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How I Spend My Money: A 31-year-old doctor on €68,000 working long hours to pay off Dublin mortgage

The young doctor recently bought a house in Dublin

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that 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 technology risk consultant earning €40,000 walked us through his week as he tried to save money in order to emigrate. This week, a doctor on €68,000 records his spending, which includes buying gluten-free food for his dog.


Last March, I bought a house in Dublin and worked almost every second weekend for 18 months in order to get the deposit together. The mortgage is tough but I wanted a shorter term loan and my girlfriend also contributes a smaller percentage every month.

I'm trying to save because I want to get some work done on the house and we'll have to travel abroad so I can finish my training. I’m also clearing an educational loan which has reduced the amount I’m saving until next year.

Occupation: Doctor
Age: 31
Location: Dublin 8
Salary: €68,183 plus overtime
Monthly pay (net): €3,500 – 4,500 depending on the amount of overtime 

Monthly expenses

Transport: €40 (occasional bus/taxi)
Mortgage: €1,200 (my girlfriend pays the remaining €500)
Educational loan: €300
Household bills: Sky €45, internet €40, utilities €80
Phone bill: €25
Health insurance: €160 (including partner)
Groceries: €350
Subscriptions: Second Captains Podcast €5, Irish Times €16, Dogs Trust €25, UCD Foundation €25, Flyefit €30
Indemnity (professional insurance): €90
Additional pension payments: €350
Savings: €200 approximately (my savings are overtime-dependent and will increase once my loan is cleared)


6:00am: I've worked almost every single day for the past two weeks – over 140 hours – and I’m in desperate need of a few days off. Regardless, the alarm buzzes at 6:00am and a brief period of existential dread ensues, banished only by our puppy starting his own alarm. If I don’t get him outside ASAP I’ll be cleaning up a dirty protest. I take the dog for a walk and things start to look a little better.

6:50am: My girlfriend works in Wicklow so she’s out the door – our mornings overlap by about 10 minutes here. I’m on my bike at 7:00am as it takes me 10 minutes to distract the dog with toys and treats so I can get out the door. I wonder if this is what parenthood feels like!

7:30am: Our day starts with teaching and a summary of the weekend's events in work.

1:00pm: I realise that the soup I brought from home won't sustain a man of my talents so I sneak to the deli across the road and treat myself to a chicken wrap (€5.00). 

7:00pm: Two hours after I was due to finish work, I finally leave the hospital. I had hoped to head home after 5:00pm before going to my choir rehearsals but instead I go back to the deli for a wrap and a drink (€5.60)

7:30pm: I meet the guys in my choir for a pint (€5.80) before rehearsals. We have a great session and we learn a new piece.

9:30pm: I arrive home and have some tea and prepare my lunch before catching up with my girlfriend. I'm in bed by 10:30pm.

Today's total: €16.40


6:00am: I don't need to hit the snooze button this morning. I get myself ready and make it into work for 7:20am.

5:00pm: Work is busy but I manage to get free to go meet a friend for wings and a pint. He’s based outside of Dublin this year so we catch up for a while. I want to go to the gym this evening so I have two light beers with my food (€30).

7:00pm: I stop off at the gym for an hour. It’s really great to clear the mind and I’d advise that everyone gets some regular exercise in.

9:00pm: I get home and do some work on my research project. It’s shaping up to be a hectic week and the dog is doing my nut in at the moment because he’s so full of energy! I take the dog for a 20-minute walk to try and tire him out but it doesn’t work.

Today's total: €30


6:00am: I have no lectures or meetings this morning so work starts a little later today. I use the extra half an hour to shower and eat breakfast at home before heading into work for 8:00am.

5:00pm: I'm meeting my dad halfway between Dublin and my hometown of Donegal to grab my car because I’m showing it to a potential buyer at the weekend – so I’ve to get a bus after work. Work runs a bit later than planned so I abandon the idea of a trip to the gym before the bus and rush for Busaras. I grab a wrap and drink on the way (€6) and I find a bit of plastic in it. I don’t have time to head back to the shop so into the bin it goes and I buy another wrap (€5) in the station. The ticket is €15.50 and I’m just in time for the bus.

6:00pm: I’m wrecked at this point so I fall asleep listening to a podcast - Shane Horgan reassuring me that we’ll get out of the Rugby World Cup group despite the injury list. I have worked really hard to avoid long commutes by paying extra rent and moving towns with work and sitting on the bus reinforces why. Lots of people are unfairly trapped in that routine and based on how I’m feeling right now on that bus – it impacts your mental and physical well-being significantly.

8:00pm: I catch up with my dad for 10 minutes at the half-way point between Donegal and Dublin and we swap modes of transport – he endures the remainder of the bus journey and I hightail it in the car back to Dublin. A €1.20 Diet Coke is my reward for surviving the bus.

10:30pm: I arrive home and I’m exhausted. My girlfriend says she’s starting to forget what I look like – I think she’s joking.

Today's total: €27.70


6:30am: Myself and the puppy accidentally sleep in so it's a quick walk before I dash into work for 7:30am. At the start of the week our dog hates the morning departures – but by Thursday he’s more interested in his breakfast and there are no complaints when I leave.

1:00pm: I’ve packed soup and a sandwich today so my wallet stays firmly in my pocket. There are usually a few treats around the staff kitchen so it can be hard to stay healthy!

5:00pm: Work flies by and my girlfriend has cooked dinner when I get home at 6:00pm. I’ve a great homecoming every day (from the dog – human welcomes not as frenetic!) With work I can sometimes come home with a few heavy burdens so he makes me forget it all by the time I’m recovered from the barking and the scratches he demands.

7:00pm: I catch up with my girlfriend over dinner and a glass of wine before polishing off two Netflix episodes.

10:00pm: I do some research for half an hour before heading to bed.

Today's total: €0


6:00am: I get up and do my usual routine of taking the dog for a walk before heading to workI'm delighted the weekend is here and I’m looking forward to two days of rugby and no work. My friend has a fundraiser tonight near the hospital so I’m going to head to the gym after work and then go to show support. With an early Rugby World Cup start I need to be in peak couch condition so I’m wary of overindulging tonight. Three meals go into the backpack along with my gym gear.

7:30am: I get the bus into work (€2.50) and I treat myself to a coffee (€3).

5:00pm: After work I head to the gym before having dinner at home. 

7:00pm: I go to my friend's charity fundraiser and my good intentions go quickly out the window. I miss the last bus and end up buying a few rounds of drinks for colleagues! Between that and a taxi home I’m €85 in the red after the evening. At least I don’t get any food so my diet wins this time!

Today's total: €90.50


7:00am: I’m a bit hungover despite my intentions to get up early and watch the rugby – so I redefine success as watching the entirety of New Zealand vs South Africa game. My girlfriend heads off for the day to visit her family and go shopping. I tell the (loud) dog a few times that he’s not entirely loved right now, but my tone is sweet so he’s clueless.

12:00pm: I manage to sell my car today so my hangover is cured. Like many people this week after seeing a viral video of a rat among the bread in an Irish petrol station, I haven’t much of an appetite looking at the deli when I go to meet the buyer.

1:00pm: I stop and pick up more dog food on the way home (€45). Readers will laugh and roll their eyes but the pup got very dry skin on his original food and had lots of itching and scratching so the vet suggested a grain-free food. For the peace and quiet I gave in but in fairness his symptoms have cleared after a week on the new stuff. Yes, I have a gluten-intolerant dog.

2:00pm: I walk the dog and get a bit of cleaning done around the house then watch a movie on the couch, with a takeaway (€8.50) as a reward for being alive after drinking last night.

10:00pm: It’s an early night for me in solidarity with the guys in Japan.

Today's total: €53.50


7:00am: I'm up early, hydrated and well rested – and I am rewarded with a sublime performance by Ireland in the Rugby World Cup. I’m in such a good mood that I even decide to watch England on ITV which is a measure of my delirium.

2:00pm: My girlfriend and I do a weekly shop which manages to stay on budget. I pay €61.70 and my girlfriend pays the rest. I take her car for a wash (€6.00) and then we do a few odd jobs around the house.

5:00pm: I head to the gym in the evening, and on the way home I stop for wine for herself (€9.00). I hold off on any alcohol for myself and my girlfriend treats us to a takeaway for the evening.

Today's total: €76.70

Weekly subtotal: €294.80


What I learned:

  • My aim is to spend less than €200 per week, but it’s been a busy one with various activities on. I’ll give myself a pass but I need to be better in order to hit my savings targets.
  • If you don’t prepare your food for the day – forget about the health benefits – your daily budget heads into trouble. Even just taking 15 minutes the night before saves me €15-20 if I’m caught late at work.
  • I’ve set myself harsh targets because I’m usually quite bad with money. At least if I get closer to my goals I’ll be doing well.


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