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Money Diaries follow-up A Kilkenny agricultural worker looks back at her spending

This week, our reader has a different and much lower spend in her life now that she and her husband are empty-nesters.

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 hospitality manager on €55K living in Munster. This week a Kilkenny agricultural worker revisits her diary after four years and realises how much has changed financially.


Four and a half years ago, I submitted a diary and it was published. As my circumstances have changed quite a bit, I’ve decided to send an updated one.

I have six children, three abroad, all gainfully employed. We’re empty nesters now!

Occupation: Agricultural worker

Age: 63

Salary: €32000 approx

Monthy pay (net):  €2000 approx. My husband contributes €800/month to household expenses. He’s a pensioner who works part -ime in the same job as me, but in a different department. He loves his job and plans to continue as long as he can. I’m considering deferring my own pension if my health allows.

I try to save €100/week into a separate savings account with no real goal. Trying to create a buffer I suppose but I often dip into it for unexpected expenses or to treat myself. I also have a very small private pension plan that I pay €20/week into.

Monthly Expenses

Transport: €120. We live very near work so we don’t spend much on diesel. If we’re going to Dublin, we generally take the train as my husband has a companion travel pass.

Mortgage: None. Paid off July 2022

Household bills: €1,200. All paid via direct debit weekly to our local credit union. €100/ car loan, finished end March, €100/ motorhome loan (I treated myself to a modest motorhome when the mortgage was paid! Have had some lovely trips around Ireland since we got it, but have yet to venture abroad. Would highly recommend it to anyone, the sense of freedom is great!), €100/budget account which covers all the main bills; Electricity, Solid fuel, Car and motorhome tax, insurance, servicing, repairs etc.

Phone: €30 payg

Groceries: €400 approx

Health insurance: none

Subscriptions: Netflix, that we rarely watch, paid by one of our sons.



7.45 am: Haul myself out of bed, hate getting up these dark mornings. Gently encourage hubby to rise and shine too! Let the dogs out to the toilet.

8.00 am: Porridge, banana and flaxseeds with tea for hubby. I tend to vary it. Today it’s toast and cheese spread with tea. We log in at work at 8.15. Our hours officially are 7.30 to 15.30, a throwback to Covid times when we were put in bubbles of 3 or 4 and allocated different start, lunch and finishing times and that has largely continued. As we are the seniors in the job, they cut us some slack!

10.00 am: I have a banana, I suffer from IBS and I find eating little and often is a big help.

12.00 pm: Lunch is a sandwich, fruit and yoghurt, prepared last night. We have good facilities at work, hot water boiler, toaster microwave fridge etc. Tea and coffee supplied.

12.30 pm: Back to work for the afternoon. Hubby goes home at 1.30 pm and I finish at 4 pm.

4.30 pm: Home now and a cup of tea before putting on the dinner, chicken casserole in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high!

7.00 pm: We eat dinner in front of the telly, hubby falls asleep, I scroll on my phone while watching the soaps.

9.00 pm: Tidy up after dinner, feed and let the dogs out. Make lunches and set up breakfast for the morning. More telly and bed around 11.30.

Today’s total: €0.00


8.10 am: Late this morning, didn’t get up till 8.10, breakfast as yesterday, in work for 8.45.

10.00 am: Banana as usual.

12.00 pm: Lunch, same as yesterday. Hubby goes home at 1 pm and I work till 4.30 pm.

5.00 pm: Tea and a biscuit and watch a small bit of TV. I’m trying to do a bit of decluttering, clearing out stuff left behind by the kids when they moved out. Stuff they insisted they wanted to keep but is still in the spare room three years later!

6.00 pm: We have dinner, bacon chops, frozen cabbage and turnip with jacket potatoes. I always buy frozen veg now, less waste and less work for me!

7.00 pm: Watch some TV and scroll on my phone after dinner.

9.00 pm: Feed the dogs, let them out, make lunch and set out the breakfast things. Another bit of TV and bed for 11 pm.

Today’s total: €0.00


7.30 am: Up and awake. It’s just me going to work today, hubby doesn’t work Wednesdays anymore.

7.500 am: He drops me to work after breakfast and I clock in for 8 am.

10.00 am: And it’s the usual banana.

12.00 pm: Lunch of sandwich, fruit and yoghurt. Someone has brought in biscuits so I have a couple with my tea.

3.45 pm: Home at 3.45, tea and I have a snooze on the recliner with the dogs. Hubby is off somewhere so I have the house to myself.

5.30 pm: The hubby rings to say he’s on his way home, that’s my cue to put the dinner on. Today it’s chicken burgers with homemade chips and coleslaw.

7.00 pm: Watch the soaps until 9 pm and feed the dogs, make lunches and set up for breakfast. Hubby goes to bed before me, to watch documentaries on his phone. He’s hard of hearing so has to have the volume turned way up and it deafens me!

Today’s total: €0.00


8.00 am: Up at 8, dogs out and in, breakfast of usual porridge for hubby. I have poached egg on toast.

10.00 am: You guessed it… banana.

11.45 am: Staff meeting which goes on for an hour. It’s a monthly thing, same old, same old.

1.30 pm: Our lunch is late today cos of the meeting, 12.45, same as usual, sandwich, fruit and yoghurt.

2-4.00 pm: Hubby finished at 2 pm and I finish at 4.15 pm. It’s raining so I get a lift with a colleague. If it’s fine, I usually walk home.

5.00 pm: We have to go into town today so decide to have pub grub for dinner. Hubby has bacon and cabbage and a pint of Heineken and I have the fish and chips and a pint of Miwadi. He pays.

6.30 pm: Home, have tea and a biscuit and settle down to watch a bit of TV till 9 pm when I do my usual nighttime routine.

Today’s total: €0.00


7.30 am: Up and in work for 8.15. I could give up Friday work, it’s the least busy day for me. Maybe later in the year. I usually finish up with hubby on Fridays at around 2 pm. I love Fridays! Always my favourite day of the week. No lunches to make!

3.00 pm: Today I have to go to our local recycling centre. We don’t have a bin service and I am an avid recycler. We live close to the county centre so we are able to get rid of anything that we need to.

5.00 pm: I take the dogs for a walk to a local park and head home.

6.00 pm: Dinner is baked potatoes with toppings.

9.00 pm: Hubby is off to the pub and I head to Aldi for the weekly shop which comes to €85.00.

Today’s total: €85.00


8.30 am: Up and let dogs out and in, banana and toast for me and usual porridge for hubby.

9.00 am: It’s our weekend to work so we’re in and finish at 11.30. We have complete flexibility at the weekend so, barring any catastrophes, we’re usually in and out in less than three hours.

12.00 pm: Home and it’s a fry up for brunch.

1.30 pm: I sit down to watch Location, Location, Location on Channel 4 while hubby grumbles! I remind him that he can spend hours watching documentaries at full volume.

3.00 pm: I put on a wash and do some of the dreaded housework. I hate it and can’t understand how it gets so grubby but I suppose the dogs don’t help. Sometimes I’ll head into town and have a browse around the charity shops. I don’t have much reason to dress up so I spend very little on clothes. I sometimes get really nice preloved stuff online for a fraction of the original cost.

6.00 pm: We order a takeaway from the local chipper, two doner kebabs. Husband pays. I do very little cooking on Saturday!

Today’s total: €0.00


8.30 am: Up and in work at 9 after the usual breakfast.

12.00 pm: Home at 12 noon and hubby has smoked mackerel for lunch and I have scrambled eggs. This time of year we tend not to do much travelling. Too cold and miserable but we might go for a drive on a fine day to meet up with family for a coffee if they were free but everyone is so busy these days, getting on with their lives.

4.00 pm: I stick on our Sunday dinner, roast chicken, roast potatoes, marrow fat peas and carrots.

5.00 pm: Chill for the evening until 9 pm when I feed the dogs, make the lunches etc etc and it starts all over again.

Today’s total: €0.00

Weekly subtotal: €85.00

What I’ve learned - 

  • I guess my life must appear very boring but I love being at home with my beloved dogs. They have in a way, replaced the children in my life. It’s also nice only having to consider hubby and myself when making decisions.
  • Looking back, I don’t know how we put the kids through college with all the associated expenses, while paying a mortgage on relatively modest wages. But you do what you have to, I suppose. I’ve always been a thrifty person so that helped.

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