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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: A 24-year-old financial analyst in Dublin on €32,000 saving over €800 a month

He set up a savings plan soon after graduating from college.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie 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 logistics manager on maternity leave talked about her spending over the course of a week. Today, a 24-year-old financial analyst writes about his long-term savings plans.

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Occupation: Financial analyst
Age: 24
Location: Stoneybatter, Co. Dublin
Salary: €32,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,100

Monthly expenses
Rent: €700
Household bills: €80
Transport: €20
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: Paid by work as benefit in kind
Pension: €125 (through work included in net)
Takeaway: €50
Groceries: €125
Subscriptions: GAA club membership cost (€17.50) – breakdown monthly of full-year membership
Savings: €750
Emergency fund: €50
Holiday fund: €75

I’m a financial analyst living and working in Dublin. On a good month I put away €750 savings towards a house deposit, €75 for holidays and €50 to my emergency fund. I contribute 5% of my monthly wage to a pension plan through work – that’s included in gross to net.

I’ve taken the active decision to take control of my finances so soon after graduating from college because it’s the prudent thing to do. My dreams of travelling the world had to give way to the reality check that is affordability of housing in Dublin and its surrounding commuter belt.

Ideally, my goal is to be ready to start a mortgage at the age of 30. At that stage, I should have accumulated enough cash to demonstrate to a lender my savings ability and cover a house deposit for something in the region of €350,000.

At that stage I should be fully qualified and earning double what I do now so affordability shouldn’t be an issue down the line if I can save enough. If I qualify earlier and get the raise associated with moving up, I’ll save more excess cash – if I stick on the same budget – to be able to afford a home.

The driver of my financial goals is I have seen friends in an older age group being stuck, unable to have the funds to buy when 30+ and having to start saving later. Rent is dead money, so the earlier I start saving the sooner I can put my earnings to something useful.

I retain a personally fulfilling lifestyle that balances with my future financial stability goals. It requires an amount of self-restraint to stick to but caters for holidays and emergencies, so it works well. I’m the only one of my friends at this point that has a savings plan/goal like this, but I’ve inspired some of them to start a similar budget.

***

Monday

Wake up at 7:40am. It’s lashing rain outside and I contemplate getting the bus rather than cycling to work for five minutes. I decide to cycle as I have a fundraising table quiz to attend later in the week so I need to minimise costs.

I go downstairs for 15 minutes of flexibility and core exercises to keep in shape in GAA off-season and work out tightness from old hip injury. When finished, I make a banana and blueberry smoothie before my shower and have the smoothie for breakfast after getting dressed.

Get to work around 8:50am and pick up a free piece of fruit from the basket on our floor for an 11:00am snack. Skip to lunch time, some colleagues are going for burritos but I make do with the sandwiches I brought to work.

There are a stressful few hours around month-end postings after lunch, which mean I give into my chocolate craving and get a Twix from the vending machine (€1.20).

I cycle home after work, arriving back around 6:00pm. I start to cook a chicken curry to do for dinner and lunch tomorrow. Sit down to watch Everest with housemates after (recorded from Film4) then head to bed around 11:00pm. 

Today’s total: €1.20

Tuesday

Same morning routine, just whip up some oat-based blueberry pancakes for breakfast instead of the smoothie. There’s some leftover mix, so I’ll save it for tomorrow’s breakfast and get up a few minutes later.

It isn’t raining today so the cycle in is going to be relaxing. Halfway out of the complex realise I forgot to bring the lunchbox with chicken curry leftovers. Pop back in quickly to grab it and make my way to work.

Pick up some fruit on way to my desk, pop my lunchbox into the fridge at work and leave the fruit to eat until after lunch as I’m not too hungry at 11:00am.

I have lunch at my desk while the guys go out for food and eat my free fruit in the afternoon. I manage to get out of the office for 5:30pm on the button.

I’m home by 6:15pm, put a change of clothes in my gear bag and head over to astro soccer for 7:00pm. I twist my ankle during the game and it’s a struggle to cycle home again. Eventually I get back and have to make dinner.

I need something quick and easy, so I throw some sweet potato fries in the oven and whip up a three-egg omelette with cheese, red onion and leftover ham from Monday.

Today’s total: €0

Wednesday

Get up a few minutes earlier than usual. I make some pancakes from the remaining oat mix and finish off the blueberries for breakfast. I take the extra few minutes this morning to wash up the pile of dishes in the sink from the past two days.

It’s unusually mild weather for this time of year so I continue to cycle to work. I’ve got the usual ham and cheese sandwich to bring to work for lunch.

I get to work as usual and pick up some free fruit. The mundane midweek slump hits and I’m very unproductive for the first two hours. So I break my no coffee habit (€3) to focus and get some work done quickly.

For lunch, I head out with colleagues. A walk around the city when it’s crisp is good to clear the head. I schedule some meetings in the afternoon and when they’re done I feel drained.

I wait for the clock to hit 5:30pm and make my way home as usual. I go to the kitchen to make dinner, but I’m feeling unproductive so it’s goujons and wedges for the night.

I stick on an episode of The Good Doctor with my housemates, finish it up and go to my room. I take out my lecture notes and make a summary of a topic before going to bed.

Today’s total: €3

Thursday

Same morning routine as usual, I just replace pancakes with a smoothie for breakfast. I also make more ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch before cycling to work.

It’s an uneventful morning at work. I bring my own lunch to the supermarket with the lads. I head back to work and answer some queries from auditors and have a chat with some colleagues to whittle down the remaining half hour. I’m out the door on time, again.

I get home at 6:30pm, detoured into a friend’s house on way home to pick up a spot prize for the quiz tonight. The quiz is in aid of my GAA club, so attendance is mandatory.

I get in the door, quickly shower and change and make my way over to the pub. Entry fee for a table is €10 per head – myself and three friends make up a table of four.

Eight quiz rounds and six pints (€36) later we agonisingly miss out on third place. After the quiz is over the lads are on for Coppers, I’m not feeling it so I head off for a takeaway (€8.50) and then home to bed.

Today’s total: €54.50

Friday

Much different morning routine – I’m hanging more than I’d like to admit. I’ve got no breakfast and no lunch prepared. It was my first time going for a few drinks in about six or seven weeks, so I’m really feeling the effects. My cycle to work is irritating.

My struggle through the morning is rewarded by a self pity Boojum (€9.65) with the lads in the office. The tacos and a can of coke were badly needed.

I have an incredibly unproductive Friday afternoon – as usual. Everyone can’t wait to be out for the weekend. I get out of the office and am feeling fine. Some drinks with work colleagues are tempting, but since it’s just after Christmas I decide against it.

When I’m back home again, I have a three-egg omelette for dinner with some sweet potato fries. I go to my room and study for two hours after.

I come back down, wash up the dishes that have piled up and watch a movie with my housemates. I go to bed early ahead of the weekend. 

Today’s total: €9.65

Saturday

I struggle out of bed as the alarm rings at 8:00am. Lectures for professional exams start around 9:15am, so I need to get a move on. I go for a shower and abandon the usual morning routine – no time for exercise or breakfast as I’m running late.

I cycle across town to the lectures, but quickly stop in Lidl for a bottle of water, a donut and a banana (€2.20) to do me until my break at 1:00pm.

I didn’t bring lunch with me, so Subway it is for something to eat (€8.10). I only have half of it so I can save the rest for the second half of the lecture when I’m drained.

I finally get out at 6:00pm, check the Premier League scores for the weekend and unmute the group chats. I’m getting messages about a GAA meeting date for the new season and general sports talk from clubmates/friends respectively. I have nothing much to add on either topic as I missed the games.

I make my way home to relax for the evening. I sort my notes by subjects covered into a folder and put the books away. I do some laundry that has piled up after and enjoy my wild Saturday night in. 

Today’s total: €10.30

Sunday

Same routine as Saturday – I’m up early for lectures. The only difference is making my sandwich for the day to minimise expenditure.

I refill my water bottle from the tap and bring it with too. I’m still going to stop off in Lidl for the guilty pleasure of a donut as they’re only €0.95 each.

My lecture is as boring as usual. I take notes, ask a question or two and go for a walkabout with my sandwiches for lunch. I’m back again after a while and counting down the minutes to being finished. I finally get out and make my way home.

It has been a long weekend and would like nothing more than to just go to bed ahead of Monday. Instead I do my weekly shop ahead of the working week, generally takes two trips to Aldi to get everything I need. It’s generally in or around €30-€32

Today I get one pack of pork chops (€4), chicken mini fillets (€3), 12 eggs (€2), sliced cheese (€1), frying oil (€1), three packs of part baked baguettes (€2), two jars of pasta sauce (€2), a jar of curry sauce (€1), 500g whole wheat pasta (€1), ketchup (€1), butter (€1), protein milk (€1), frozen wedges (€1), frozen onion rings (€1), 500 grams of porridge oats (€1), banana pack (€1), bag of carrots/broccoli head (€1), blueberries (€2), fish fillets (€2), three packs of peppered sauce mix (€2). In total it’s €31. I source shopping through combo of Aldi/Lidl for cheapest offers week-on-week regarding fruit, veg and meat.

I pick up a half-price chilled pizza (€2.55) while in Aldi to have this evening – that isn’t on my shopping list. From my shopping I prepare pasta, pork and veg for Monday’s lunch and get ready for the cycle to begin again.

I rotate clothing on the standing air dryers and watch Brexit: The Uncivil War for kicks before match of the day 2 comes on around half 10. Wait up until about 11.30 and head to bead fully prepped for the week ahead.

Today’s total: €34.50

Weekly subtotal: €113.2

What I’ve learned:

  • I’m already relatively strict with my wages and projected savings. There are events that throw out my budgeted savings month on month, but those are to be expected and why I have an excess of wages leftover monthly.
  • Cycling to and from work, to the shops and to lectures saves me roughly €900 per year on public transport – it would cost roughly €100 per month for public transport if I didn’t cycle. I still spend €20 monthly on transport costs (so €240 a year), I get my bicycle serviced once a year (€20) and change my tyres (€40) once per year.
  • My social life tends to revolve around my exams and GAA commitments. On certain months, I would drink more than others – mainly when we don’t have many games or once-off events such as birthdays, leaving parties etc. Those months I would tend to cut out takeaway, be relatively strict on budget and use my leftover excess, holiday fund and emergency fund to cover the expenditure.
  • I’m relatively happy with my schedule and routine. I’m hoping to save much more of my wages once I’m fully qualified. And I’ll be able to build on my current savings at a faster rate when I get the raise that comes with being qualified.
  • I feel as if it is my profession that allows me to be level-headed when it comes to saving money. I treat my expenditure on a flexible budget basis to achieve the savings rate I need while maintaining a desirable lifestyle.
  • I resent the perception of millennials being irresponsible with money. Some are, others aren’t. It was the previous generation that taught us we could have anything we wanted. That class of the previous generation bankrupted the country. They have lied to themselves creating a narrative about how their generation was such a success while this one is such a failure. They omit any failures that would lead to questioning their alleged successes, such as failing to plan for the future. Previous generations created a mollycoddled bunch of millennials and enabled the very entitled generation they vigorously complain about. 

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 money@thejournal.ie. 

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