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Money Diaries A civil servant on €52K living in Dublin

This week, our reader is enjoying a bank holiday weekend and is delighted with the change from private to public sector job.

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 scientist on €31K living in Leinster. This week, a civil servant on €52K living in Dublin. 

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I’m from and living in Dublin. About two years ago, I left the tech industry to start work in the civil service. This came with a hefty salary drop, although an incredible increase in work-life balance (which was worth it in my opinion).

However, I’m still adjusting and sometimes forget I can’t spend money to the extent that I used to. The reduced salary, and a bad living situation last year, resulted in depleted savings, a substantial credit card bill and the hard lesson that I need to be more mindful of my spending. I’m writing this diary as I start to build myself up after a bad financial period and am hoping it can help me learn some things along the way.

I get paid around €1,300 fortnightly and generally put €200 towards the credit card, put €300 away for rent/bills, put €70 away for boxing and yoga and transfer about €250 to revolut for my weekly spends.

Occupation: Civil servant

Age: 32

Location: Dublin

Salary: €52,000

Monthly pay (net): €2,600 (after public service pension, avcs and salary protection insurance)

Monthly expenses

Transport: €20 Leap card, €50 petrol

Rent: €500

Household bills: Have recently moved and haven’t had any bills yet but trying to put €100 a month away for them

Phone bill: €20

Health insurance: N/a

Groceries: €200 (?)

Subscriptions: Spotify – €15, Disney – €11, Hayu – €6, Gym – €27, Boxing – €100, Yoga – €40

Debts: €400

Private pension: €105

Car: €40 put away to help cover tax, insurance, NCT etc (although it doesn’t do the full amount)

Christmas vault: €28 – I started putting a euro a day into a Revolut vault to have some extra cash come Christmas time – picked this tip up from someone else’s Money Diary!

Savings: €0



7.30 am: Alarm goes off. I am very sleepy, I snooze.

8.15 am: Still very tired, realise then I won’t be making it to the office today. We do hybrid working – need to be in two days a week but can be fairly flexible with what those days are. I generally go in about four days a week anyway. Have breakfast of hard boiled eggs, rocket and sourdough, wash it down with apple juice and a homemade ginger shot.

9.00 am: I start work. It’s a slow enough morning, reading some emails etc. I notice that a colleague has put up a link to their fundraising page for Darkness into Light – donate €10 plus the 74c admin fee.

10.00 am: Make a big pot of coffee… did I mention I was very tired?

11.15 am: Coffee break, although I just eat a grapefruit and read the paper (look at the pictures) for 15 minutes. One of the perks of the civil service is actively being encouraged to take our breaks.

11.30 am: Back to work. I’m writing and running code for the rest of the morning.

1.00 pm: Lunch time. I make a salad of rocket, sardines, walnuts, cheese and pickled onions. I chat to my housemate for a bit who is also working from home. Take chicken drumsticks out of the freezer to cook later for tomorrow’s lunch, drag myself out for a walk around the block and am back at the desk with tea for 2pm.

4.30 pm: Finish work – we’ve to do a 7-hour day but this can be balanced over the month. I’m a little low today but will make up for it. I usually go from the office to boxing training on Mondays, but my tiredness plus shoulder/neck stiffness mean I’m going to skip training today. Contemplate what to do with my free evening! While contemplating, I do some chores and prep breakfast/lunch for work tomorrow.

5.30 pm: Chill out for a bit with tea and a pre dinner bowl of Weetos.

6.00 pm: My housemate’s dad stops by with a bag full of wild garlic from his garden, and for a chat.

7.00 pm: I ordered a Too Good To Go bag from Umi last night for €5. Short walk to collect that and to collect a massage gun from my friend who lives close by. I am very grateful to live so close to friends and family. The bag did me and my housemate for dinner and there were some leftovers I added to lunch for tomorrow. Also arrived home to her having made a rake of wild garlic pesto!!

9.00 pm: Watch last week’s episode of Taskmaster and have one last cup of tea.

10.30 pm: Into bed with my book

Today’s total: €11.74 (incl. €1 Christmas fund)


7.15 am: Alarm goes off, I snooze for a bit…

7.45 am: Up and at them. Shower, dress, supplements, ginger shot.

8.20 am: Grab my bike and arrive to the office for 8.50 am. Check my emails and see someone has shared a link to Solas do Pháistí Gaza, donate €11.

10.00 am: I’m in training from 10 am till 4 pm today, so head up to the training room to start that.

11.00 am: Coffee break. Coffee is provided by work today due to training, and the lemon slice is very kindly provided by a colleague.

1.00 pm: Lunch, leftover salad bits from Umi with the roasted chicken drumsticks. Notice money for my veg box has come out of my Revolut account. I pay €36.50 every two weeks for an organic veg box to be delivered. It usually lasts me for the majority of the two weeks with a small top up here or there. It’ll be delivered on Thursday.

4.00 pm: Finish the training (it was very interesting and I promise myself I will actually do the feedback form). Catch up and reply to some emails, back on the bike.

5.00 pm: Bit hungry so eat the last of the soup from Umi (Too Good To Go bag).

6.00 pm: Start my online yoga class, shower and wash my hair (big job)!

8.00 pm: Throw together a pasta dish for dinner. It’s surprisingly delicious, might be due to the wild garlic. I make double for lunch tomorrow and make a smoothie for breakfast. Chill out on the couch with tea and chocolate covered corn cakes

9.15 pm: My and my housemate decide on an episode of Jamie’s Air Fryer Meals. The scathing Guardian review was bang on point. It does have me on the Tefal website though, so a job well done really.

10.15 pm: Into bed with my book.

Today’s total: €48.50 (incl. €1 Christmas fund)


7.15 am: Alarm goes off, I snooze for a bit…(yes I am noticing a pattern).

7.45 am: Up and at them. Shower, dress, supplements, ginger shot.

8.20 am: Grab my bike and arrive to the office for 8:55 am after a minor run in with a taxi, have the smoothie at my desk while planning the day ahead.

10.15 am: Make coffee! Work provide coffee for 50c and free milk but I keep a French press and ground beans at my desk. The coffee provided isn’t great and most people tend to have their own stash. Hungry, so eat an apple to get me to lunch.

11.00 am: Big team meeting. It lasts for just over an hour which is much shorter than usual.

12.30 pm: Lunchtime tennis! A group of us from work go over to the local tennis courts once a week. Wellbeing subsidises it. It works out at about €2 a session which we pay every eight weeks or so. I’m very bad at tennis but it’s a good excuse to get out for an hour and to socialise, I mainly go for the chats. The weather was unreal today too, which was a serious bonus although it made going back to work tough.

1.30 pm: Daydream about cocktails in the sun while eating leftover pasta at my desk…

2.30 pm: Another meeting. This one is very technical and I’m lost at points – there are courses available through work on the subject which I should probably sign up for.

4.45 pm: Hungary again so a bag of popcorn at my desk, also order meat that I’ll collect on Saturday. It comes to €54.50 but I use some reward points and end up spending €48.93. This will probably last me around two weeks.

5.30 pm: Finish work and head to boxing, it’s a 15 minute cycle from the office. I stop into Lidl and get some broccoli for dinner – amazed I didn’t get anything else. It comes to €2.19.

6.00 pm: Boxing training until about 7.15 pm, followed by a tough cycle home – the cycle itself is fine I’m just tired!

7.45 pm: Get home, shower, make dinner (fried liver and onions, mashed potato and roasted broccoli). I check my account and gym membership came out (€27). Me and my housemate chat for a while and watch some telly.

10.00 pm: BED!! I’m wrecked from boxing and don’t even manage to read my book, straight to ztown…

Today’s total: €79.12 (incl. €1 Christmas fund)


6.45 am: Woken up by the apartment doorbell. It’s the veg box delivery. Jump up and run down to the lobby to collect it.

7.00 am: Back into bed, realise the date and that I forgot to transfer rent yesterday, oops! Send it over (€500). Snooze for another while, I slept really badly last night.

8.00 am: Eventually drag myself out of my big toasty cinnamon bun state. Have my supplements, ginger shot, Berocca and breakfast (my last egg). Go through and put away stuff from the veg box. Today, there’s spuds, turnips, parsnips, leeks, radishes, mushrooms, spinach and salad leaves. It differs depending on what’s in season and what’s good that week. I like that it forces me to be creative and cook different things.

8.50 am: I start work (working from home today). Get an email that the book I reserved is in the library ready to be collected. I’m back in the office tomorrow so will collect it then.

11.15 am: Coffee break. Make coffee and have a blood orange. Start reading a kid’s book about the Mars Rover, possibly get too emotional… back to work!

1.00 pm: Attend an online webinar, after a very frustrating hour or so of IT issues. Have to rerun all my processes to get back to where I was. Keep working away as I listen to the webinar.

1.50 pm: Webinar finishes and it’s lunchtime. Salad leaves with fried liver and pita bread. Watch a video on how to butcher a whole chicken. Bought a whole one to collect on Saturday and will cut it up and freeze parts for the next few weeks. I’ve never done this before but it feels like a good idea.

2.20 pm: Back to work.

4.30 pm: Finish work, sort out breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. Empty the dishwasher. Decide to do my nails, shellac on my hands and feet. Hello, summer! My friends got me a shellac machine for my birthday a few years ago. I use it a good bit, although I still pay for a fancy manicure every now and then.

6.00 pm: Walk to Lidl. It takes about 20 minutes. I’m going out tomorrow, so get gin and tonic, pizzas, nibbles and some essential hangover bits. It comes to €46.46 (got a sweet €1.50 off from bringing back the plastic bottles!).

7.00 pm: Head to my folks for dinner and to hang out for a few hours. It’s about a 15 minute walk from Lidl. My mam made a fish pie, which is one of my favourites. I bought an apple tart in Lidl, so we have that afterwards with copious cups of tea.

10.00 pm: Drag myself off their couch and head home, thankfully it’s only a 10 minute walk. Get pretty much straight into bed with my book and it’s not long before lights out.

Today’s total: €47.46 (incl. €1 Christmas fund, not counting rent)


7.15 am: Alarm, snooze!

7.30 am: I’m up with less snoozing than usual (growth), shower, dress, supplements, ginger shot…

8.00 am: Hop on my bike. It’s a pretty miserable morning, might have been a bit premature painting the toenails. Get to the office at about 8.30 am. We can start any time between 8 am and 10 am.

8.30 am: Have my smoothie at my desk while chatting to colleagues, the office is busy for a Friday.

11.00 am: Go for coffee break, head out to the local cafe with a colleague and spend €3.60 on a flat white. We bring them back to the office and sit in the canteen chatting with a few others.

1.00 pm: I signed up for a stretch class in the gym. It’s less than a five minute walk from the office and lasts for 45 minutes. Do that for my lunch break. Then have my lunch at my desk when I get back. Lunch is salad leaves, tomatoes, pickled onions, walnuts and sardines.

2.45 pm: Make tea and sneak a few biscuits that someone’s brought in for the office. I get a reminder to send tennis money for our next block of eight weeks, which is €15.

4.30 pm: Finish work for the weekend! I head to the library and collect my book, then pop into Dunnes to buy a plain white T-shirt for tonight. I use a voucher I didn’t realise I had, so it comes to €2. I try to get most of my clothes in charity shops, but white T-shirts can be hard to come by and I was in want of one.

5.30 pm: Get home. Town is already carnage and I’m not enthused to be heading back out into it. Cycling is the most efficient way for me to get around but I do find it stressful, and today was definitely one of those days. Have a shower and make myself a gin and tonic, chill out for a bit before the night out prep begins. I haven’t been “out out” in a while, so I’m oddly excited and nervous!

6.30 pm: My best pal arrives, I stick on frozen pizzas and we have a few drinks while getting ready.

8.30pm: Sister-in-law arrives. More drinks, more getting ready. I think getting ready is the best part!

12.00 am: Taxi into town, significantly later than anticipated (€20.40). Sister-in-law buys me a drink when we get into town to pay me back for the taxi.

1.00 am: Our first stop was absolutely dead so we end up going to… Coppers! I pay for the three of us to get in which comes to €30. Manage to have a decent enough boogie and just get two pints of water.

3.00 am: The three of us get a taxi to my parents’ house (€21.80). My brother is there with one of his pals so we hang out for a bit. Him and his wife are visiting for the bank holiday. I have a beer there (seems like a good idea at the time) and consume most of a share bag of Doritos.

4.00 am: Me and my best pal get a taxi back to my house, she’s staying in mine. It comes to €10.60. Delighted, I remember to take my makeup off and clean my face!! Head to sleep..

Today’s total: €103.40 (incl. €1 Christmas fund and €10 to car vault)


10.00 am: Up and at them, oddly feel fine… must have been those two pints of water and my clean face. My friend sends me €20 to cover her share of the taxis.

12.00 pm: Make breakfast of eggs and sourdough, while we chat to my housemate about the antics from last night… there were no antics from last night! Say bye to my best pal and hop on my bike to head to the market to collect my meat order. I pick up some stuff for my brother as well which comes to €48, which he’ll pay me back for.

1.50 pm: Cycle to my parents to drop my brother his few bits. Have a coffee and some lunch with the family and get a slagging from my parents for “not having more sense at my age” in regards to the previous night! They’re probably right.

3.00 pm: Me and my best pal join forces again and walk down to a nearby pub. There’s a match in Croke Park and it’s a nice day so we decide to soak up the atmosphere. We get into a round system and end up spending most of the day there. It’s incredibly good fun and something we haven’t done in a long time. I love how we never run out of things to talk about! My brother was meant to join but he ended up falling asleep on the couch and watching the match at home. I buy three rounds over the course of the day which comes to €42.

6.30 pm: Somewhere between the rounds we have a sensible carvery break. I get a half portion which comes to €13.50.

9.00 pm: Get a text from my brother that he’s in our local with our folks and some of our cousins. We head down to join them. Get a round there which comes to €28.40.

12.00 am: Me and my friend get a taxi back to mine (long day!). She pays. We get in and head straight to sleep.

Today’s total: €64.90 (incl. €1 Christmas fund and minus €20)


9.00 am: Up and at them again. I’m tired but not hungover, which is a win! Have plans to go to Herbert Park with my brother and sister-in-law so give them a shout to see what time they want to go.

10.00 am: Have breakfast of eggs and sourdough and get a text back to say they’ll be leaving at 10.30. Get ready in about five minutes, say bye to my best pal (we actually have separate plans today, which is sad) and head out to the main road where they’ll collect me.

11.00 am: We get there at around 11 am and eventually find somewhere to park after half an hour, it seems everyone else had the great plan to come here today too.

11.30 am: Get into the queue for some Instagram-viral buns, which I’d say we’re in for about 40 minutes. I really hope they’re worth it. Half way through, a man comes down to announce there’s only 200 left and we may not get any. We decide to stick it out though and manage to get them. My sister-in-law pays. I try to give her some cash back but she won’t take it. My brother also buys me a coffee.

12.15 pm: We lounge on the grass in the sunshine, eating our buns and chatting/napping for a few hours.

2.00 pm: End up in another queue for half an hour, this time for the toilet!

3.00 pm: Find the car, and head back to the folks’ house. Sit in their garden in the sun for another while.

5.00 pm: Eventually peel myself off a garden chair and hop on my bike to head home (it’s still there from yesterday). I’m fairly wrecked at this stage, after the weekend of activities. I stop into the shop on the way back and buy myself and my housemate ice pops (€3.30). Spend the evening chilling out, am beyond delighted tomorrow is a bank holiday.

Today’s total: €4.30 (incl. €1 Christmas fund)

Weekly subtotal: €359.42


What I learned –

  • This isn’t a very typical week. I normally don’t go out that much and wouldn’t usually spend that much in pubs. I knew it would be a spendy weekend though, so I had somewhat factored that in with my previous week’s spending. I’m glad I was able to do it even if it might seem like a bad way to spend money.
  • I really don’t use my car. Keeping this diary made me realise that, and led me to the decision to sell it. I don’t use it enough to justify the money I spend on tax/insurance/NCT, and the few grand I get from selling it will definitely help paying off debts.
  • I also don’t use my subscriptions that much, bar Spotify which I use daily, so I think getting rid of them could be another good way to reduce spending. I do spend a lot on health/fitness, but I think it’s worth it.
  • Striking the balance between paying off debts and still living is hard. I know I could spend a lot less and pay off a lot more, but the debt will be with me for a few years regardless and I think I’d rather enjoy the few years as much as I can (within reason).

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