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How I Spend my Money A 26-year-old chef in Maynooth who is studying while working

This week, our reader shows how he manages to keep his spending down because he gets his meals at work.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that runs on Wednesdays and Sundays 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.

Want to take part? If you do, send us an email to We’d love to hear your story.

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 33-year-old corporate solicitor on €112,000 with a young family and living in Dublin. This week, it’s a 26-year-old chef in Co. Kildare, earning €35,000.


I’m currently renting in Maynooth and working in Malahide, in north Dublin. I work as a chef, full-time.

I work five days a week and one day in college as a part-time student. I am saving for a mortgage with my girlfriend at the moment and putting away €250 per month on a good (and unfortunately rare) month! 

Occupation: Chef
Age: 26
Location: Maynooth, Kildare
Salary: €35k
Monthly pay (net): €2500
Monthly expenses
Rent: €700
Transport: €200 (fuel)
Household bills: Internet, €15; electricity and gas €100
Phone bill: €20
Groceries: €150
Car insurance: €106
Dog kennels: €100 (my Half)
Dog food: €30 (my half)
College course: €200 (2600 per year the course) 
Dog food: €30 (my half)
Subscriptions: Netflix: €6 (my half)
Savings: €250, on a good month.



6.50 am Get up after only got three hours sleep last night due to a mid-day nap, yesterday. Never again. No time for breakfast, so I have a cup of tea to go. I drop my girlfriend at the bus and off I go to work, dropping my dog to the kennels along the way. Traffic is grand on the motorway.

8.20 am I arrive for work. I get a cup of soup at 11 am and my lunch at 2.10 pm, and of course one the perks of being a chef is free food.

5. 30 pm Finish a standard day at the office and I’m away to pick up the dog and my girlfriend. I drop them home and then off to Dunnes to do food shopping. I have 50 euro from Christmas vouchers and my bill comes to €110.10. I drop the shopping home and head out for a jog with the dog for about 40 mins. Back home, I eat and shower. Bit of Love Island with the missus and the fall asleep immediately. 

Today’s total: €60.10


6.50 am I wake up and roll out of the bed, make some eggs and sausages. I make my sandwiches for college and off I go. I make it in early and chill and drink my tea waiting for classes to start. I left my reusable water bottle in work yesterday, so I’m a bit lost. Will have to drink from the public water taps. Tough day at college, first day back in a while.

7.15 pm Finished college and I’m off home. Straight in the door, straight out for a jog with the dog, we call into my sister for a quick chat. And then home, shower, food. Get stuck into college work with a glass of wine as I have a lot on.

11.00 pm Off to bed as I’m very tired.

  Today’s total: €0.00


7.00 am Wake up and have a few scrambled eggs and a strong coffee to wake me up. Drop the girlfriend to the bus stop and I’m off to work dropping the dog off at the kennels along the way. Complete the days work, a normal day apart from the boss being a little bit annoying, more than the usual.

5.50 pm I’m off to collect my dog then to see if my girlfriend has arrived home. On the way, I get a phone call that my sister has a puncture nearby so I pick up my girlfriend and then straight there to help change the tyre. Home to make a burrito and enjoy it with a glass of wine. Bit of wrestling with my dog, then down to college work.

9.00 pm I keep an eye on Love Island while doing my college work.

10.30 pm Bed.

   Today’s total: €0.00


6.15 am Alarm goes off early so I’m up. Fried egg, sausage and soda bread for breakfast. Enjoy my coffee.

8.00 am I leave for work.

8.35 am Arrive and start my day’s work. Standard day, nothing to report.

5.30 pm I leave work at 5.30 and go straight to my parents picking up my dog and girlfriend obviously.. spend some time playing darts and chatting with the family. Leave about 9.30 pm and home to shower and sleep.

   Today’s total: 


 7 am I wake up. Today, my girlfriend is making me breakfast for a change, it’s porridge with some fresh berries and a cup of tea. I will take that. Off to work and drop the dog at the kennels.

10.30 am Usual day, I have my soup.

1.00 pm Bit of roast beef and veg for lunch.

5.30 pm Finished work, collect my dog and girlfriend. Have to pay the kennel guy €12 a day, but she was only in the kennels three days this week, so €36. Have to get a lot of college work done so I make a nice coffee and start. My girlfriend makes me a pizza.

11.00 pm Finished study and off to bed.

 Today’s total: €36


6.00 am Up and have to get assignments done.

8.00 am I grab a cereal and keep studying.

1.00 pm Finish up studying and then myself, my girlfriend and the dog are off to my parent’s house. I spend some time with the family and eat with them. It’s very important to me, that family time.

4.00 pm Myself and my girlfriend head cross county for my friend’s birthday. I picked up a few beers from home just so I don’t arrive with anything although I’m not drinking, I’m working in the morning.

10.00 pm Finish chats and we are off home. Big headache and feeling very tired.

Today’s total: €0 


7.00 am Up out of bed, have some cereal and off to work. Busy day at work.
5.45 pm I finish up and stop on the way to fill up my car with diesel. That comes to €61.57 and then I’m home. Have to do some laundry and take out the bins. And relax for the evening. Going to have an early night

 Today’s total: €61.57

Weekly subtotal: €157.67

What I’ve learned:   

  • I don’t have much of a life at the moment. I bring my own lunch to college and I eat at work so that saves me a lot.

  • This has been a good week financially, but some weeks I don’t do so well.

  • My dog and my car along with rent usually cost me most of my wages. 


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