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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 2 March 2021

Money Diaries: A construction contracts manager on €67K with a young family in Galway

This week, our reader is on a road a lot and also enjoying getting back out with his family after lockdown.

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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 met a team leader on €37K working from home. This week, a construction contracts manager living in Galway with his family details his work, saving and spending.

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I’m currently living in Galway, married with one child. We built our home in 2016/2017. Our mortgage was on a variable rate up to April of this year. Rightly or wrongly, we paid off €20K from the balance and then changed to a fixed rate for three years as I was unsure how the whole pandemic would impact the bank's rates.

Each month I have a set a figure for savings to be placed into a few accounts (all done via standing order) - €160.00 goes into a personal AIB savings account, €215.00 into our personal Credit Union, €215.00 into our joint account and €45.00 into a long-term savings account for our child. Hard to know if what I’m doing is enough for the long term!

We completed a section of the externals around our house over the last two months totalling €15K. We felt it was a necessity as our child is very mobile at present. The construction industry as a whole is quite busy so my own work is pretty full-on at present. I do not have a set base to work out of and generally travel to differing projects (and counties) throughout my week.

I’m an avid sports fan and love outdoor activity. Any chance I get to be exercising or participating in a sport I take it. It is hard to schedule a specific time for workouts (on account of the varying work schedule/location) so I can be limited to running and exercising in my own time around the village or at home. I am a member of our local GAA club and train as much as I can with them. 

Occupation: Construction Contracts Manager
Age: 34
Location: Galway
Salary: €67,000
Monthly pay (net): €3,780

Monthly expenses

Transport: Company Vehicle with Fuel Card and Toll Tag
Mortgage: €845p/m fixed to July 23
Household bills: Wi-Fi €40, Alarm €45, ESB €100, Phone bill: €45 (wife phones), my own phone is a company
Health insurance: none – deliberating should we commence cover though.
Life Insurance: €75 per month
House Insurance: €40 per month
Wife Car Insurance / Tax: €50 per month
Groceries: None, Wife takes care of these Subscriptions: Amazon Prime, €5.99, Netflix €7.99, Spotify €9.99 Loan: €360pm for my wife’s car ending Dec 21.
Other: Transfer €215 to my wife each month for anything she sees fit.

Monday – Dublin Office 

6.30 am: I’m up generally around the same time each morning. Breakfast is a quick round of eggs and toast, I’m honestly not a morning person so the patience for waiting for food is thin at the best of times. Pack up the lunch (made last night) and I’m out the door at 7.15 am heading for Dublin as we have a couple of sites ongoing at the moment. 

8.30 am: I stop in Enfield off the motorway. Food is poor in the petrol station there so I limit my time to a toilet break and a cup of tea plus a protein bar, €5.20.

10.30 am: Reach my destination at first sight. I eat the overnight oats made from last night and then pay for parking via the Payzone app, €15.80.

1.30 pm: Head to the local shop for a wrap and bottle of water, €6.10.

4.00 pm: The day is done and I head off back west. Traffic is nowhere near what is was pre-pandemic so I get out of the city in ok time. 

6.30 pm: In the door and my wife has dinner made at home so it’s a case of just sit and chill for the evening with her and the little one who’s bedtime is generally at 7-730 pm so time is limited enough and precious each evening. 

7.30 pm: Whilst my wife is putting the child to sleep, I’m just scouring through Sportsdirect and find a nice pair of runners that I feel I need, €70.00.

11.00 pm: Bedtime 

                                  Today's total: €97.10 

Tuesday – Galway Office

6.30 am: Morning wise, it’s a simple repeat of the day previous. I’m a creature of habit and tend not to vary at all each morning. I like to assist in getting the little one ready for creche and will have her breakfast prepared etc. before I head off. I will be in Galway today so I have a bit more time to spend with the family before heading out. 

8.00 am: Arrive on site and crack into the day. 

10.30 am: Habits kick in again and I eat the overnight oats made from last night. As boring and all as it sounds, I tend to have the same 10-10.30 am meal each day.

1.30 pm: One of my colleagues on site asks if I could donate to a GoFundMe page. I check it out, seems a very good cause so I put in €50.00. With the % change on the page, it turns out to be €55.00. I have a wrap and water from the nearest shop for lunch, €6.50.

5.00 pm: Another day done, I head home and I’m in the door at 5.45 pm. The family are not home yet so I take off on an 8km run. 

6.45 pm: By the time I’m back, the family are home also and my wife has started dinner. A quick shower and it is a case of relaxing for the evening. I give her a hand as she needs but I’m not the best of cooks so she politely tells me to sit and entertain the little one. 

7.30 pm: I get an email from a nutrition/supplement website that I've purchased from before. Intrigued I look up the “offer” they’ve sent. I end up buying a tub of whey protein, €45.00.

8.00 pm: Just relaxing with my wife and we are looking up offers for staycations during the last week of August as we both have time booked off. Prices seem too high to warrant or even justify booking anything so we don’t commit just yet. 

11.00 pm: Bedtime 

                           Today's total: €106.50 

Wednesday – Castlebar Sites 

6.00 am: I'm gone early as I have to be in Castlebar for 8 am meeting. I stop in a local shop when I arrive in the town and grab a tea and scone for €5.00. Parking is available onsite so there is no charge. 

10.30 am: Creature of habit, I head back to the same shop and get a salad plus a bottle of water, €6.21.

1.30 pm: Site meetings again after lunch. I had packed a portion of last night’s dinner so no need to head to the shop again. It's full-on until evening time and we sign off at 6 pm. The long trek back home on a not so pleasant road. 

8.30 pm: Arrive home after the day, I'm glad it's over. One of those days it was just impossible to get energy for anything. I'm not sure is it the driving that takes it out of me but these days happen almost once a month for some reason. Nothing exciting for the evening, just have dinner and sit. The child is already in bed which is disappointing (that I did not make it back in time).

11.00 pm: Bedtime 

                         Today's total: €11.21 

Thursday – Galway Office 

6.30 am: I have a shower, dry off and hear the child is awake earlier than usual so I get her changed and dressed. She spends about half an hour with me in the kitchen – precious time as I don’t get much with her during the week. Wife rises shortly after and we eat breakfast. I'm in the car at 7.15 am and heading for Galway. I arrive in HQ at 8 am. 

10.30 am: Oats again....... 

1.30 pm: Our MD offers to buy lunch for all the staff and we duly oblige. We choose a local restaurant who do take away meals and offer a delivery service also. Very handy! 

4.00 pm: We get out a bit early and I am now off for two weeks thankfully. It’s been a tough road over the last few months so it’s nice walking out knowing you have time to yourself for a prolonged period. I stop in at the shop and pick up a bottle of red wine for later, €11.00.

5.00 pm: I arrive home and decide to make an attempt at dinner. The dinner happens to be done around the same time as the family arrive back at 6.15 pm. We sit and eat together at 6.30 pm. 

7.00 pm: The child is quite tired today so she’s heading to bed a little earlier than usual. When my wife comes down around 7.40 pm we do a quick tidy up and then polish off the bottle of wine while we watch Netflix. We head to bed around 11 pm again. 

                          Today's total: €11.00

Friday – Day off

7.00 am: I have an extra day booked into the holidays so my time off starts today. It's business as usual in the morning and my wife and child are setting off about their day. Enjoy breakfast with them both as I'm not rushing to be anywhere. 

10.30 am: Cooking breakfast, it is obvious the George Foreman needs replacing. I head into the local town and purchase a new one, €59.00.

1.30 pm: The day is more about chilling out than anything else. I'm scouring through the internet to see can I find any deals for a few nights away (staycation) but the rates just seem so excessive that they cannot be justified. It's payday and I'm scrolling through my online banking. I pay off €200.00 from my credit card. 

4.00 pm: The family are home surprisingly early. Dinner will be a bit earlier today. We set about making that and just wind down the evening together. 

7.00 pm: Bath night for the child. I'm on Amazon (again) and just buy a few children's books, €36.00. When my wife comes down, it will be a chill for the evening. We head to bed around 11 pm again. 

                           Today's total: €295.00


7.00 am: We are all up as usual. Was hoping for a lie-in but someone put a stop to that.

9.00 am: Breakfast is in hand and we decide to go to Glendeer pet farm for the day. It’s a lovely place for children to roam and feed animals (our child loves both) so we pack up a few things and get on the road for 10.30am.

11.30 am: Arrive at the farm and the weather is very nice. It does not seem to busy either (maybe because of the time) and we spend about 2 hrs around the area. Very well kept and we all had a great time. Along with the entry fee, we got a tea/coffee and a little teddy for the child, €37.00.

2.30 pm: We decide to have dinner in Athlone (which is adjacent to the pet farm area). We find a nice Italian restaurant on the outskirts of the town; we book in on short notice and they were more than obliging. Had a lovely two-course meal, €61.58.

4.30 pm: Arrive home. Great day! Nothing exciting for the evening just sitting outside int the sun watching the child roam around the house. Peaceful. 

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7.30 pm: Bedtime for the little one. No problem putting her to sleep today. After her bedtime, my wife and I just relax as usual until bedtime at around 11.30 pm. 

                               Today's total: €98.58 


8.00 am: Club training this morning. I love the early sessions as they just give you great energy for the rest of the day. After training, we usually just lounge between places for the day either at her family’s house or mine. The grandparents are generally more than welcoming as it’s a great chance to have some time with the child. 

10.30 am: My wife is putting the child down for a nap so I just call to my parents for a quick visit on the way home and end up having breakfast there. 

2 pm: We have dinner in her parents’ house later on the day, they live about 15 minutes away so it's very handy for all. 

5.00 pm: We stop into the house and grab a couple of jackets, head to the local children’s park and we hang about for about an hour... just another method of getting some outside activity with the child! 

6.30 pm: Back home after a nice day's outing. Got to see and spend time with almost all of our family. Wind down for the evening and relax until bedtime. 

                                Today's total: €0.00

                                Weekly subtotal: €619.39 

What I learned – 

- During the Covid-19 pandemic, it's difficult to get a full grasp of my spending as I find we did not eat out or go out as much. As I was writing this, I thought my spending was a touch excessive but I think it is just a case of getting back out and going places again after such a long time not being able to do so.

- I don’t put money into a pension (for no particular reason), it is something I know nothing about and probably have resisted engaging any company (or my employer) about commencing a pension. I would love to know what or who the readers think I should do or speak to.

- Reading back over the week, it reaffirms my stance that I don’t have to save every euro I make. I'm quite content on spending money with my family on occasional dining, excursions and days out etc... These days provide great times and experiences which is important in today’s world.

- As long as I have had the credit card, I’ve never had the balance at €0. I never check rates charged either.

- I need to curb the sporadic spending online. Easier said than done.

- Is health insurance a necessity these days?

About the author:

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