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Money Diaries A nurse on €58K living in Dublin and currently on maternity leave

This week, our reader is enjoying maternity leave and trying not to spend too much.

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 an accountant earning €68K in Leinster. This week, a clinical nurse specialist on €58K but currently on maternity leave in Dublin.


I am a 32-year-old married woman living in Dublin. I live with my husband, our seven-month-old baby boy and our dog. We bought our house five years ago. I am a clinical nurse specialist in a public hospital. I have been on maternity leave since June 2023 and since December 2023, I am on 16 weeks of unpaid leave.

I am due to return to work in July 2024. How you would sum up my saving ability is, I transfer €500 into the credit union monthly and then slowly but surely, transfer the €500 and then some back into the current account by the end of the month! I have great intentions with budgeting and spending, but I have a serious online shopping addiction and know every Amazon and Fastway courier by their first names.

Living above my means is my strong point. Prior to maternity leave, I was shopping for clothes for myself constantly, however now most of my money would be spent on baby sensory or music classes and coffees and granola bowls out with my new mum friends!

Occupation: Nurse

Age: 32

Location: Dublin

Salary: €58,000

Monthly pay (net): €3,400

Additional income: €140 children’s allowance monthly. I saved €6,500 last year to keep me going on my unpaid leave

Monthly expenses

Transport: €70 a month on petrol. I was spending €105 a month on a tax saver Luas card, but that’s on pause while I’m on maternity leave

Mortgage: €1,430 – when we bought our house five years ago I paid the down payment of the house so now my husband pays the monthly mortgage repayments and I pay the bills

Household bills: €545 – I pay our monthly bills, however for the 16 weeks I am on unpaid leave, my husband is paying these also

Phone bill: €67 a month (Usually more- it all depends how often I enter the spin cash machine trying to win big to extend my maternity leave)

Health insurance: €115 monthly for me and the baby

Groceries: We split this cost monthly €250 each. While on mat leave my husband is paying for groceries himself

Subscriptions: iTunes – €10, iCloud – €10 (extra storage as I have 55,000 photos on my phone)

Phone insurance: €9

Gym: €33

Dogs medication: €78 a month



7.00 am: Wake up and onto Amazon first thing. Baby has now moved up in his portion sizes so I need more plastic pots for storing his homemade baby food that I spend most of my days making (€21). We are travelling to London to visit family next month so I also need to buy an on-the-go food flask for his meals to bring with us (€21). Thanks to Amazon Prime, they will be here by tomorrow.

8.30 am: Make the baby’s lunch while he played in his new toy car walker, my most recent Facebook marketplace purchase (saved myself €50). Made him avocado and butterbeans with lemon juice. The cost alone of keeping this baby in avocados,

10.00 am: While eating my breakfast I’m back on my phone for more online shopping. Baby needs a new pram suit, he’s already grown out of three in the past four months. Time to size up! Luckily H&M online members discount gave me 15% off (being an excessive online shopper has its perks). Cost me €13. This one should last him all of four weeks only.

2.00 pm: My mum minded the baby while I went to the gym for an hour. It’s ten minutes from the house and €32 a month for membership which is handy on unpaid leave. Thank God for grandparents because that was free babysitting! I grabbed a flat white on my way (€4.50). While on the way home from the gym, I realised Valentine’s Day is coming up. Onto Etsy to buy my husband a card (€8).

7.00 pm: We put the baby to bed and have dinner. My husband has more work to do so I sit down to binge watch some TV. I’m quickly influenced by a free trial of Paramount+ so I can watch all my reality TV. Free for now… but €7.99 a month if I don’t remember to cancel by Sunday.

Today’s total: €67.50


7.00 am: Wake up! I was up three times overnight to feed the baby so will need extra coffee today! Thankfully breastfeeding is free. €0.

7.30 am: Feed the baby his porridge and have my first coffee. I bought a chocolate shaker on Amazon last week so I feel like I’m having a shop-bought cappuccino every morning. We should be at baby sensory class this morning but baby has a cold so giving it a miss. Sickens me to miss a week as I have pre-paid it! (€75 for the term). While feeding baby his porridge I realise there is a swimming pool nearby that we have booked for Easter and he has no swimming costume that fits him anymore. Back onto H&M and pick from the 1-2 years sizes so he can wear it in summer too. It might be too big at Easter but it will do. Got two costumes (€30.99) Thankfully shipping is free.

9.00 am: I put the baby down for first nap. Grab a shower and order some pictures online that we have been meaning to frame and put up in the house for the last seven months. Seven photos ordered – free delivery. (€37)

10.30 am: Baby woke from his nap and my plan was to drive to a nearby park and grab a coffee and a walk. However, I realise I locked the car keys in the car. My husband is in the office today, so I save myself €5 on coffee and stay at home and make my own.

1.30 pm: Baby down for a nap. Do a quick clean and tidy around house. Put on second wash of the day. Make myself a wrap and catch up on some reality TV. Another coffee.

4.30 pm: Had to take the baby to the GP. Thankful for free GP care for under 5s. Stop off at the chemist on the way home to pick up the skin cream the doctor recommended for the baby (€16.50).

6.45 pm: Have dinner and a shower and catch up on some laundry and housework before bed!

Today’s total: €84.49


7.00 am: Wake up and feed the baby. Great sleep last night but I’ll probably still treat myself to a coffee later.

7.30 am: Feed the baby his porridge while I drink my coffee.

9.00 am: Baby napping. I have granola yoghurt and berries and watch last night’s Love Island. We have a friend’s wedding in Italy this summer and I find the perfect dress. I add it to my cart. Realise I’m on unpaid leave and spending €300 on a dress probably wasn’t the best idea.

10.30 am: Wake baby from his nap and get ready to get out for a walk.

11.00 am: Walk to get coffee with baby and dog. Oat flat white (€4.50). Head to the swings.

11.45 am: Back home and play before lunch.

1.30 pm: Put the baby down for a nap. Chipped one of my nails and was just about to book in to have them done when I realised I probably can’t spend €40 every two weeks on shellac. Take out my trusty shellac lamp I bought during lockdown and fix that one finger. That should do me for another week or so.

3.00 pm: About to head out to Dunnes to return something when the plumber arrives to fix a leaking tap (€90). He gives me all sorts of ideas about how we could extend our house and convert the attic. Food for thought. Will discuss with my husband tonight.

4.00 pm: Play with the baby before his dinner. Book him into a music class for next week (€10.50). I bake some cookies and feed him dinner.

5.00 pm: My husband arrives in from work. I bathe the baby while he takes a call. He arrived just in time to witness the Amazon delivery man delivering my seventh package of the week.

6.00 pm: We both play with the baby and read stories before bed. I gave him a feed.

7.00 pm: We put him to bed and then I watch Room to Improve while my husband cooks our dinner.

Today’s total: €105.00


6.30 am: Wake up. Baby had a great night. Coffee and porridge as usual. I pump some milk.

9.00 am: Have a shower and put baby down for his morning nap. Get myself ready for when he wakes to leave the house. Pack the car with his food for the day, stuff for his nap and the dog and her food. Make baked oats and blow dry my hair. I watch last night’s Love Island while eating my baked oats!

10.45 am: Get a drive-through coffee en-route to spend the day at my mum’s (€4.50).

12.00 pm: We head for a walk with mum. Stop in the shop and buy some salads and crisps for our lunch. (€18)

4.00 pm: My sister called in, so we all head out for a walk. Two hot chocolates for me and my sister. (€9.20)

5.00 pm: Arrive home, give the baby his dinner and then it’s time for a bath. Amazon parcel was waiting at the door for me when we got back. Didn’t order anything off Amazon today, so that’s a big win!

Today’s total: €32.00


7.00 am: My husband is working from home today so he brings the baby down for porridge while I get to drink my coffee in bed until 8am. Get up and play with the baby until his nap.

9.00 am: Put baby down for his nap. I shower and get dressed, curl my hair and put on some makeup as we’re going to a friend’s house with all my mum friends and their babies for a party. 11 mums and 13 babies!

10.30 am: Wake baby from his nap, get in the car and drive to the party.

1.00 pm: Leave the little party. Baby falls asleep in the car which is the worst, danger nap, meaning I won’t get my 1.5 hours to myself at home to eat lunch and watch last night’s Love Island. Two of the girls supplied all the food for the party so I Revolute them both €10 each to contribute. (€20)

1.30 pm: Feed him lunch and play, clean the house for the rest of the day.

4.00 pm: My husband finishes work and takes the baby for a walk. I finish cleaning and have a shower. Husband comes back with baby and a bottle of wine from Dunnes – I was dying for a glass.

6.30 pm: Baby in bed. We have steak for dinner and a glass of wine.

8.00 pm: The Six Nations is on, so I head up to bed and listen to a podcast.

Today’s total: €20.00


6.30 am: Baby is awake so I take him into our bed. My husband makes us both a coffee and we stay in bed with him while we have it. Baby has porridge and we play until 9am, when we put him down for a nap.

9.15 am: I go to the gym for an hour. Ran into the shop on my way home to get Fairy liquid. End up getting Greek yoghurt, salt and vinegar rice cakes, and biscuits for when our friends call for a coffee later (€10.57).

12.00 pm: Friends call over and we catch up with them about their upcoming wedding. Must remember to book the flights for that this weekend!

3.00 pm: Drive over to my in-laws’ and they make us dinner and play with the baby.

6.30 pm: Arrive home and put the baby to bed. Go back onto Etsy to order two cards for my brother-in-law’s 30th. (€21.88)

Today’s total: €32.45


7.30 am: Have a lie-on this morning as my husband is off. Get up and have a coffee then play with the baby. Consider the gym but I’m not feeling great, so book in for a pedicure instead (€40). Going for the pedicure only highlights the fact I now have three more nails on my fingers that have chipped and my DIY job isn’t cutting it so I’ll have to book in to have these done also.

11.00 am: Before my pedicure, myself, my husband and the baby go for breakfast. (Husband pays). I also finally go to Dunnes to exchange two items – I’ve been meaning to do this for weeks! Exchanged for different sizes so didn’t need to pay anything extra.

11.30 am: While having my pedicure, I go onto Amazon and order the baby an Easter book seeing as he is too small for eggs! Order the same one for my twin nieces also (€9.52). While ordering the book for my nieces, I remember I need to go back onto Etsy for a godmother birthday card for my sister from the baby – another €11.50 on a card! My love for Etsy cards is getting very expensive.

5.00 pm: Chill out for the evening. Just go on a walk and we cook dinner and relax!

7.00 pm: Put the baby to bed. Have a bath myself and then head to bed for an early night as I’m exhausted. Really need to get my hair cut, but I’m waiting on a refund from Revenue for my 2023 health expenses so that will have to wait.

Today’s toal: €61.02

Weekly subtotal: €402.46


What I learned –

  • Even when I don’t leave the house I have an ability to spend money. I spend far too much on Amazon and flat whites… and Etsy cards! I should probably keep some of my spending limits in place even when I return to full pay. The amount of clothes I used to buy was excessive, I can’t imagine adding the price of all my online shopping for myself onto that weekly total. I will have to cut back when we start paying for crèche this summer.
  • Top tips – not that I would take any money advice from myself, but a friend of mine gave me a great tip to get your statutory maternity leave paid into the credit union monthly for the first six months and then live off that for your unpaid leave. I would also set up a Depop account. I sell all my clothes I’m finished wearing. It’s a great way to earn some extra money!

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