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Money Diaries A primary teacher on €37K based in the south east during lockdown

This week, our reader is back home away from Dublin for lockdown and is able to earn some extra cash painting along the way.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that looks at how people in Ireland really handle their finances.

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

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 We would love to hear from you.

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, so let’s be kind.

Last time around, we heard from a training and education manager living in the Midlands with his family. This time, a primary school teacher renting a house in Dublin but working from my family home in the south east of the country during the current lockdown. This diary was recorded before schools reopened.


I’m a primary school teacher, renting in a house in Dublin with two other teachers close to work. I am currently living in the south east during the latest lockdown. I am working from home and working as a painter and decorator in my spare time.

I get paid fortnightly and for the past year, I try to put away €750 in savings per month. January is an exception to this as I have insurance, tax, NCT and four sports club memberships to renew accumulating to €1,300. I am lucky that I have no loans.

I changed my career in 2016 and took out a loan to go back to college for a Masters in Education. I paid this back in small instalments over the two years of study and a lump sum when I started teaching last year. With my current rate of savings, I’m aiming to save €20K by August.

In my spare time during Covid I jog, go for a walk and coffee and spend a lot of time painting. Pre-covid I played tennis and hurling five or six evenings a week and enjoyed drinks with friends.

In the first lockdown, I went back to painting. In the past nine months, I’ve painted nurseries, children’s rooms and gyms. Any painting I do gain through word of mouth and Instagram shares. This can be a major boost to my weekly income from time to time.

My spending can vary greatly from week to week. I regularly get take away lunches and coffees rather than plan for the week along with online shopping.


Occupation: Primary School Teacher
Age: 32
Location: Dublin – Home at present during lockdown 3
Salary: €37,804
Monthly pay (net): €2,312

Monthly expenses

Transport: €120
Rent: €550
Household bills: €6.50 bins, €16 electricity, €50 gas, €20 TV & Broadband.
Phone bill: €45
Health insurance: €100 p/m paid by parents.
Car expenses: Monthly average of €216 – €50 (diesel) all other costs come in January. No car loan.
Groceries: €200 per month
Revolut: Reoccurring transfer fee of 5% goes into rainy day Revolut savings account every time I use Revolut to pay. Car savings account €28 per month. Rainy day savings account €46 per month.
Subscriptions: Patreon podcast subscription €6.72 per month, Now TV mobile app €17.50, Spotify €9.99, INTO €8, Fantasy premier league competition €5 month
Current Savings: Credit Union €2,000, Ulster Bank €5,000, Revolut €200, Shares €50


7.45 am: I like to keep an eye on my Fitbit watch for steps and my sleep score – my sleep score was ‘good’ at 84 last night. My steps were poor last week, an average of 6,000. I get up and go for a 20 min walk to start the morning. I sit down to breakfast while listening to the radio. I feel more organised if starting the day already. I drop my car at the garage with my mother picking me up. I got €31.17 diesel which should last 7-10 days with the driving I do at the moment.

12.00 pm: After my school work I go back inside for a sandwich and tea. I plan out my evening route run.

3:30 pm: I go out and paint a logo for 5 hrs taking a break for a homemade chicken wrap and chips. There is always loads of food in the big freezer at home.

8.00 pm: I drive to the nearest town which is within my 5km for a 5km run as the footpaths have street lights. Running the roads in the evenings around home isn’t as safe. As usual these days I watch football on an app on my phone and asleep by 12. My steps for today were 10,900. When I get home I get €200 from last week’s painting. I buy runners for €75.00 that have been reduced from €150 and also pay my annual teaching council registration €60.00.

                                                 Today’s total: €166.17


8.30 am: I wake, generally spend 10 minutes scrolling on my phone and then go for a shower. I rarely if ever eat breakfast. When in school it would be noon before I eat a small lunch. My routine has not been great since returning home for Covid-19 lockdown. I fill a litre of water and I’m ready to start at 9 am. I go next door to carry out my online schoolwork. The house belongs to my parents and is usually rented on Airbnb but is currently unoccupied. I use one of the rooms for an office space. My day is spent corresponding with staff members & parents, correcting work sent from students, morning and midday Zoom meetings with students.

2.00 pm: Drive to the nearest town. I spend €25.00 in the butchers and then €17.40 in Supervalu. When I get home I put on a dinner for anyone around the house who might want it. I roast potatoes and veg already in the house. I go back to the laptop and finish off schoolwork while dinner is cooking on low heat.

3:30 pm: A local coffee van got in contact via Instagram over the weekend to ask if I would paint a menu and logo on large boards. The boards were delivered yesterday so I go out to the farm workshop to paint the boards.

7.30 pm: After dinner, I watch soccer with my family. I buy a handsfree kit for the car online for €17.00. For the past two weeks, I had been good for getting out for 5-7 km runs five evenings a week. Last night I went over on my ankle and it feels like I won’t be able to run for another 3/4 days. It’s after 1 am by the time I get to sleep.

                                        Today’s total: €59.40


8.30 am: I go next door to carry out my online school work. Correspond with staff members and parents, correct work sent and morning and midday zoom with students.

3.00 pm: Cooked dinner for three. Drive five minutes to the nearest town to post painted pictures to a friend. This comes to €9.00. Then I go to the hardware to buy varnish for coffee boards in local hardware €18.50.

3:40 pm: Paint boards in the workshop until 7 pm. Listen to a podcast on Spotify.

7.30 pm: Watch football on a mobile app for which I pay €17.50 a month. After the football, I check my bank account and receive fortnightly wage into the bank €1,156. I would regularly buy something from a sports shop online when I get paid but not this week – I transfer €500.00 into my savings account which leaves me with €740 in my current account. I would try to save more but my rent comes out before the next paycheque.

                                            Today’s total: €27.50


8.30 am: I get up to go to work from home and shower. I go next door and have lots of phone calls today. This is where I find the unlimited calls on my €45 phone plan, very handy.

3.00 pm: Paint logo and menu on large wooden boards for the coffee van. While in the workshop I receive €150 for the two paintings posted yesterday via Revolut.

7.30 pm: Watch football and order a charcuterie board from a local business online for Friday night. The large wooden chipboards I’ve been painting have to be delivered tomorrow so I go out to them a varnish after 10 pm.

                                               Today’s total: €0.00


8:30 am: Skip breakfast as usual and I go next door and get started with a class Zoom call.

12:30 pm: 20mins HIIT session indoor from youtube.

1 pm – 3 pm: Staff Zoom meetings. After the meetings, a friend gets in contact about an idea for decorating a man cave. We discuss some possibilities and after doing research on Pinterest I get back to him with an idea. All sounds good and I’m happy to start tonight as I’m not at anything else. We agree that we’re safe as he’s a kilometre away and I’ll be working alone in the space, his garage and I’ll be masked, so we will have no contact.

3.00 pm: Deliver three painted boards on our trailer to the coffee van 10 minutes drive away with the help of my brother. I’m due to get paid €200 (13 hrs work & €40 expenses). Afterwards, I get a roll and drink in the shop €8.00.

4.00 pm: Collect the charcuterie box and leave it to the neighbour’s door as a present. Buy coffee and chocolate on the way home €7.00. While driving home from town after collecting the box my wing mirror comes loose and falls off while driving. I call the garage and order a new mirror along with another small fix on the car – I’m booked in for Monday morning.

6.00 pm: Paint an undercoat on the wood panels for tomorrow’s painting of a logo. I’m looking forward to this seeing how this project turns out. I like to keep my Instagram page for my painting active with new posts.

10.30 pm: Collect a takeaway for two, €30.00. Finish day with 6,200 steps. A 6th of my steps today were probably used on collecting a takeaway! Covid stone!

                                     Today’s total: €45.00


10.00 am: I sleep in until 10:30 am and scroll through the phone for some time. I look at painting tutorials for what I’m going to do later on YouTube.

11:30 am: I then get paint pots together to go painting the logo for the day.

1 pm – 3 pm: Sketching a logo and then painting. I listen to podcasts and music while painting – I find this very relaxing and time goes very quickly. I stop at 3 pm for a toasted cheese sandwich and tea at 3 pm in the kitchen. I continue with 2hrs more painting on the logo. I get about halfway done and head home for the evening.

8.30 pm: Chinese takeaway for two, €30.00. I watch TV and had six drinks. I’ve had bottles leftover from Christmas so I didn’t have to buy any. I think this has roughly been the first time I have had a drink in 4 – 5 weeks. I clean up our bottles for recycling and go to bed after 2 am.

                                         Today’s total: €30.00


10:30 am: I wake and spend 45 mins scrolling on different apps on my mobile. I have a 25% off voucher to be used by today from my last online purchase. I would probably spend €150 on clothes or runners each month.

11:30 am: Instead of buying online I bought €20 of shares on a Trading 212 app. I now have €51.90. I then Google more information around the shares as there had been information on the news about stocks collapsing.

12 pm – 3 pm: Went to the shop and bought a roll, coffee and dog food for the week which came to €20.00. While at the shop my mother rings and asks me to do a shop for the house which comes to €115.00. I use an €11 voucher for the shopping as it’s over €75.00, bringing the total cost to €104.00.

4.00 pm: After unpacking I watch the Six Nations on TV and then the start of a soccer match and then go for a 2.5hr sleep.

8.00 pm: I clean my room and put on a wash. I then check my emails, respond to messages from parents and organise my schoolwork for next week.

10.00 pm: After cleaning and a poorly organised week I make a plan to set small goals for next week including eating more fruit, two litres of water, 10K steps, stretching and a run each day. By writing them down I find I’m a little more accountable.

                                Today’s total: €124.00

Weekly subtotal: €452.07


Lessons I learned –

  • I am good to put away money each month with the aim to buying a house but I realise I don’t have a plan.

  • My spending on groceries varies greatly from week to week. This week I planned a food shopping there are often weeks I don’t plan and can go to the shop or take away in the evenings spending €10 – €20 a day.

  • Usually every week I would go out for drinks amounting to €100-200. With covid I am not spending this money going out and save some more money.  I do realise that my online spending has increased since covid as I know my screen time has increased and I’m tempted to buy when I see a deal online for something I like and I have that extra cash. I tend to justify the purchase as I’m not going out and I rarely drink during covid. 

  • I am spending much more than usual on take aways since working from home. With the day being so quiet and when I’m not going training in the evening I find I look forward to a take away as it’s like a break from the house when I go to collect it. Since going back to teach on the classroom the take aways have stopped and I’m more active in the evenings as I’ve a better routine.

  • I love the painting and it’s such a handy earner in the side. For the hours and cost of materials I feel don’t make a huge profit but when I’m not busy due to restrictions it keeps me busy. I hope to do a lot more painting over the summer with nurseries and wall murals as an extra income.

  • Keeping a money diary has led me to contact an expert about my finances and it’s very interesting to see how far I am off a mortgage. Even though I am consistently saving each month I need to be saving 50% more in the next 2 years for a mortgage and this is where I hope my painting will help. 

  • I miss playing sport in the evenings most of all. That one hours hurling, football or tennis each evening with friends was great for structure on the evening and socialising. Hopefully sport will return in some form in April.

  • All-in-all I am very lucky to be happy in my job, feel comfortable financially and I have a good social circle that makes the best of the current situation. 

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