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Money Diaries: A 26-year-old civil servant on €44K living in North Dublin

This week, our reader finds he’s not spending much daily as his workplace provides food. However, he says this week was a ‘low-spend’ week.

TheJournal.ie reader

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 heard from a 34-year-old union worker on €52K in Dublin. This week, a 26-year-old civil servant on €44K living in North Dublin documents his spending and saving.

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I’m a 26-year-old male living with my fiancee in a North Dublin suburb. We bought a house together in 2018. We’ve both had civil service jobs since 2013 so we were lucky enough to be able to save and buy our own home. I am extremely grateful that we were able to find ourselves in such a position and understand how it can be so difficult for some. 

I have a mix of monthly savings and investments. I have direct debits to a savings account (€100), the credit union (€150) and to an investment fund (€325). At the moment I’m saving for an investment property, I have a bit to go but I have a bad pension and it’s a necessary evil. 

I also put €250 into Revolut and call that my “p*ss away money”. It covers discretionary things from clothes and shoes to coffee and takeaways. I find it’s a good way to have some money for fun things but still keep a tab on it.

I also put €30 – 50 per month into Revolut and use the stocks feature, no intention of making a fortune, but I get a kick out of doing some reading and making an investment and maybe making a few quid. I started during lockdown (due to the lack of sport) and I am up €40. I’m happy to accept it is just glorified betting.

I worked all the way through the lockdown. Being honest there was very little change to my spending. Maybe fractionally less due to coffee shops / restaurants being closed. I’m not much of drinker, maybe a few times per year, so pubs being closed didn’t really affect my pocket.

Occupation: Civil Servant
Age: 26
Location: Dublin
Salary: €44,000
Monthly pay (net): €2700

Monthly expenses

Transport: €250 / €300 (Car and motorbike + tax / insurance)
Mortgage: €1100 (€550 each)
Household bills: Insurance €12p/m, TV licence €6 p/m, gas and electricity €42.50, TV and broadband, €35. Bins €12.50 (all half of the total figure, split between two of us)
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: Employer Covered
Personal Physio Sessions: €100 p/m
Groceries: €200
Subscriptions: Gym €28

Monday

4:45 am: I get up early most mornings to either run or go to the gym. I don’t need to be up this early but the new Covid gym slots are either 5:30 (too early) or 7:00 (too late) so I have no choice. I never train in the evenings, I usually have a good excuse by the time I get home from work. I make a decent coffee and out the door by 5:15.

6:35 am: In the door. I shower and make scrambled eggs and toast and out again before 7:20. I usually commute on a motorbike. My mother and fiancée hate it, but it saves me at least 90 minutes a day and I can park anywhere in the city. I’m not a crazy biker, but I couldn’t live without the handiness anymore. However this morning it’s lashing rain so I’m in the car.

12.45 pm: We break for lunch. Due to the nature of the job I am working on today lunch is provided. A decent chicken salad, brown bread and a coffee. We don’t hang around and are back working by 1:15 pm.

4.15 pm: No coffee break and a quick lunch mean we’re done for the day. I sit in traffic for over an hour and watch all the motorbikes filter through. It usually takes me about 25 minutes when I’m on the bike. I’m first home, I put on some veg, potatoes and salmon, we clean up and watch TV for the evening. 

                              Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

4:45 am: A decent coffee and out the door by 5:15 to the gym again. I prefer to run but am shaking off an injury so can only manage the gym at the moment, but I’m happy to have that much after lockdown. 

6:35 am: In the door. I shower and make scrambled eggs and toast and out again before 7:20. Another wet morning so I’m in the car again. Traffic is about 60% back to normal at this stage!

12.35 pm: Again due to the nature of the job I am working on lunch is provided. Again I have a salad, I rush it and straight into the car, I need to be in South Wicklow for a meeting at 2:15 pm.

4.15 pm: The meeting finishes up and I head for home. Dinner is on when I walk in. I clean up and we watch TV for the evening. My father calls, he’s struggling to pay an M50 toll online, I sort it out for him, €3.10

                             Today’s total: €3.10

Wednesday

5:45 am: I sleep it out for the gym, well I didn’t really. I woke a little late but would have been late for my slot meaning I can’t get in. It’s annoying that the slots are so rigid but it’s better than nothing at all.

6:15 am: I have eggs and toast again and head for work. There’s a storm warning and it’s miserable enough, again I’m in the car. Previously in ‘normal’ traffic times, I would endure the weather, but at the moment there’s no need really. 

11.00 am: We break for a coffee, the office always has the makings of tea and coffee, which saves a few euro every day. We usually throw pocket change into a jar and just keep the supply topped up. 

1.00 pm: I have a sandwich packed from home but it looks a bit lonely, I head down to the shop get a drink and a bag of crisps €2.10. I eat it back in the office with a few colleagues, we get loads of things organised over lunch which is handy.  

5.30 pm: Again I’m home second and the oven is already on. We eat and clean up. Feeling a bit guilty for missing the gym this morning I head out for a walk just to stretch my legs. I remember we have no milk and buy a litre in Tesco €0.75. I get home and put my feet up. I scroll online on the government-backed springboard courses, some great qualifications made really affordable for most people. 

                               Today’s total: €2.85

Thursday

5:45 am: Again I wake about 15 mins later than planned and have missed the boat for the gym, very frustrating.

6:15 am: I have eggs and toast again and head for work. Again I’m waking up to a miserable morning so I take the car. Although I’ve missed the gym the last two mornings, It leaves me in the office soon after 7 am, so I’m getting a good start at the day.

1.00 pm: Again I have lunch made from last night, I wander to the shop and grab a drink €1.00. Lunch is again shop talk, but we get work done and have a bit of craic too.

5.30 pm: I’m home, and we decide we’ll go to a nearby chain pizza restaurant. We have loyalty vouchers from a supermarket meaning that two starters, two pizzas and two soft drinks cost only €17.50. I pay up, gentleman and all that….. It’s nice to be out somewhere normal, doing normal things. Tables are socially distanced, and everyone is wearing a mask, it’s good to see. 

8.00 pm: We lie on the couch and watch some TV. I set three alarms for the gym tomorrow.

                         Today’s total: €18.50

Friday

4:45 am: I manage to get out of bed this morning, I make a coffee and head for the gym. 

6:35 am: In the door. I shower and make scrambled eggs and toast. My fiancée was off work yesterday, so there’s some homemade sourdough for this morning. The fifth wet morning of the week. I’m in the car again.

1.00 pm: I have lunch brought from home again, and again I grab a drink from the shop, €1.00. There’s always good fun at lunch on a Friday. Plenty of slagging and joking, I’d certainly miss it if I had to work from home.

3.30 pm: I disappear from work and head for home, I have to work Sunday so I don’t feel guilty. I stop off and get a small few groceries for the next day or two €13.50. I’m on my own for a few nights as my partner has headed home for the weekend.

8.00 pm: I make a simple dinner for one but it does the job for me. I hit the couch for the evening. TV, social media and head for bed. I’ve forgotten to book the gym slot, 3 pm is all that’s left, not what I wanted but I take it.

                             Today’s total: €14.50

Saturday

8.30 am: I wake happy that it’s still relatively early. I get up and make a coffee and get back into bed to read the paper online and scroll on social media, simple pleasures. 

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10.00 am: I head out to check a relative’s house for them, they’ve migrated to the countryside once the lockdown lifted. I swing by a shop on the way home. I’m working a shift on Sunday, It’s usually a long slow day, some nice food helps pass the day. I spend €10.50 on some fruit, a salad and some biscuits and chocolate. 

3.30 pm: I head for the gym. I would usually head somewhere different for a run, the seaside or the mountains but not this week. I get home and make some dinner with the groceries I bought on Friday. 

7.00 pm: I sit down for the evening after a boring afternoon. Hoovering, cut the lawn, do some laundry. I usually try to get out for a while at the weekends but I actually feel that I was productive in the house today. 

                                   Today’s total: €10.50

Sunday

5.00 am: I’m up early to get an hour in the gym before I head to work. I head straight to the office, shower in work and eat some overnight oats I’d brought from home. I’m at the desk before half 7.

10.00 am: Not much happening this morning. I try to monitor my coffee drinking, it’s a long day ahead. 

12.30 pm: I break to get some lunch. The salad I bought yesterday, tea and a few biscuits. No one else here today so I spend my lunch flicking through social media. 

9.00 pm: The day passes without event and plenty of coffee. I drive home and head straight to bed. I wonder if the extra €70.00 for a Sunday shift is worth it.

                                      Today’s total: €0.00

Weekly subtotal: €49.45

 ***

What I learned –

  • This was a particularly low spend week. I’d filled my car with diesel, did a grocery shop and bought a pair of runners the day before I started to track my spend, I also filled my car and did groceries the day after I stopped. Ordinarily, there’s probably some sort of discretionary spend a week. 

  • I would say I’m careful enough with my money. When saving for our house I realised that small changes in daily things can all add up, lunches and coffees etc.

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 money@thejournal.ie. 

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