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Money Diaries A locum GP living in Cavan and working in temporary roles

This week, our reader is juggling work hours and family life, as well as care for cats and hens.

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 engineer in Limerick. This week, a locum GP in Cavan.

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I’m a locum doctor in my mid-30s currently living and working in Cavan. I live in my own house with my wife and two sons. We have a few pets… we feed around 10 cats a day (which does contribute a fair bit to grocery spending!) but only four of them actually stay in the house.

I try to save a good bit of money every month. We used to go on frequent enough holidays, but having two sons has slowed that down temporarily. I don’t spend extravagantly except when buying cars. I love my M3 and in the past, I’ve had a Golf R, an Impreza WRX and an S2000. I try to save some money, mainly to look after the lads when they go to college or enter a trade or want to put down roots and buy a house.

My hobbies are, again, limited by my two sons, but spending time with them is the greatest thing in the world and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I used to have an interest in mountaineering and hiking in the past. I trekked to some of the highest mountains in the world, including Mont Blanc and Mount Elbrus.

I also scaled Kilimanjaro with a charity group at one stage. At the moment, hobbies generally revolve around running and maybe playing a little guitar (not a ukelele, just playing a little bit). Running is great for the mind and I can do it anytime and anywhere.

Anyway, here goes with the week…

Occupation: Doctor (locum GP)

Age: 36

Location: Cavan

Salary: No salary, work in temporary roles, probably around €1,500 – €2,000 per week gross

Monthly pay (net): Around €6,000

Monthly expenses

Transport: €179

Rent: €0

Mortgages: €4,000

Household bills: ESB – €100, internet – €60

Phone bill: €30

Health insurance: €140 

Groceries: €250 per week

Subscriptions: €20



6.00 am: Get up. We have five cats with us and they often scratch at the door to get out! They live in the garage and if they don’t get out, they might relieve themselves on the floor. We also keep several hens, so I’ve to release them from the coop. We’ve five Rhode Island reds which lay most days and then eight little silkies which were mainly bought for aesthetic purposes! They’d also lay small wee eggs. My older son would awaken around 6.30 am, so I need to be up for him too.

7.00 am: I don’t usually eat breakfast, so I head straight off to work. I usually leave around this time, but it depends on where I’m working. I like to get an early start in. I usually do long-term locum work as I’m not quite ready to establish my own practice with the associated hassle. I usually work for around four-to-five weeks in one practice and then move on. I have a regular group of practices that I work with and would be familiar with the setting and policies which suits me well. Sometimes during the summer, I’d spend a week in a more rural location, sometimes West Cork. It enables the principal GP to take a holiday whilst I get to spend some time in a different part of the country and experience different cultures The drive usually takes around 20 minutes. Cars are my big extravagance. At the moment, I’m in a BMW E92 M3. It was very expensive to buy and I still have a small loan on it that I hope to pay off this year, but it really is a joy to drive. 

7.45 am: I usually grab two black coffees before I start. This week, there was no good coffee shop open along the commute, so it’s Nescafe today!

12.30 pm: I break for lunch, but have to go on a house visit which takes a little longer than expected. I grab some fruit from the local supermarket and shovel it into my mouth before starting the afternoon clinic at 1.30 pm. (€2.50)

6.00 pm: Finish up for the day, then it’s home to play with the kids. We usually alternate cooking between my wife and me. Tonight we have the leftovers from yesterday’s roast, with some lamb cooked with leafy green veg, spinach and potatoes. I still have some potatoes from last year’s crop in the polytunnel.

Today’s total: €2.50


6.00 am: Get up. Similar start to yesterday, but this morning, I stop to have a four-egg omelette to fuel up for the day and to use up some of yesterday’s produce! I lash in some onions and cheese to add some flavour.

7.30 am: Hit the road for work.

12.30 pm: Break for lunch. No house call today, so I drive to the local deli for a roll (€4.35) and eat with colleagues back in the practice.

6.30 pm: Finish up and head home to the kids. Dinner is a succulent low-carb chickpea curry prepared by my wife. It’s actually from a Happy Pear recipe. Despite that, we enjoy it.

7.30 pm: After the kids go to bed, I trot off for a run. I’m building towards a marathon later this year so try to get in about 50km a week at the moment. Felt a bit weak willed on return from a 10k so end up spending €180 on a new pair of Brooks trainers. I don’t really spend much on clothes and wouldn’t be big into brands, but I really think these make a difference.

Today’s total: €184.35


6.00 am: I’ve a day off today as practice didn’t need me, but still an early start. I get some resistance training in. We’ve built a small home gym in the garage with the money saved from not paying a gym subscription during Covid restrictions. We have a good range of weights, dumbbells and barbells and an airbike. It sounds extravagant and I would have thought that a few years ago, but it balances out very well against the cost of two gym memberships.

12.00 pm: In the afternoon, I have to go up to Clontarf to repair some guttering on one of our rental properties. I was lucky enough to buy in 2010 when the market was close to the bottom and have now nearly cleared the mortgage and we make good rental income on the property, although it is taxed at the marginal rate. Had to replace some parts of the gutters and noticed there were some smaller issues with the soffits and fascia that I will replace in the next few weeks. I like to do some of the work myself, but would leave any electrical or structural work to the experts. Cost around €250 for parts.

6.15 pm: Drive back to Cavan. I took the wife’s jeep today purely for the ease of transporting materials. It’s a big lump of an XC90, which is very safe and makes sense for the kids. Topped up the petrol tank on the way home for just over €102 and plugged in at the house. We can time the charging to make the most of the solar panels and the night rate electricity.

Today’s total: €352.00


7.30 am: My wife is still off on maternity leave. She’s the bigger earner in the household, and has good benefits from her jobs. She works in the private equity sector. She takes responsibility for the cats and hens today, so I’m not up till 7.30 am.

8.00 am: A breakfast of overnight oats and granola gets me through the morning and I bring a “superfood salad” with sweet potatoes, granola, quinoa, broccoli, feta and avocado to work for lunch.

5.30 pm: I have a very good day and manage to get out at 5.30 pm but then it’s off to the out-of-hours clinic. We usually do one evening a week in out of hours, which is reasonably pleasant work. I pick up some fruit in the petrol station along the way along with a tin of monster energy.

Today’s total: €6.50


6.00 am: Looks a great day out and we’re nearly at the weekend, so I reward myself with a 10km trot in the morning! I generally aim for sub-45 mins on training runs and sub-40 mins in any kind of organised run.

6.45 am: Arrive home and let the hens out and feed the cats. On impulse, I stupidly ordered another pair of trainers, but it’s Friday, so why not! That’s another €180 down, but at least I’ll enjoy them.

8.00 am: At my desk early, which is great and allows me to finish up slightly early, at 5.15 pm.

1.00 pm: At lunchtime, I opt for a salad bowl from the deli. Add in some hummus from the Happy Pear (it’s the best hummus around in my humble opinion) and it’s a real Friday treat. (€8)

5.15 pm: Friday evenings are great to spend with the kids and I spend a few hours in the garden planting lettuce, carrots, potatoes and a “Jack O’Lantern” with the son. We also carefully inspect every tree for any sign of spring leaves, of which there are plenty, and practically count every blade of grass before kicking a ball around for a while. I’m less than useless at football, so I’m starting the three-year-old early so he won’t lack effort, even if he ends up with the same natural ability as me!

7.00 pm: Dinner is prepped by my wife and we have wagyu steak with organic veg. Absolutely delicious. My wife usually has a glass of wine or two. Because we don’t drink a lot, we tend to spend a little more on wine. Generally around €60 a bottle, which would do for two nights, but the difference in quality is almost tangible.

Today’s total: €188.00


6.00 am: Up and get some early resistance training in followed by a slow 50-minute 11k after dealing with the animals and getting the lads up and fed and watered!

10.00 am: Saturday is shopping day. We usually do a “big” shop in the supermarket which is around €150 and then pick up some meat in the butchers and some wine in the off licence. All in, spend is around €250.

12.30 pm: Lunch is a salad (again!).

1.15 pm: We head off to meet friends who also have young children in the afternoon and end up heading out for an early dinner in a local restaurant which sets us back another €150.

6.30 pm: It’s home to relax. The wife polishes off the bottle of wine and we head for bed early around 10 pm. It’s been a long week, so it’s great to get some sleep in.

(Invariably, one of the lads wakes around 3 am, but can’t complain!)

Today’s total: €400.00


8.00 am: Day of rest!

9.00 am: We go as a family to mass at 9 am.

10.30 am: Home for breakfast of overnight oats for all.

2.30 pm: We usually eat at home with the grandparents for a large roast on Sundays. It’s lamb shank this week with all the trimmings and we can’t even eat again in the evening we’re so stuffed.

5.00 pm: Before settling down in the evening, I always make sure I’ve everything ready for the coming week: shirts ironed, ties organised and shoes polished. Then I top up the petrol, which puts another dent in the wallet… it’s nearly €140 to top up the M3. It really is a gas guzzler, but even driving the relatively short distance to the petrol station, you can hit a few bends and feel the power through the back end (even without picking up too much speed). I couldn’t see myself changing it, unless I was in a position to get an M5 touring, but even then I’d feel guilty about the environment. It’s really something I need to consider going forward.

10.00 pm: Finish up the week by finishing this diary and trying to see what I’m doing with my money… and then I get distracted and book in for the Clontarf half marathon, for another €50.

Today’s total: €190.00

Weekly subtotal: €1,330.00


What I learned –

  • Whilst I’m generally frugal and have a good income, I seem to have a severe weakness for impulse purchases. I think we’re generally living within our means, but really the cars need to be looked at also.
  • Ridiculous spend on fuel and it’s not helping the environment either. €360 on two pairs of trainers is obviously an unusual extravagance and there was money put into repairs on one of our rental properties which is unavoidable, but really need to look at spending again.
  • Very few monthly/recurring bills came up this week, but having looked at spending, I think it would be instructive to sit down at look at the outgoings like insurance, health insurance, mortgages, pensions, etc. We do have savings plans and investments for our two sons as well, so we need to make sure we’re maximising those and not frittering money away!

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