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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019

How I Spend My Money: A civil servant in Kildare on €43,000 put off renting rooms to save money by a bad experience

She is supporting her partner financially as he sorts out some debts.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that 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.  

Earlier this week, a data analyst on €75,000 wrote about how he has put off saving for a mortgage to live more comfortably. In the following diary, a woman living in Kildare wrestles with the idea of renting some spare rooms in her place to help her save.


Occupation: Personal assistant in the public service
Age: 30
Location: Kildare/Dublin
Salary: €43,000
Monthly pay (net):  €2,320 (pension payments of €140 already deducted)

Monthly expenses
Rent: €1,000
Household bills: Gas and electricity (€150), broadband (€50)
Car insurance and tax: €93
Transport: €50 (I carpool and drop my other half a few euro for diesel)
Phone bill: €50
Phone insurance: €10.99 (this has come in handy! Note: do not have your phone in your back pocket when going to the bathroom)
Health insurance: €80
Union membership: €13
Groceries: €250
Subscriptions: Netflix (€10.99)
Medicines: €17

I’m currently living in Kildare, just on the outskirts of Dublin. I’m lucky to have a small three-bed house to myself that belongs to a family member, so my rent is considerably cheap at €1,000 a month.

I was initially sharing the house with my friend who moved out a few months back. My partner has since moved in with me, but due to being in considerable debt he has been finding it difficult to contribute to the rent/bills/groceries. I have been supporting him for the moment.

I’m finding it very difficult to put any money into my savings right now and my dream of getting a decent deposit together for a house is far, far away! Looking forward to the day my other half has his debt sorted and can contribute more.

I’m aware we could get someone in to the share the costs of the house, but a part of me really doesn’t want to live that closely with anyone again. I had an awful experience with my friend, plus the house is pretty small for more than two people! But I may have to consider it down the road. 



6:50am – I wake up – reluctantly – after an awful sleep thanks to the dreaded work fear. I get ready and grab a Lidl pain au chocolat. It’s surprisingly nice, and even better when popped in the oven for five minutes! I make myself a Nespresso coffee as well to take in the car while grabbing the makings of lunches for the week to bring with me – cheese, soda bread and bananas.

8:00am – My partner drops me into work each day, which is handy. I arrive in town around 8:00am and try to ignore the smell of cooking jambons and sausage rolls in every shop I walk past on the way to the office.

11:00am – Made a tea in the canteen at work.

12:00pm – One of the girls on my team was having a rough morning, so I popped to the shop to get her some chocolate to cheer her up and also got myself some. No excuses needed, it’s Monday! (€5)

2:00pm – Left work early to go to an appointment with the doctor. My Leap card had a few euro on it, so I used that to get the train home.

3:30pm – I had my dreaded doctor’s appointment. It was a repeat visit so only cost €30.

6:00pm – Made dinner of whatever I could find in the freezer – ribs, veggies and some rice.

10:30pm – Watched I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and fell asleep.

Today’s total: €35


6:50am – The usual. I woke up, drove to work in the worst traffic I’ve seen in a long time and arrived at about 8:30am. I ate a banana and some muesli that I left in work for breakfast and had a cup of tea from the canteen.

11:00am – A colleague treated me to a coffee.

1:00pm – Made a cheese toastie for my lunch in work.

6:30pm – Got home and cooked dinner – salmon fillets, veggies and potato gratin. It was all Lidl’s finest. I really enjoy their fish selection!

10:00pm – My other half had to go out for the evening and arrived back with some McDonald’s treats! I’m trying to be good, but it’d be rude to refuse a gift of twisty fries and a McFlurry! After our snacks, we chatted for a while and went to bed.

Today’s total: €0!


7:15am – I’m aware that I lead a monotonous, boring life! I snoozed the alarm until 7.15am. I just could not get up – the dark mornings are so difficult. I question whether I really need my job for a few minutes then decide to get up.

8:20am – Got to work at a bit earlier than yesterday and walked the few minutes to the office in torrential rain. When I arrived, I spent a good 20 minutes drying my clothes under the hand dryer in the loo. I’m praying this isn’t a sign of how today will go! I had some muesli and a cup of tea at my desk for breakfast.

1:00pm – Mental day at work. I didn’t even have time for a sip of water, let alone a coffee. Made my cheese toastie again and went all out and had a cup-a-soup that I found in my drawer! I discovered it had been out of date since December last year afterwards and was worried for a minute, but then channeled my inner mother. She would say, “There weren’t best before dates on anything in my day.” I drank a load of water to wash it down just in case!

6:30pm – Got home from work and we started on dinner straight away. It consisted of Gino D’Acampo’s linguine with pancetta and cherry tomatoes. Google it, it’s so easy and cheap to make – and delicious!

10:30pm – Watched I’m A Celebrity, read a bit (the second book of the Aisling series) and went to bed.

Today’s total: €0 (again!)


7:15am – The same situation as yesterday – I couldn’t get up! Traffic wasn’t as bad and we made it into work for 8:20am. I went into Insomnia and got a hot chocolate (€3.50) and ate a banana at my desk.

1:00pm – Really busy morning and I had a splitting headache. I went to make toast, but my bread was mouldy. So I went to the shop and got painkillers and more bread (€5.90). Wasn’t feeling 100%, so just had a slice of toast.

6:00pm – Got home and made some homemade bolognese with penne pasta. Again, it was delicious, cheap enough and healthy!

10:30pm – I spent the evening inside watching TV and relaxing. Both of us were tired and irritable and ended up having a bit of an argument. I binge ate a load of Quality Street that my mam gave us. We are also dog sitting, so we brought her for a nice walk and then hit the hay after apologising (he apologised!).

Today’s total: €9.40


6:50am – I got up delighted that it’s the end of the week! I made a tea for the car journey and arrived in work at 8:15am. I had a banana and a Lidl pain au chocolat at my desk.

1:00pm – At lunch, I went to the shop to get cash out for our lotto syndicate (€3.50). I treated myself to a chicken wrap while I was at it (€4) and a €3 scratch card. I live in hope, but this one isn’t a winner.

5:30pm – I made myself a nail appointment during the week (€27), so went to this when I got home. I only recently started treating myself to getting my nails done once every five to six weeks. This is my third time. Sometimes I feel guilty for splashing out on things like this, but I don’t really spend much on myself anymore, so I feel like having one treat for myself is justified.

8:00pm – I brought the doggie for a walk in the rain. When I got home, I did some Christmas shopping online and availed of whatever Black Friday deals I could find. I hoped this would take the sting off some Christmas spending. I spent €159.90 on ASOS, €34 in Smyths and €30 in Golden Discs (some of my family have yet to use Spotify).

10:30pm – A shneaky Eddie Rockets was brought home by himself. I knew it was happening and I didn’t discourage him. It was delicious, I’ve no shame in admitting it. We went to bed happy after watching a bit of TV.

Today’s total: €261.40


8:00am – Got up to let the pooch out for a wee. I headed back to bed for a bit and browsed Instagram and YouTube for a while. I read a bit then before having a bowl of muesli and cup of tea for breakfast.

1:00pm – I went to the pharmacy to pick up my monthly prescription (€17) and went over to Liffey Valley with my mam to do a bit more Christmas shopping (€107). I treated my mam to lunch although she tried to pay (€33).

4:30pm – I went to Lidl to get some groceries for the next few days – fish, meat and some fruit and veg (€45).

6:00pm – I warmed up leftover bolognese that I had thrown in the freezer and it tasted even better than the other night! I went over to the parents for the evening afterwards and watched X Factor (don’t judge me). Got home at about 12.30am and went to bed.

Today’s total: €202


10:00am – I woke up and went for a walk with doggy. Then afterwards, I made some coffees and had a bowl of muesli for breakfast.

4:00pm – We spent the morning and afternoon cleaning the house and doing loads of laundry before dropping the dog back home. I visited the in-law’s house for a few hours as well and stopped for diesel on the way home (€50).

8:00pm – My other half treated us to a chipper. Again, I tried to discourage it but it fell on deaf ears. I did not complain because the thought of having to cook on a Sunday night didn’t appeal to me. We got our things ready for work for the week and I prepared my lunch – a chicken salad. We headed to bed at around 11:00pm after watching X Factor.

Today’s total: €50

Weekly subtotal: €607.80

What I’ve learned:

  • This was not a normal week of spending for me – roughly €300 of my total was on Christmas presents. I’ll be honest, I really don’t know how I can budget any more than I do. I know there were a few treats there like lunch with my mam and getting my nails done, but I really don’t see that as excessive.
  • We had three takeaways this week, which I’m ashamed to say isn’t unusual. This needs to stop. I think my partner spent roughly €70 this week on these! While they seem convenient they really add up.
  • I think I will continue doing a money diary for myself and encourage himself to do the same and we can put them together at the end of the week and see where changes need to be made.
  • I really can’t see how I’m ever going to build up some savings living like this! Getting someone in to share the rent is really the last thing I want to do. I know it would be sensible, but it just really would not suit us wanting to move on with our lives together. 

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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