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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

How I Spend My Money: A business owner on €32,000 sending money back to her parents in Asia

She’s also saving for a house and plans to buy this year.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that runs on Wednesdays and Sundays and looks 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. Want to take part? Details on how to do it are at the bottom of the piece.

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. 

On Wednesday, a junior doctor in Mayo on €85,000 wrote about his spending habits. Today, an entrepreneur living in Dublin talks about the hours she puts into her business and volunteering in her spare time. 


Occupation: Entrepreneur and Irish exports consultant  
Age: 25
Location: Dublin
Salary: €32,000
Monthly pay (net):  €2,193

Monthly expenses
Rent: €375 (it’s €750 in total between myself and fiancé)
Household bills: Electricity, gas, wifi, household cleaning items (€55). I split the bills with five other housemates including my fiancé, which keeps costs low.
Transport: €0 (covered by my company)
Phone bill: €0 (covered by my company)
Health insurance: €0 (paid by my partner) 
Groceries: €100 (So €200 in total. My partner and I go Dutch)
Subscriptions: €0 (I got Google Music and Netflix as a gift from siblings. I love practical gifts)
Savings for traveling: €446
House savings: €1,000
Rainy day fund: €150
Contributions to my family: €67

I’m an entrepreneur living with my partner in a house in south-west Dublin. We rent a double bedroom for €750 per month and share the house with four others. We have been renting this room for four years now and yes, we are lucky to have a landlord that hasn’t raised our rent to match the current crazy prices.

Three years ago we had an urge to rent a one-bedroom apartment together – it would have cost €1,200 per month at the time. We can afford it for sure, but I’m really glad we didn’t. It wouldn’t leave us much money for our mortgage deposit though. Many friends are renting a whole apartment just so they can enjoy the whole space to themselves. Sure, it gets frustrating living with so many other people, but I’d rather endure for a bit so we’d have the money for a mortgage.

In 2017, I saved up €8,000 and by end of 2018 I saved up €12,000. So a total €20,000 house savings from my end. My fiancé has saved up €20,000. 

Our ideal place is a new three-bedroom house located in west Dublin. Our combined salary pre-tax is €84,000, so our budget is €300,000. We should be in a good position to buy our new home this spring or summer. Plus, with the Help to Buy incentive in place, it would cover half of our deposit and we would only need to pay a deposit of €15,000 for a €300,000 house. This leaves us lots of wiggle room for legal fees, to do up the house, etc.

In terms of health insurance, my fiancé’s tech company offered reduced insurance package prices for their employees and their spouses. This fee is deducted from my fiancé’s monthly pay pre-tax. 

You might be curious about the ‘contributions to my family’ fund I have. That’s for when I want to treat my family. For example, bringing them to a nice meal or just give some money for my folks to enjoy their travels. To me personally, it’s important to give back to my parents since I have the ability to give them a more comfortable life – I don’t see why not. I’m planning to add more money to this fund as my wages increase in the next few years, that’s the goal!



10:00am – Woke up late as I was working few hours yesterday from home. Got up and decided to work from home today as well. I have steamed buns and coffee from home for breakfast while I work away.

11:00am – Quick call with a photographer and videographer to arrange our next social media marketing project. Video call afterwards with a client from Asia.

2:00pm – Finally got time for lunch. I had leftover lasagna from yesterday’s dinner.

2:20pm – I book flights and hotels for our next Asia trade visit with our Irish export partners – it’s a business expense.

3.00pm – Catch-up call with my employee in Asia to go through the trade visit events and travel plan.

4:10pm – Contact lens sight test appointment. I paid €20 for it (hmm, thought it was free) and it came with five trial contact lenses to try on.

4:30pm – I buy some groceries after the eye test and decided to treat ourselves with some fresh salmon and cod fish for dinner tonight (€14.50).

5:00pm – Reached home and worked a bit more.

6:30pm – I made teriyaki salmon and cod with stir fry green beans, broccoli and mash potato. Bit of a twist of east and west, but it was delish! Put a bit aside for my lunch too.

8:45pm – Movie night to watch Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Can’t miss it! My fiancé paid for it and we also made some popcorn from home to bring in with us secretly. As people saving for a house, we simply cannot justify paying €8 for popcorn and drinks.

11:30pm – Reached home, made hot chocolate and got ready to go to bed.

Today’s total: €34.50


9:00am – Both of us woke up late today again – we’ve got to stop hitting the snooze button!

9:25am – We left the house together to commute to work. He drove to work and parked his car in his friend’s gaff in Dublin 8. He then scoots by the canal for five minutes to get to his office. I walked from the car park for a good 20 minutes to get to my workplace.

10:00am – Just realised I haven’t had time for breakfast. Got a cappuccino and waffle biscuits from the office cafeteria (€4).

2:00pm – Been a busy morning with client calls from Ireland and Asia, plus getting ready for the trade visit to Asia.

2:00pm – Finally got time for my lunch of leftover salmon and mash from yesterday’s dinner. Finished lunch real quick by 2:20pm and got back to work. Clients from Asia are pinging me so better reply soon before they go to bed – it’s 10:20pm over there… Jesus!

2:45pm – I do some document filing. I usually leave these tasks until clients in Asia have gone to bed and leave me in peace.

4:00pm – Power nap for 10 minutes then continue admin work.

5:00pm – Quick call with potential Irish client from Mayo – it means another consulting agreement to draw up.

7:00pm – Got out of work and himself came over to the office and took me on an impromptu date – romantic! Went to Boco’s for pizza, I highly recommend it. Two pizzas came to €30, and me fella paid for it.

8:30pm – Walking back to the car, I saw the Korean mini market was still open. Time to top up my Asian supplies. I got sushi rice, three Korean instant noodles and a Korean snack for €8.

Today’s total: €12


6:45am – Decided to get up early for work today – no more hitting that snooze button. Made breakfast of boiled eggs and hot soy milk – a weird combo I know, but I like hot food for my breakfast. Then I started working away from home.

7:30am – Did a call with a client and employee in Asia to ensure projects are going well.

8:30am – Review the marketing supplies that our contractor has designed, discuss them a bit and then send them off to a supplier in China for printing.

9:30am – Quick coffee break. Made a Nespresso coffee which goes very well with the Korean snack I bought yesterday. They’re very similar to tea cakes.

1:00pm – Time to prepare for the business meeting trip to Kilkenny later on. I make a quick instant noodle lunch at home.

5:00pm – The meeting went well and I wandered around Kilkenny town a bit afterwards as I waited for the 6:00pm bus home (travel expenses were covered by my company).

7:15pm – Reached Dublin exhausted. Luckily my fiancé is there to pick me up. Even better, he’s got dinner all cooked and ready at home too. I’m one lucky gal.

12:30am – Watched Netflix before bed. I’m currently bingeing on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – highly recommend. 

Today’s total: €0


8:30am – Woke up. I did hit the snooze button a couple of times – I’ll admit – before I got ready for work in the office today.

9:45am – Hopped in the car with my fiancé and walked to the office by 10:00am. I got coffee and breakfast from the cafeteria for €4.

2:00pm – Worked up until now – I didn’t realise the time – and had leftover dinner from yesterday for lunch.

2:15pm – Finished lunch and chatted with my mom back home in Asia – it’s almost bedtime for her. Haven’t chatted with her for days. I try to call her as much as possible.

2:50pm – Back to work! I’ve got a lot of planning ahead of me today so hopefully I can get it done.

7:00pm – Finished work and took the bus home. Once home, I made a quick stir fry for dinner.

9:00pm – I continue binge watching on Netflix for a few hours before bed at 11:30pm.

Today’s total: €4


9:00am – Special day today! Time to go to town for my Irish Residence Permit renewal at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service office. My fiancé decided to tag along with me and took the day off – which was nice of him. I got up early to check if I have all my documents required for my permit renewal such as: bank statement, salary slips, tax payment receipts, health insurance confirmation letter, etc. These documents are required every year by the immigration office to check if I’m eligible to continue my stay in Ireland and see if I’m a burden to the State. Immigrants are not granted the same dole or benefits assistance as Irish citizens. But I’m proud to be continuing to contribute to Ireland, so it’s not a bother for me.

11:30am – Arrived at the immigration office for my 12:00pm appointment. Bumped into a classmate from college and caught up with her a bit – I’m glad to see her working in Ireland too.

12:00pm – Appointment time. I got my number and sat in the waiting area. In order to get this appointment slot, I had to pay €20 last month for a tech professional to get it for me. The official immigration appointment website has been a nightmare and nobody is able to book an appointment smoothly.

1:00pm – Got called and went to the booth to meet the immigration officer and handed all my documents to him. While waiting for him to verify all the documents, I smiled at my fiancé standing next to me, supporting me in every way.

1:30pm – The appointment went well – no issues for renewal, yay! Got my picture taken for the new Irish Residence Permit and paid €300 for the yearly renewal fee with my debit card. After that, back to the waiting area and I waited for my name to be called again.

2:30pm – Might as well maximise the free time, so I worked a bit on my phone and responded to emails. Never a dull moment running your own company I suppose.

2:45pm – My name has still not being called yet. My tummy is churning because I haven’t had lunch, so I munch on some M&Ms we brought.

3:00pm – Yes! My name got called and I took my updated passport. Got told I need to wait for another five working days for my new Irish Residence Permit card to be posted to my address.

3:15pm – The immigration appointment went so well, this calls for a mini celebration! We went to HanSong – the Korean mini market and canteen in town – where they do good cheap Korean and Asian cuisines. I got two mains and two drinks for €18. My treat!

4:00pm – I got some extra Asian groceries from an eastern supermarket near Jervis for €12 then took the Luas home.

5:00pm – I caught up on some emails. Meanwhile my housemates are calling me a workaholic in the background, no surprise.

7:30pm – Finished work. Been a long day and boy am I tired. I made some beans and eggs on toast for a quick dinner

9:00pm – Continued reading my Harry Potter book for a few hours before bed at midnight.

Today’s total: €330


10:00am – Woke up late, I think I deserve a little break today. My fiancé suggested we go for brunch at Farmer Browns and I invited my younger brother to join us.

11:00am – We ordered a sandwich, a full-breakfast platter and a burger and chips – what a feast! The meal came to €36 and my fiancé paid as a weekend treat.

1:00pm – We gave my brother a lift to his part-time job in town after brunch – we’re like his parents sometimes. We try to take the college kid out for a nice meal every now and then to treat him a bit.

2:00pm – Went to Aldi to get groceries for the week ahead. The bill came to €22 and I paid for it.

3:00pm – Went to Argos and got a fan heater for myself. It can be quite cold for me to work at home at the dining area sometimes. I got the cheapest one (€24.90), it should do the job! I got a few personal supplies and health supplements while shopping at Boots as well (€16).

4:00pm – I continue reading my Harry Potter book and chill out. My fiancé made dinner today – paprika chicken and salad wrap, yum!

8:00pm – We went over to my fiancé’s parents’ place for tea. We try to visit them at least once every week for a chat, to watch some telly and drink tea. It’s simple bliss for us really. I’m fortunate to have them as my future in-laws.

10:30pm – Went home and watched an episode of Sabrina before bed.

 Today’s total: €62.90


10:00am – It’s one of my favourite days of the week, Sunday! I got up and prepared for my volunteering day at the DSPCA. I love animals and being able to volunteer at the local animal shelter is totally my calling.

12:00pm – My fiancé gave me a lift to the DSPCA as it’s not accessible by bus. Thanks honey!

12:15pm – Signed in for my voluntary work shift and said hi to rest of the team. I checked the board to see if any dogs haven’t been taken out for a walk yet. Here we are, going to take Tequila the German shepherd for a walk.

1:00pm – Finished the walk, now it’s play time – one of my favourite tasks in the DSPCA. This is where we bring puppies and dogs altogether at the play zone just behind rehoming area. It’s a chance for dogs to socialise with each other before they’re brought home by their future families.

2:00pm – My tummy is grumbling now, so I went to the canteen area to have lunch with the staff and other volunteers. It’s nice to meet people who share the same love for animals as I do. As usual, we chatted about which dogs have been adopted and what new dogs have come into the shelter. Always breaks my heart to hear people treating their dogs unkindly or dogs getting exported from puppy farms. I just need to say, ‘Adopt, don’t shop’. There are so many lovely doggies in the DSPCA who would love a home.

2:45pm – Back to dog walking duties. I took one dog, then another for a walk – the cycle continues.

5:00pm – Five hours has gone by fast in the DSPCA. To wrap things up, we feed the dogs their dinner and cuddle with them a bit before we close the centre.

5:15pm – I signed out from my shift and would you look, my fiancé is here to pick me up. I went home, made some chicken salad for dinner and then we chilled out.

11:00pm – Bedtime 

Today’s total: €0

Weekly subtotal: €443.40

What I’ve learned:

  • This week has been quite a simple spending week, not much socialising going on as the biggest expense has gone to the immigration office.
  • I’m going to try to have breakfast more at home. The €4 breakfasts and coffees from the cafeteria are just not worth it.
  • In truth, it was a more expensive week than usual because of the immigration card renewal fee. Otherwise my spending this week would have be €143.40.

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 

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