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VOICES

Money Diaries A financial advisor on €55K living in Dublin

This week, our reader feels lucky to be able to live rent-free with her grandmother while saving to buy a home.

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 a marketing and advertising executive on €60K living in Leinster. This week, a 26-year-old financial advisor on €55K living with her grandmother in Dublin. 

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I’m a 26-year-old financial advisor living in Dublin. I live with my grandmother and am very lucky to be able to live with her as my parents aren’t in Dublin and I’m very aware of how expensive and difficult it is to buy or rent anywhere here these days. I’m currently saving to buy a house (hopefully next year!) so most of my savings are focused on this as I would like to buy in the Dublin area.

I save €1,000 minimum into the bank each month and this is my non-negotiable. On a bonus month or a month where there’s nothing major on, I try to put another €500-€1,000 in if possible (rarely succeed with this). I also have a joint Revolut savings vault with my boyfriend where we’re doing a set savings challenge to save €5,000 over the course of a year. I saw it online and it was supposed to be a one-person challenge, so we decided to split this between us and have this money parked away for stamp duty, legal fees, etc. when we’re buying a house. Every week’s payment is a different amount for this.

I have 15% of my salary going into my pension (5% from employer and 10% from me), and €20 per month into the Credit Union account. I do this purely to keep the direct debit active and plan to increase this to a decent amount after buying a house as I don’t use my Credit Union account enough and they’re very good to deal with. But for now, I’d prefer to have most of my savings into one main account for simplicity.

In my spare time, I could be doing anything really. I go to the gym a lot but I also love trying new activities and places. I have a busy life outside of work and do various volunteer projects in my spare time too. I’m also doing exams for my job, so I need to factor in studying around work hours too.

My job is hybrid, so I do a mix of two/three days in the office and from home each week. I have a car but not my full licence yet as I’m still on the waiting list for a driving test. I’m a bad driver but I’m forcing myself to learn because it makes life easier. I pay everything for the car but rarely use it unless just out practising the odd time, so I feel like this is a waste of money. I’ve been on the driving test wait list for 11 months now and if I knew this when I applied for a test, I doubt I’d have bothered to get a car until closer to my test time.

Occupation: Financial advisor

Age: 26

Location: Dublin

Salary: €55,000

Monthly pay (net): It varies each month, could be anything from €3,500 to €6,000 depending on the month. Average it out to €3,750.

One-off yearly expenses

Car insurance: €1,500 due in March (pay this as a one-off)

Car tax: €280 in April

Resident parking permit: €85 due in March

Monthly expenses

Car loan repayments: €230

Petrol and Leap card average: €80

Phone bill: €75

Two gym memberships (boxing club and normal gym): €150 for both

Spotify: €10

Netflix for every house in the family until we’re caught: €21 (bargain)

Zoom: €20

Psychotherapy course (until August): €208

Future holiday instalments (until August): €200

Groceries/food: €250 (not just me, it’s for the household too)

Salary protection: €74

Life cover: Covered by my employer

Total monthly expenses: €1,318

***

Monday

8.00 am: I had great plans to wake up earlier today and start the week right, but I decided an extra hour in bed would be useful for me today. I get up and put a wash on, listen to a crime podcast in the background while I make a fried egg on toast and a coffee. A slow morning but I know this will pick up soon.

9.00 am: I work until lunchtime. Nothing exciting today, just usual client meetings and calls. I enjoy starting my week chatting with people and the clients I had today were lovely, so this always puts me in good form for the day. A friend texts me for a loan of a fiver so I Revolut her €10. I’m not going to make her pay this back obviously and am insulted that she thinks I wouldn’t just give her a fiver if stuck.

1.00 pm: Lunch time. I log off and find that my mother is here visiting so I have lunch (already cooked, happy days) with her and my grandmother and we chat for a while. I log back onto work until 5pm and then go back to relaxing with the family for a while longer.

7.00 pm: I hit the boxing club and have a great session. I didn’t get battered today either so another win. I’m wrecked after this though and return home to stick another episode of my crime podcast on (it’s a multi-part series).

11.00 pm: Bed.

Today’s total: €10.00

Tuesday

6.00 am: I’m up early this morning for a phone call from a friend in Australia. It’s 5pm for them so this call gets me up early for the day and in a routine. After the call, I make some breakfast and watch some TV while there’s nobody up. I used to be a night owl but I’ve gotten better at being a morning person over the last year and I enjoy the early morning silence in the house when nobody else is up.

9.00 am: Work is the usual this morning too and I’m on until lunchtime.

1.00 pm: I use my lunch break to run down to the chemist to collect my grandmother’s prescription and some bits in the supermarket for lunch. She’s already ordered it for collection, so it only takes me ten minutes. Medication and groceries set me back €70.53 altogether. She tries to give me the money for this, but I won’t take it. I have the ability to get this for her so I’m happy to do it, it’s the least I can do. Sometimes when she insists, I’ll take the cash and re-hide it back in her purse or bedside locker later. I find it hilarious that she wouldn’t notice this because I think I’m the type who’d notice if a euro coin was misplaced and just can’t understand how people don’t know where their cash is around the house.

2.00 pm: Back to work until 5pm again and off to the gym for 6pm (normal gym this time for some weight training). The gym is super busy at this time and it’s frustrating trying to do a set routine when the machines and benches aren’t available in the order I want. I adjust my work out and make do with what I can. I have a good session though and am happy with my progress as I can feel myself becoming stronger.

8.00 pm: I’m home and happy to just watch TV and relax until bedtime. I had a productive day and feel no guilt about my useless social media scrolling this evening.

10.30 pm: Bed earlier tonight because I’m exhausted.

Today’s total: €70.53

Wednesday

5.45 am: I’m awake extra early this morning to do my psychotherapy course from 6am-8am. This is a new thing for me that I started just in January, but each session is two hours long and I’ve chosen Wednesday mornings to do this before work. The course runs for six months and I’m finding it really interesting and useful for my own development.

9.00 am: I crack on with work as usual this morning after a bit of breakfast and get lots of annoying little finicky tasks done by lunchtime. I had a few bits to close off that I just needed to sit down and focus on.

1.00 pm: I have lasagne and a salad with my grandmother for lunch and do her taxes online with her while I have the free time. This task is the bane of my existence as she’s too honest and declares €49 in shares purchased by my grandad in Spain back in 1980 or something. She doesn’t even know what the company is or how to get rid of them, but the fear of Revenue has her paying a few euro for it just in case because she had it on the system last year. I try to get her to leave it off this year just to see what happens but that’s too drastic a decision. So, we declare her imaginary millions and she’ll pay the imaginary tax she doesn’t owe so she can sleep peacefully at night.

2.00 pm: After preventing my grandmother from being arrested for tax fraud and money laundering, I retreat back to work until 5pm.

6.00 pm: Boxing again this evening and the body is sore today. I do the workout anyway and am very happy I’ve done it because I want to be fitter than I am currently. Home to vegetate for the evening and more of my crime podcast episodes.

10.30 pm: I meditate for 10 minutes before going to sleep tonight. I mean to do this more often but I’m not great at being consistent with this. I always have a better night’s sleep if I do this before.

Today’s total: €0.00

Thursday

6.00 am: Wake up and bring the dog out for a ramble before putting my face on to go into the office today. Because of the hybrid work, I look forward to seeing everyone today. I’m out the door by 7am to get the Dart and then hop on another bus in town; I grab some porridge and a coffee on the way (€7.95). I also put something on my Leap card to get me through the day but decide to use up some cash in my purse so a minimal top up (€5) will do.

8.30 am: In the office. I have breakfast and rob another free coffee from the fancy machine.

9.00 am: I work until lunchtime, very busy today so stuck at the desk most of the time. The morning consists of manager meetings, team meetings, online training, a marketing update and getting a few important phone calls done.

1.00 pm: The lunch of a highly functional individual – a deli chicken fillet roll (€5). I remind myself how disgusting this price is again and promise to make my own lunch next week (a big fat lie, obviously). Back to work to close off a few client tasks until the end of the workday and back onto the bus and dart home.

7.00 pm: I arrive home just in time to jump onto a webinar for some mandatory CPD training (thrilling, I know).

8.30 pm: I finally get to switch off the laptop and decide to bring the dog out for a long walk and run around a local park as it’s quiet. He’s so well behaved and loves making new friends on his walks.

9.50 pm: We get back and I make some toast with Nutella for dinner. I’ve recently become really poor at structuring my meals but tend to eat better when I work from home as I don’t have to factor in commute times.

11.00 pm: I dive into bed absolutely wrecked after today and am out cold out within minutes.

Today’s total: €17.95

Friday

6.30 am: Up and out with the dog. Return home and make breakfast and a coffee, shower and get ready for the day. I’m working from home this morning and going on an off-site training day from lunchtime.

9.00 am: I do a client meeting and a few brief calls to sort out next week and switch off the laptop for the day. I love these off-site days, they’re rare but wonderful.

11.30 am: Head into town on the bus.

12.30 pm: Arrive for a broker lunch (paid for by the company) and we spend the next four hours in training.

5.00 pm: Pub time, woohoo! I have three glasses of wine (on a company tab) and a few of us head into a different part of town. I throw money towards the taxi (€10) and we land at a different pub for a few hours more. It’s still part of the work event plans so more drinks and food are still on a tab.

11.00 pm: I can feel the free drinks catching up with me and I’ve made the executive decision to go home before I say or do something too embarrassing. A few of the others are heading to some nightclub so I grab a taxi and we drop them off first while I stay in it.

11.30 pm: I wake up near where I live but not near enough to walk. I dosed off in the taxi (not properly) and the driver decided to drop me there and go take another fare. I gave him my Eircode earlier and he has driven past my address and left me further away. In my half sleepy state, I hand him €45 and get out because I can’t be bothered to speak to him anymore, he’s annoyed me. As I’m walking, I start wondering why I’m so stupid and too nice to people. I actually tipped him. He didn’t bring me home and I still gave him a tip out of habit. I rage with myself as I order another taxi on the FreeNow app. It’s a five-minute taxi drive home but a 40-minute walk and I’m too tired so would rather just pay the money. A nice taxi man arrives, and I pay him his fare plus a tip because he was lovely (€20). I make a note to myself to only order taxis on the apps from now on as their details are listed there. I’m home safe and fall into bed.

Today’s total: €75.00

Saturday

9.00 am: I wake up feeling fresh enough, just thirsty. I down a litre of water and just chill out in bed watching stuff on my phone for a while. Useless social media time but I don’t care today. Eventually, I get up and potter around the house. I catch up on washing, change the bed linen, do a bit of a clean-up job around the house and watch some Saturday Kitchen Live. The Hairy Bikers clips are always my favourite.

2.00 pm: My grandmother isn’t feeling too well today and needs a few bits from the shops. I get my list together and head down to do a shop run. I also have to get a few things for myself for later on. The boyfriend and I are planning to stay in and do a movie night and some random craft/artwork. We like to do random activities each week and this is a new one for us. I grab lots of art supplies (€51.37), loads of sweets for him (€15.95) because he loves jellies, and I also get my grandmother’s shopping and bits from the chemist (€41.47). As I’m strolling back home, I pass a pop-up shop and I can’t help but have a look. I’m in a good mood today and floating around happily so this is the perfect time to make me spend money on something I definitely don’t need. It’s an artist showing her paintings and I love her work. I buy a mini painting for my brother (€35) as I like to support local artists and she was lovely.

3.00 pm: Arrive home, sort her out with dinner etc. My brother is in so he gets his painting and is happy out. We all chill out a bit chatting and watching TV. I also bought two bunches of daffodils when I was in the shop and as I go to vase them, it turns out she already has three sets of daffodils from my uncle dropping some in the other day. This is a real thing in this house, and we always end up with endless daffodils while they’re in season. They brighten up the house and we love them.

5.00 pm: I get the bus to my boyfriend’s house, topping up my Leap card properly on the way (€30). He’s bought me flowers for Valentine’s Day and they’re gorgeous! This is a belated Valentine’s as we were both working, and I had an evening course while he was away on the day. They’re beautiful flowers and I’m very happy because I know he doesn’t see the point in buying flowers as they die, but he knows I love them so has done it for me anyway. We have dinner with his family and start our little random craft date after. To our surprise, we manage to spend hours painting (not very well though). Half our time is spent in relaxed silence just painting away therapeutically. We can’t believe how much we enjoyed it and plan to do this again more often. Next time maybe pottery.

11.30 pm: We watch a film, White Boy Rick. It’s brilliant and a great way to end our date night. Some Detroit gangland feuds and drug dealing, romance at its finest. Finally, we go to bed at about 1.30 am.

Today’s total: €173.79

Sunday

9.30 am: A day to do nothing. We wake up to the glorious sound of not having children yet. We laze around doing nothing for a few hours. Bliss. We watch two episodes of a World War II documentary because we’re nerds and then gradually emerge into civilisation. If it’s not a history documentary, it’s a crime one.

12.00 pm: We’re finally up properly and head off to Krispy Kreme for an unhealthy breakfast/lunch. Coffee and four donuts (no judgement please) sets us back €19.45. We have a spare change round up vault on Revolut that we both let build up over a few weeks as we tap our individual cards. Depending on each month, we usually end up with a decent little amount in this. Today the balance is over €30 so we’ve decided to pay for our donuts and coffee with this. I know it’s still our money, but psychologically it doesn’t feel like it and the idea is that this vault is for random food splurges like this. We spend the next two hours looking around shops pretending we have a house to buy stuff for. I’m conscious that we’re starting to sound like some very annoying people to be around – I can confirm that we definitely are. We test out sofas and look at gadgets in Harvey Norman for a while. I’ve decided that our future kitchen needs to be yellow. He can pick the gadgets, I’ll pick the colours; win win. We grab some iced teas, scampi fries, and chilli seeds for our next project (€9.75). We’re both very impulsive people and tend to encourage each other with the random spending and new ideas… this can be positive and negative. I know we definitely buy a lot of things on impulse and spend some stupid money, but we have a lot of fun together and are always trying new hobbies, sports, places and things to do all the time, so I think it’s fine. If he wants to buy chilli seeds, I’ll find him a plant pot. Partners should always encourage personal growth and enthusiasm for any new passions or ideas once they’re within reason. We’d probably have a house sooner if we were stricter on this, but I equally don’t think as many couples have as much fun as we do so I don’t care. Life is for living too.

3.30 pm: We head back to his for dinner with his family. They’re lovely and it’s always a really nice dinner with them, very easy people to get along with. We chat away for a while post-food coma.

6.00 pm: We retreat again to watch a documentary about Josef Fritzl. What a monster.

7.30 pm: I decide it’s time to go home after this because I want to be all set for work tomorrow and to get up early. I like Mondays to be very productive and it’s the day I tend to do my best work. He drops me home and I spend the rest of my evening reading and trying to learn a basic song from YouTube on my ukulele (again, another impulsive new hobby). After many failed attempts, I call it quits and go to bed for 11 pm.

Today’s total: €29.20

Weekly subtotal: €376.47

***

What I learned –

  • I was surprised at how much I spent this week, but the amount really does vary and I would say this week was slightly more excessive than usual. If it’s something for my family or the house, then I have no issues paying for these things as I’m very lucky to have somewhere to live in Dublin rent-free while I save. I plan to look after my family as well as I can when I’m older and more established so having this head-start to set myself up will benefit them in the long-run (they don’t know this yet though). As long as I’m alive though, I’ll make sure nobody is ever stuck or struggling.
  • I let my inner child control my financial decisions too much sometimes. I wonder if this is because I have to be very corporate in my job and when I’m not working, it’s like I’ve switched personalities to be fun again. I love trying new things though and I don’t regret spending money on making memories. There is obviously a balance to be had, but after having people I know die at a young age, I’ve learned to put things into perspective. Anyone can die any day from anything, and a long, healthy life is never guaranteed. Imagine if I chose not to go on a holiday with my boyfriend in summer just to save the extra €200 a month. I might be two months closer to buying a house without that instalment coming out, it’s not that big a deal. Spending a few euro on flowers or a nice painting the odd time to cheer people up is always worth doing. Always.
  • With my financial advisor hat on, one thing I am strict about is having my pension and savings consistent. Pick a minimum amount you can save and stick to that. If this amount is €10 per month, then pick that and do it without any excuses. You can tell yourself you’ll try to save €1,000 per month depending on what’s on and what bills there are etc. and end up not doing it. A tiny amount into savings or a pension is better than zero each month just because you’re waiting to earn more money, or for a loan to be cleared etc. Just do what you can. I’m paying the maximum I can into my pension right now even though I’d prefer some of this to go to house deposit savings. However, we never know what can happen down the line. I want children in future so know I’ll have gaps in work where I may not pay in anything. I’m doing what I can when I’m able to and plan to retire at 55 and live somewhere abroad. Retiring at 55 doesn’t magically happen without active planning. Always pay yourself first, then the essential bills, then the extra optional expenditure.
  • I’m aware that I don’t have children yet or a house of my own with huge outgoings. I’m very grateful for the ability to be more flexible with my money right now due to this and am trying to balance living now, but also setting myself up a bit for when things get more expensive as I’m older. Everyone can only try their best with the cards they’ve been dealt. I do recommend for everyone to read the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” though. This book switched on a lightbulb in my head years ago and has helped me become better with money. It completely changed my mindset to finances and how I want to live my life, and this mindset has worked wonders for me since.

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