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Money Diaries A project manager on €37K living in Dublin

This week, our reader is relaxed about saving but making more of an effort to spend money on experiences rather than impulsive purchases.

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 locum GP in Cavan. This week, a project manager on €37K living in Dublin.


I live in Dublin with two housemates. We’ve been renting our current place for about eight months, but I’ve been living in Dublin since I moved up for college about six years ago. I work full time, two days in the office and three at home. I probably spend most of my money on food, either on nice groceries to make good dinners or on nice meals out – maybe once a week or so. I’m definitely making a conscious effort to cut back on takeaways etc, but my admitted shortfall is a takeaway coffee. I probably have one once a day in the office or from a coffee shop near home. It’s the first thing I would cut back on if I had serious savings goals in mind, but I earn a decent salary and am pretty good with saving small amounts very regularly so I’m not too stressed. I can be pretty spontaneous with certain purchases, casually dropping a few hundred euro on concert tickets or a holiday, but I’m trying to be more definite now. I’m not depriving myself of things I want, I’m just making sure I really want them before buying. It’s a cliché but I won’t be able to afford a house in Dublin/Ireland the way things are so I’m not getting caught up on savings just now.

I generally know each month what bills or expenses I’ll have and plan around that. Every so often, I sit down and track all my expenses to the cent in a big spreadsheet to see where it’s all going so that keeps me on track most of the time. I’m lucky to have some good benefits through work that give some peace of mind around finances. They offer regular info sessions on our pension scheme and financial planning, so I feel like I’m maximising all of what’s available to me.

Occupation: Project manager

Age: 24

Location: Dublin

Salary: €37,152

Monthly pay (net): €2,519.00

Monthly expenses

Transport: €20-30 on my Leap card, sometimes more if I travel home at the weekend and need to buy a train or bus ticket

Rent: €729

Health insurance: Covered by work

Phone bill: €37 – I need to try and get a lower deal, but I have a good package now and not sure what to do. Appreciate any tips!

Household bills (my share): WiFi – €13, gas and electric – approx €60 but only charged every two months, bins – €4 (split between us and a neighbour)

Groceries: Approx €100-130

Subscriptions: NowTV – €14, Disney+ – €10.99, Apple Storage – €2.99, New York Times – €2. I have an annual gym membership which I paid off in full earlier this year. I paid on my credit card and then paid off in instalments over five months. Even with interest, it worked out at about three months free vs the monthly direct debits

Savings: I’ve had a Revolut vault set up which rounds up my spare change since the start of the year. That’s my holiday fund and has just over €300 in it. I just pay for flights and accommodation from my current account as I need, but find this fund great for meals out on holidays or day trips etc. I also transfer €50 from my current account into a standard savings account each week as a rainy-day fund

Pension: I pay 2% of my gross salary in each month which my employer matches and they add in an extra bit as a base contribution too. This is the maximum I can contribute right now based on my age



9.00 am: It’s a Bank Holiday Monday, but I still wake up naturally early just from my body clock being used to early mornings. No harm anyway. I’m in my boyfriend’s house and we are planning to go for a swim this morning and get a coffee and some breakfast after. As it’s the first of the month, a few charges come out of my account: Disney+ (€10.99) and Apple storage (€2.99)

10.00 am: After some lounging around, we’re in the car driving down to the pier to go swimming. We love a swim in the sea now that the weather is warmer and with the earlier high tide this morning, the pier is still quiet, so we almost have the place to ourselves. After plenty of cursing and asking why we did this, we’re in and out and headed up to a nearby coffee shop for some breakfast. I get a coconut flat white and porridge, my boyfriend gets a regular flat white and some overnight oats and we share a danish pastry. He pays and I make a mental note to get the next thing. We usually do this with money when we’re together. Unless it’s a big dinner or trip away, we’re happy to take it in turns paying and the other person gets the next thing.

11.30 am: We’re back in his house with no plans but to relax. I convince him to stick on the final Lord of the Rings film since it’s my favourite, and he can’t think of a good enough excuse to watch something else.

4.00 pm: We’ve been snacking on toast, biscuits, fruit and leftovers from our BBQ the day before so only finish the movie now. Such a classic, they really don’t make films like this anymore. I get ready to head home and get ready for the week and my boyfriend offers to drive me back. It’s about a 30-minute drive vs over an hour on the bus, so I’m very grateful.

4.30 pm: Get home and straight into chores for the week. Change my bedsheets, do some washing, hang up other washing, etc etc. I have a burst of energy to get loads done at once so it’s not lying around during the week.

5.30 pm: My other housemates get home from a weekend away with friends. They’re pretty wrecked so I offer to make dinner. There’s three of us living together and we’re good friends so we take it in turns to cook each night. Such a relief coming home late from work or somewhere else and dinner is ready. It also means you’re not in on top of someone else in the kitchen trying to cook. I walk down to our local Tesco and get ingredients for a spaghetti bolognese along with a few other essentials (€27.35) – quick and easy is key here because I’m ready to order a takeaway at the slightest inconvenience.

7.30 pm: We’re sitting down together with dinner and decide to watch a Star Wars film. We’re fans of the older trilogy so we’re slowly working our way through. Watch an episode of Criminal Minds after that.

10.30 pm: I’m in bed to be up early the next day.

Today’s total: €41.33


6.30 am: Alarm goes off early as I’m in the office today. Contemplate drafting my resignation letter right there to stay in bed longer, but decide to give it another day. Our work policy is two days in the office which I always look forward to to be honest. My previous job was in person all the time, and I really enjoyed the social aspect of catching up with people and getting to know them outside of work.

7.30 am: I’m dressed, fed and out the door to catch the bus. One pulls up just as I get to the stop, so I jump on and put my podcast on for the hour commute to the office. This can be a bit of a slog, but I love where I live and where I work, so I’m not too pushed to change either. I also have a young adult Leap card, so this trip is only €1 from my balance.

8.45 am: I’m at my desk just before 9am which is when my first meeting is scheduled. I get my laptop sorted and I’m straight into calls for the morning. Everything at work is on a very tight schedule, so there’s usually lots to catch up on after missing a day from the bank holiday.

11.15 am: One of my meetings ends early so I run up to the canteen to get a coffee and catch up with some colleagues. I’m the youngest on my team so always feel the pressure to have crazy party-filled stories to share about my weekend, so they were all a little disappointed with my early morning sea swim. Get a coconut flat white (€2.10 – subsidised by work, and maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, but the baristas here make the best coffee. I love it so much) and I’m back at my desk for more work until lunch time.

1.15 pm: Finally get to lunch time and I’m starving. I switched my camera off during an earlier meeting to scoff a flapjack I brought from home to keep me going. Not really the corporate high-life they sell you in school. Beef burgers in the canteen today (€6.30 for a decent sized burger and all the trimmings). If I was more serious about saving money this is probably the first expense I’d cut out. But for the time being, I’m only in the office twice a week so I don’t mind buying lunch here. I used to bring a packed lunch in my old job and all through college so I could get back into that pretty easily. I can hear my mother asking what’s wrong with a ham sandwich.

2.30 pm: Back-to-back calls again for the evening. I get a short break around 4.30pm to have a can of Fanta I brought from home. Always get a few heads turning when they hear a can cracking open in the corner. Again, probably another thing I’d cut back on at some stage, but I tell myself I’ll be making money by returning the can for the 15c deposit, so I carry on.

5.30 pm: I’m out the door and on the way home. Listen to a combination of music, podcasts and YouTube videos on the way home which is a little longer because of traffic.

6.40 pm: I get in the door with big plans to go to the gym, but my housemate is deep in the middle of cooking dinner, so I decide to stay home and eat while it’s fresh. We watch some TV for the evening and I head up to bed around 10.30pm – up early again tomorrow for another office day.

Today’s total: €8.40


6.30 am: Alarm goes off and get closer again to sending an ‘I quit bye x’ text to my boss so I don’t have to leave my bed, but I’m up and out the door by 7.30am. I need to top up my Leap card as the bus is pulling in, so I do that through my phone and tag on (€15).

8.45 am: Get in before my first meeting at 9.00am again today and I’m in meetings all morning. Our office uses hot desks and I get a standing desk today, so my moral superiority is off the charts, even if my legs are tired after five minutes. I have a break at some stage so run up to get a coffee to keep me going for the morning. I forgot to bring a snack from home so get a donut in the canteen too (€3.10 for both). The donut was terrible quality, and probably left over from yesterday. But they were decorated for a charity fundraiser so who am I to stand in the way of a good cause!

1.15 pm: Have a gap until 2pm now so head up for some lunch with some friends. It’s sort of a thrown together spicy stir fry in the canteen (€6.30). The food isn’t always the best, but it’s improved since the policy on being in the office has gotten stricter. Easy way to get people in I suppose! While I’m eating, I notice this month’s WiFi bill has come out of my account. My share is €13 and my housemates Revolut me their share. I have just enough time to get out for a quick walk around the office. I always try and do this when the weather is nice so I’m not staring at a screen the whole day.

2.00 pm: The afternoon is full of meetings and calls, which don’t finish until after 5pm. I head back to my desk to work on some things for tomorrow before I log off. We have a running joke on our team that by the time all our meetings are over, we don’t have any time to do our actual work. In between meetings, my boyfriend has texted me about tickets for a match this weekend, I send him €40 for my ticket.

6.15 pm: After a can of Coke from home and about an hour of emails, document updates and other bits and pieces I shut down my laptop and head home. I stop on the way to get some eggs, granola and rashers which will do me for breakfast/lunch in some combination for the next few days. (€7.15)

7.30 pm: I’m just in the door and my housemate is serving dinner, such a relief! We have some curry and watch a few more episodes of Criminal Minds and Taskmaster. I head up to bed around 11pm, slightly later tonight as I’m working from home tomorrow.

Today’s total: €84.55


8.00 am: Can hear one of my housemates moving around downstairs getting ready for work so I toss and turn a bit until my alarm goes off at 8.15am. I snooze it a bit and read some news headlines, then get up and shower and by 9am I’m downstairs eating breakfast and reading through some emails. Days at home are always a little slower pace which is a nice relief.

9.30 am: First meeting of the day starts. I spend most of it getting through some tasks I said I did yesterday. Halfway through the morning, a pretty senior manager messages me asking me to come to a meeting for an important project update the next day. I get the invite and it’s scheduled for 5-6pm on Friday… start looking into how to bring someone to The Hague before getting on with the day.

12.00 pm: Morning meetings finish, and I realise there’s nothing else scheduled for the day. Get excited that I’ll finally be able to get through my to-do list, then wonder how I became like this.

12.30 pm: My housemate and I head down to get some coffee as it’s a really nice day out. €4 for mine and we sit outside doing the NYT Mini Crossword, Connections and Wordle. I perform poorly in all three.

1.00 pm: Back home and I make a lunch of some bacon and eggs in a pitta bread. I can hear the Michelin star judges phoning already.

2.00 pm: I’m back at my desk working through some project updates and budget forecasts. I’m having trouble with one of our IT systems and I’m just about to submit a support ticket for it when I figure out the solution. This has salvaged my day after my terrible mini crossword earlier.

5.00 pm: Finish most of my tasks due today, I have a quiet day tomorrow too so decide to leave the rest until then. I do a few online courses which I signed up to through work a while ago and log off around 5.45pm.

6.30 pm: It’s our department summer party today so I’m dressed and in town fashionably late. I end up snagging a few extra drinks tokens so only spend €19.50 on drinks during the night. They have finger food platters, so I fill up on those too. It’s a good night, and I don’t get home until about 3am. I am sure this will cause no problems tomorrow.

Today’s total: €23.50


9.00 am: I startle awake and immediately regret the late night. I don’t have a meeting until later in the morning but can’t get back to sleep so I’m up and hobble to the shower and then downstairs. Spend most of the morning feeling very sorry for myself and ignoring my to-do list.

5.00 pm: Make it through the day, snaking on toast and small bits of fruit during the day. I head out with my housemate to vote and then go to Tesco to stock up on hangover supplies and an oven pizza for dinner. (€14.10)

7.00 pm: Flick between the channels for the evening and see that an annual software package I pay for has been charged today (€39.99). It’s an anti-virus software that I always think about cancelling, but it’s not much to pay for the level of protection it offers.

10.00 pm: An early night for me, I was falling asleep during my usual Criminal Minds binge so call it quits.

Today’s total: €54.09


9.30 am: I wake up with no real plans but get invited out to brunch with friends. Quickly get dressed and head into town. It’s a lovely morning and great to catch up with everyone. My share of the bill is €26.00 for food, a flat white and some juice. Have lost all signs of yesterday’s hangover. Town is really busy today. I’ve lived in Dublin for six years, yet I’m still surprised at how many people are out and about.

3.00 pm: I’m back home and need to get ready to leave again. I’m meeting my boyfriend in town to go to the Leinster v Ulster match in the Aviva. I don’t follow Leinster but it’s normally a fun day out. I get the bus into town on my Leap card and meet him in the city. We walk out towards the stadium and would usually stop for a pint on the way but we’re a bit later today so just head straight to the match. I get us two pints in the stadium before the game starts for €14.20 (criminal prices).

7.00 pm: The Leinstertainment is over and we’re heading back into town. It’s a lovely evening so we decide to get some food and drinks in town before heading home. We get some pizza and questionable tasting wine, my share is €24.00. Town really is lovely when the sun is shining. It’s really a shame there aren’t more pedestrianised streets or picnic benches/public places to enjoy.

10.00 pm: Home to bed after a surprisingly busy day!

Today’s total: €64.20


10.00 am: Wake up and decide we’ll have breakfast at home as it’s a bit of a miserable day. My boyfriend goes to the shops while I shower and I Revolut him €10 for the supplies. We cook up a fry to set us up well for the day.

12.00 pm: The weather improves so we head out for a coffee. I pay €8.40 for both of ours as I’m sure it’s my turn. It seems expensive but the staff are always so lovely, and the coffee is excellent, so I don’t mind. We sip our coffee and make plans for the week ahead. I really need to go to the gym so mentally schedule that, and we chat about potentially going out for dinner if there’s a nice night next week.

1.00 pm: Boyfriend leaves and I’m back home pottering around the house. Takes me a while to get started but eventually crack into chores to brighten the house up after a busy week. We take it in turns to do chores too so I’m on bathrooms this week.

3.00 pm: Settle into the couch for the rest of the day and flick between some films, TV shows and the election news.

7.00 pm: There’s an F1 race on this evening so I tune into that. It’s the Canadian Grand Prix and it’s lashing rain which none of the teams seem prepared for. It’s a bit chaotic and I make some quick pasta for myself while it’s on in the background. Hoping for a Lewis Hamilton win which hasn’t happened in a while.

10.00 pm: I’m working from home tomorrow so don’t need to be up very early, but I’m quite tired so call it a night.

Today’s total: €18.40

Weekly subtotal: €294.47


What I learned -

  • I spent almost €300 this week, which is high but probably not unusual for me. Obviously, there was the match, and then the subscriptions coming out this week which drove up my expenses but there’s honestly something like that every week. If it wasn’t a match, it would be dinner. If it wasn’t subscriptions, it would be more pints or something random.
  • I spent a lot on food and coffee during my days in the office. Obviously, I could cut back on this, but I like treating myself and don’t think it’s too big a concern when it’s only twice a week.
  • At some stage I’d like to go back to college for a Masters or something similar. I love learning and doing different courses on new topics or skills. This is probably something I should investigate more and would then become my main saving goal either trying to pay up front or through loan repayments.
  • I’m eyeing up a promotion in work later this year which would come with a decent pay increase. My inclination is to continue spending as I am now and put that extra income into savings each month, but much easier said than done! I’m sure I’ll find extra holidays to go on or more expensive coffees to drink.
  • Before the pandemic I think I spent a lot of money on things I really didn’t need. I’m making more of an effort now to avoid that and instead spend money on experiences like matches, concerts, holidays etc. I get so much more value out of those.

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