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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 9 December, 2019

How I Spend My Money: A junior doctor in Mayo making €85,000 who wants to buy a €250,000 apartment in Dublin

He’s commuting back and forth quite regularly to visit his girlfriend.

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.  

At the weekend, a teacher talked about how expensive her commute has become since moving out of Dublin, and today a doctor on placement in Mayo tells us how he spends his money over a seven-day period. 


Occupation: Non-consultant hospital doctor (NCHD)
Age: 30
Location: Mayo
Salary: €85,000 (€55,000 basic + €30,000 overtime)
Monthly pay (net): €4,500 (approx)

Monthly expenses
Rent: €0
Household bills: €0
Transport: Petrol (€200), motorbike insurance (€69)
Phone bill: €20
Gym: €30
Health insurance: €0
Groceries: I give €50 per month to my parents
Subscriptions: Netflix (€7.99), Spotify (€9)
Pension: A proportion of my wages goes to a HSE superannuation fund. This works out at about €500 to €600 every month.

I’m a junior doctor working in Mayo. I worked and rented in Dublin for the last few years, but recently I’ve been relocated to the west for a six-month rotation.

It just so happens my parents live extremely close to the hospital here, so I have shacked up with them. I know I’ll get awful stick for living rent free – and probably rightly so – but the folks know I’m trying to save for a mortgage and have very kindly offered to put me up for the short period.

At the weekend, I stay with my girlfriend in Dublin who also lets me stay free of charge. My current financial goal is to save for a deposit by April or May. My girlfriend and I are looking to buy an apartment in the region of €250,000 to €275,000 in Dublin. She has €20,000 saved and I had about €10,000 in savings, but paying for a masters degree recently absorbed most of this.

I don’t really have a set amount I plan to save at the end of the month. Whatever percentage of my payslip I don’t spend becomes my savings I suppose.



4:45am – I stayed at my girlfriend’s house in Dublin over the weekend and start work in Mayo at 7:30am, so I pack my things and hit the road.

6:00am – I reach the petrol station in Ballinalack and refuel (€11.20). I’d murder a sausage roll, but the lady behind the deli informs me the hot food starts at 7:00am. A banana and a coffee (€3.00) it is.

7:40am – Arrive at work. Feeling a little unfulfilled from my banana earlier so I head down to the canteen for breakfast (€5.15).

1:00pm – I pay €670 for an upcoming professional exam. I can claim back €450 for this from the HSE – if I pass.

4:00pm – I meet my mum in the hospital as she is visiting one of her friends. I treat us both to tea and pastries (€5.40).

8:00pm – I head home for a quick dinner. I’m doing a 24-hour shift today, which means I finish work at 8:00am tomorrow. If I don’t take the opportunity to eat dinner now the only options I will have later are bars and crisps from the vending machine. 

Today’s total: €694.75


4:00am – I take a yoghurt and sandwich from one of the kitchens on the ward.

9:00am – Time to leave work and I make a coffee before I head home on a capsule machine I bought recently. I used to buy three or four coffees a day so I’m hoping this machine will have paid for itself in a matter of weeks.

9:15am – Stop off for petrol on the way home (€14.40). When I get home I have pancakes and a yoghurt and head to bed for a few hours kip.

2:00pm – I wake up. A textbook I ordered off Amazon has arrived so the plan is to do a few hours study today.

4:00pm – I’m doing a course in London in January. I had originally planned to fly in and out the same day, but my girlfriend and I decided it would be a nice idea to make a weekend of it. She pays for the flights and I book the hotel for two nights (€320).

6:00pm – I take a break from the study and meet a friend in town for a pint and a coffee. He insists on paying.

8:00pm – Have dinner with the parents at home in the evening and watch some TV before I head to bed.

Today’s total: €334.40


6:30am – I wake up. I’m rostered for theatre today and there isn’t a whole lot of time to eat between cases, so I have a hearty breakfast at home.

2:00pm – Small delay in theatre. I run to the dressing room and wolf down a sandwich I packed this morning.

5:00pm – Finished in theatre. I’ve a serious craving for a can of coke for whatever reason (€1.20).

6:00pm – Head home and do a bit of study for the rest of the evening. I have dinner with the folks again and we watch a film on the telly. I buy some more coffee capsules online for €22.50. These capsules work out at €0.50 each compared to the usual €2.20 I’d pay for an espresso at the hospital coffee shop. Bargain! 

Today’s total: €23.70


7:00am – Wake up a bit later than usual this morning so I don’t have time to prepare breakfast at home. I buy a lovely fry (€6) in the hospital’s canteen when I arrive instead.

1:00pm – I skip lunch since it’s out-the-doors busy in the clinic.

6:00pm – Finish work. I meet my friend again for a pint, but I get them this time (€8.40). I always have a serious hunger after a pint of Guinness so we stroll down to the chipper and I buy us each fish and chips (€15).

8:30pm – I go home and study for the rest of the evening. 

Today’s total: €29.40 (a very cholesterol ridden day)


6:30am – I have porridge and a coffee at home in the morning.

1:00pm – There’s a sponsored talk in the hospital at lunchtime. I head down there and fill my plate with sandwiches, chicken goujons and mini spring rolls.

4:00pm – I’m finished work and need to head off to Dublin, so I hop on the bike and hit the road.

5:00pm – I stop off to refuel the bike (€12.30) and I impulsively buy two Winning Streak scratchcards (€6). I have never bought scratchcards before, but they happened to be in an episode of something I was watching on TV a few nights ago and it piqued my interest. I find a hard surface in the store and pull a euro coin out of my pocket, scratching with trepidation. My winnings amount to €0.

7:00pm – I arrive at my girlfriend’s house.

8:30pm – We both head out to a local pizzeria for dinner. Two large pizzas and two glasses of wine comes to €45 – not including the €4 tip.

10:30pm – Harvey Norman had a sale on and is open late as a result. We head in to look around and I come very close to buying an DSLR camera. I’ve wanted one for a while and I thought it would be ideal as we are heading away on a city break next weekend. In the end I convince myself that the iPhone camera will do and I keep my wallet in my pocket. I did buy two more boxes of coffee capsules (€12) to justify the journey though.

Today’s total: €79.30


6:00am – I wake up and head west since I’m starting work at 8:30am. I stopped in McDonalds in Longford for a flat white and a muffin (€3).

7:30am – Stop in Tulsk for petrol (€14.40).

12:00pm – My mum is in town doing some Christmas shopping so she comes in to meet me in the hospital. I get the teas and pastries for us (€6).

6:00pm – It’s another 24-hour shift today so I’m eager to get home for a proper meal. I zip home on the bike and have some stew. I’ve time for a quick cup of tea and a biscuit as well before I head back in. 

Today’s total: €23.40


1:00am – My iPhone fell out of my scrubs during the night and the screen is now destroyed. Fortunately this was the most eventful thing to happen during my shift.

9:30am – Finish work and head home for a quick breakfast. Mum asks me to pop into the garage to get her a copy of the paper (€2.20). I put some more petrol in the bike while I’m there (€13.90). Because I’m knackered post call and will be back in work again tomorrow, my girlfriend and I decide to meet halfway in Athlone rather than Dublin. It’s an excuse to stay in a lovely hotel with a nice sauna.

3:30 pm – I arrive in Athlone a few hours before her and pay for the room (€88). I immediately go in search for a store that will repair my iPhone screen. I speak with a few different stores that quote €60 to €80.

4:30pm – I eventually find a very helpful guy quite close to the hotel who offers to repair it for €45 (thanks Sam). I decide it’s probably wise to buy a case while I’m at it (€15) and Sam throws in a screen protector for free.

5:00pm – I head into the shopping centre attached to the hotel and get my hair cut (€13 + €2 tip). I pick up a good pair of slacks on sale (€89). I also eye up a watch in the window of a jewellers. I manage to talk myself into not buying it on three separate occasions, but not on the fourth (€279 + €30 insurance).

6:00pm – I remember I’ve forgotten to pack shorts for the spa. I search all over Athlone for shorts to no avail. Eventually I buy a pair of tracksuit bottoms in Dunnes for €12 and convert them into shorts with a pair of scissors – they look ridiculous.

6:30pm – My girlfriend has arrived and has a gin and tonic waiting for me in the foyer. We nibble on some complimentary peanuts from the bar. We both chill out in the Jacuzzi/sauna for a couple of hours.

9:00pm – We get in room service. Two pasta dishes and a bottle of red (€67 + €6 tip). Her favourite person Dermot Bannon is on TV so we watch an episode of Room To Improve and head to bed.

Today’s total: €662.1

Weekly subtotal: €1,847.05

What I’ve learned:

  • I was pretty shocked at the amount of money I spend on petrol. Not surprising I guess considering I travel up and down to Dublin most weekends and sometimes midweek also. I will begin to take note of the cheapest garages to fill up along the route as I’m sure over the course of a year there is a substantial savings to be made by shopping around.
  • I know a few previous articles have mentioned specific savings accounts. I think this would be a good idea for me as currently I don’t have any fixed savings goals. I’ll probably set up a savings account where it is nigh on possible to withdraw funds once they are deposited.
  • Overall, this was a pretty atypical week for me. The examination fees and the hotel costs are thankfully not something I have to pay for frequently – most weekends I stay at my girlfriend’s house. We stayed in the hotel this weekend only because I had been on call Saturday. 

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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