Advertisement

We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

VOICES

Money Diaries A 42-year-old public servant on €67K living in the Midlands

This week, our reader is busy juggling it all and is grateful for their hybrid setup so they can manage home and work together.

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 money@thejournal.ie. 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.

moneydiaries-banner-950x170v3

I’m a 42-year-old public servant. I am married with two boys: Smallboy 1, who is seven years old, and Smallboy 2, who is six years old. Smallboy 2 was diagnosed with a rare condition when he was two years old and has an intellectual disability and autism.

This diagnosis was a seismic event in our lives and our focus is very much on maintaining healthy happy lives for all of us – with career aspirations taking a bit of a back seat.

Nonetheless, hybrid working has enabled both of us to work full-time in interesting jobs. I don’t know how we would manage without hybrid working – one of us would need to go part-time. We try to save about 10% of our income per month but that has been more difficult of late. In addition to that, both of us have pensions and I pay into an AVC too.

Occupation: Public servant

Age: 42

Location: Midlands

Salary: €67,000

Monthly pay (net): €6,200 from two salaries

Child benefit: €280

Domiciliary care allowance: €330

Monthly expenses

Transport: €650: Car payment – €400, public transport – €150, diesel – €100

Mortgage: €1,100 with 19 years left, 2.4% fixed rate for another year

Childcare: €800

Household bills: €400 per month for electricity in deep winter (it’s an all-electric house with a heat pump and EV)

Broadband: €52 

Phone bill: €45 for two phones

Health insurance: €260

Pet insurance: €20

Life assurance: €140

Groceries: €800 that includes everything spent on online grocery shopping, convenience store, butcher, baker and farmers market

Subscriptions: €35: Now – €11.99, Netflix – €8.99, Irish Times – €11.99, Apple Music – €2.99 on a special offer

***

Monday

4.30 am: Smallboy 2 wakes up. I go into his room and climb in beside him to settle him back to sleep. If I didn’t go in, he would get out of bed and turn all the lights on and then be very awake and in bad form all day.

6.00 am: I am wide awake so I get up, and disturb him in doing so. We head downstairs. I fold some laundry, move washing into the dryer and onto the drying rack and put on another load. I want the appliances to be finished by 8.00 am. We do 90% of our laundry during night rate hours to avail of the lower night electricity rates.

6.30 am: I start a workout and Smallboy 2 ‘helps’ throughout.

7.15 am: I put on some porridge and take out frozen bread to make sandwiches for the boys’ lunches. They each get a cheese and salami sandwich, a banana, an apple and a container of yoghurt spooned out from a large tub. We all have porridge at the table together and then I head upstairs to shower and get dressed while my husband gets the boys dressed and out the door.

8.30 am: A bus picks up Smallboy 2 for school. It is a brilliant service – he is collected at the house every day and brought to school in a bus with an escort.

9.00 am: Smallboy 1 is dropped off at a different school by my husband on his way to work. We run two cars but our EV does 90% of the kilometres. Whoever has the longer journey on any given day takes it.

8.45 am: I log on to my laptop in the home office.

11.30 am: I take a break and make a coffee from a machine purchased during the pandemic. I see we are running low on coffee beans. I go onto the website of the Irish roaster we normally use and order 2 kg for €60 including delivery. One bag will go into the freezer on arrival and we will be good until February.

12.30 pm: I’m feeling the effects of the early start. I head for a power nap. Unfortunately, my phone rings twice, so by 12.45 pm, I get up and heat some soup and defrost a slice of sourdough for lunch. I freeze sliced loaves bought from a bakery at the weekend and take out as needed. I then head out for a short walk with the dog.

1.30 pm: I am back at my desk. I quickly check my personal email and try to ignore all the Cyber Monday deals. However, I haven’t started buying Christmas gifts yet, must get busy on that.

3.00 pm: I run out to the shop and grab some lunch box fillers – bananas, clementines and yoghurt, and a carton of cream for €10.

5.15 pm: I finish up work. My husband goes to collect the children from the childminder. She collects each of them from school and keeps them at her house for the afternoon. I start making dinner. I took some chicken out of the freezer earlier so I start to make some chicken and mushroom risotto with green salad for dinner. I notice some cherry tomatoes won’t last too much longer so make sure to use them all. I hate throwing out food!

6.00 pm: After dinner, I head over to my mother’s house to help her with some jobs and get back by 7.30 pm for bedtime. I plug in the car when I get back so that it can charge on night electricity rates using a timer.

8.00 pm: My husband and I take turns putting the boys to sleep, so tonight I have Smallboy 1. We read a story, talk about the day and lights out about 8.30 pm. I then get into my pyjamas, read a book and switch off lights around 9.30 pm.

Today’s total: €70.00

Tuesday

2.30 am: Smallboy 2 wakes and turns his bedside light on – disaster! He will be awake for ages. Husband goes into him and gets back to our bed at 4 am.

6.00 am: Smallboy 2 wakes up again and I get up with him for the day. Same as yesterday, I do some laundry, hang out the clothes that were washed last night, and put on another short wash. No workout this morning so I make the lunches and then decide to order the grocery shopping for delivery. That adds up to €98, including eight boxes of chocolates as Christmas thank-yous for all the helpers – bus driver, two bus escorts, two SNAs and three teachers. I then decide to do something about Christmas presents and spend another €100 in a small Irish toy business (Jiminy) and €45 for a specific toy on a large online store that I can’t find elsewhere. I realise it’s payday so log into online banking and pay off the credit card (€900 was spent on flights, children’s activities, panto tickets, train tickets, etc last month) and lodge the rest to the joint account, leaving just €70 in my personal account. I then log into the joint account and transfer €300 to the dip-in-for-big-bills instant access savings account. Other savings will go out automatically later.

8.00 am: We have our porridge. It’s the first frosty morning of the winter so I set the departure time for the EV for 9 am so husband and Smallboy 1 will have a de-iced and warm car to get into on their way to school and work – one of the best things about EVs!

9.00 am: I log on to work. I’m usually in the office on Tuesdays but have an online meeting all day, so there’s no point going in for that.

1.00 pm: I worked through until lunchtime not managing to take a coffee break. I heat up the leftover risotto for lunch and take the dog for a walk. It’s a lovely crisp winter’s day with clear blue skies.

2.00 pm: I get back to work and it takes off with a busy afternoon.

4.00 pm: I grab a snack from the fridge at four – carrots, hummus and then a few salty chocolate almonds.

5.15 pm: I head into my mother’s house to help out with a few things while my husband collects the children. He cooks a chorizo and prawn pasta dish. I go back to the office to finish a few things.

7.30 pm: Smallboy 2 is exhausted and on the verge of a meltdown so I shut down my laptop and put him to bed. No book tonight – he’s too far gone. He used to have terrible meltdowns every night when he was younger. He’s able to cope much better these days. This disrupted sleep he’s having lately is tough going – I’d say he has a slight cold – but not as challenging as the early years. He falls asleep instantly and I get up and plug in the car and set it to charge to 100% and departure time for 8 am. It’s going to be a frosty night and I have a long drive for work tomorrow. I head to bed and read a book about a Russian spy.

Today’s total: €250.00

Wednesday

5.00 am: Smallboy 2 is up. He wet the bed so I wash and change him and send him into our bed. I strip his bedsheets and put the duvet into the washing machine. It isn’t long since he stopped wearing nappies at night. I took some time off work last summer to tackle toileting with him. He is so independent now. Taking a lot of time off and working part time etc does affect the finances and we are only really catching up on it now, but it was worth it. I head back to bed, but Smallboy 2 is wide awake. I refuse to go downstairs with him before 6 am. We manage to hold out until then and when we go down, I feed the dog and let him out and begin today’s upper body workout, again ‘coached’ by Smallboy 2.

7.15 am: Everyone is up early so we have porridge and I head upstairs to get ready for work. I remind husband that Smallboy 1 owes €50 for an afterschool activity.

8.00 am: I leave for today’s meeting – the car is nice and toasty – and I drive for 2 hours to the venue. Lunch is provided and after the afternoon session, I drive directly home. No fuel stops necessary these days. The car will do 400 km on a charge in winter easily.

6.00 pm: I get home and husband and Smallboy 1 head out for football training. There is plenty of range left in the EV even though it’s been a frosty day so they take that. They had taken some stew out of the freezer so no cooking tonight. I hang out with Smallboy 2 and try to keep him up until 8 pm. I’m fairly tired as well. I tackle a few work things before shutting it down for the evening. I don’t normally work so late, but this week is hectic.

7.45 pm: Husband and Smallboy 1 get back from training in the frost. Husband takes Smallboy 2 up to bed while I help a very tired and cranky Smallboy 1 out of his football gear and into pyjamas. We go up for a cuddle and a story and I head early to bed yet again. Too tired to read the book tonight.

Today’s total: €50.00

Thursday

4.30 am: Smallboy 2 is stirring, thankfully he goes back to sleep, but I don’t.

5.40 am: Smallboy 2 turns on his light and I go in for a few minutes of cuddles before we head downstairs. The cold spell has arrived. The dog is not impressed and does not stay out in the garden for long. No workout this morning as I’m still a bit sore from Monday’s lower body workout. I do the usual, put on a wash, make up the lunches and drink coffee. We have an early breakfast.

8.00 am: I head upstairs to log on as there is a lot going on at work right now.

8.30 am: I run out to see the boys off to school. Smallboy 2 is delighted to be collected on the bus. He goes to a great school. The teacher has asked for some speech and language support but we have given up on the HSE disability team. They are staffed at 50% and have never given us any speech and language therapy outside of an initial screening when he was 18 months old. We did go to a private therapist who charged €80 for 30 minute sessions but she has recently gone on maternity leave and with both of us working full-time, we only managed to get to her once or twice a month. It’s really not enough and needs to be linked up with his school. Things have gone from bad to worse in the HSE since Smallboy 2 was diagnosed and children’s disability services are much, much worse now than they were at the time of the financial crash. The current government have promised recruitment of therapists but nothing has improved. There needs to be a long-term plan to train, recruit and retain therapists.

8.45 am: I head back upstairs. I check our joint account and the once-off disability support grant of €400 has come in. It will help take the sting out of Christmas. Both of us can work full-time – a lot of families can’t manage to. I know the grant will really help a lot of families and am thankful for it, but frustrated at the same time that despite the country’s good fortune of recent years, nothing has improved in children’s disability services.

10.00 am: I check my email and see a pre-sale announcement for a summer gig. I never heard about that! I buy four tickets and my friend transfers money to me for two of them. €175 of unplanned expenditure.

10.15 am: I am absolutely slammed with work for the rest of the day.

1.00 pm: At lunchtime, I take a quick 30-minute nap – it really helps me to work in the early afternoon after being up early.

5.00 pm: The children are dropped off by the childminder and I’m not finished my tasks for the day. I’m going to have to work late again! Husband picks up some pizza bases and a few other things at Aldi that we can’t get online (€22). We definitely go for convenience later in the week. I phone my mum after dinner and head upstairs so I can hear her. It’s a bit chilly in the cold spell so I turn on the radiators upstairs for the first time this winter. Husband bleeds them and a lot of air is in the system. They have been off for a long time.

8.00 pm: Tonight it’s my turn with Smallboy 2 and he’s out like a light as usual. Smallboy 1 has a sore loose tooth and looks a bit pale so we give him some pain medicine and he is off to sleep quickly also.

8.05 pm: I log back on to work from 8pm-9pm before I log off for the night. I head downstairs to watch the news, all about Shane MacGowan. RIP.

9.30pm: I head to bed after, fairly tired. I’m looking forward to the Christmas break.

Today’s total: €197.00

Friday

5.30 am: “Mammy! MAMMY! I have something really cool and I’ll tell you what it is – IT’S A TOOTH!”. Smallboy 1 has leapt out of his bed, flung open his bedroom door and is imparting this news from the other side of the house. He wakes up everyone in his excitement at losing another tooth – except for my husband who is a marvel, he sleeps through it all. I send Smallboy 1 back to bed to put it under his pillow while I go into Smallboy 2 who was sleeping soundly, but is of course, now awake. Some day, I will sleep past 6 am. We head downstairs and do the usual – laundry/dog/lunches. Smallboy 1 follows us down five minutes later so I abandon the planned leg workout. I can’t handle two coaches.

7.30 am: We have breakfast and afterwards, Smallboy 1 heads up to get dressed. Another exclamation. Somehow we must have been up before the Tooth Fairy finished her rounds as the tooth is gone, replaced by a few coins. Everyone does their morning thing. Smallboy 2 takes €10 to school with him for a raffle and I am at my desk by 9am.

11.00 am: My mum texts, she needs some things. I usually head into town on Friday mornings to catch a market but I have a webinar today until 12 pm. I decide to stick on the AirPods and do some jobs while listening in to it. I spend enough time sitting down. The webinar goes on until 12.15 pm and I’ve missed the stalls.

12.30 pm: I head into town and help my mother with a few things. I buy some meat from the butcher for the evening. I get back home shortly after and make an omelette with a leftover potato and onion.

1.30 pm: I head back to work but it’s tough going. I have no childcare this afternoon and my husband is away at a work event. It’s been a very hectic week and it’s catching up on me. I forget to bring Smallboy 1 to his music class. I must put it in the work diary. We have meat, potatoes and veg for dinner and everyone to bed.

Today’s total: €18.00 – the soundly sleeping Tooth Fairy spent another €3.50 or so

Saturday

4.18 am: Smallboy 2 turns the light on. I wake my husband and tell him to go into him. I go back to sleep and wake up at 6 am. I head downstairs and do a coach-free workout! I even get to have a cup of coffee and potter around until 8.30 am before the others arrive down. I check my email and see an offer for 30% off for a certain brand. I have had my eye on a coat for a while and it’s in the sale. There is only one left in stock in the size and colour I want – so of course, I buy it. It’s €260 after the discount – sort of unplanned but I badly need a winter coat and I’m afraid they’ll be gone in the post-Christmas sales.

9.00 am: We have some rashers in the fridge so grill them for breakfast with some poached eggs and sourdough from the freezer. I head out for a walk with the dog. It’s a beautiful, frosty, clear winter day so I stay out for over an hour. When I get back we get down some presents I had stored by, and wrap them before heading out to a birthday party in a play centre. While I stay there to watch the boys, husband goes to the big supermarket next door and picks up a spare winter single duvet and two salads for our lunch (€47).

3.00 pm: I head out with Smallboy 2 for gymnastics while Smallboy 1 and husband head out to get the Christmas tree (€45). I stop by the butcher’s on the way home and pick up a few things (€20). We put up the tree. Husband and I have a hot port each. We have dinner and it’s the usual bedtime story.

Today’s total: €342.00

Sunday

6.00 am: As usual Smallboy 2 and I are up early. We just chill out together this morning and put on his favourite film.

9.00 am: I head out for a sauna and cold plunge with a friend and we go for coffee afterwards. I buy a coffee and two big pastries (€10) – I’ll bring the pastries home. I head home and we put on a roast for an early Sunday lunch today.

1.00 pm: After a delicious lunch, we all go for a walk with the dog.

3.00 pm: After the walk we get changed and head out – we are off to meet Santa and plan to get pizza after. It’s a sensory Santa (€30). There is no queuing and it’s very relaxed and the boys are entranced. Afterwards, we go for a walk. Before I can stop it, the two of them leap into an icy puddle, and have soaking wet feet. The pizza plan is abandoned and we have to head home. At least we saved some money there I guess!

Today’s total: €40.00

Weekly total: €960.00

***

What I learned –

  • That was an expensive week. I thought the gig thing was a once-off but having thought about it, in reality, I’m going to one thing or another every month. We don’t drink much alcohol and it’s a lovely way to hang out with family or friends. I’ll just have to account for events more in the budget.
  • All our savings are in very safe places but with low returns at the moment. It’s perhaps time to start to dip the toe into riskier investments as well – it’s hard to know where to start though.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Author
TheJournal.ie reader
Your Voice
Readers Comments
9
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel