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Money Diaries An accountant on €65K living in Kildare

This week, our reader is determined to manage finances in the long-term.

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.


Having previously completed a Money Diary in November 2018, “Events, dear boy, events” as Harold Macmillan said, I have completely changed my life since then. I remain an accountant but have changed jobs and I now earn €65,000 per annum. The role also comes with paid health insurance, a 7% employer pension contribution and an annual travel pass paid for (worth €1,550).

Due to the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic (hybrid working and isolation from family), I moved back to Kildare in 2021, albeit to a different town to where I lived previously and bought a two-bed apartment, which I own outright. I am actively working towards FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) and aim to be in a position to do this within five years.

As I was aware that I lead a very basic lifestyle (I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or gamble apart from a Lotto syndicate at work), I started tracking all of my expenditure in 2021 to see exactly how little I spend. My annual expenditure is around €16,000 (excluding pension contribution and the costs of the failed French investment – see original diary).

Occupation: Accountant

Age: 49

Location: Kildare

Salary: €65,000

Monthly pay (net): €3,840

Monthly expenses

Transport: €140 car costs (excl. insurance – €807 per annum)

Rent: €0 – own my apartment outright

Household bills: €190 (includes apartment management fee)

Phone bill: €13 (includes internet)

Health insurance: €0 (paid for by employer)

Groceries: €185

Eating out: €166

Subscriptions: €40 (includes professional accountancy body membership)

French mortgage: €560



8.15 am: I’m working from home today, so I get up a bit later. My current job sees me WFH Monday, Thursday and Friday. Since June of this year, I changed my lifestyle due to the fact that late onset diabetes exists in my family (my grandfather, mother and older sister all received this diagnosis in their early 50s). I have cut back drastically on sweets, biscuits, snacks, etc and switched to a low-carb diet with intermittent fasting. As a result, I am fasting until midday (16-hour fast from 8 pm on Sunday) and have just a black coffee for breakfast. Between then and midday, I drink 2 litres of water to dupe my brain into thinking I am eating.

1.00 pm: Lunchtime. I have two eggs fried in butter and a black coffee.

6.00 pm: I log off from work. Dinner is two pork chops with fried onions and mushrooms. I have a protein yoghurt for dessert.

7.00 pm: I walk down to Lidl to go shopping. I buy a Danish pastry, a pack of chicken thighs, head of lettuce, pork chops and a pack of Angus Beef burgers. I also pick up three protein yoghurts (€16.23). The Danish pastry is eaten when I get home as the daily plan is to finish eating by 8 pm. I cook the chicken thighs as these will be my lunches for the next two days.

Today’s total: €16.23


7.15 am: Up earlier today as I am in the office. The requirement of the job is two days a week in the office and most staff in the unit I work in come in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

8.00 am: I get the train into Dublin and grab a coffee in the canteen before starting work (no charge). As I have milk in this, this is not a fasting day (ketosis will not kick in due to the milk). The morning is taken up with a client call and audit work for other clients.

12.30 pm: I break for lunch. This is two chicken thighs (see yesterday) with lettuce. I also take a Coke Zero from the canteen fridge (company provides free soft drinks, tea and coffee). They also provide free bottled beer for after hours consumption – however, as I am teetotal, I have never availed of this.

2.00 pm: The afternoon is more client work (audits, general accounting queries, etc).

6.00 pm: I finish up and get the train home.

7.30 pm: Dinner is the two burgers I bought yesterday with fried onions and mushrooms.

Today’s total: Zero, helped by the fact that the job pays for an annual travel pass and provides free refreshments in the office


7.15 am: In the office again today with a similar work outline. Same routine as yesterday.

9.30 am: We have a lotto syndicate where I work (just our unit). As the float was getting low, we all paid €10.

12.30 pm: Lunch is the remaining chicken thighs with lettuce and a Coke Zero from the fridge.

6.15 pm: After work, I head up to Penneys for new office trousers. Due to the diet change, I have lost 2.5 stone in the last five months and it is showing. Two new pairs of trousers come to €32.

7.30 pm: For dinner, I go to the local chipper and get fish and chips. The Wednesday special is €9.99.

Today’s total: €51.99


8.15 am: WFH today – I am back intermittent fasting on my usual 16:8 schedule (eat within an 8-hour window from 12 pm to 8 pm and fast for 16 hours). Breakfast is black coffee. I walk to Lidl to top up my groceries. I buy a pack of rashers, two salmon darnes, sausages, a pack of chocolate raisins and a bag of frozen blueberries. (€14.67)

1.00 pm: For lunch, I have half of the pack of rashers (fried in butter) and a black coffee. During the afternoon, I snack on the blueberries, which have defrosted.

6.00 pm: I log off from work and dinner is two pork chops with fried onions and mushrooms. I have a protein yoghurt for dessert.

7.00 pm: I read a review online of a film about women and children in Ireland’s slave centres (Mother and Baby Homes) and book a ticket to see this – costs €12.40.

Today’s total: €27.07


8.15 am: WFH today – same as yesterday with no eating until 12pm.

12.30 pm: For lunch, I have the remaining rashers and eat a protein yoghurt as well.

7.00 pm: This evening, I go to a table quiz in a local pub, with a team formed of a Meetup group I joined recently. The quiz is done on your phone with points awarded not just for getting the answer correct, but based on how quickly you answer. There is no charge for the quiz – the pub pays for it. I have my dinner in the pub – chicken supreme (€18.90). I also have two Coke Zeros (€3.20 each). Total comes to €25.30 and I added a €1 tip. On the way home, I stop at the local filling station and spend €40 on petrol.

Today’s total: €66.30


8.30 am: Time to get up. I’m not as strict about low-carb or fasting at the weekend. I pop down to Tesco, both for (non-carb) snacks and to offload my old, too-large office trousers into the clothes recycling bin there. I buy a multi-pack of snack-size Wispas and a pack of butter biscuits. I also pick up a pack of chicken breasts which were short dated – and on reduced price. (€5.77)

9.15 am: Breakfast is half the pack of sausages I bought on Thursday. I take it easy for the morning, surfing the internet and watching YouTube videos.

12.30 pm: Lunch is two fried eggs.

1.30 pm: After lunch, I catch the train into Dublin (no charge thanks to the travel pass) to go to a volunteer litter-picking session on the Royal Canal, which a group of us do once a month. We usually cover about two miles of the canal over two hours.

4.00 pm: I get the train back home and dinner is the salmon darnes bought on Thursday, along with the usual onions and mushrooms. Given the time of year, I think about Christmas and end up online ordering a pack of charity Christmas cards from my chosen charity – costs €10. I also buy a ticket for their annual fundraising raffle (€5).

Today’s total: €20.77


9.00 am: Up and have another easy morning. I catch up on my finances and notice that my monthly phone cost has been charged to my credit card (€12.99). This covers my calls and internet usage. I head down to the local filling station and buy a breakfast roll (€6.50).

12.30 pm: Lunch is the remainder of the sausages from yesterday.

2.00 pm: The afternoon is spent wondering where to go for my final week’s leave from work (which I need to take before the end of the year). One thing I do spend money on is holidays/short breaks (so far this year I have spent €3,000 on holidays). Most of the comments on my initial diary were vicious in relation to my frugal lifestyle. My younger sister reminded me that I forgot to mention how many overseas trips I go on each year. In 2023, I have been to Germany, Italy (twice), Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Britain. Pre-Covid, I also used to go to the USA every year. Whilst I didn’t book anything today, I am thinking somewhere warm in December, so probably Spain.

4.00 pm: Every Sunday, I go to the parents’ house for dinner. This is not just for a free meal! Last year, my Dad’s health declined rapidly and he is no longer able to manage the household finances (something my mother never did or could). As the accountant in the family, I have taken on the role of monitoring their bank accounts to ensure that his pension is received and that all bills are paid. I also have to set up the fortnightly transfer to his four grandchildren (my niece and nephews).

6.00 pm: Dinner is chicken breast with chips and mixed vegetables. Whilst my parents provide the food and cooking facilities, I cook it myself as they are no longer in a position to prepare meals. My younger sister also comes over every Sunday and I catch up with her (she does an enormous amount of work in ensuring that our parents are looked after). As I will be back on intermittent fasting tomorrow, I finish eating by 8 pm – nothing except water and black coffee until noon tomorrow.

Today’s total: €19.49

Weekly subtotal: €201.85


What I learned –

  • The big change for me between now and five years ago is my diet/lifestyle. The amount of snacks and other processed food that I consume now compared to then is significantly lower. Between this and intermittent fasting, I am far healthier than I was.
  • The other big change (where I live) came about due to the after-effects of Covid. Hybrid working allowed me to move back out of Dublin (if I don’t need to be in the office five days a week, I don’t need to live in Dublin). This allowed me to downsize further and buy an apartment for less than I sold my house in Dublin for. The downside of apartment living is having to pay an annual service charge.
  • I am not sure my current home is my “forever” home. If the right home were to come on the market at the right price, I would even be willing to take out a sensible mortgage (say €100k over 10 years) and use my savings and this and the sale of my apartment to trade up.
  • The failed French investment I referenced in my initial diary is slowly moving towards a resolution. Separate to this, I plan to pay down the remaining balance of the French mortgage (€19k). This will free up €560/month of cash currently leaving my bank account.

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