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VOICES

Money Diaries A public sector HR specialist on €94K living in Dublin

This week, our reader is enjoying life in their home, juggling work and socialising.

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.

Last time around, we heard from an accountant on €65K living in Kildare. This week, a public sector HR specialist on €94K living in Dublin.

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I’m a 45-year-old HR specialist working in the public sector. I live in Dublin with my husband but I’m originally from the south of the country where I still have family. We don’t have children and like to spend our time hillwalking, travelling and spending time with family and friends. We live close to the city centre where we both work. My husband is on site five days per week and I am in the office two or three days per week. The rest I can work from home, but it varies depending on meetings etc. We bought our house in 2015 and have completed a full renovation over the last number of years and have no intention of moving from where we are. We used to rent for years and are fully aware of the privileged position we are in to have a home so close to the city centre.

In terms of savings, we spent a lot of our money over the years on our home renovation so we’re building ourselves back up again. We both aim to save €1,000+ each month, sometimes more if possible – I have direct debits for €1,700 each month into savings accounts at the moment and am managing fine with this level of saving. We have about €20k built up at this stage and are happy to continue on as we are adding around €20-25k each year to this. We both have separate current accounts and smaller savings accounts (for holidays etc. max €5k each) but we have a joint long-term savings account where we put the remainder of savings (once our 5k ‘float’ has been reached in our separate savings accounts) which I am looking at investing in more longer-term products.

I have a public sector defined benefit pension and my husband has a generous defined contribution pension, both of which we pay in to respectively. Our mortgage has 13 years remaining – the next two are fixed and after that, we plan on overpaying to clear it within the next seven or eight years. This all sounds like we are very responsible adults. However, we both enjoyed our 20s and early 30s frivolously with regard to spending money, travelling and generally having a good time so we really are only really after getting our act together in the last few years!

We split our household bills equally such as food, electricity etc., however, we split the mortgage proportionally to our earnings (my husband earns €45k). We are also taxed jointly at the moment but we may need to look at this as both our earnings increase.

Occupation: Public sector HR specialist

Age: 45

Location: Dublin

Salary: €94,491

Monthly pay (net): €4,633 after tax and pension deductions

Monthly expenses

Transport: €100 between diesel and Leap card top-ups. I usually take the bus but sometimes I use the car as I travel a bit for work, but I can claim for this which more than covers the cost of running my car annually, including insurance (€426) and Motor Tax (€200), which I pay annually. My husband also has a car which he pays around the same for tax and insurance. Both our cars are diesels which we plan to run to the end of their usable lives before switching to an EV and possibly – more than likely – moving to a single car for our household.

Rent: Our mortgage is €1,337 – I pay €937 and himself pays €400

Household bills: I switch providers every year to get the best deal on both gas and electricity. Last year we paid approximately €1,000 on electricity and €1,100 on gas and we expect to pay the same this year (if not less) which works out at €183 per month, of which my half is €91.50. Broadband is €70 per month, again my half is €35. We paid €358 for home insurance last year – not sure why I didn’t set up a monthly D/D for that. We pay €40.42 per month for mortgage protection and we have a joint life assurance policy, for which we pay €54.45 per month. All covered 50/50.

Phone bill: €15 (we are both on Gomo)

Health insurance: I pay €86.13 per month for my Irish Life plan (total €1,033) and husband pays €54.16 per month for his plan

Groceries: This can vary depending on how much entertaining we do in the month, but I would say for an average month, we would spend €600 – my half being €300

Subscriptions: Spotify Premium – €10.99, Apple TV – €9.99, Amazon Prime – €10.48, Netflix – €8.99

Other: Nails twice per month – €50 incl tip, hair every six weeks – €125 – €160 incl tip.

***

Monday

8.00 am: I usually work from home on Mondays so get up a bit later than when I head into the office. I make myself a cup of green tea and log on to get ahead of the day. January is all about planning for the year ahead and beyond so I get stuck in.

10.00 am: Hunger pangs lead me down to the kitchen. I make porridge with berries and chopped apple which I have with some natural yoghurt, nuts and seeds. I check in with my team – some of whom are only back today after Christmas to see how their break went and to gently guide them to look at their plans this week as a priority. I also make a coffee which I take back up to my desk and work away until lunch.

1.30 pm: My husband comes home for lunch some days so when I hear the key in the door, I head down to the kitchen and we have a chat as we prepare some vegetable soup trying to use up the sadder-looking veggies before they spoil. We eat this with some brown bread and have a cup of tea – Barry’s of course!

3.15 pm: He heads off and I go back to my desk.

4.30 pm: I realise I haven’t moved for over two hours! I quickly head out for a walk and listen to a podcast – am catching up with the Blindboy podcasts which I missed over Christmas so randomly burst out laughing as I walk, which incites strange looks from others!

5.30 pm: I get home and spend another half an hour clearing emails before logging off.

6.00 pm: Quick shower and head downstairs where himself is home and has the dinner on – spicy chicken, potatoes and salad. We eat this and watch a couple of episodes of the new series of Fargo (which is excellent).

9.30 pm: I head to bed and read my book for an hour before falling asleep. I’m really trying to reduce my phone usage – before I would have easily spent this hour scrolling through news sites and social media which definitely affected my sleep.

Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

7.15 am: I’m working in the office today. Get up, get dressed and put on some makeup. Himself makes coffee and I have some fruit and a boiled egg and take my coffee to go. I get the bus (€2.00) and walk five minutes to the office where I catch up with everyone in person and try and drum up some enthusiasm for the year ahead!

9.00 am: Time for my first meeting. I grab my notebook and make my way to the meeting room. The morning is spent in various Team and Project meetings, mostly kick-starting the planning process and dealing with year-end financial matters. I bring my own green tea bags with me to work and sip on tea or water all throughout the day. I find if I’m not hydrated, I lose concentration very easily.

1.00 pm: I leave the office for a half-hour walk and grab a salad from Chopped (€8.75) which I take back and eat in the canteen. I have a cup of green tea and it’s straight back into meetings for the afternoon. Tuesdays are my only guaranteed full day in the office so I try and fill them with as many in-person meetings and engagements as I can.

5.00 pm: I try to clear all the emails which have come in over the day and finally leave the office at 6pm, hop on the bus (€2.00) and head home.

6.30 pm: Dinner is once again waiting for me: veggie stir fry and brown rice. Yum! I eat this quickly and get ready to head out for a walk. I love walking in the evenings as it really clears my head after a long day and I listen to music this time.

8.00 pm: Home, into the shower and watch an episode of Fargo before hitting the hay, reading and sleep.

Today’s total: €12.75

Wednesday

7.15 am: Up, dressed and get some porridge, coffee and eggs on. I have a meeting this morning in another location so I log on at 8am, do some prep and quickly put on some makeup.

10.00 am: Head off in the car. I take the M50 so go through the toll for which I have a tag (€2.50). Arrive in the office at 10.45am, in plenty of time for my 11am meeting.

1.00 pm: The meeting ran over and we still haven’t reached an agreement, so we all take a break and order in some coffees and sandwiches. My share of this is €12.50 which I Revolut to my colleague who graciously offers to run out and pick them up. We eventually reach a position on which we can all agree and I hop back into my car and pay €18.50 for parking and head for home, again through the toll (€2.50). The lunch and parking as well as mileage are covered by work so I will get all of today’s expenditure back at the end of the month in my expenses, as well as some extra for mileage which I put into a separate Revolut Vault specifically for car expenses – new tyres, servicing etc. Any money left over in this Vault at the end of the year goes towards Christmas spending and/or savings or, being totally honest, something lovely for myself!

5.45 pm: I spend some time clearing emails and check in with the team before changing and heading out for a walk at 6pm.

7.00 pm: Back home. Straight into the shower and get ready to head out for dinner which we do at least once per week. I hop on the bus (€2.00) and meet himself in town for a quick bite and a glass of wine. Two glasses of wine and a lovely meal later, we finish up and I pay (€120 including tip) as it’s my turn – we alternate paying for things like this. We decide to stop for a drink on the way home which himself buys and we hop on the bus (€2.00).

11.00 pm: Home and it’s straight to bed after a large glass of water to prevent the adverse effects of the wine!

Today’s total: €160.00, but €36 will be reimbursed through work so €124.00 recorded

Thursday

8.00 am: Up later today as I’m working from home. Log on and get ahead of things before I head down to the kitchen and prepare some eggs and toast and a large coffee. Feeling fine this morning, definitely due to the copious amounts of water!

1.00 pm: After working solidly through to lunch, I head out for a quick walk for 30 mins and grab a soup and salad deal from a nearby deli on the way home (€13.95). I eat this and have a cup of tea and get stuck back into work for the afternoon – mostly phone calls with a few team members and responding to emails.

6.00 pm: Log off. I’m on dinner tonight so time to get stuck into preparing a vegetable curry, which we have with rice and salad.

7.00 pm: No walk tonight so I grab a shower and we take to the couch and watch an episode of Fargo.

9.30 pm: Head up to bed at the usual time and am asleep within half an hour!

Today’s total: €13.95

Friday

7.15 am: Have an important in-person meeting this morning so up early, dressed and make sure the grooming is up to scratch before I grab a banana and a coffee to go and get on the road before the traffic.

12.30 pm: The meeting is intense but productive and by the time it finishes, I’m starving! Myself and a colleague go for lunch and get soup and a toastie in a little place around the corner from the meeting venue – pricey but tasty (€18.95).

1.30 pm: I head home to finish the afternoon’s work from there but stop in Dunnes for some shopping as we are out of everything and spend €166. I quickly put anything frozen or chilled away and get stuck into emails and finish up a couple of plans and reports.

5.00 pm: I have all good intentions of logging off, but end up getting dragged into something last-minute and hear a key in the door and realise it’s after 6pm.

6.15 pm: I head downstairs and am torn between a walk or a G&T, but himself already has the ice in the glasses so I succumb and we sip our drinks and catch up with each other. He Revoluts (is that a verb?) me his half of the shopping (€83) I prepare a quick pasta dish and we open a bottle of red wine and watch a movie. I manage to stay awake during the movie, which is rare!

10.00 pm: Have a cup of herbal tea and head to bed. Am asleep immediately. There was a time when I would always go out on a Friday night, but not anymore.

Today’s total: €184.95 – €83 = €101.95

Saturday

8.00 am: As much as I would love to sleep in on a Saturday, I always wake at 8am. I get up and get some coffee on and head around the corner shop for the paper (€4.00). I only buy a newspaper on the weekends as I love to read it over a leisurely coffee or two.

9.30 am: Himself gets up and we make scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast. We get stuck into some chores – cleaning and laundry, and after this, we head out for a walk. The weather has been freezing lately but lovely and sunny, so perfect for winter walks. We ramble for about an hour and a half which works up a bit of a hunger so we pick up two sandwiches from the deli on our way home – he pays.

12.00 pm: I make some more coffee and we enjoy our sambos. We have plans to meet friends to watch the rugby, so I grab a shower and get ready.

2.30 pm: We head out to the pub to watch the first of two matches (bus – €2.00). We go on rounds with our friends and mine comes to €30 for four drinks including tip. We end up getting some sharing plates between us to keep us going and split the bill (€20 incl tip). We have one last drink and don’t stay for the end of the last match as the result is a given and head home – deciding to walk in an attempt to metabolise some of the beer and fried food!

7.00 pm: We get home and plonk ourselves on the couch, drink copious cups of tea and watch YouTube videos.

11.00 pm: We head to bed. This is late for me.

Today’s total: €56.00

Sunday

8.00 am: I wake not feeling too bad considering last night’s revelry. I drink a load of water, lash on some coffee and run around the corner for the Sunday papers (€4.30). I read for a while and drink my coffee.

9.00 am: Himself gets up and we have porridge with nuts and fruit for breakfast. We change into some warm clothes and head out in the car to do a quick run up the Sugarloaf and try and beat the crowds.

1.00 pm: After our walk, we get home, shower and change and light the fire. I make some phone calls to my family and my husband checks in with his also.

3.30 pm: We laze around for a while until I give in and start cooking dinner which is a roast chicken with potatoes and roast vegetables. We have a glass of wine with this just to finish off the weekend and we eat the last of the Christmas chocolates.

7.00 pm: We watch some Fargo and start watching Slow Horses (amazing!) and I manage to stay awake until 10pm.

10.00 pm: Head up to bed and try to read, but am asleep within a half an hour.

Today’s total: €4.30

Weekly subtotal: €312.95

***

What I learned –

  • This would be a fairly typical week in terms of socialising. We would usually have two evenings out and dinner on at least one evening. We don’t have overly expensive taste so stay away from the more salubrious establishments.
  • I know I spend a fair bit on lunches out, but it’s a meal I hate having to think about at home so I much prefer to support local small businesses and get a lovely lunch at the same time. This won’t change!
  • As it is January, there is very little discretionary spending going on – we haven’t looked at booking any holidays yet but will be doing this in the coming weeks.
  • I got so used to buying stuff for the house over the years as we were doing it up that I can’t believe we have reached the end of the road – I still have to stop myself from popping into DIY shops and spending loads of money. It was worth it as we now have a lovely comfortable home which has increased significantly in value. We did take a chance on the area at the time, but like most areas in Dublin, it’s become desirable and property prices are reflecting that. We won’t be moving so it’s a moot point but we are well aware of the security and privilege of having a home of our own.
  • I am open to any financial advice with regard to where we go from here – we know that simply dumping our savings into low interest accounts isn’t the smartest, but neither of us is overly savvy when it comes to money and once we have our needs met and have something to fall back on, we are happy.
  • Finally, I really enjoyed keeping this diary as it definitely affected me from a discipline-perspective in that I wasn’t wasting money this week because I knew I’d have to write it down!

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