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Money Diaries A project engineer on €58K living in Cork

This week, our reader is busy juggling work and enjoying coffee and good food.

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. 


I live in Cork where I rent a double bedroom in a shared house. I work from home a couple of days a week and work onsite the others, which saves on fuel costs. I am actively saving to go travelling next year, but I’m also putting money away with the long-term intent of buying a house.

I would say my saving habits have improved in the last two to three years. I spent my early 20s living in Dublin, travelling, and going to lots of gigs and festivals. I am trying to be more responsible with my income now. I have no debt as I paid off my car loan early this year.

Occupation: Project engineer

Age: 29

Location: Cork City

Salary: €58,000

Monthly pay (net): €3,300

Monthly expenses

Transport: Approx. €120 on petrol but honestly, I don’t really track it

Rent: €550

Household bills: €50-€70

Investment: €200

Credit union savings: €650 on a good month

Phone bill: €30

Health insurance: …. (on the to-do list!! My last job provided it, I am just being lazy/naive)

Groceries: €250-ish (varies if I have people over for dinner or if I go out a lot etc)

Subscriptions: Spotify – €10, Headspace (meditation app) – €52 yearly, The Irish Times (sorry Journal) – €12

Gym membership: €85 (quite expensive I realise, but for me, the quality and variety of the training and classes is worth it)



8.00 am: Stroll to the local garage to get milk, a pastry and a loaf of fresh brown bread (€6.68 in total). I need these few things to get me through the day, and I will do a big grocery shop later. I am working from home today, so transport costs are nil. I did drive a considerable amount on the weekend gone by though, so I am quite conscious of petrol prices.

12.00 pm: Lunch at home with eggs from my uncle’s farm and the brown bread I bought. Delish!

2.00 pm: Often, my afternoons are busier than mornings, as I have a lot of colleagues based in the US. The project I am working on (bringing medical devices to market) is extremely complex and multi-layered. There are frequent delays and a lot of administrative/regulatory challenges. I do enjoy my job though, and thankfully I really like the people I work with (which always helps!). 

5.00 pm: Sign up to a half marathon in March (€55). I find that if I don’t have an event to train for, I won’t run — simple as.

8.00 pm: Nearly buy flights to visit a friend living in Spain (€95 return) but then think of Christmas coming up and don’t. They are very good value though…

Today’s total: €61.68


7.00 am: Stop for a coffee on the way home from the gym (€3.10). Ready and raring to go for the day!

1.00 pm: Really busy morning with meetings and a report to be completed. Supplies in the fridge are low (still haven’t been to Aldi) so it’s a meagre lunch of crackers and hummus today. I send €15 to a friend to contribute to one of our friend’s 30th birthday. We have decided not to go overboard with presents as a group, life is so expensive and in general, we are more into spending time together.

5.30 pm: Head to Tesco to stock up on dinner supplies (€20.78). We are making a semi fancy dish and we won’t be able to get all the ingredients in Aldi. Dinner (prawn linguine) is done in 45 minutes. Boyfriend and I are both content and full, and it’s a horizontal evening on the couch for us.

Today’s total: €38.88


6.20 am: I am on the road early as I despise sitting in traffic. Unfortunately, the bus doesn’t go near me, which is a pity because I would choose it over driving. I stop and get petrol on the way (€55). The place I stop isn’t the cheapest, so I only fill the tank until it’s two-thirds full. Listen to an interesting podcast interview with a transgender artist and activist for the rest of the drive.

9.00 am: Fortunately, the food is heavily subsidised by the company, so a coffee and porridge come to a grand total of €2.30. I typically bring in some berries and nuts to jazz it up (to try and avoid the temptation of hashbrowns and rashers!).

1.00 pm: Dossing work/online browsing for events and I buy two tickets for a gig in December (€45). I saw this artist at a festival last summer. He is a brilliant Irish musician. Cork is great for local music and art!

7.00 pm: Defrost a curry I made a few weeks ago and go for two pints in the local (€10.20). We get one round each and drink stout – cheap and cheerful!

Today’s total: €112.50


10.00 am: Order a calendar for my mam’s birthday (€18.50) – it’s one of those photograph ones. It took me ages to make it but I know she will be delighted.

1.00 pm: Go for a short run at lunchtime. I couldn’t focus on my tasks this morning so hopefully, the fresh air helps. I have set up a weekly transfer to a Revolut vault for Christmas (€15) which comes out today. The fund will go towards presents, pints and probably one new outfit. My family do Secret Santa, and the limit is €70. Advertising has led us to believe that we all need to spend thousands to have a wonderful Christmas – we don’t!

6.00 pm: Attend a therapy session (€60). I have been seeing my counsellor for over a year now, between one and two times a month. I recognise that I am very privileged that I can afford this, however for me, the sacrifice and cost are worth it. I’m always drained after it, so I have dinner and I’m in the leaba early.

Today’s total: €93.50


6.00 am: On the road. I made a coffee at home for the journey in and I make it to the site in plenty of time. The roads are generally quieter on Fridays because so many people choose to work from home. I love Fridays — everyone is in good form and chirpy!

2.00 pm: I work a shorter day on Fridays so I visit my friend on the way home. I buy some biscuits (€2.80) and natter with her for a few hours. We plan a hike for the following weekend, weather permitting.

6.00 pm: Finally go to Aldi (€35.65) and get some fresh food. I usually buy big batches of rice/pasta/pulses, so I don’t need to keep buying the small packets. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly. I have oven pizza for dinner – I take Fridays or Saturdays off cooking depending on the week.

7.00 pm: I spend the evening on the phone to another friend and watching Gogglebox.

Today’s total: €38.45


9.30 am: Go to the gym and buy rashers on the way home. They are my weakness! (€8.60 – I get a few other bits as well). I spend a lot of today doing an assignment (I am doing a Masters part-time).

4.00 pm: With the tunes on full whack, I make a big batch soup for the week ahead (carrot, ginger and coriander) along with a veggie lasagne. Ring my mam to catch up on the news at home.

9.00 pm: Spend 20 minutes deciding if I will join my friends in the pub or not, and eventually decide to drive and have two non-alcoholic drinks (€6.50 — boyfriend buys the other drink). I am trying to go out less in a bid to be healthier/save cash. It doesn’t always happen, though!

Today’s total: €15.10


9.00 am: Head out for a run, and you’ve guessed it – stop for a coffee and a treat afterwards (€5.80). I love having a weekend morning to myself.

10.00 am: Once I’m home, I clean the kitchen and bathrooms, and balm out for a few hours with my book. I’m reading a brilliant, insightful book called ‘Into Thin Air’ about the Everest expedition in the 90s that went drastically wrong. Scary stuff!

1.00 pm: Visit my boyfriend’s family, walk the dog, feign interest in the soccer game on the telly. Honestly, watching them watch the match is so entertaining!

7.00 pm: Spend 20 minutes deciding what takeaway we want to get before landing on Indian. Who can say no to naan bread! (€37.50) I offer to pay and collect as it’s my turn.

Today’s total: €43.30

Weekly subtotal: €403.41


What I learned –

  • My life pretty much revolves around food and I spend so much money on it, but honestly, it brings me a lot of joy so I’m not sure I can change that much! I could probably do with planning my meals a bit better and avoid ‘nipping in’.
  • This week had a few spontaneous purchases like tickets, presents and the half-marathon, but seeing as I didn’t have a big night out, I don’t mind too much.
  • I could definitely be more frugal, but it would take a lot of work as it doesn’t come naturally to me!
  • I am grateful to be in the position I am in, kind of enjoying life with the hope/knowledge that in a few years, I will have more financial commitments (kids, mortgage etc).

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