             Today's total: €85.35

Friday 17 July

8:30 am: Wake up and get straight to work. It looks set to be the quietest day of the week, thankfully. 

10:00 am: I make a coffee and add some vanilla syrup because it’s finally Friday.

12:00 pm: I decide it’s time to book the hairdresser. I book a colour and cut for two weeks’ time and have to pay them a €50 deposit which will be taken from my bill on the day. 

6:00 pm: I go for a walk with my housemate and the dog. 

7:00 pm: I cook Chilli con Carne for dinner and me and my housemate watch the latest episode of Celebrity Snoop Dogs on All4 with a glass of wine.

10:00 pm: I got to bed for an early night because the working week has taken it out of me. 

                            Today's total: €50.00

Saturday 18 July

10:00 am: I wake up and have a bagel while scrolling through social media.

12:00 pm: I walk into town to go to Penneys but realise I forgot my mask. I go to Dealz and buy another mask and a drink for €3.

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12:30 pm: In Penneys, I am looking for a nice summer dress and I find one. Total damage after picking up other things I don’t need is €42.

1:00 pm: I pop into Dunnes to pick up a few breakfast items for the week ahead. My total is €14.51. Then I head to Boots for essentials spending another €11.65.

2:00 pm: I come home and watch an undisclosed number of Supervet episodes on All4.

5:00 pm: I hop in the shower and start to get ready to go for dinner with my housemate and a friend. The confidence boost from putting on nice clothes and makeup is a welcome feeling.  

7:30 pm: We walk into town for dinner and drinks. Our temperature is checked at the door. It’s the first time I’ve seen this anywhere. 

10:30 pm: We stay for longer than we thought we could but no one tells us to leave. We notice new tables coming in for drinks but none of them are getting food. After a full dinner and drinks (cocktails), my portion of the bill is €86.90.

2:00 am: I go to bed after we had a few more drinks at home while watching more episodes of Supervet. Normally, a typical night would’ve ended with me spending a lot more in a nightclub and food after. Times have changed. 

                                Today's total: €158.06

Sunday 19 July

11:00 am: I wake up hungover and order breakfast to be delivered for the house against better judgement. Damage is €22.20.

3:00 pm: I try to watch Supervet but it’s too sad so I spend most of the day on the couch watching Disney+. 

7:00 pm: I order a burger for dinner in a final attempt to squash the hangover. I spend €18.50 and tell myself tomorrow is another day.

11:00 pm: Off to bed with my head feeling better but exhausted after the weekend. 

                                Today's total: €40.70

Weekly subtotal: €417.66


What I learned –

  • Even though I created good habits during the lockdown, I now find myself justifying splurging because it’s the “first pint” or “first dinner”. I would never have had more than one or two cocktails pre-Covid due to the cost but now I am finding it hard to say no.
  • I am saving a lot of money on commuting, coffee and lunches while working from home but I honestly don’t think the never-ending mixture of stress and boredom is worth the savings. 
  • I wouldn’t often spend €75 on a birthday gift or €50 to book a hair appointment but I probably do have similar one-off expenses every few weeks so I should plan better for them.
  • I think I am spending recklessly because I know I already have my money put away for my staycation in August – I will need to come up with another short term goal to help curb the spending.

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