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Money Diaries An accountant on €68K living in Leinster

This week, our reader is busy juggling work life and family time, while making the money work for them all.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on The Journal 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 26-year-old financial advisor on €55K living with her grandmother in Dublin. This week, an account living in Leinster who earns €68K.


I have two children aged 11 and nine and we live in Kildare. I’ve massively improved over the years with how I manage money, but I could still be so much better. Before having kids, I would have been quite a spender and liked a bit of luxury. But after having children and due to circumstances of the marriage not working out and being a single parent, I’ve had to massively change my habits. No harm as it’s the first time I’ve actually managed to save while earning less and having much more to do with my money now than I did then.

I work as an accountant and have done for the past 25 years. I know, with my profession it’s presumed I know all about being careful with money, but believe me, I’m much better with other people’s.

I was always in full-time PAYE work until I had the children. I then went self-employed and part-time after taking a few years out when they were very small, which gave me the flexibility I needed. In the last two years, I have gone back into PAYE on a part-time basis as I needed to secure a mortgage after I divorced and needed more secure income.

I also still have my self-employed income, which is a nice mix between the two but also means I’m extremely busy. I’m three days based in the office and usually two at home. It is a juggle with the kids being a single parent, but we muddle through all the extra activities, the GAA and soccer matches, the homework, and everything else that goes with parenting. I have a childminder for two days per week, the rest of the time I work from home to save on childcare.

It’s getting slightly easier as they get older, but the school holidays are always an additional challenge as it’s impossible to be off for that amount of time. All annual leave is used up over those times and it still isn’t enough. The childcare costs quadruple with paying additional childcare and for camps to keep them occupied. I also book our week abroad during the peak time, while it’s more expensive holidaying in July/August, at least it’s another week that is filled during the long summer break. Up to last year, we holidayed in Ireland. Last year was the first time my children went on a plane. It’s been a game changer, it actually feels like a holiday and no more expensive really.

I earn about €68K per year, but I wouldn’t always get the equivalent net per month as some of my self-employed work is billed differently, mostly every two months and some of the income is concentrated at tax year end. On average, I get anywhere between €4,500 and €5,000 per month. I save €400 a month between the credit union and a savings account with Bank of Ireland. Usually, this goes on our summer holiday and Christmas. I have had to use the bank savings account recently to pay for flights for a soccer trip that the three of us are going on with my daughter’s soccer club in May. At least I’ll only have accommodation to pay and I will manage that without taking out more savings. I’ve also a deposit on a holiday in July in Spain, the balance of that will come out of the credit union savings when it’s due to be paid in April.

Occupation: Accountant

Age: 50

Location: Kildare

Salary: €68,000

Monthly pay (net): Between €4,400 and €5,500 – this includes children’s allowance and a small amount of maintenance 

Monthly expenses

Transport/Petrol: €100

Mortgage: €695

Household bills: €350 (less in summer (includes Sky €111)

Phone bill: €72

Health insurance: €98

Dental Insurance: €28

Groceries: €550

Subscriptions: €41 (Spotify + Netflix + HP + Microsoft)

Grooming: €150

Childcare: €400 (much more on school holidays with camps etc)

Gym/PT: €156

Revenue (warehoused debt) loan: €135

Savings: €400

Cleaner: €100

Car and house insurance: €78

Mortgage insurance: €21

Takeaways: €100

TV license: €13

Kids activities: €150

Eating out & lunches: €200

Entertainment: €100

Total monthly spend: €3,867



7.15 am: The alarm goes off and I get up 15 minutes later. A couple of boiled eggs for brekkie. Get the kids sorted, our two cats and myself ready to leave by 8.30ish. I drop the children to school for 8.50 and I’m at my desk to start work for 9 am. I’m lucky I live so close to work and school. Snack on some almonds and coffee in the office mid-morning.

1.00 pm: Work for the morning preparing year-end accounts for my client list. On Mondays, I work through lunch so I can leave at 4.30 pm. I grab a sandwich and crisps for lunch (€10.00) and have it at the desk. More client accounts and meetings for the afternoon.

4.30 pm: I leave work and pick up McDonalds for the kids (€17.10) on the way home.
Catch up with the kids.

5.30 pm: Go to a gym/PT session. My daughter has GAA practice but thankfully another parent is doing the drop and collection. Yay!

6.30 pm: I cook steak and veg for my dinner, kids not hungry. They have hot chocolate and cookies before bed. The evening is a mix of homework and TV and a couple of chores (hate housework).

10.00 pm: In bed for a read before lights out at 10.30 pm.

Today’s total: €27.10


7.00 am: The alarm goes off. I have to leave slightly earlier on Tuesdays to drop the children to the minder. They have activities later on and need gear with them so easier to drop everything to the minder’s house instead of lugging it to school. I still lie in bed until 7.25 am! Get breakfast (Pop-Tarts) for the kids and hound them to get dressed and off their tablets. The cleaner arrives as we leave, I love seeing her coming :) It’s a luxury I know, but I think it’s worth it. She comes for three hours every second week. It costs €50.
I drop the children to the minder and stop off at Spar on the way to work for a “guilty” breakfast. I spend €4.95 on a few breakfast items.

9.00 am: At my desk for more preparation of company accounts. Boss brings in a cappuccino for me at 11.30 am.

1.00 pm: It’s raining at lunch so I go to the nearest café. Instead of getting a healthy salad, I get an almond croissant and a packet of crisps (€5.50) and sit at my desk. Usually do some Googling and scrolling on my phone, but today I’m looking at my bank account to fill in this diary. Energia electricity bill has also come out today. €103.77 for two months. Not too bad.

5.30 pm: I leave work and collect my son and bring him to soccer. I have half an hour between dropping him and picking up my daughter from sewing. I make a work call, and pop into a shop to pick up a coffee for myself, cat food and cookies for my daughter and her friend. I spend €15.94. We head home and I make pizza for her while I prep veg for fried rice and put on some turkey burgers for myself and my son. Yes, we all eat different meals :(.

7.00 pm: I leave to collect him from soccer and get back at 7.45 pm, absolutely starving. I haven’t eaten since lunchtime. We all have a bite-size mini brownie after dinner.

8.00 pm: The kids play some Fortnite and go to bed around 9.30 pm.

10.00 pm: I watch some TV and go to bed at 11 pm.

Today’s total: €180.16


7.00 am: Alarm goes off. Same as yesterday, lie here till 7.30 am. Jump in the shower and get the kids up. I have turkey sausages, my daughter has normal sausages and brown toast and my son has Pop-Tarts for brekkie. Usual morning routine, make lunches and pack whatever bag is needed for whatever activity.

8.40 am: I leave to drop the kids to school before dropping the soccer bag to the minder’s and at my desk for 9 am. I topped up the bin account by €25 before I left for work and put out the green bin. The usual morning of company accounts preparation.

1.00 pm: I head out and pick up a chicken salad and a packet of quavers for lunch. This costs €7.50. I also get €100 from the ATM for the minder. Continue working for the afternoon until I leave at 5.30 pm.

6.00 pm: Collect my daughter from the minder and drop her and a pal to soccer. While I’m there, I collect my son, his training is finished. We head home and I start dinner. My daughter is being dropped home so we don’t have to go out again. I do roast salmon and stir fry veg for me, my son has rice and a turkey burger and I make chips for my daughter when she comes home. We have a lazy evening watching TV.

11.00 pm: I go to bed and read for a little while.

Today’s total: €132.50 


7.30 am: Alarm goes off. I get up around 7.50 am. I change to my self-employed work on Thursdays and Fridays so the pace is not as hectic and I don’t have to get dressed! Breakfast is boiled eggs for me, croissants for my daughter and more Pop-Tarts for my son. I drop the children to school.

9.30 am: I normally have a Zoom call with a client at this time but it’s cancelled this week. I head to Eurospar to pick up some carrots and lentils, I want to make a beef stew. I spend €8.54 and grab a few other bits while I’m there. Because I’ve no call, I take advantage and do a PT class at the gym. I run into a friend and have a natter with her after our workout. I then buy a bulb for the headlight in the car (€7.30). I also get a cappuccino (€3.80).

11.00 am: I head back home, do a few chores and make a delicious meaty, veggie stew. I’m doing a few sessions of counselling over the next few months.

12.30 pm: I have an appointment with the counsellor. She costs €85, but it’s money well spent.

1.45 pm: I get back home and have some stew for lunch. I start up the laptop and get some work done in between the kids arriving home from school and giving them their dinner. Pizza for my daughter, some beef, rice and carrots for my son.

5.30 pm: I finish working and bring my son to soccer training. I call into Lidl to get a jar of chocolate spread to replace the one I smashed earlier and of course, buy a few more groceries. I spend €27.30. I go home and make my tea, I fry some chicken thighs in spices and have them with avocado, tomato and lettuce, it’s delish.

7.30 pm: I collect my son from soccer. Showers for everyone, hot chocolate and TV for the rest of the evening and I get another hour’s work in.

9.30 pm: Kids in bed. I watch some TV before bed at 11 pm.

Today’s total: €131.94


7.30 am: Alarm goes off, off we go again! Turkey sausages for me, bacon roll for my daughter and cereal for my son. I drop the children at school and get petrol and milk (€31.58). I’m in with a client for the morning. He’s not arriving till 10 am so I’ve 40 minutes or so before I need to leave. I head to Costa with my laptop and get an Americano (€3.75) and get some work done.

2.00 pm: I work away until 2.30 pm in the client’s office. I’m not staying for the day, so I just have a protein/nut bar and coffee for a snack.

3.00 pm: I head home and arrive back as the children arrive home. They’re starving. Rice and carrots for my son and mini pizzas for my daughter. I have a bowl of stew. I get another hour’s work done before we leave for swimming lessons for my son. Myself and my daughter have a hot chocolate and coffee and a snack while we are waiting for him. That costs €14.70… bloody hell!

5.30 pm: We get back home. I answer another few emails and head out for a brisk walk.

7.30 pm: I cook some dinner for myself – stir fry spicy chicken with salad. The kids have toast and popcorn while watching TV. I give in to the kids pestering and buy them V-Bucks (Fortnite currency!) It costs €8.99. My daughter gives me €4 from her piggy bank… very sweet. We all chill for the evening and go to bed at 11 pm.

Today’s total: €59.02


8.00 am: I’m awake early. Isn’t it always the way when you don’t have to get up? I sneak downstairs and have a coffee and listen to the radio. I love when the kids are still in bed and I’ve the house to myself for a bit. They eventually stir at around 9 am. I make breakfast: eggs for me again, sausage sambo for my daughter, toasted waffle for my son.

10.15 am: I head off to do a PT class. It’s great my gym is literally a three-minute drive from my house and the sessions are 35 mins.

11.00 am: I get home and shower and “encourage” the kids to get themselves dressed. It’s a struggle getting them moving. Myself and my daughter are getting haircuts. We all head to the hairdressers. That costs €104.50.

1.30 pm: We get back home. I stop in the local Eurospar for a few groceries for lunch (€20.54). I cook lunch, more spicy stir fry for me and salad, my daughter has a toasty and my son more rice and veg. We are creatures of habit!

2.30 pm: I decide on a whim to go to town (Dublin). I don’t fancy hanging around the house. I book tickets for a tour of Dublin Castle. Under 12s go free, so it just costs €8.00 for me. We jump on a bus at 2.40 pm (€4) and arrive at 3.30 pm for our tour. It’s really nice. We have a lovely wander around Dublin Castle and the grounds and have three hot drinks and a brownie over at the Chester Beatty Museum (€16.05). I buy a little picture in the gift shop (€22.95). It’s a really nice day so we can sit outside while we have our drinks. We wander through town and go for a long walk along the docks. A friend had recommended a place down there for food.

6.00 pm: We arrive and luckily get a table. It’s very busy with the rugby on, not the best day in hindsight to try. Two Cokes and a G&T for me, my son get wings, my daughter just gets chips (she’s not hungry) and I get a protein salad. We sit there chatting for a while before heading off to catch a train home. The meal and drinks cost €54.70. We get the 7.20 pm train home (€5.70) and arrive back at 8.30 pm. We are all tired and chill for the rest of the evening. The kids head to bed at 10.30 pm and I stay up till midnight watching TV.

Today’s total: €236.44


9.00 am: I set the alarm for 9 am. Lovely lie in! We usually have soccer matches on Sunday morning and they are mostly early kick-offs. Both my son and daughter’s kick-off times are clashing this week so I ask a friend if she can give my daughter a lift. She’s being picked up at 10.30 am and I’ll leave at 11.30 am to drop my son to his match. The usual breakfast routine first. Turkey pudding and eggs for me, sausage sambo for my daughter and toasted waffle and cereal for my son.

10.15 am: We get word that my daughter’s match is cancelled because the pitches are unplayable – a regular occurrence with the weather lately for grass pitches. My friend still brings the girls for a kick around seeing as they are all ready to go.

12.00 pm: I come back home after dropping my son and do a few chores.

12.45 pm: I leave to collect him and go early so I can watch the last half hour of him playing. They lose, unfortunately, and he’s not happy. We collect my daughter from my friend’s house and head home. I met two friends for a quick coffee. My friend pays before we have a chance to pay.

3.45 pm: Big rush to get to a birthday party that my son is invited to. I put €10 in a card for his friend and we head off. We’re a little late but no harm. It’s in Jump Zone in Liffey Valley so my daughter and I have food in the food court and have a wander round the shops. Realise I haven’t eaten since breakfast, we are very hungry. I pay €26.10 for a salad from a Mexican place for me and McDonald’s for my daughter… mental prices! Includes three drinks (I buy an extra Diet Coke for me). My daughter is delighted to look in the shops, she’s getting to that age now where she is interested in clothes. Unfortunately for me, that means more money to spend. As a result, I’m fleeced for €36.98 in H&M. Thankfully the party is over and it’s time to collect my son and head home. It costs €2.50 for parking. He has some burgers when he gets home as he didn’t really eat at the party. I have a large mug of stew, my salad has worn off. My daughter is still full.

7.00 pm: I go to Lidl to get some lunch items for the week and naturally, a few more groceries. I spend €44.43. We are all tired after a busy day. I get the uniforms ready and we chill for the rest of the evening ahead of another busy week.

9.30 pm: Bedtime for the kids. I stay up way too late until after midnight binge watching Netflix.

Today’s total: €120.01

Weekly subtotal: €887.17


What I learned –

  • €887 for the week, not sure how I feel about that really. It’s more or less in line with my monthly spend of €3,867. Could it be cut back? Definitely. Do I want to? Probably not. I do question a lot and look at my finances around cutting back on work and not having childcare. Could also cut back on the additional spends and the last minute days out but I suppose I don’t see it as drastically excessive to spend the guts of €100 on an afternoon out for the three of us, including dinner. We’ve been through a really difficult time as a family in recent years and I’ve spent an obscene amount in legal fees in the quest to get security for myself and my kids going through the family courts, it’s a very broken system. I feel we are in a good place now and I’m very grateful that I can support us.
  • I am at the age now where I worry a little about a pension, so that is my next endeavour. I do have a very small one from working in PAYE a long time ago so at least it’s a start I most likely will direct some of the €400 in savings to a PRSA. I would also like to begin to overpay my mortgage. Should I not save anything and put the €400 into mortgage and pensions? It would worry me not having any savings behind me… who knows what the right answer is? I will look for financial advice soon but have a feeling everything will work out just fine.
  • I would love to do some renovations on the house and love a new car but I wouldn’t overextend myself in having a huge mortgage, €700 is enough for a single parent I think. Maybe someday though!
  • Tips, what tips would I have… I should say (being an Accountant) save your money, start paying into a pension, get your own home as soon as you can! What I will say is….. enjoy your money, you work hard for it and life is for living and not worrying …well not too much anyway.

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