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How I Spend My Money: A 25-year-old design engineer working at home in Carlow

This week, our young reader tries to close the purchase of a house while working from home during shutdown.

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 22-year-old graduate surveyor living with family in Dublin, discussing her routine during the shutdown. This week, we’re in Carlow with a 25-year-old Design Engineer who usually resides in Dublin but has moved home to isolate during the Covid-19 shutdown.

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I am a 25-year old male, living in Carlow Town at home with my mother and younger brother. I am a Design Engineer and I normally work in Dublin, but since the outbreak of Covid-19 I have been working from home. I would usually get the bus from Carlow to the Red Cow and then get the Luas straight to my office. 

I am currently near the end of purchasing a three-bedroom home for €115,000 here in Carlow. I have wanted to move out for a while now and when this property came up and I thought it made sense to buy it rather than paying up to €650 a month for a room in the city. My mortgage repayments should work out at €470 per month over 25 years.

I was saving an average of €1500 a month for the deposit and solicitor fees, which have been paid. It took me about a year to save for the deposit. People always find it hard to believe that I was able to save so much in that space of time. A few things that helped: living at home, no car and a dramatic change in lifestyle.

I get paid weekly so as soon as I was paid, I would transfer €500 into a savings account and forget about it. I did this for three weeks in a month and for the last week, I would pay my rent and use the rest of my wage to supplement the other three weeks. I was planning to get work done on the house before I moved in but that’s all on hold now. 

I’m lucky and grateful that I still have a job but, I can’t help but feel this situation will get worse before it gets better.   

Occupation: Design Engineer
Age: 25
Location: Carlow
Salary: €29,720.60 (base)
Monthly pay (net): €571.55 (per week, with no overtime as the company has put a stop to it for now)

Monthly expenses
Transport: Bus ticket €165 (annual tax saver ticket that still comes straight out of my gross pay every week). Luas €61.60 (I’m not including this in my diary as I haven’t got the Luas in the last three weeks)   
RentI normally pay €450 (split with my mum, total €850) but our landlord has said we can pay €700 for the duration of this crisis. 
Transport: We have a pay-as-you-go account for our electricity and gas and I cover the electricity with €20 a week (€80 total per month)
Phone bill:  €45
Internet: €40 (my mum pays this)
Groceries: I would typically spend between €25-€30 for food to make my lunches for the week
Groceries:  Netflix: €12, Spotify: €10

***

Monday 30 March

4.00 am: I’m usually up at 5 am to get ready and mum drops me off at the bus stop to get my 6 am bus. She then goes back home gets ready herself and she’s in work for 8 am. Now, mum must be up at 4 am to be at work for 6 am. I’m a light sleeper so whenever she’s up I’m up. I stay in bed for a bit then get up, have a shower and start work at 5 am. Some of my friends have said to me that they don’t shower as often anymore because they aren’t leaving the house. For me, a shower is the same as a cup of coffee in the morning for some people, it gets me going.

8.30 am: I have a meeting with my team lead about what work I plan to get done today. 

10.00 am: I have breakfast for about 15 minutes which consists of four slices of toast and a hot chocolate and I go back to work. As I am alone at “work” (apart from my brother who has his own work to do) I listen to various podcasts throughout the day.

1.00 pm: I have lunch which is Jollof rice, a Nigerian dish and some plantain, my mother had made over the weekend. My lunch break lasts 30 minutes and I return to work.

3.30 pm: I have a meeting with my team lead and the rest of my team. The topic is on quality and challenges we face in relation to our targets. The whole situation has been ongoing and has me really worried about the future of the company, especially now in these trying times.

4:30 pm: I finish work for the day and mum comes home. We chat for a bit and she tells me she’s worried about Covid-19 and is finding the situation at work stressful. Guess it’s taking a bit of time to sink in at this stage.

9:30 pm: I end up going to bed early after watching some Netflix.         

             Today’s total: €0

Tuesday 31 March

4.00 am: Mum up again for work, I stay in bed for a bit longer today and decide to start work at 7 am. I put out the bins as it is collection day, then I get an alert on my phone that the quarterly bill for the bins is due. It is €72 which I usually split with my mum, but I just decide to pay it myself. She’s a bit stressed over the extra hours she’s working and to add insult to injury she says the extra hours aren’t worth it due to the amount of tax taken off.

8.30 am: I have my usual meeting with my team lead.

10.00 am: I have breakfast which again consists of four slices of toast and a hot chocolate and I go back to work.

12.00 pm: I receive a call from my mother checking up on me and my brother. She asks me if I can make chicken curry for dinner. I agree to make the dinner if she picks up the ingredients on her way home.

1:30 pm: Lunchtime, I have the last of the jollof rice my mum made with some salad. I talk to my brother and see how he’s getting on with his schoolwork, then I go back to work.

5.00 pm: I had planned to finish work at 3.30 pm but that didn’t happen, but mum came home at that time, so it was ok. I had wanted to use whole chicken fillets for the chicken curry because I like cutting it up myself, but all mum could get were some small diced pieces of chicken. Even the carrots I wanted to use were not there, just small fun-sized ones for children’s lunch boxes. We made do with what we had, and it still turned out great.

7.00 pm: I spend the rest of the evening on my PlayStation with some friends.

             Today’s total: €72

Wednesday 1 April

4.00 am: Mum is up getting ready for work. I stay in bed for a while. I’m three weeks into working from home and I’m starting to hate it. My back is killing me because I don’t have a proper office chair and I miss my standing desk. I always thought the idea of working from home would be great especially since I have to commute for more than two hours. I wouldn’t even know where I could get an office chair with everything closed. I start work today at 6.30 am.

8.30 am: I have my usual meeting with my team lead.

10.00 am: This morning’s breakfast consists of cereal and a banana. I decide to eat in the back garden just to get some fresh air. 

1.00 pm: I have lunch with my brother, we have the leftover curry from last night’s dinner. The whole lockdown situation is starting to get to him too. I can’t engage with him a lot throughout the day as I am busy working so he is often alone.

4.00 pm: I finish work for the day and chill with my brother. We watch some TV and mum comes home.

7.00 pm: I’m not particularly hungry this evening so I just have a pot noodle that was in the cupboard. I spend the rest of the evening on the PlayStation again.

         Today’s total: €0

Thursday 2 April

4.00 am: Mum was up again for work; I keep contemplating if I should go for a run in the morning or not. I always used to hate that I never had the time to exercise, but now that I do, I’m not really taking advantage of it. After attempting to do some form of exercise this morning and failing, I decide to start work at 6.30 am. 

8.30 am: I have my usual meeting with my team lead.

10.00 am: I make an effort with my breakfast this morning which consists of an omelette on a sesame seed bagel. Soon after I get a call from my solicitor that I need to come to her office to sign some documents for the purchase of the house and we agree to meet at 2 pm. I let my team lead know that I’ll be finishing up work for the day at lunchtime. He says it’s fine as long as I complete the work I’ve committed to today, which is fair. 

1.30 pm: I finish my work for the day, change into more suitable clothing, grab my bicycle and head out. The town isn’t as busy as it usually is with many of the non-essential shops closed, but there are still plenty of people hanging around. I meet with my solicitor and sign the documents. She tells me that she has the keys to the house and all that is need is for the bank to release the funds which should happen in the next few days. I head home but stop on the way to get some Oreos for my brother, which cos €2.50.

3.00 pm: With nothing much else to do I hop onto the PlayStation. Soon after I get a message from my team lead asking if I am planning to clock back on this evening, which I hadn’t planned to do. He further explains that there are two jobs waiting for me and he would appreciate if I could get them done by the end of the week. I want to say no, but I know that these are difficult times and I’m trying to be as flexible as possible. I agree to look at the jobs but make no promises as to when I can get them done. I’m a bit wrecked as I’ve been doing early starts, so I have a quick nap. I’ll work this evening instead.

7.00 pm: I wake from my nap and head downstairs to start work for the evening. Mum has made dinner which is pasta. I have some while I work. I end up working till 10.30 pm and then go to bed.

            Today’s total: €2.50

Friday 3 April

4.00 am: Mum gets up as usual for work. I start work at 6 am to finish off the jobs from yesterday.

9.30 am: I stop to have a quick breakfast of toast and hot chocolate, then back to work.

11.30 am: I finish my work and tell my team lead I’m done for the week. At this point on paper, I have done 39 hours but, in reality, I have also done about four hours of overtime. I shut down my computer and walk away. 

1.00 pm: I notice we are running low on electricity, so I head out to my local Centra, which is, of course, within the 2km limit. I top up the electricity by €20 with a service charge of 50c. While out I also take out €100 to give to my mum to send to my grandmother back in Nigeria. Food has become expensive there due to the Covid-19 lockdown and she is running low. I also decide to get a kebab for myself and I get some chips for my brother which comes to a total of €8.50.

2.00 pm: I spend the rest of the day/evening switching between watching Netflix, PlayStation and Twitter. 

            Today’s total: €129.00

Saturday 4 April

7.30 am: I’m an early bird so I never usually sleep in on the weekends unless I have a really late night. I do my laundry and clean the house a bit. With nothing else to do my plan for the rest of the day is to just watch a few movies that I haven’t gotten around to seeing. These include Hereditary, Midsommar, Knives Out, the new Star Wars and Ad Astra.

1.00 pm: Around this time, I have a craving for a strawberry cheesecake that they have at my local Iceland, so I head out. Mum asks me to also get some green peas and sweet corn for dinner. Unfortunately, they don’t have the cheesecake I want, so I settle for a four-pack of Snickers ice cream bars and a brick of salted caramel ice cream which turns out to be disappointing. The total comes to €11.70.

3.00 pm: The rest of the evening is spent eating junk food and watching more movies.

            Today’s total: €11.70

Sunday 5 April

7.00 am: I usually get up to get ready for a Sunday service at 10 am, but that’s now cancelled. I keep seeing all these posts online about how people should be using all this free time to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby, but honestly, I don’t have the mental capacity for that. Work seems to be more stressful than ever and most of my attention is focused on closing out the sale of the house. 

10.00 am: I go to Tesco with mum to do our weekly shop. We don’t buy a lot just the essentials and a few other bits. I chip in €20. I basically spend the rest of the day doing nothing and mentally preparing for the work week ahead.

          Today’s total: €20.00

Weekly subtotal: €235.20

What I’ve learned:   

  • Even though this wasn’t a typical week for me, the amount of money I spent wasn’t far off (excluding the €100 I sent to my grandmother). I’ve been very careful with my spending ever since I started saving for the house.
  • I’m happy to see that I didn’t spend a lot on eating out, as this was something I had to clamp down on the last few months.
  • The couple of times I did go out, whenever I wanted to buy something, I really thought about it, asked myself how will this thing benefit me, and if I didn’t need it I wouldn’t buy it.
  • Because I’m at home more using a computer with two monitors and then also on the PlayStation more, the electricity doesn’t last as long so I might have to spend €30 next time instead.

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