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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 21 January, 2020

How I Spend My Money: A call centre worker living in Navan on €29,600 saving a €4,000 rent deposit to move to Dublin

Her medical expenses account for a large amount of her spending.

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, an Irish engineer on €62,000 living in Canada talked about his experiences living abroad. Today, a call centre employee living in Meath walked us through her week, which involved some costly medical expenses. 


Occupation: Customer Advisor in a call centre
Age: 25
Location: Navan (living with my partner and commuting to Dublin)
Salary: €29,600
Monthly pay (net): €1,850

Monthly expenses
Rent: €300 (€600 split with partner)
Household bills: Gas and electricity (€40) 
Transport: Petrol (€200), car loan (€230), car insurance (€160)
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: €0 (work pays for it)
Groceries: €80
Gym membership: €0 (we have a gym in work)
Subscriptions: None
Broadband: We hotspot using our phones
Pension: €55 (work pays €55 too)

I’ve been working in the call centre for the past three years. Myself and my partner are currently trying to save for a deposit for a mortgage – or a deposit to rent in Dublin.

My partner starts a new job near UCD in March, so it looks like we’ll have to save about €4,000 for a rent deposit in order to move back to Dublin. We rent a studio apartment now in Navan. It’s absolutely tiny and very, very old, but it works for us.



6:40am – Alarm goes off and I’m standing at the car by 7:05am scraping ice off the windscreen. I’m on the road at 7:10am to begin my commute, which takes between 40-60 minutes.

8:00am – By now, I’m at my desk with the headset on – the callers start coming in.

9:00am – I shouldn’t have left it so long to get breakfast! I get a fry at work for €2.

1:00pm – Lunch is pasta I made the night before.

2:30pm – My afternoon break is a cup of tea from the break room and a Nutri-Grain bar (€1.10) from the vending machine.

4:30pm – I clock off and I’m in my car ahead of the traffic.

5:30pm – I’m home and making dinner, do the laundry and put away the dried clothes.

Today’s total: €3.10


7:10am – I get in the car and the petrol tank is nearly empty. I stop at Applegreen on the way to work and fill up – it costs €45 for a tank.

8:00am – I arrive at my desk (barely on time) and work begins straightaway.

9:10am – I heat up overnight oats and have them at my desk.

1:00pm – Lunch is some of the rice and veg that I made the night before.

3:00pm – I get tea for free on my break and browse places for rent on The cheapest I can find is €1,340. It’s more than double what we pay now, but it doesn’t surprise me.

4:30pm – I clock out and drive home.

5:30pm – I’ve got therapy tonight – I normally go twice a month. I do cognitive behavioural therapy for an hour as I’ve been feeling anxious lately. It costs €50 and VHI doesn’t cover it. The session goes well.

10:00pm – Bedtime.

Today’s total: €95


8:30am – I’ve got a lie-in today. I’m off work to go to the doctors to check my meds. She asks me why it has been nine months since my last check up – it’s because it’s too expensive. I pay €55 for the GP consultation. I’m envious of people with medical cards. We book a blood test for the morning. I send a claim using Snap and Send to VHI – it means I’ll get €35 back next week. Meds cost €14 in the chemist and my GP asks me to come back in two weeks.

11:00am – I arrive into work.

1:00pm – My lunch is soup and bread that I brought in.

2:30pm – For my afternoon break, I go out for a walk and have tea when I come back.

4:30pm – I clock off on time and start to make my way home.

5:30pm – Once I’m home, I start making lunch for work tomorrow.

7:00pm – I’ve got my paint for pleasure class tonight. I love these classes! I pay €20 for two hours and it’s well worth it.

10:00pm – Bedtime.

Today’s total: €89


9:30am – I walk to the GP’s office for the routine blood test, which costs €30. Not so sure if I’ll get anything back from VHI.

11:30am – I’m on the road to work.

4:30pm – Work was the same as ever. I spent €0 as I brought in all my own food.

6:00pm – I do a shop in Aldi, which comes to €14.57.

8:00pm – My partner and I watch a DVD and chill out for the evening.

11:00pm – Bedtime.

Today’s total: €44.57


7:10am – In the car and driving to work.

1:00pm – Lunch is potatoes and veggie burgers that I made last night.

4:30pm – I finish work and hang around for a while.

6:00pm – I go to the cinema with my partner. My ticket costs €13 and €9.50 for food. The movie was great! I send my partner the money using the AIB mobile app.

10:30pm – Bedtime.

Today’s total: €22.50


10:00am – We go out for a walk and get breakfast in the town. It’s €8 for mine.

1:00pm – I start sorting laundry and then read my book for a while – my partner plays guitar.

2:00pm – The motor tax is due on the car, so I pay €290 for a year.

5:00pm – We cook dinner at home and watch a DVD in the evening.

11:30 pm – Bedtime

Today’s total: €298


9:00am – We each go to our parents’ houses for the day.

4:00pm – We do a little food shop in Aldi (€7.50).

7:00pm – I make my lunch for Monday.

Today’s total: €7.50

Weekly subtotal: €567.67

What I’ve learned:

  • My living expenses are relatively low at the minute – I keep tabs on outgoings so I know where every cent is going. I’ll try to put more away in future at the end of each month.
  • The car costs a lot, but I won’t give it up. I only started driving last year as public transport to Dublin from where I live is about €20 per day and there’s no public transport to my mam’s house.
  • Looking back, it’s clear that health services are expensive – especially mental health. I really wish these supports were free, but they’re pricey and I can’t help but feel it’s a classist system. Only those who can afford therapy and healthcare get it, forgetting those in the middle.

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 

Note: Journal Media Ltd has shareholders in common with publisher Distilled Media Group. 

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