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Money Diaries: A 37-year-old in a rural village in the West of Ireland earning about €1,800 a month

This week, our reader has friends to visit and is making an effort to support local business.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie running weekly and looking at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, how much they save if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week.

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.

If you’d like to document your spending, or lack thereof and any lifestyle changes during this Covid-19 period, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to money@thejournal.ie and we’ll be in touch.

Last week, we met a construction contracts manager who earns €67,000 per year in Galway and has a set savings plan which sees money put into four different accounts each month. 

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I’m living with my husband and two pre-school children in a rural location in the west of Ireland. I work on a part-time basis (about three days a week usually, or up to six during busy times, so income fluctuates depending on the time of year, but usually adds up to a similar amount at the end).

I save €100 monthly which goes out through direct debit. Sometimes I could afford more, sometimes it’s a struggle to meet it, but I like to keep it constant. My weekly pay at the moment is low but I have a bit left in my account from a big job I did at the beginning of the year so I’m spending more than my current weekly income, although I usually try to stick to that (a bit).

It makes it difficult to budget but I try not to use my credit card except in emergencies and only spend what I have.

We bought our house last year and have just put in for planning permission to extend it. So our savings are all towards that job, and I imagine will be for the foreseeable future.

We love living where we do. We have a lot of family and friends near by and it’s a really social area with a lot of young people and young families so we don’t feel like we miss out on not being in an urban area (most of the time – being able to walk home from the pub the odd time would be nice).

Being able to work online has been great for me, and recently the County Council opened a digital hub in the nearest town which has been a huge boost. I try to get in there two days a week – it’s really reasonably priced, has good internet and just the head space getting away from the house it affords you is brilliant. We have a garden with a tunnel and hens, so we try to produce a bit of our own food, which is a hobby as much as anything. My husband works in a family business, earns a similar amount to me overall.

Occupation: Heritage Professional
Age: 37
Location: West of Ireland
Salary: Varies per annum
Monthly pay (net): €1,833 (on average) 

Monthly expenses

Monthly expenses shared with husband. 

Petrol: €75-€100 (in non-lockdown times)
Mortgage: €600 (comes out of husband’s account)
Groceries (including dog and expenses): €150-200 per week
Household bills: Electricity €140; Internet €60; Heating Oil €58
Childminder: €200 (for two mornings a week) 
Phone bill: €40
Savings: €100
Subscriptions: Patreon €15; Netflix €7.99

***

Monday 

7.30am: It’s a bank holiday so it’s a bit out of the ordinary. It’s a nice sunny day so when the baby is gone for his nap, I pop the small lady on the bike and go for a cycle. We meet a cow on the road who is reluctant to let us pass, and then her calf squeezes under the wire and we now have two animals to pass. I get a bit frustrated and say some bad things. The small lady says ‘no need to shout now, the baby will go back to his mammy himself’ displaying a level of wisdom and patience beyond mine.

2.30pm: Some friends call over and we sit around in the sunshine for a bit, which is nice
because it hasn’t happened in ages. Have a glass of wine and mediate squabbles between the kids.

6pm: Realise we are out of milk so nip to the shop in the village to pick some up, costing €2.60.

7pm: Put the kids in the bath, clean the bathroom while they are in splashing around.
Double tasking success! Put the cleaning stuff in the en-suite after with great hopes of cleaning that a bit later. Don’t do it.

8pm: Kids in bed, I give a clean to the kitchen and do a few jobs outside. Husband is home so we have a glass of wine and watch Motherland on Netflix.

Today’s total: €2.60

Tuesday

8am: It’s the husbands turn to get up with the kids so I get up and jump in the shower. I mean to leave early today but there’s always something.

10.30am: Arrive at the hub finally and get started on work. Spend most of the morning on emails and not actually accomplishing much. Then find myself in a big rush trying to get a report sent in before lunch.

2pm: Head out to grab a sandwich, to which I add an irresistible-looking slice of cake – coming to €9. Run some errands for my folks then back to the hub to make a cup of coffee and eat my sandwich. Cake does not disappoint.

3pm: Book some dates in the hub for the coming month (€40).

5.30pm: To Supervalu for the main weekly foodshop (€127.88). Bump into a few people and stop for chats. It’s nice to bump into people you know but it’s almost impossible to get around to the messages without getting distracted. So I’m a bit late to pick up the kids but they have had their dinner at their granny’s so it’s grand.

7pm: Home with the kids and have a bit of a play before bedtime.

8pm: Kids are in bed and I make a cup of tea and sit on the couch to scroll through Instagram for a bit. I always know this will be a mistake and I always do it. Nearly impossible to drag myself up again! See my monthly savings DD has come out, €100.

9pm: Go outside to water the tunnel and check the hens. Throw a stick around the field for the dog a bit. It’s a rotten day is being outside isn’t very appealing. Back inside, I make the kids lunch for the childminder’s the next morning. I think about doing a bit more work but I turn on the telly instead. I’ve been binge-watching Good Girls which is excellent. End up watching three episodes.

Midnight: Bed. Read a few pages of my book, The Gathering by Anne Enright. I think she is a great writer, this is proving a bit tough to get into though.

Today’s total: €276.88

Wednesday

7.30am: Wake to hear the toddler chatting to himself in his cot. Love going in to him first thing and his squeals of pleasure at someone coming to pick him up. Get him up and play with him a bit, let the cat in and he chases her around, stealing her food and trying to ‘pet’ her. I rescue her after a minute, before she loses patience. Make some porridge which he spoons into himself. The small lady gets up then and has some porridge too. While they are eating I run out to let the hens and the dog out. The dog comes over to the house with a great welcome for himself and the two smallies are delighted to see him too. Get them dressed and ready to go, in between a cup of tea and a couple of slices of toast.

9.30am: Husband brings the kids to the minder’s and I pick up a few things to put away in their rightful places – this leads to an hour of aimless tidying where every time I put something down I find something else to pick up and put away! By the end of it at least two parts of the house look a good bit tidier though.

10am: Water the tunnel, have a play with the dog.

10.30am: Start making dinner, a pork chop casserole recipe, it’s tasty out but takes ages. Think about investing in a slow cooker. Make a couple of crispy fried eggs for myself while I’m at it.

11am: Make a cup of coffee and sit at the computer to do some work. Remember I have to pay for a parenting webinar I’m signed up for so do that. €10.

2pm: Take a break, empty the dishwasher and play with the dog again. Put a wash on the line. Working from home is great but the distractions are rife. Have a scroll through Instagram and see someone has posted a link to donate to Impact Lebanon, do it quick before I forget. €50.

3pm: Kids and husband come home and we have early dinner together. He heads back to work and the three of us and the dog call to visit friends for a walk and a play, which is lovely. Relishing opportunities to socialise again after so long.

6pm: Home for a snack before bedtime.

8pm: After the kids are in bed I bake a birthday cake for my sister, have a snack myself and FINALLY clean the en suite, yay. Do a few housework jobs (since lockdown ended and we are busy again the house is such a mess, little bits of clutter building up everywhere). Place an order with a local delivery service that started recently, picking up bits and pieces from local food producers and dropping them off the following Friday. Pretty exciting getting food delivered in such a rural area and it was a lifesaver during lockdown when we were so sick of cooking for ourselves the whole time. (€62, including delivery charges)

11pm: Sit down at last, watch the John Hume documentary on RTÉ.

Midnight: Bed with Anne Enright.

Today’s total: €122

Thursday

8am: Husband’s turn to get up with kids, so I get up and have a shower and pack their bag and lunches etc for the childminder’s. Grab a cup of tea and toast and put a wash on the line.

9.30am: We all head off around the same time. Arrive at the hub and start work.

1.30pm: Meet a friend for lunch, I paid last time so he pays this time, which is nice. Pop into a local bookshop to pick up a book for my niece’s upcoming birthday (€10). Consider getting a voucher for a facial from the local spa for my sister but when I call them they aren’t doing facials at the moment so decide to leave it. Go into the excellent health food shop to get two tins of body butter for two of my cousins who have just had babies, and get a bar of chocolate too – €25.

5pm: Pick up kids, and present sister with birthday cake.

6pm: Home with kids and give them a snack before bed.

8pm: Go outside to water tunnel and have a play with the dog. Back inside prep some lasagne for tomorrow’s dinner. Have a small omlette for myself, don’t have energy to prepare a proper dinner for only myself at this stage. 

10pm: Watch a bit of Good Girls and go to bed with Anne Enright. It’s definitely starting to get more gripping and I end up reading a few chapters.

Today’s total: €35

Friday

7am: My turn to get up with the kids, make them some Weetabix and toast and fruit, a lot of which gets thrown on the ground.

9.30am: I’m home with the kids today but my husband isn’t working til later so when the toddler goes down for his nap, I open the laptop and do a bit of work while husband goes outside to look after the animals with the other one.

1.30pm: Make some lunch for the kids, random salady bits and leftovers from the fridge and some spaghetti hoops. Some gets eaten and some goes on the floor.

2pm: Head off for a walk with the toddler in the buggy and the small lady on her scooter. We make it about haLf a mile up the road at a very slow pace. Meet a few neighbours and stop for chats. Dog is delighted to be having a good sniff around. Back home I put a wash on the line and try to keep the toddler from destroying himself in one way or another. It’s turned out a scorcher of a day. Visitors coming tomorrow so try to make the house a bit presentable for them, dress the spare bed and remove errant pieces of Lego from the spare room. Forgot our food delivery is coming! Delighted to have some nice bread, cheese and stuff for lunches over the weekend.

5pm: Dinner with kids, run around a bit after a ball and throw sticks for the dog afterwards. The heat is unreal.

7.30pm: Bedtime for the children.

8pm: Sit on the couch with my phone again. Scroll through Instagram and Depop. See a lovely red leopard print dress that would fit my daughter so buy that and also a pair of jeans for myself, my last pair of ‘good’ skinny jeans has finally given up the ghost. Trying not to buy any new clothes this year after becoming aware of the evils of fast fashion, don’t buy a huge amount anyway, but for anything I’ve needed depop has provided amply (and cheaply). €40, including P&P from the UK.

Today’s total: €40

Saturday

9am: Get up after a bit of a lie in, which is nice! Have some eggs and toast with the family.

10am: Toddler goes for his nap and myself and the small lady head over to my folks’ house on the bicycle. The dog comes too for a good run. We hang out with my parents for a few hours.

1pm: Home, and husband goes to work. Finish tidying the house for the visitors. The sun is beating down again.

3pm: Visitors arrive and good to see some good friends after a long time. Have coffee and chats.

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5pm: Take a notion to head to the beach. It’s a bit of a drive but the view coming down to the coast in the bright clear day is unreal, and the sea is fabulous. The kids love splashing around. Think we arrived at the right time, there is still a huge crowd on the beach and the social distancing isn’t the best, glad we didn’t here any earlier.

7.30pm: Home and get kids fed and to bed, bit later than usual but it’s grand.

8pm: Visitors go out for dinner, I decide to join them so get a local girl to babysit (€30) but they pay for dinner, which is lovely. First time in a restaurant since before lockdown, which is weird but nice. Food is great and its just nice to be out.

11pm: Home and have a few more drinks, husband gets home a bit later and joins us and we end up staying up til quite late…

Today’s total: €30

Sunday

8am: Oh why did we stay up so late? Have a bit of a head on me. Make some coffee and drink some water.

10am: Visitors are up and we lash on a fry. Decide to head for the beach again for a quick swim. Turns out it’s a pretty amazing hangover cure!

12pm: Hit the road home as the beach is starting to fill up.

2pm: Have a nice roast dinner before our visitors leave.

4pm: Put the two kids on the back of the bikes and head off for a nice long cycle with the dog running alongside. It’s a glorious evening.

6pm: Home and give the kids a bath to wash off all the sand. Husband is off on Sundays so I clean up a bit while he plays with the kids and gets them ready for bed.

7.30pm: Do bedtime together and pan out on the couch for a bit. Head out to water the tunnel and look after the animals and have a bit of a sit outside in the sunshine.

9.30pm: Sit on the couch again to watch ‘Dublin Murders’ (watched bits of it last time it was on, it’s no less confusing this time and we’ve watched it since the beginning). We are wrecked so don’t make it through the full two episodes.

11pm: Bed.

Today’s total: €0

Weekly subtotal: €506.48

 ***

What I learned 

  • I spent a good bit more than I made this week, between having visitors and a few family birthdays/occasions to buy for.
  • If I were more flush, I’d definitely consider health insurance. My parents had it when we were young, so I feel a bit worried about not having it if (or likely when) we have health problems down the line. But from what I’ve looked into, starting it now, you seem to have to pay a lot to get value for your money and I don’t know if the smaller packages are worth anything. Plus, ideologically I don’t think it’s a good thing that you are entitled to better healthcare just because you can pay for it. I realise that will mean nothing to me if we are faced with a health crisis in the future. But at the moment we can’t afford it anyway so it’s a moot point.
  • It’s really important to us to support local and/or small independent businesses. So many of our friends and indeed my husband work in the hospitality sector running their own businesses, and providing employment, so I’ve never felt like going out for lunch or dinner is being too flaithúlach, I see it as supporting the industry. Also use local shops for presents etc, and don’t use Amazon unless there is absolutely no other alternative. We are fortunate to have some really nice shops and food producers in this area and it makes for a great standard of living.

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. 

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