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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 17 January, 2020

How I Spend My Money: A logistics manager on €37,000 on maternity leave who dreads the thought of going back to work

She doesn’t want to miss out on the experience to raise her kids.

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 Sunday, a call centre worker living in Meath walked us through her week, which involved some costly medical expenses. Today, a mother on maternity leave talks about her spending over the course of a week. 


Occupation: Customer logistics manager
Age: 31
Location: Wicklow
Salary: €37,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,400

Monthly expenses
Mortgage: €600 (total €1,200) – this also covers general household bills.
Home loan: €360 (the house was a shell when we bought it and had to be completely rewired, replumbed, floored, etc.)
Transport: Petrol (€240) – I pay €320 when in work. Car tax (€40) and insurance (€55). Car loan (€200). I needed a new car because of the expanding family – to be fair my loan is finished in a few months as I had most of it saved already.
Phone bill: €80 (I cover my own and my husband’s bill).
Health insurance: €100 (this covers myself, my eight-year-old and my baby until he is one). The army covers my husband’s medical needs. The army used to look after the medical care and prescriptions of a soldier’s family – now they don’t.
Life insurance: €55 (this is an absolute pain to pay. Makes me so sick when I see it come out. I know it’s a necessity for the mortgage, but ugh.)
Groceries: €800 (between two of us) is sectioned off for any groceries. This is a big Aldi shop and a smaller Tesco shop. I do a cleaning shop to get washing powders, fabric softeners, etc every two months (€40).
Broadband: €30 
Savings: I’m a great saver. I’m that person who has the Christmas presents bought in June and wrapped to go. I planned to save €1,000 a month while on maternity leave, however I haven’t managed this every month.


  • Netflix (€10.99) – I toyed with getting rid of this when my maternity pay stops, but realistically my husband and I never go out. I’ll keep it for another while at least.
  • Birchbox (€14) – This I love, love, love. Since on maternity leave, it has been coming to the house and there’s only so much, “Oh my god, they still keep sending me stuff for free” I can get away with. Sadly, this was my last month. It was my guilty pleasure and I felt upset cancelling this – probably more upset than I should be.
  • Kids Activities (€140) – My daughter’s ballet is €120 every eight weeks and drama classes are €200 every 10 weeks. She loves it and we love her in it – she is gas altogether. This is probably the only area I refuse to cut spending in. Activities are super important for social skills and her general happiness. I would clean toilets with a toothbrush for a living to pay for this.

I’m a 31-year-old woman currently on maternity leave after having my second child. My husband and I finally got married last year after 12 years together and bought a house – we saved for a long time. It’s smaller than I would have liked, but we wanted a specific location.

My husband is in the army, so his work hours can be unpredictable at times, but mostly it’s grand. I’m loving life on maternity leave. It’s killing me to think about going back to work and having someone raise my kids, but in order to pay bills we both need to work. The army isn’t what it used to be for families, so it is what it is.

I have two months left on my maternity pay and then I have opted to take 16 weeks unpaid. For this I’ve been saving as much as I can. I’m used to sacrificing my life having saved forever for a house and wedding, it’s like second nature to me.

It’s true that some friends drop by the wayside because of this, but I needed a house for my family and I love being a mam. So at this stage of my life, I’m happy to have the good ones still with me.



7:30am – My baby is finally sleeping through night, so he’s looking for his bottle now. It’s my husband’s turn so I get up to make brekkie for my daughter and pack her lunch. We’re in the car and off to school for 9:00am. I go for a quick 2km walk and get back home at 10:00am. In my younger days I played GAA, soccer and basketball. I don’t have the time now and I’m about four-times the size I was then, but I need to bring my weight down again.

10:30am – My husband is unwell so he’s in bed resting. I feed the baby some porridge as we are at the weaning stage and we have a little dance around the kitchen. I missed all this with my eight-year-old as I had to go back to work earlier for financial reasons, so I cherish every bit of this. I do a few loads of washing.

12:15pm – Another bottle and change – we’re off to visit my parents. My husband feels better so he decides to come. We fill up our travel mugs before we go (saves us a fortune on coffee). We need petrol on the way (€30).

2:00pm – I leave my parents house and decide to go Tesco as I need to get special baby food and I pick up a few other items that you can’t get in Aldi (€24.85).

3:30pm – Collect my kid from school. Homework is done and lunch made for next day. I start dinner and my eight-year-old does her jobs – hanging up her uniform and making her juice bottle for lunch the next day. We eat dinner together every evening when my husband is not away with work and the baby has another bottle at 4:00pm. I clean up and help with a school project. My husband takes the lead on this while I bake cookies – I’ve been promising to make some since before Christmas.

7:00pm – Himself heads off to meet friends for coffee and brings a voucher I got him for Christmas. I look up some degree courses – I’m thinking about doing one. My husband completed one last year and it has spurred me on.

8:00pm – Fold clothes, make bottles, take out meat to defrost for dinner tomorrow, bathe baby, and give him his last bottle before bed.

9:00pm – Watch telly with my husband who has come back without something from the shops. I have a little sulk about it then I try do a budget for our eight-year-old’s communion this year. Dreading it as it lands in middle of my unpaid leave. Hubbie and I argue over this week’s communion mass. Our baby refuses to be quiet anytime close to bottle time so one of us has to stay home. I won the argument because, to be fair, I’ve done all the masses so far.

11:00pm – Bedtime. 

Today’s total: €54.85


7:30am – Up to feed the baby. Same routine as yesterday. I need a hot brekkie as it’s so cold out. Everyone is saying it will snow, I hope it doesn’t as that means my hubbie will be called out to help like last year. I need to go shopping as well, so off we go drop herself to school and head to the shops.

9:30am – Get to shops and have to order prescriptions. While there, I order a face cream my mum loves and it’s on offer, so l get her two (€36.99). My husband can’t resist the Flying Tiger shop, so I buy €7 worth of shite.

10:30am – With all these projects for the child and my husband in college part-time again, I have to buy a printer. It’s an investment, I tell myself – it’s a pain to keep going to the library to print. We get a really good Canon on sale (€29). However, the salesman tells me the ink isn’t included, so that’s another €15, unbelievable! On the way, I fill up my husband’s car with petrol. I also grab a bottle of water and a croissant (€23).

11:00am – I drop my husband to a hospital appointment. I sit in the car with my baby and resist the urge to online shop. We sing songs and he cries at Baby Shark, thank god. I let him stare at himself on the camera for a good 20 minutes. He is fascinated by himself – boys eh?

12:40pm – Finally finished in the hospital. We head home, feed the baby really quick and I’m straight back out the door. Over to my parents to give my mum her cream. She hides the money in my pocket, she is a divil. I pop into Lidl on way home for some more essentials (€9.80). I don’t like Lidl, I always feel like I’m cheating on Aldi – does anyone else get this? I collect my eight-year-old on the way home.

4:50pm – Usual routine. Home, work, lunch prep for tomorrow, dinner made and eaten. Also made a shepherd’s pie as I have to fly to UK tomorrow for an event. I want to make sure the child gets a decent meal as my hubbie will make eggy bread, or worse.

8:00pm – Off out to badminton. It keeps me sane and I love it. For two hours it’s only €5. I didn’t play last year what with the pregnancy, so I’m delighted to be back now.

10:30pm – Home and time for a cuppa and a biscuit. Quick shower to get ready for tomorrow as I’m up for an early flight.

Today’s total: €110.79


6:30am – Up to catch a flight to the UK. It takes two hours to get to the airport in what would normally be 40 minutes. I raced through security and treated myself and a friend to coffee and pastry (€10.50).

11:00am – Finally here – it took forever. Ryanair is so cheap, but a nightmare. I booked the flight before Christmas so my friend brought the sterling as we are only here for six hours. I’m already thinking about my McDonald’s on the drive home.

4:00pm – Back at airport. I bought a puzzle book to keep me sane €3 and the is flight delayed – there’s a shocker. Someone had to be removed from the plane. We finally land at 8:30pm.

10:00pm – Finally home after dropping my friend off and it’s too late for McDonald’s. My babies are fast asleep, they are so lovely. I make some noodles, but I’m not really feeling it so I give the rest to my hubbie. I put a load of washing on and also the dishwasher and give the house a quick hoover before bed. 

Today’s total: €13.50


6:30am – Up having the chats with my little man – I love morning giggles. He has a bottle and I make brekkie for the other one. We all have a little dance to some Queen and then it’s off to school.

10:30am – I make baby porridge for the little man, hoover and mop floors. He needs toys now. He’s sitting up wanting to eat everything, so we browse online for age appropriate stuff. Nothing takes my fancy. He just wants to watch himself on the camera again. I hand him to the hubbie while I fold towels and when I come back in, the two of them are staring at themselves in the camera. Is it a man thing? I dunno. We have to go shopping today for the week so he’ll be having a bottle soon.

12:30pm – We go to Aldi and spend €98 (€49 each) on loads of shopping and also go to Tesco (€10 each). Last stop is the butchers (€5 each). I stop at the chemist for some nicotine products for the husband as well (€17).

3:00pm – I collect my eight-year-old and then head home to make dinner. We eat it whilst listening to herself telling us all about Little Mix. She got an annual for Christmas and every day we get another fact about the lovely ladies of Little Mix. I don’t care, but I pretend I do – my husband does not. We managed to get her tickets for them later in the year and he tells me after dinner that I’m going with her. He’s gas!

6:00pm – Bath and bottle time. My husband puts on Guns N’ Roses and soon all of them are dancing around the kitchen. He puts the baby down to sleep and makes me some tea.

8:00pm – All the little people are in bed and I have another cuppa while eating my weight in chocolate. My husband goes in to have his chats with herself – who adores him – and they are soon talking about aliens. I get a bit upset listening because it just makes me think of having to go back to work and all the time I’m gonna lose with them both. I have really loved collecting her from school and listening to her every day.

9:00pm – Bed. I know, I’m THAT boring, but I don’t care.

Today’s total: €81


8:00am – Usual morning routine. I have to drop paperwork into my dad so I do that and have a tea. I popped into Lidl to get fresh pastries €3.80 for him because my daddy is my number one and even though he is not supposed to eat sweets, I will happily spoil him when I can.

11:30am – Back home and I deep clean the house – I’m talking cupboards, windows, oven, the lot. It means I can relax over the weekend. I got paid today from work (I get paid a portion of my actual wage, which is topped up by the government). I know a lot of people don’t have this and I didn’t have it for my first baby, so I’m extremely grateful for this. All the money is transferred to various accounts to pay bills, mortgage and savings. I have about €385 left in the account. It would depress you but it’s life and we need to make sacrifices to get what we want. I’m also sick because I found an account on Instagram called ‘the postman hates me’ and it’s a mecca for shoppers.

3:00pm – Off to collect my eight-year-old. I didn’t make a dinner today because we have a show to go to tonight – the tickets were bought last year. We’ll have fried eggs on toast (her fav) at home before we go and will treat her to some nice food later. When we get home, she does her chores. She puts on her own wash, changes her clothes and since it’s Friday, we change the bed sheets together. I think it’s super important to teach the children household jobs because I hope it will become second nature to them when they’re older. I don’t want adult babies. I’ve met a lot over the years and it’s not nice.

6:00pm – Off to the show. She has gotten her €5 pocket money. This will be €2 saved and €3 for the tuck shop. She doesn’t get it every week, but has done all her chores this week.

10:00pm – Show is over – it went on longer than I expected. I bought a Chinese takeaway (€23) for the three of us and didn’t really enjoy it. But I ate every bit of it, which tells you everything you need to know really. I put herself to bed and hubbie puts on Aquaman. What a load of crap. DC should be ashamed. To think we were gonna go see it in cinema, thank god we didn’t.

1:13am – Bed. Sweet, sweet bed.

Today’s total: €31.80


9:00am – My baby is only awake now – I can’t believe it. Time for his bottle and a dance and then a sing-song in bed with my eight-year-old. My hubbie is snoring beside us but the baby wakes him up by pulling his hair.

11:30am – Off to ballet. I have to pick up some stuff as well, like a toy to help my baby practice sitting up (€50) and a small toy for the other child (€6). I get two coffees (€7.50) as well and needed a weighing scales (€10) for baking. I also get a few essentials in Aldi (€11) where I got asked for ID, so I’m only delighted with life.

1:30 pm – Race home for the baby’s bottle – we’re a bit late and the little man has no problem telling us he’s unimpressed. I put together his toy, he loved it. Time to bake some cakes for tomorrow – chocolate Guinness cake and peach cobbler. I love baking, it’s so relaxing, I’m piling on the weight though – I have zero willpower.

4:30pm – Time for drama class and I’ll swing back at 5:30pm for herself. I pop €20 into my husband’s car – he has a head like a sieve and drives on fumes.

6:30pm – Hubbie collects her instead. I suspect the dirty nappy that’s currently happening is the reason for this offer. Don’t know what to make for dinner – I didn’t defrost any meat. I doubt I can justify takeaway again and because we live in the middle of nowhere we always collect. On the rare times we did get a delivery, it usually means 40 minutes of: “Yeah, do you know the road after the bush, no not the one at the gate. Can you see a barn?” I just don’t have the head for it tonight.

7:00pm – Didn’t get a takeaway, instead I made a big batch of home cut chips, rashers, tomatoes, scallions, cheese sauce and garlic mayo. It was fab, much better than chipper.

8:30pm – Bottle time, bathtime and bedtime for the kiddies. My eldest played on the tablet for half an hour. My husband set up parental controls and it’s great – we have to approve her apps and we can shut her tablet off at a certain time. We decide to watch the Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix – we were both depressed off our faces after it. My eight-year-old won’t be allowed out when she gets to 13 if my husband has anything to do with it. I filled up my basket thanks to that Instagram page, but managed to stop myself from going through with the purchase. I’m in cold sweats here.

12:05am – The electricity goes, so bedtime I suppose.

Today’s total: €104.50


10:45am – Delighted with life after a savage lie-in. I got up and hubbie goes back to bed. My eight-year-old comes into me saying she’s starving and got no breakfast, so I make tea and toast.

2:00pm – We have dinner at my parents, so I bring the cakes. It was nice and relaxing. On the way home, my hubbie needs more nicotine (€7), so I stop at the chemist and run into shop and buy lotto and scratch card as well (€13). I dream of an extension to my house, but I don’t win anything – what a shocker. No extension for me yet, ragin’.

6:00pm – Time for baby baths, showers, hair plaits and supper. We have a quick game on the Wii and then it’s bedtime

9:00pm – I’m starving. I rustle up some home cut chips, gherkins and mayonnaise – don’t judge me until you try it. My husband gives out while I’m cooking, says he is too full from dinner, but manages to eat a bowl of it followed by some tart, custard and ice cream.

11:30pm – Bedtime.

Today’s total: €20

Weekly subtotal: €416.44

What I’ve learned:

  • I thought I was a great one saving money on the coffees, but I seem to have just transferred my urge to spend to other things. I keep convincing myself I need this and that, so I buy it. Right now I’m thinking I need a panini press, but I know I don’t. Hopefully by the time you read this I won’t have bought one.
  • I’m glad my hubbie and I are both on same page with the likes of eating out and dates. We both want to have our house sorted and the kids OK so we put luxuries aside. To be honest, just spending time with him in the evening when the kids are in bed is lovely.
  • Ideally I would love to bring my kids on holidays this year, so I will try trim more spending to save for this – I’d love to have a small family holiday.

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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