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Dublin: 7°C Saturday 6 March 2021

How I Spend my Money: A 32-year-old factory worker with young children, in remission from cancer and getting help from social welfare

This week, our diary-keeper is a factory worker who was diagnosed with cancer. To supplement his reduced working hours, he receives social welfare payments.

TheJournal.ie reader

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.   

Last week, we heard from a primary school teacher living in Kildare and earning €37,000. This week, we meet a 32-year-old factory worker, in remission after a cancer battle and receiving social welfare payments to top up his income.


I’m a 32-year-old living and working in Dublin. I’m lucky that I live a 10-minute drive to work. I have four children with my wife – they’re aged 16, eight, five and four. I have worked from a young age and have always worked full-time.

I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and I’m lucky to be in remission. I now work 25 hours a week and get help from social welfare.

Some people think that anyone on social welfare is ‘scrounging’ from the state and expecting free money. That’s not the case for me. I like work and hopefully can return to full-time work at some stage in the future.

Occupation: Factory worker
Age: 32
Location: Dublin
Salary: €315 per week wages from my job plus €320 per week from working family payment

Monthly expenses
Rent: €1500 per month. I pay €440 per month and I get help with rent supplement
Household bills: €220, gas and electricity
Transport:  €100 petrol
Phone bill: €30
Groceries: €600
Health insurance: Medical card
Life insurance:  €28.40 for myself and wife
Subscriptions: €80 per month for child’s sports club
TV/Broadband: €165 per month




7.30 am I get up and get ready for work then call the kids for school. I’m lucky that I start work at 9.30 am so I drop the children to school after breakfast.

8.30 am Leave the house to bring the kids to school, then I drive to work.

9.20 am Arrive at work and learn there’s a big order to be finished by tomorrow evening, so today and tomorrow will be non-stop to get it ready.

12.30 pm Quick 30-minute lunch break. I try very hard to bring my own lunch into work. I do that every Monday and Tuesday as I barely have enough left over from my pay to waste in the shops. I find Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I splurge as payday is Wednesday. I’m trying hard not to. We’ll see how long it lasts!

2.50 pm I arrive home from work and head straight for a shower. I hear my wife and small kids come in from school. We try to eat together all the time but with fussy kids sometimes that’s not happening!

4.00 pm My older child returns from school and we sit down to stew from the groceries I got on Wednesday. 

5.30 pm I head to the shops to get bread, milk and fruit for the lunches.

7.30 pm Get the kids ready for bed and decide to have an early night myself.

  Today’s total: €9.80


7.30 am Today starts the same as yesterday.

9.20 am Arrive at work and get down to finishing the order. Work is hectic at the minute.

12.30 pm Finally, lunch! Need a break after the heavy lifting. I have a salad sandwich, apple and a pack of crisps from home. I make a cup of tea with my own travel cup in the break room.

3.30 pm Get home a little late as I stayed to load the truck. I feel stiff after being out of work for the Christmas holidays and the work was hard today. I play with the kids for a bit before dinner.

4.00 pm Dinner time. We have ham, potatoes and veg from the groceries we bought during the week.  

5.00 pm My wife brings the kids on a walk with the dog and I flake in front of the tv to watch Sky Sports news. I love football and can’t get enough of the transfer news.

6.00 pm I head up for a shower and then go to pick up my Dad to bring him to the shops. I go into my mam’s after the shop for a cup of tea and chat.

7.00 pm Get the kids washed and dressed for bed. My child is making their communion this year so we practice the prayers each night. The kids think it’s great fun and it relaxes them before bed. We try to set quiet time before bed so they go to sleep quickly when they go up. No such luck tonight!

9.30 pm My wife, myself and older child sit down and watch some tv before bed.

  Today’s total: €0.00


10.00 am I sleep a little later today as I’m not in work till 11.30 am. I get up and my wife has a fry for me. Not healthy I know, but you can’t beat a fry-up.

11.30 am I get into work and today is easier. We’re getting the products packaged and stacked so it’s ready in advance for orders.

1.30 pm Break time – I’m still full from breakfast so I just have a cup of tea.

4.30 pm Head home and I’m home by 4.45 pm which is good. I’m not too far from work so it’s handy and I really enjoy working so I’m blessed that I have a good boss who understands my circumstances. When I fell ill, I thought I would have to quit work. I’m grateful for the 25 hours I do work because I could not pay rent, buy groceries, etc. if I was just on social welfare alone.

5.00 pm My wife made chicken curry so I heat some up for myself. Everyone else is fed. I grab a shower after dinner.

5.30 pm The library is open late tonight so we head there so my wife can grab a few books – they keep her sane! The younger kids each choose a book. Our oldest child is glued to the Xbox one so doesn’t move.

7.30 pm Younger kids head to bed and I drop my oldest to training. He is sport mad. I’m glad he’s a good kid and is no trouble. I want my children to have a better life than we did when we were younger. We had him when we were both young and have lived on our own since 18, which was hard, and I worked all hours to support us. I’m glad he has sports to focus on.

9.30 pm My son comes home and we have a few games on the Xbox before heading to bed.

  Today’s total: €0.00


7.30 am Get everyone up and we have breakfast before heading out the door.

9.30 am Its payday today so my wife and I head shopping.  When I get paid I put money away weekly for the bills for the following month, such as tv/broadband, gas electricity rent, etc. It’s easier that way because otherwise, I would blow it. I put €110 away for the rent, €50 for the gas and electricity and €45 for the Sky.

10.30 am Head home from shopping. It cost €165. It might seem expensive but there were a few extras like washing powder, etc. that we usually already have. 

11.15 am I head to work.

4.30 pm Get home from work and decide to have a salad roll. I might make something later on if I’m hungry.

5.30 pm I go to the shop and get a few cans as I’m in work late tomorrow. I do a few bets in Paddy Power which comes to €10. I try not to bet all the time because I personally know how addictive it is and also I feel bad wasting money we can’t afford. 

6.15 pm Play with the kids before bed. They are gone crazy about jigsaws in our house so we do a few before bed.

8.30 pm Kids asleep in bed so we watch a movie on demand. I have four cans and go to bed after the film.

  Today’s total: €380


9.00 am Get a phone call from work asking if I can come in early as someone called in sick. I don’t mind, but now wish I didn’t have the cans.

11.30 am Break time and I decide to get a chicken filet roll for lunch. My not wasting money on food didn’t last long! It costs €4.50 with a can.

2.00 pm I get home and have a quick shower. I’m meeting my wife in her mam’s and we’re having dinner there today. Shepard’s pie – you can’t go wrong with that.

5.00 pm It’s a nice evening so we all bring the dog for a walk when we get home. My son is gone to the cinema with friends so I gave him €20. He’s a good kid and doesn’t ask for much and it’s not every day he goes to the cinema. 

6.30 pm We have a family movie night with popcorn and munchies from the shopping.  

9.30 pm  Small children are all asleep so I have a few games on the Xbox with my son. My wife reads and has a break, so win-win.

  Today’s total: €24.50


8.30 am I let my wife have a lie-in and myself and the kids go down for breakfast. 

9.30 am We decide to tidy the garden and clean the car. Seriously, how can so much rubbish go in one car!

11.00 am I clean the car and later we head to the shop for some fresh rolls. Fresh rolls and three kinder eggs later, we head home. 

12 30pm My wife makes lunch, we have some salad rolls and the kids have some chicken goujons and waffles. We try not to give junk food during the week but we kinda relax about it Saturday and Sunday. 

2.30 pm We pack a bag with some food and drinks and go to the Phoenix Park. The kids love it and get their wellies ready. We buy three ice creams there.

5.00 pm We get home red-faced and fresh from the park. We make pizza and wedges for tea.

6.30 pm My brother and friend are coming down tonight to watch the boxing.  I head to get some cans – they are bringing their own. That’s what we do if we are in each other’s homes, we get our own drink, as it’s cheapest. 

7.30 pm They arrive as the kids are going to bed. I put the kids to bed while my wife has a shower.

9.30 pm It’s great having a catch up with my brother and friend. We don’t usually do this every week, so it’s nice.

12.00 am The boxing match wasn’t the best. I head to bed as I promised the kids we’d have a fun day tomorrow.

  Today’s total: €20 approx, for cans and ice-cream.


9.30 am I get up and check what’s on in the cinema in the kids club. It’s a movie that the kids want to see so we decide to go.  It’s €3.50 a ticket in the kids club, which is great. It comes to €17.50. We bring our own goodies as it would cost a bomb to buy everything there.

1.00 pm We get home and make a start on dinner. We have chicken, mash, roasted potatoes and veg from the shopping.  We try to cook at home as often as we can.

3.00 pm We head to my mam and dad’s as it’s his birthday. €50 for his card.

5.30 pm We get home and get the school uniforms out for tomorrow.  I make the lunches and stick them in the fridge. We watch tv and colour before bed.

7.30 pm Kids get ready for bed and I decide to head up too. I’m wrecked.

  Today’s total: €67.50

Weekly subtotal: €501.80

What I’ve learned:   


  • I try to budget each week as money is tight.

  • We wouldn’t usually head to the cinema on a normal week but I promised the kids a treat.

  • I’m hoping to go back full-time in the next year or two and then I can start putting money away to save, as I hardly save at all.

About the author:

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