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Money Diaries: An education service manager on over €55K, living with family in the Midlands

This week, our reader and his wife are busier than ever in lockdown between homeschooling and working.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie 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 money@thejournal.ie. 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 an actor and bartender out of work in Dublin and receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). This week we feature a training and education manager living in the Midlands with his family.

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I am a 36-year-old male living in the Midlands, but a native of Munster, so if you see anyone wearing the red rugby gear, that’s me! Currently working full-time with no real plans of what to save for or buy next!!

I am married for the last number of years and have two children, 17 and 11. We bought a home in 2016 and got a great deal, were lucky to do so, on a large house that needed some TLC (insulation, insulation).

I am an essential worker in the training and education sector and my wife is also an essential social worker, so no let-up from the daily slog for either of us. Lockdown has not been that much of a change, to be honest, we still go out shopping, get takeaways, have drinks at home and get out with the two dogs and two children as much as we can in our little space.

At present, I am aware I waste money on non-essentials, but honestly, there is so little to do that I don’t feel as bad until I see my bank account each month ☹. My biggest hobbies would be rugby, martial arts, gym, cycling and going out for runs or walks with the kids and dogs.

I’m fortunate to live very close to where I work, which was a major factor in taking the job and turning down subsequent promotions.

Occupation: Service Manager in training and education
Age: 36
Location: Laois-Midlands
Salary: €55,640 per year
Monthly pay (net): €3250 (have some married tax credits)

Monthly expenses

Transport: Say €60 a month now with Covid – might usually be €120
Mortgage: €730 per month – 33 LPT – another €50 let’s say for insurance and mortgage protection
Loans €280 – car loan, two years left
Car Insurance €42
Household bills: Roughly €200 per month, €80 elec, €120 gas, on the Energia plan.
Other bills: €100 a month. I usually find there is other stuff to pay, car tax and the like.
Phone bill: €30
Gym: €22
Health insurance: Can’t afford it!
Groceries: €200 my wife usually pays more for this, could be €400-500 a month
Subscriptions: Lots, and nothing ever to watch!! Netflix €15.99, Disney plus €5.99, Now Tv €7.50, Amazon prime Tv €5.99. My wife has a family Spotify account, Tv/Broadband, €60
Savings account for kids: €100-50 each.

Monday 

7.00 am: Usually I am the first up in the house, make breakfast and turn on the heating. At the moment I am working from home but I live near my office so I head up there most days. It’s a short walk so no costs. My youngest usually comes with me to do school work in my office and loves it. Gets through it all with me working and playing teacher.

11.30 am: The little boss is hungry, and there is a nice shop a one minute walk from me, so up there to get sausage rolls, a little flavoured milk, coffee and washing pods for home (€8.50).

1:30 pm: Decide to head into town to pick up dinner food for later on and a few bags of coal for the fire as it is freezing these last few days. We have a large enough house and before anyone says, the downside is the bills are higher! Total for dinner (€22.50) Coal three bags for (€28.99).

5:00 pm: Wife home from work and we start dinner, it’s usually a two-person job as we chat to each other, kids come in and out, the dog jumps at the window and general noise. My wife is a better cook so usually takes the lead, but I do cook my fair share.

6:00 pm: Dinner is done, washing up done (I got rid of the dishwasher as I find washing by hand oddly relaxing). We take our dog out for his second walk of the day, my eldest, the 17-year-old does this earlier as part of her chores for money.

8:00 pm: Settle down to watch TV. I think Homer said it best, 1000 channels and nothing to watch!! We both have a major fixation on Married at First Sight (MAFSA) which we watch, then flick through Netflix for a while. Bed usually at 11:00 pm, kids go at 09:00 pm and 10:00 pm.

                             Today’s total: €59.99

Tuesday

07:00 am: I am up mostly the same time every day, sometimes could be 5 am, depending on what’s going at work, which causes me great stress, to be honest, but being close to home has given me other freedoms which I didn’t have in the past. Back to the office at 9 am with youngest in tow for more school fun. My wife works in a place where you can’t bring kids, so I am doing this bit, which I enjoy as my youngest is mad like me.

10:00 am: Up to the shop again, I wanted a salad for later and my youngest wanted some milk and to look for Pokémon cards! They had the milk and salad but not the cards (€5.50).

12:00 pm: On conference calls most of the morning and doing homeschooling. Roll on school return in March.

2:30 pm: We pack up to head home for my youngest to call for his best friend. They play outside and we are a little bubble, plus I can’t keep an 11-year-old in for a year.

4:00 pm: Head out to pick up more food for today’s dinner, didn’t get out to shop at the weekend, the wife is with me so she picks up the food and a few cans of pre-mix G+T (€18.00, paid by my wife).

6.00 pm: Dinner done, washed up, we take kids out for another walk in the miserable weather. I love Ireland, my two favourite days are Christmas and Summer. Lockdown has meant we are very good at walking our little 5KM circle.

                          Today’s total: €5.50

Wednesday

06.00 am: Up early, watch Vikings on Amazon Prime, turn on the heating and all that jazz. Breakfast for the kids as both have school work at 09:30.

10:00 am: In work for con call, long day so far. My two kids turn up to do their school work.

12:30 pm: Decide to go shopping for lunch, get rolls for the kids and ham pack and a wrap for me (€9.50).

5.00 pm: Kids have gone home, I head home after a long day of calls, wife is working late also so I decide cooking is not on, kids delighted with takeaway (€14.00 for kids, €13.50 for us).

7.00 pm: Housework all done, kids washed and eldest in her room youngest in playroom gaming with friends (which I monitor).

9.00 pm: Settle in to watch Fred, Gino and Gordon, have a bottle of wine, Wet Wednesday and all! I find I need something to laugh about during the week and get over the hump.

                             Today’s total: €37.00

Thursday

07.00 am: Up again, dogs need to go to the toilet so feed them and played outside for a while with them. Hang out clothes on the line (yellow weather warning my backside).

09:00 am: In work again, more con calls and virtual meetings with staff. Long day ahead.

11:00 am: Kids came up to work, homework done and pestering for new shoes. Quick look online for some. Two pairs found but will ask again at the weekend if they actually want them.

1.00pm: Quick run into town to get a few bits dinner for tonight and tomorrow, sweets for kids, (€42.00).

3.00 pm: Back home but have some con calls for the rest of the day so give house a clean over and settle in.

5.30 pm: Work over, take the kids out the front to play soccer or rugby, get out while it’s dry and all that. Dinner is in the oven which I’m cooking as wife had two long busy days at work. There will be a special place for people who decide audits are a good thing while locked down!

8.00 pm: All back home settled down, wife bought some clothes online (no idea how much).

                                 Today’s total: €42.00

Friday

06.00 am: Up early again, thinking over tasks for the day. So exciting, I know.

07:30 am: Kids up so breakfast is on, dogs are put out, heating on, all the super fun lockdown stuff, my dog runs out with my new hat so queue 20 mins of chasing him around the garden for it, which I get back with holes in it. Thankfully Tesco still sells hats!

09:00 am: Into work with youngest and eldest in tow, both have Zoom calls with their schools at 10:00 and homework to finish out for the week, after which they ask that they go to the shop for food because by 11:30 breakfast is worn off! Shop for two rolls with sausage and a lotto ticket (you never know) €9.50.

2.00 pm: I start to wrap up work for the week, being close to home and being the boss, I guess I have some advantages such as early Friday which I honestly wouldn’t trade for another 10KM. I know that sounds “elitist” or some people will begrudge or say this is made up, but my wife and I were 17 and 18 having kids and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps to get to where we are.

4:00 pm: So much for finishing early, still on calls! Being the boss has its downsides too, such as being available for on-calls. I don’t mind as I can cook and be on the phone.

4:30 pm: I take the kids for a cycle, which my 11-year-old loves but my 17-year-old does not, it’s not cool apparently. She is learning to drive now and I have a car bought for her which is hidden from her at the moment.

5.30 pm: Settle down for dinner with the family, kids fighting over ketchup, I’m not even sure why. The fight ends when the Coke Zero is brought out.

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6.30 pm: My wife and I head to town to pick up some bits for the weekend, big rugby weekend and some form of Holiday (Valentine’s Day). We get a 12 pack of Guinness, some champers and a bottle of New Zealand white which my wife loves. The Guinness comes with Rugby glasses so I’m sold… €41.50 for me, wife goes back to shop for some cereal and some cleaning products she saw, €11.50 from her.

8.00 pm: Home, all settle down for the night, kids are actually sitting together in the back rooms watching a film and playing a game, we watch MAFSA again, nail-biting stuff!!

                       Today’s total: €51.00 

Saturday

07:45 am: A lie in for me, honestly. Daughter has a small part-time job and as it is lashing and snow left on the ground I get up to drive her, she was going to walk but I’d feel guilty.

09:30 am: Everyone else up so I cook some breakfast, boiled eggs, toast and two lean steaks for me, trying to build my protein.

11.30 am: I meet a chap I work with who builds odds and ends, he was making me a heavy weight set of concrete and steel, can’t buy regular weights in the shop anymore and the gym is closed so what’s a boy to do! Since we work together and he is 1.5KM away its not a major trip (yes I know) €100.00.

1.00 pm: Back home and have my weights set up in my shed, starting to look like a proper gym now which is great. The wife has lunch made of soup and rolls.

2.00 pm: It’s wet and cold but we take the dogs and kids for a walk on the promise they can pick out some rubbish for later on. Our 11-year-old is delighted, 17-year-old not so much. Lockdown is hard on teenagers, no one wants to be at home with parents and FaceTime is only so good.

5.00 pm: Saturday is USUALLY takeaway day (most weeks, sometimes we just can’t face cooking). Kids only get the take away as tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so the wife and I will get takeaway from the local steak house. €16.00 – wife pays.

6.00 pm: Me and wife cook, some type of curry she got a recipe for ages ago from a work colleague who was on a slimming group plan, but it’s very, very nice!

08.00 pm: Kids are in with us watching TV, not even sure what we are watching, but they seem to enjoy it. We play heads up on the phone, but it’s not as much fun since Ellen got her face into it!!!

                         Today’s total: €100.00

Weekly subtotal: €295.49

***

Lessons I learned –

  • We have a very healthy disposable income, which is spent a lot on rubbish.

  • Buying alcohol (we do have a little stockpile) does cost money, but there is no avenue to go out.

  • Usually every 2-4 weeks we would have gone away for a night or two in a hotel but have not done this in months – this has helped us save money.

  • Takeaway during the week costs, but honestly since lockdown both my wife and I have been twice as busy as usual. We are lucky to both not have been furloughed which is great and I know not as many people are as lucky.

  • We do usually do a big weekly shop, but didn’t do it last week as on Saturday last I was painting and Sunday neither of us felt like it.

  • This would be a typical spend each week, outside of the €100 for weights for me, we have started to buy more stuff online during the lockdown as opposed to going to the shops. 

  • We would spend more time as a family on the day to day stuff, which might not come across above as it’s a money diary, but my kids would be up to me nearly every day to do work and just chill in my office, which is good, and advantage I would not have elsewhere.

  • All-in-all we are doing well, I pay the lion’s share of bills (all of them) but my wife keeps savings, so we have a very healthy savings account also which goes back into the house when needed, or holidays (had to look those up in the dictionary).

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