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Money Diaries: A loan officer on €34K who has moved back to Wexford because of lockdown

This week, our reader has moved home from a house share in Dublin and is working from home and enjoying life in the country.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie 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 primary school teacher living in Sligo trying to curb her spending. This week, a loan officer enjoys life in Wexford after a move from Dublin because of Covid.

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Having lived in Dublin for the past five years, the pandemic has changed my situation so I am back home in the southeast working a mix of remotely and commuting to the office in Dublin. As I no longer pay Dublin rent, my savings have increased overall.

To put this in perspective, I have been saving regularly since I began working but had only accumulated close to €2,000 to put towards the ambition of owning a house or apartment. Since lockdown, I have almost saved triple this amount, which makes sense as I no longer need to dip into my savings for holidays or similar expenses.

Before the pandemic, I was previously very social and between nights out with my friends and going on dates, I find that the money I would have spent, is slowly accumulating in my current account.

Although I miss renting with my three friends, being out of Dublin certainly meant there were more outdoor activities and open areas to take advantage of, which would not have been within my 5K in Dublin. 

Occupation: Loan Officer
Age: 31
Location: Wexford
Salary: €34,000
Monthly pay (net): Approximately 2,300 +/- Overtime & Weekends.

Monthly expenses

Transport: €175
Rent: €0
Upkeep: €200
Household bills: €50
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: I don’t have it
Groceries: €420 +
Netflix: €7.00
Spotify: €9.99
Gym: On Hold
Car Loan: €165

***

Monday

7.15 am: As I am on the early shift this week my alarm rings an hour earlier than usual. We have a Team Meeting first thing which is painful but I guess it is motivation to be at my desk on time. Not having to commute today is great and there is no need to dress appropriately for the office, so 15 minutes allows time for a shower and to load up the laptop. I opt to skip breakfast. 

8.45 am: As I have perfected my early shift routine, 15 minutes gives enough time to grab a coffee at a local petrol station and be back at the desk on time. They offer a loyalty scheme where you get your 7th coffee free, but I am three coffees shy. (€3.35). 

12.30 pm: My lunch couldn’t have come sooner as I was beginning to fade away. I grab a sandwich and stretch the legs outside in the garden. 

3.30 pm: Being on the early shift means more time for activities after work and combined with working from home, there is no commute. It really extends my day. The weather isn’t bad so after a quick banana, I head out for a jog. I vary between listening to podcasts and music, but as my concentrations levels are low, the music is turned on.

5.00 pm: My mam asks me to do the shopping. I strangely look forward to going to the shops these days and the chance of getting out of the house and interacting with society. There are a total of three shopping lists, each for a separate supermarket. To confuse things further, she has added the specific brand beside each product. She obviously has no faith in my shopping ability. 

5.30 pm: I come across a great deal on cans of Guinness that I couldn’t walk past. I consider that 24 cans seems like a lot but opt to buy them anyway. I ensure that they are not the fixed widget 470ml cans before I proceed as they don’t quite fill the pint glass, something that annoys me. Half the enjoyment is the aesthetics.  

I phone home to confirm one or two items before spending €165.00 across the shops. Of this, I separate out my things which comes to €52.00.

7.45 pm:  Dinner is handed to me (yet another perk) and I flick through the TV stations. 

9.00 pm: As I am commuting tomorrow, I opt to call it a day.

                             Today’s total: €55.35

Tuesday

06:15 am : The early shift starts somewhat earlier as I am commuting today. I am on the road straight after my shower. It is hard to know if I could commute when sectors normalise as I don’t think just over an hour door to door would be possible with an increase in traffic. I am happy to take advantage of the reduced traffic for now.  

7.30 am: I am at my desk on time. A mystery colleague has left a post-it drawing on my desk, slagging my football team’s performance over the weekend. It’s good to have friendly banter in the office and I shrug off his comments – it’s air off a bird’s back. Apart from that, the day begins as normal.

8.45 am: I keep a box of Weetabix in my drawer and help myself to a bowl using the communal office milk. As I don’t drink coffee or tea, I view milk usage in the same way. Not sure if my colleagues agree. My friends are on opposite shifts to me so I spend my break scrolling through Instagram before returning to my desk.     

12:30 pm: The canteen has remained open, although with a reduced menu. It is subsidised so I get the full dinner. (€4.95)  

4:00 pm: On my way home I stop for some petrol and as my phone credit is due to expire, I top up too. (€60.50)  

5:30 pm: Feeling somewhat exhausted from the busy workday, I find myself slouched on the couch watching quiz shows. It is hard to stay motivated all the time. 

7:30 pm: After dinner, I decide to go for a walk. I throw on a podcast and head towards the beach. There are a few people swimming and judging by their reactions the water is cold. I myself reserve my swimming for hotter climates and I think getting into the Irish Sea is a form of torture.  

9:30 pm: I flick through the TV and find an easy watch movie before going to bed. 

                                     Today’s total: €65.45

Wednesday

9:00 am: My alarm goes off at a reasonable hour as I am on Annual Leave today. We have been encouraged to take our AL so I opted for Wednesday to break up the week. My plan for the day is to try to recreate what a normal annual leave day would be like in Dublin. 

9:45 am: Work out time. I bought weights years ago which have been sitting in the garage unused. It’s a poor substitute for the gym but it’s better than nothing. I notice my protein powder is low and put it on the list.

11:30 am: Now that I am showered and my exercise is done for the day, I scroll through social media, check a few websites and order the protein (€35.00).

12:30 pm: In Dublin, I would usually head to a pub for lunch, and enjoy a pint while reading the paper. I do my best to recreate this at home. I set up a space in the living room and put on a classic GAA match to create a sense of atmosphere. In fairness, the cold can of Guinness goes down well and complements my toasted sandwich – they go down too well.

6:00 pm: My mother comes home to give me the guilt trip as to how I’ve spent my day off. It feels like I’m back in school. For all the benefits of living at home, the freedom to act at my discretion is not one of them. I get out of the house and go for a walk to clear my head.

8:00 pm: In my giddy state, I return home with a bunch of flowers, as an apology to my mother. She is delighted and all is forgiven. There is some leftover dinner which I help myself to before collapsing in bed. It really close to being the perfect day off and just what I needed to relax. (€6.99)

                            Today’s total: €41.99

Thursday

7.15 am: Working from home again starts with my usual routine. I am five minutes late for the Team meeting, and not feeling too fresh. 

8.45 am: I raid the presses for some cereal and some toast. My groggy state makes sense as I see that I had three cans of Guinness yesterday, a lot for a school night and for someone who doesn’t drink often. 

3.30 pm: My shift finally ends and I head up to my bedroom. Covid has given us all an opportunity to try new hobbies and mine is singing. I have always felt I have a good singing voice but never had the courage to try. It wouldn’t be perceived well amongst my circle of friends, so I have never acted on my thoughts until now. I do impressions of famous voices (my personal favourite is Morgan Freeman), so have good control over my voice and can hold a tune very well. I have been following YouTube videos and am considering signing up for an online class for greater motivation. My goal is to be able to participate in a singing during a wedding, so hopefully I will be ready when my friends tie the knot. 

6.00 pm: I hear movement downstairs so stop the singing practice. I am asked what time dinner will be ready, so I must have made a few promises last night during my apology. I don’t mind cooking and it is something to do. I stick on a podcast while I prepare the chicken and pasta feast. It goes down well.

7:30 pm: There are champions league games tonight so I watch the build up with my brother who has come over for the evening. I usually would stream the games in Dublin, but having the sports channels at home is great. 

10:00 pm: As I get ready for bed I realise that I have not left the house once today. This is sometimes common when working from home and I make a mental note to be more active this weekend.  

                                Today’s total: €0.00

Friday

6:15 am: I am up and ready for the last early start of the week. I am excited for the weekend as I have arranged a second date with someone I have met online. I had heard mixed reviews from virtual dates and initially thought it would have been awkward. The first date turned out to be quite fun in fact and I am looking forward to my chats again with her.  

7.30 am: I am at my desk on time. Another post-it drawing on my desk, this time wishing my football team good luck from the day before… unfortunately they lost last night.

12:30 pm: It is subsidised dinner again for lunch. (€4.95) I spend my lunch thinking of solid conversation topics for my date. We decided last time to keep it to 40 minutes. In hindsight, this was a great call as we had run out of topics to discuss. By the end of the call were somehow embarrassingly debating which was the superior of biscuit or cake (biscuit all the way).   

4:15 pm: I decided to stop for petrol on the way home and grab some cookies and milk (€44.20).

5:00 pm: As I haven’t much else to do so I pretend that I am going on an in-person date. I have my music playing to get me in the mood and get in a good mindset. I’m loving Damian Dempsey at the moment so sing along to that. 

8:20 pm: The time has come. I sit down 10 minutes to gather my nerves. Equipped with a perfectly poured pint of Guinness, we took off where we left. Laura, who looks a Million Dollars, is remotely attending college in University of Limerick. It was interesting to hear how different it must be to attend college during the pandemic, in comparison to my college experience. We have other general chats and the date goes really well. We even decide to extend the call past the 40 minutes which has to be a good sign. Overall I’m pretty thrilled. 

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9:30 pm: Still enough day left to watch a movie. After a frustrating fifteen minutes of trying to choose a movie, I go with the tried and tested, Batman. 

                            Today’s total: €49.15

Saturday

9:30 am: I go for my morning run and listen to sports podcast on Brian O’Driscoll. I have always been a big fan, even more so after he retweeted me, one of my many claims to fame.  

11:30 am: During Lockdown I started, which I hope to be, a side earner. I am buying sports memorabilia and collectable items online and hope they hold their value so that they can be sold at a profit in years to come. I buy a signed pair of predator boots and some old editions of Match Magazine. Hopefully my efforts pay off and the second mouse gets the cheese. (€268.78

2:00 pm: It’s a fine day so I opt to potter around in the garden. I eventually get the lawn mower going after consulting a Youtube video. I am used to electric lawn mowers but there is far more grass to be cut than previously in Dublin. I try to listen to music but it’s far too loud to enjoy. 

6:30 pm: We decide to have a night in and order take away. In comparison to Dublin, the choice is sparse, but everyone likes pizza. I foot the bill this time (€28.00)

8:00 pm: There is not much to do but stick on Netflix. I can never seem to find anything good to watch so opt to revert to the TV stations. I text one of my friends and arrange a kick about for tomorrow. 

11:00 pm: I hit the bed after a semi productive day.  

                      Today’s total: €276.78

Sunday

10:00 am: I finally get up having scrolled through various social media for a good hour. After breakfast, I have a workout session in my garage. 

2:00 pm: I meet up with my friend who I haven’t seen in a good while. With restrictions easing slightly, it is great to be able to meet outdoors. We head to the local GAA club to practice kicking points. I want to stay fit for when football returns. We do some hand passing drills before wagering who can kick the furthest free. No surprises there as I specialise in hand passes and shoulders in the back and he is a more skilful player. He wins the bet and I hand over a fiver (€5.00)

4.30 pm: I walk home and drop into the petrol station for a drink and a bar. €4.15

6:00 pm: I have dinner and settle down to relax for the evening. Between watching TV and scrolling on my phone, the weekend comes to an end. 

                         Today’s total: €9:15

Weekly subtotal: €497.87

***

What I learned –

  • I’m surprised that my weekly spending is high after one week. 

  • I really hope my investments in sports memorabilia pay off or I will be left with a lot of expensive and quite useless items. In future, I will limit my spending to a fixed amount per month.   

  • Not having to pay rent has made the biggest financial impact on my life and I am grateful to have this option. My return to Dublin is something I need to consider carefully.  

  • I think I will deactivate my Netflix account. I rarely can find something I am interested in and most of the time just watch TV. 

  • Working from home versus commuting not only saves travel costs but also has a real positive impact on my day and activities. Fingers crossed this remains an option post-Covid. 

  • I do believe I am making the most of the lockdown and try to maintain some level of normality despite the restrictions.

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