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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 26 January, 2020

How I Spend My Money: A call centre worker in Sligo on €22,000 who spent just under €120 during a busy week

A trip to Galway helped drive her weekly spend past the €100 mark.

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.  

Yesterday, a civil servant in Kildare talked about why she doesn’t want to rent out spare rooms in her house to help her save. In the following money diary, a call centre worker in Sligo writes about a trip to Galway and contemplates buying an outfit for an upcoming gig.


Occupation: Call centre worker
Age: 22
Location: Sligo
Salary: €22,000
Monthly pay (net): €1,750

Monthly expenses
Rent: €650
Household bills: Electricity (€80), gas (€25), Eir TV and broadband (€75)
Transport: €0
Phone bill: €60
Health insurance: None
Groceries: €120
Subscriptions: Netflix (€7.99) and Spotify (€9.99)

I live with my brother full-time and every month he contributes €300 towards his food, electricity and rent. My girlfriend lives with us part-time and contributes €200. I put their money in with mine and pay the bills as they come from my wages. 

After Christmas, we’ll be moving to a bigger house where my girlfriend will be living with us full-time – and we’ll be saving for a mortgage. We’ll be moving out of the town centre, which means we can get a bigger house for what we’re paying for a two-bed apartment.

We haven’t been saving because of Christmas and she’s paying off the end of a loan. We’re both trying to enjoy our money now before we get into another serious financial commitment.

I don’t drive because I can’t afford it. So I mostly rely on my partner to drive and get public transport rarely. 



7:30am – Up for work. I’m dressed and ready to leave by 8:15am. I’m leaving a bit earlier than normal today because I have to stop into Lidl on the way to work to return something. I end up buying lunch in there while I’m at it (€3).

5:00pm – After work, myself and my girlfriend go around the shops a bit. I end up buying Christmas tree lights (our ones from last year are broken) and a chocolate snack (€7.05). We go into one of those pop-up tech shops and I buy Bluetooth earphones for €6.99, on sale!

6:30pm – We veg out on the couch in front of Netflix and then head to bed.

Today’s total: €17.04


6:00am – Today I have an appointment, so I’m up super early. On the way into work, I stop and buy lunch (and breakfast) because I didn’t have time/energy to make it today (€6.19). Oh well.

6:00pm – Tonight we’re going to the movies, but it’s my girlfriend’s turn to pay. So I’m off the hook!

8:30pm – Afterwards my brother treats us to a drink at the pub, sound lad! I’ve work the next morning so we go straight home after. I hop into a shower and then go straight to bed. 

Today’s total: €6.19


7:30am – Alarm goes off. Snooze. Snooze again. And snooze again.

7:50am – The cat jumps onto the bed. I’m finally up – and late.

8:25am – I still manage to scramble a half decent breakfast/lunch together to save buying it and then head into work.

7:00pm – Movie night indoors with my brother. We’re feeling the midweek slump so we order a pizza. I contribute €10.

Today’s total: €10


4:30am – Hello insomnia. I can’t sleep for some reason.

7:30am – I’m exhausted crawling out of bed for work. The midweek slump has hit me full force. Today I’m being lazy and using my exhaustion as an excuse to just pick up lunch on the way to work instead of making some (€3.63).

5:00pm – After work, I decide to go look around the shops a bit. I’ve a concert next week and I fully intend on getting something new to wear. I don’t find my concert outfit, but I do spend €21 in Penneys. They’re all sale items so in a way I’m winning, right? Plus I mostly bought shirts for work. They don’t really count, do they?

Today’s total: €24.63 (Ouch!)


6:30am – Today I’m up early for a shower. Sometimes I shower the night before, but I know if I can force myself out of the bed that bit earlier I’ll feel a lot fresher for it.

8:00am – We need to do a bit of a grocery shop, so I just put one or two things into my bag for lunch and pick up a sandwich in Lidl. I also buy a few packet of biscuits for the girls in work and a bottle of water. In total, it all comes to €4.10.

5:00pm – It’s a long (emphasis on the long), slow day at work. I go straight home after because I’m absolutely shattered.

8:30pm – I watch a couple of movies on TV, have two drinks while doing so and then go to bed. I’ve to be up at 5:00am to volunteer at a conference in Galway tomorrow.

Today’s total: €4.10


5:00am – When the alarm goes off, I’m surprised that I’m not grumbling about having to get out of bed – I’m actually not that tired. I bought my bus ticket online last night, but as it’s refunded by the organisation I won’t include it in my spendings.

6:00am – I catch the bus to Galway and spend the trip reading. I treat myself to a really nice breakfast and coffee inside a cute little café (€8.15) called Esquires Coffee on Eyre Square. It’s a little pricier than Sligo coffee, but twice as delicious. 

8:30am – I go shopping for a bit because I’m early and spend €7.50 in Penneys – but I still don’t find that concert outfit I’m looking for. After that, I head straight to the conference and later on lunch is provided. 

3:30pm – After the conference, I do another quick trip around the shops and, in lieu of not being able to find any sort of decent dress/jumpsuit, I sadly resign myself to just going in a ‘nice top and a pair of jeans’ outfit that’s already in my wardrobe. 

6:00pm – Before I head on the bus home, I buy some food to keep me going (€7.50)

8:30pm – Once I get to Sligo, I’m frozen with the cold, exhausted and in desperate need of my bed. But we ran out of cat food and I need dinner, so I force myself into Lidl on the way home to grab a few things and a bottle of wine (€34.53). After a glass of wine at home, I’m too tired to stay up any longer and head to bed. 

Today’s total: €57.68 (Ooouuuch!)


9:00am – I absolutely love a decent Sunday nowadays. Since I gave up shift work, it’s 100% my traditional day of rest. So this week is about to end on an extremely boring, and yet peaceful, note. I still get up reasonably early and spend my morning listening to music, reading and watching Netflix. 

12:00pm – I scrounge all of our remaining veg and pull together a delicious (and healthy) vegetable soup. I can’t decide whether I did this because it’s too cold to leave the house to buy anything or because I’m being super cheap due to yesterday’s spending. I spend the rest of the day cleaning the house, doing the laundry and vegging out in front of the TV. Just living my best life basically.

Today’s total: €0 (Woo!)

Weekly subtotal: €119.64

What I’ve learned:

  • What I learned from this week, is that I’m probably very boring. In saying that, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’ve signed myself up to fitness classes recently, so I’ll have another thing going on soon.
  • Money wise, I feel like readers will probably say I spend too much money on food. But in saying that, I’ve often found that I’ll spend €80 doing a big haul of shopping and then going into moods where I don’t want to cook/eat out of the presses. So I’ve stopped doing my big food shop and just generally buy food as I need/want it, which actually saves me more money. 
  • I don’t really think I can say that I’m a big spender. I’m definitely used to keeping an eye on my purse. I don’t think €100 is too unreasonable for a weekly spend since a big chunk of that is on clothes, which I rarely buy anymore (truth!). If I could repeat this for three weeks out of a month – without buying the clothes – I’d be doing well for myself. 
  • All in all, I try to find a balance between enjoying my money and not going crazy. Some weeks I tip the scales more than others, but this week I think I was good. 

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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