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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
How I Spend My Money A 32-year-old in Melbourne on €62,000 who loves the outdoors and plans to move home
The HR manager is hoping to move home to Ireland to start a family

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’ve asked 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. 

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.

Last time, a farmer and a mother-of-six walked us through her week which involved putting two children through college and paying off a mortgage. Today, a HR manager living in Melbourne writes how she balances an active social life while trying to save to return home to Ireland.


I've been living in Australia for two years now and on a good month, I can save up to €900. However flights home for Christmas and a recent car purchase have wiped out most of my savings. My Aussie partner and I are saving for me to get my Australian visa, to go travelling, move to Ireland and hopefully start a family in the next three years but we are struggling to consistently put money away.

Buying a house in Melbourne would not really be an option for us as they are too expensive. I took quite a large pay cut when I moved to Australia. I’m on €14,000 less a year here than I was in Dublin which surprised me but given my age, it was my last chance to get a working holiday visa and I’m really glad I went for it.

We love the Australian outdoors so we go camping, hiking and surfing at the weekends. We also like to go to gigs and eat out a bit as Melbourne has a really great arts and food scene. 

Occupation: Human resources manager
Age: 32
Location: Melbourne
Salary: €62,000
Monthly pay (net): €3,334 (I work nine days every fortnight so my salary is pro-rated)

Monthly expenses

Transport: €150
Rent: €508
Household bills: €80
Phone bill: €24
Health insurance: €80
Groceries: €250
Gym: €170. My gym membership is expensive but it's an intensive gym aimed at people with very little free time. The sessions are 45 minutes and I go 4-5 times per week. They also provide nutrition plans and online support. 
Car insurance: €25
Internet: €18
Vehicle registration: €50



5:30am: My girlfriend and I were away camping for the weekend and decided to stay on an extra night as the weather was lovely and warm for the first time in about five months, so it's up early for a quick sunrise surf before we drive the hour home. I'm lucky I can work from home today.

7:00am: We stop at a cafe to have breakfast and spend €25 on smashed avocado on toast (typical millennials we’ll never afford a house!) and two coffees. I pay as it's my turn. I do find eating out in Australia in general quite reasonable compared to home. I log in and check my emails and then it's back in the car.

8:30am: We arrive home just in time to start working and I set myself up at our dining room table with a cup of Barry’s tea. My girlfriend and I both work a nine-day fortnight which we are very grateful for. Today is her day off and she is going to spend the day gardening.

11:30am: I’m starting to get hungry as we have been up so early, so I take a 15-minute break and we heat up some homemade cauliflower curry soup I made last week and have it with some leftover homemade porridge bread I had baked to bring camping. I also stick on a load of washing.

5:30pm: I finish up work for the day, no commuting as I worked from home so I hang out my washing and we start cooking dinner. We have been using a meal kit service for the last few weeks and have one meal left to cook. It is quite expensive at €44 per week for three meals but we did it to learn some new recipes. Tonight we have zucchini and carrot fritters with salad and it's delicious.

Today's total: €25


6:00am: I get up early for my gym fitness class. I'm generally not a very fit person but I trained for and completed a very big personal fitness goal earlier this year and was probably the fittest I’ve ever been. I’ve since let that completely slide and I’m feeling very unfit so it's back to it today so I can look my best going home for Christmas! My colleague collects me at 6:15am and we drive 20 minutes or so to the class that is right beside our office. We are hoping to keep this up four days a week.

8:00am: We race to work after the class and shower and change.

9:00am: We pop out to grab coffee before we start work at 9:15am. I treat my colleague as this is the first morning she has driven us (she refused petrol money) and it costs €5.54 for two medium coffees from our favourite place. I eat a pre-packed breakfast of overnight oats with oat milk, cacao, blueberries and walnuts.

1:00pm: I don’t have time for lunch today but I run out and grab three tofu Vietnamese soldiers with chilli mayo. I actually have a voucher for the place so it doesn’t cost anything.

5:00pm: I leave work and hop on the tram home. The trip costs €2.71 and takes about 40 minutes followed by a ten minute walk.

5:50pm: I arrive home at the perfect time as a delicious Thai green curry is being plonked at the table. My partner starts work at 6:30am so is usually at home by 3:00pm which lucky for me often means dinner is ready when I get in.

7:00pm: We head out for a walk in our neighbourhood and stop to get an ice-cream for €6.16. My treat as my girlfriend cooked. Then we plonk ourselves in front of Netflix and watch an episode of Hidden Planet before going to bed.

Today's total: €14.41


6:00am: Another early start this morning as myself and my colleague head to the gym. Two days in a row can be considered a habit right?

9:30am: After showering at work, we head out to grab coffee. I didn’t bring breakfast so I grab yoghurt and granola from the coffee shop. This comes to €6.77.

12:00pm: I go out and meet an Irish friend for lunch. We met over here and both love hiking and are heading to do a four-day hike together soon. We go to a vegan restaurant and get big bowls of soup with sourdough for €5.54 each. Much of our conversation is about our upcoming hike and how best to avoid the snakes!

5:00pm: I finish up work for the day and meet my girlfriend straight after as we are going to see one of our favourite musicians. We go for dinner in a cute European-themed place and share some tapas and pizza. We are trying not to drink now as we know we both will drink a lot over the holiday period and I am travelling home for three weeks so it's a good chance to save. Dinner costs €21.55 and I pay as my girlfriend bought the tickets.

7:00pm: The show starts in Melbourne Recital Centre and it's seated which I am very happy about!

9:45pm: We sneak out towards the end of the last song and hop in an Uber as it would take over an hour to get home on public transport and my partner has a very early start. The Uber costs €22.17 which pains me.

10:15pm: We spot a lovely coffee table in the rubbish out the Uber window near our house (the council collects people's unwanted furniture from outside their houses twice a year) so we go back to take a look at it. It's a fab table in great condition so we take it (which is allowed). We had budgeted €50 to buy a second-hand one so we are delighted with this find.

Today's total: €56.03


7:00am: I couldn’t face the 6:00am start this morning so I’m up and out walking to the tram. The tram costs €2.71 and I arrive into work at 7:50am. I grab a coffee before starting work for €3.08. I bring my own breakfast in - overnight oats again. Thursday and Friday are my favourite days of the week as my favourite boss is in and we usually have a bit of a laugh.

11:00am: We head out for a team coffee and a chat organised by my boss. Coffee comes to €2.77.

1:00pm: I don’t have time to take a break today so I race across the street and grab a gozleme from a Turkish cafe (€6.77).

5:30pm: It was crazy busy at work today and some of my colleagues twist my arm into going for a drink. I agree but only if I can get a Guinness so we head to an Irish bar around the corner. It's happy hour so the pint costs €5.54. Alcohol is very expensive here so this feels like a bargain. Normally I end up having about four pints if this happens but I behave myself tonight.

7:30pm: I arrive home having spent €2.71 on the tram. My girlfriend didn’t feel like cooking and neither do I so we order some Thai food. We get a red curry, a cashew stir-fry and some coconut rice, including delivery it's €26.48 which I pay for.

9:30pm: We are both really tired today so we head to bed.

Today's total: €50.06


6:00am: I'm up early up and out for my gym class. I feel like I might pass out.

9:00am: After we change and shower at work, we head out for a coffee which comes to €2.46.

12:00pm: I brought leftovers from last night for lunch today but it doesn't hit the craving and it's a horrible day today so we sneak out for hot chocolates from a patisserie around the corner. This comes to €2.46.

5:00pm: Work is finished for the week so I call into a friend. I get the tram (€2.71) to her place and we sit around and drink tea and chat for an hour before my girlfriend collects me which is very kind of her as there are no direct trams or buses home.

7:00pm: Australia has a World Cup match on tonight that we both want to watch so instead of dinner we have lots of snacks I bought earlier (€17.24) while we watch it. 

Today's total: €24.87


8:00am: We have a lie-in this morning which is lovely after a busy week. We eventually get up and pack to head to the beach. My girlfriend spins to our local coffee shop and grabs a flat white and an iced latte for us.

10:00am: We make breakfast and sit around chatting and then once the car is packed with all the camping gear we head off. It's an hour and a half  drive to the beach we want to spend the night at. We stop at a garage and I put €43.10 of fuel into the car. 

12:00pm: We arrive at the beach and set up camp. I pay €18.47 for the campsite which is expensive, but our camp spot is on the beach so it's worth the extra spend.

1:00pm: We drive to a supermarket and pick up some food to make lunch and dinner (€9.85).

2:00pm: We go to a friend's to borrow some surfboards and then go surfing. It's quite an overcast day and the water is freezing but it's definitely spring. We are both still absolute novices at surfing but we love it once we don’t overthink the sharks.

3:30pm: We arrive back to the campsite and make something to eat as we are starving.

6:00pm: After lazing around, reading and going for a walk on the beach we boil some pasta on our gas burner and have it with some butter and sage. We watch the sun go down and then hop into bed and watch a movie we downloaded before turning in.

Today's total: €71.42 


8:00am: We have another lazy morning this morning and we get up and make breakfast of muesli, strawberries and bananas and oat milk.

9:00am: Coffee calls so we hop in the car and drive to a cute outdoor coffee place and get two strong lattes and a croissant for €7.70.

10:00am: We stop into a surf shop on the way back to the campsite and pick up some surf boots as our feet have been freezing while surfing. These are €43 each but I only pay for mine.

12:00pm: It's 28 degrees today and blue skies so we lie in the sun, reading and dipping in and out of the sea. It’s the best weather in months. We eat snacks and leftover bread and cheese for lunch. Unfortunately it's too windy to surf today.

3:oopm: The weather starts to close in so we hop into the sea in our wetsuits for a proper swim before we pack up to head home as we both have work tomorrow.

4:00pm: We rinse our wetsuits and then spend an hour packing everything away. 

5:30pm: We stop off at a petrol station that has some food places and my better half opts for a healthy place while I get McDonalds even though I feel terribly guilty about it. They still have no good vegan options so I get Big Mac without meat (yes I know I’m mad but I can’t resist the flavour). We get some gaffer tape to fix a dodgy wing mirror and an ice cream. I spend €11.08 in total and my girlfriend about the same.

6:00pm: We decide to take the city route home as it's fast but tolls costs €5.

7:00pm: We get home and are both sleepy after so much fresh air so we get into bed nice and early to watch this week's episode of The Great British Bake Off. We don’t watch reality TV or much TV in general but there is something so wholesome about this show I can’t resist.

Today's total: €66.78

Weekly subtotal: €308.57


What I learned:

  • Looking back on the week I really think I am spending too much money on take-out food and coffee. If I was more organised and did a proper weekly shop I think I could cut back and easily make some savings here. I could also use the coffee machine at work but I think I like to go out to get a break.
  • I keep finding that big expenses are wiping out my savings. I think I need to plan better for things like flights to Ireland and upcoming commitments like weddings if I ever want to get ahead. I am worried about affording the visa next year which costs €4,300. We can’t afford to hire a lawyer so we risk losing that money if it is not approved.
  • I think going from your late 20s to your 30s really makes you realise that time is ticking all of a sudden. However I am very grateful to have a job with a good wage and hopefully in a few years, I can move home and find something similar. 
  • To help me save I have been transferring money from my main bank to an online savings account every time I get paid and I haven’t set up or looked into a facility to easily get the money out so it makes it less tempting to transfer it back.
  • I also maintain a free savings account that I transfer my rent and bills money into when I get paid so this means that whatever is left over in my current account is fair game for the month.

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