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Dublin: -1 °C Sunday 19 January, 2020

How I Spend My Money: A travel agent in Cork on €20,000 trying to fix a bad credit rating from her student days

She’s just started saving and wants to put away €500 a month for her travels.

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.  

On Wednesday, a civil servant with a seven-year-old daughter talked about her spending in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This evening, a travel agent living in Cork talks about her first week back in work after the holidays.


Occupation: Travel agent
Age: 22
Location: Cork
Salary: €20,000
Monthly pay (net): €1,548.57

Monthly expenses
Rent: €315.50
Household bills: €40-€50
Transport: €0
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: €0
Groceries: €55-€60
Gym membership: €33.17
Subscriptions: Spotify (€0) included in my phone deal
Savings: €200 (but I’m increasing it to €500)

I’m a travel agent working in Cork. After college I moved abroad for a while, now I’m back here and working until I decide what my next plan is.

I’d quite like to do a Hibernia College course, but I can’t afford it and can’t get a loan until I fix my bad credit rating from not paying my credit card back in college and missing previous loan repayments.

I’ve probably picked the worst month to keep a financial diary because I’m broke after December. I only started saving for the first time in my life three months ago. I put €200 a month straight into a savings account I can’t touch. I’ve recently contacted the bank and asked them to up this to €500 because I plan on saving as much as I can this year.



I walk to work at 9:00am and start at 9:30am. I’m only about 35 minutes away, and I treated myself to a nice warm coat last month so I’ve no excuses not to walk – no matter what the weather is like.

I bring breakfast and lunch to work. I also get free coffee in work. I go to the gym on my break, then walk home at 5:30pm.

Today’s total: €0


Again, I leave at 9:00am and I’m in work for 9:30am. I have my breakfast and lunch in work.

I go to Boots on my break and spend €20.97 on skincare products. I top up my Leap Card by €5. I’m going to the gym after work and sometimes I get the bus home after if I’m too sore. I didn’t end up getting the bus today however – clearly I’m not working hard enough. 

Today’s total: €25.97


The usual. I walk to work at 9:00am and I’m in half an hour later. I have breakfast and lunch in work as well. I do, however, buy a jar of pesto, jellies and a protein bar, which comes to €7.14.

I go to the gym after work until 7:30pm and then walk home. I’m home at about 8:20pm and have a snack, then I go to bed by about 11:30pm. 

Today’s total: €7.14


The same morning routine (yet again), including breakfast and lunch in work. I get a coffee in the city with a friend on my break for €4.30. I go to the gym after work and get a lift home with my friend when we’re done. 

Today’s total: €4.30


I have a company dinner to go to after work today, so I wore a nice skirt and tights to work. I walked all the way in only to find out I have a huge rip in my tights at the back. I go to Penneys and buy tights and while I’m at it pick up some dry shampoo because I’m not loving my hair today. That all comes to €7.25.

My boyfriend forgot his bank card in work today and there is a screening of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution in the Cork Opera House later this month. Apparently Michael D will be at! He messages me to ask if I’d mind getting the tickets and he’ll pay me back. I buy us two tickets online, which only comes to €10.

Not really hungry today, so I get a coffee (€4.30) for lunch instead of having my usual porridge and then have a bit of pasta later.

I have decided to go on a holiday in February, so I book flights through work and pay off €200 for now. I use my credit card, which I shouldn’t do but I’m itching to get out of Cork for a while.

After work I go for the meal and drinks. This is free, and my boyfriend collects me afterwards.

Today’s total: €221.55


I go for dinner with my boyfriend, which comes to about €40. We split the bill so it’s €20 each. Afterwards I get us ice cream (€7) and then we go for two pints. I get the first round which is €10, and he gets the second.

Today’s total: €37


I meet a friend for breakfast, which comes to €8.50. We get coffee afterwards, which is another €4.30.

On the way home, I stop at a shop and spend €7 on snacks for the night. I watch the first half of the new Mission: Impossible – which got great reviews – and turn it off because it’s not good at all. I’m hoping others agree, it’s completely overrated. 

Today’s total: €19.80

Weekly subtotal: €315.76

What I’ve learned:

  • I’m completely lacking in will power. This was me trying to be my most frugal self during the first proper week back to work after Christmas. 
  • I think working in the city centre is bad for a person with will power like mine. The silly bits I pick up and sporadic coffees add up.
  • I do think keeping this diary was useful. It’s motivating me to spend less next week, so I’m going to keep another. I do, however, know that I’m going to forever treat myself on Saturdays until I die so I won’t be tight about those days. 
  • I don’t have a solid plan set in place yet, I just want savings for travel for now – I know it’ll be a different story when the time comes for a mortgage. I think the main reason I find it so hard to save is because I don’t have a plan. 

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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