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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: An Irishman in Paris on €85,000 finding it easier to save while living abroad

But his stint in the French capital has dragged on longer than he expected.

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.  

At the weekend, a 24-year-old financial analyst explained about his long-term savings plans and how he saves money. Today, an Irish man working for a multinational company in Paris talks about his spending over the course of seven days. 

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Occupation: Manager in a multinational company
Age: 33
Location: Paris
Salary: €85,000 (including bonus)
Monthly pay (net): €5,500

Monthly expenses
Rent: €1,100
Household bills: Electricity and gas (€78), TV and internet (€42)
Transport: €0 (I’ve got a company car and diesel card)
Phone bill: €0 (my company covers this)
Health insurance: €0 (my company covers this)
Groceries: €250
Flights: €300 (that’s an average of how much I spend each month flying home to Ireland)  
Subscriptions: Netflix (€11), Spotify (€0.99), Gym (€67), Irish Times (€12)
Pension: €500 (contributed by my employer each month – not included in my salary)
Savings: €2,000 

I’m currently living in Paris as I’m on a secondment from my office in Dublin. I was only supposed to be here for one year, but now it has been over two years. Since I’m on a secondment, I’m an Irish employee working in France.

As such I get paid in Ireland by our Irish company, I pay PRSI in Ireland and tax in France. This has been quite beneficial for me as PRSI is 4% of my pay, whereas if I was a French employee I would pay 25% PRSI in France.

Income tax in France for me is about 20% and in 2018 they had an income tax-free year. They changed their tax system from paying income tax in one lump sum the year following (for example, I paid my 2017 income tax in November 2018) to a system similar to Ireland where you are taxed at source. As such, in 2018 my net pay was 96% of my gross.

I am currently saving €2,000 a month. Before arriving in France, I found it difficult to save, but since I have been here I have saved close to €50,000. I plan to return to Ireland this year and buy a house with my fiancée.

***

Monday

I get up at about 7:20am, have a shave, shower and two Nespresso coffees. I generally don’t eat breakfast on the weekdays. I leave the apartment at about 7:45am and drive to work, which is about 4km away. I’m at my desk by 8:00am.

Between 8:00am and 12:00pm I have three coffees from the vending machine (€1.20) – they’re €0.40 each – and a bottle of sparkling water (€0.80).

At midday, I head down to the staff canteen. In France any company with more than 50 employees has to contribute towards the cost of an employee’s lunch – as a result our lunch is highly subsidised. It’s a pretty good canteen with plenty of options. I get a big bowl of fruit from the salad bar, veal stew with pasta, a lemon tart and a can of Diet Coke. The total for this is €5.60.

I head back to the office at 1:00pm and work until 5:00pm. Within that time I have another three coffees from the vending machine (€1.20). I leave the office and head to the supermarket to pick up some salads, ham, cheese and a baguette for dinner. Total for this €16.33.

I have dinner, watch a bit of TV and I’m in bed by 10:00pm since I’m up early for a flight tomorrow. 

Today’s total: €25.13

Tuesday

I’m up at 6:00pm. I shave, shower and have coffee as usual. I drive to the airport and arrive about 7:00am for my flight to Bordeaux at 8:30am. I head to the airport lounge for a few free coffees and a pastry until my flight is called.

I buy a priority pass once a year – which costs about €380 – this gives me unlimited access to airport lounges. It seems a bit high, but I spend a lot of time flying for work and also flying back home. I probably get around 50 flights a year, so I get good value from it.

In meetings all day and I bring a few of the team out for lunch. The total comes to €128, however I’ll be able to get reimbursed for this from my company, so no charge to me.

I head back to the airport for about 5:00pm. Unfortunately, Bordeaux’s airport is basic and doesn’t have an airport lounge. I get a coffee (€1.50) and a bottle of water (€3) while waiting on the flight.

Get home about 7:30pm and have the remainder of the food I bought yesterday for dinner. Again, I watch a bit of TV and then head off to sleep at about 11:00pm. 

Today’s total: €4.50

Wednesday

I didn’t set my alarm the night before and wake up about 8:20am. I shave, shower and have a coffee and I drive to work. My commute usually takes me 10 to 15 minutes – if I leave before 8:00am – but today it takes me an hour.

I have a meeting with a supplier at 10:00am that goes on until 12:30pm. He then offers to buy me lunch in a local restaurant. We have a three-course meal and coffees. He has wine, but I decide against it otherwise I’ll fall asleep. He covers the bill.

Back in the office about 2:00pm and I do a bit of work. Three more coffees from the vending machine (€1.20) and then I leave the office at 6:00pm.

I pick up some soup on the way home (€3.22) and grab a baguette from the local bakery (€0.90). I’m fairly stuffed from the large lunch, so I only have a quarter of the soup and bread. I watch a bit of TV and then off to bed at 11:00pm.

Today’s total: €5.32

Thursday

Wake up at 6:30am. I shave, shower and have my coffee and I’m in work for 7:15am. In early as we’re having a big meeting today and I need to finish off a presentation for it.

The meeting starts at 10:00am and goes on until 2:30pm. After the meeting, food is brought in from a local restaurant – salads, meats, cheese and bread.

I work until about 5:30pm and then head to the gym. It’s the first time I’ve had the time or energy this week to go. I leave there at about 7:00pm and head home. I have no food in the house, so I open up the Uber Eats app on my phone. I live centrally in Paris so there is plenty on offer. It takes me about 20 minutes to decide, but in the end I go for McDonald’s. A Big Mac meal and six chicken nuggets is €15.60 (including tip). I know, I live in the land of fine food, but sometimes you just need a Maccers! I have no regrets.

I watch some TV before heading off to bed at 11:00pm.

Today’s total: €15.60

Friday

I wake up at 7:00am. I shave, shower, have a coffee and make it into work for about 7:45am. I’m on a half day today because I’m heading home to Ireland, so I need to get as much work done as possible. Four coffees (€1.60) takes me up to 12:30pm when I leave to drive for the airport.

Traffic is bad, and I get there with only a few minutes to spare. As a result, I don’t get use of the airport lounge. I arrive back into Dublin at about 4:30pm where I rent a car (€32) and drive to my fiancée’s place. She would usually collect me and drop me off, but my return flight is at 6:00am on Monday morning and the cost of the car is less than a taxi.

I get to her place at about 6:00pm – I had almost forgot how bad the traffic was on the M50. I have a shower and get changed and we head out for some food and drinks. We have five drinks each (€66.50) and some food (€48) and then head back to her place at about 11:00pm. Since I make a lot more than she does, I always cover the cost of food and drinks.

We go straight to sleep as we are both wrecked from the past week.

Today’s total: €148.10

Saturday

We both wake up feeling worse for ware and don’t understand how as we only had five drinks. We blame the food in the restaurant being too salty.

Since she has nothing in the fridge, we head out for brunch nearby. This comes to €48. Again, I pay for this. Then we head back to her place and look at holidays to America for April. We have been talking about this for a month and we finally decide to go to Chicago for a week. I book the flights (€840) and a hotel (€1,200). We agree that I will cover €1,400 of this.

We have a bit of a nap and then head out to meet some friends and watch the rugby in town. We have five drinks each watching the rugby (€62) then head for some food (€46). As usual we order too much and take the overage home with us.

Back home and in bed by midnight.

Today’s total: €1,556

Sunday

We wake up at about 10:00am and don’t feel too bad. We heat up the leftover food from the night before and have that for breakfast. We sit around for a few hours drinking tea and watching TV and then head over to my parents’ house for Sunday lunch.

We leave my parents’ house at about 5:00pm and head home. We stop by Marks and Spencer on the way home and pick up some food for dinner that night (€22.55). We eat the food while watching Netflix and then it’s off to bed early as I’m up at 3:40am to go to the airport. 

Today’s total: €22.55

Weekly subtotal: €1,777.2

What I’ve learned:

  • Obviously, this wasn’t a typical week as I booked (and paid) for a big holiday. Taking this away from my weekly total, I have spent €377.20, which is very little.
  • It’s quite clear that I live for the weekend and this has pretty much been how it is since I arrived in Paris. The reason I took this position was to save money for a house in Ireland. The amount of money I’ve saved since arriving in France a little over two years ago would have taken me about eight years in Ireland. And I would have to cut back on nights out and holidays in Ireland.
  • If I wanted to, I could probably save €3,000 a month – but you have to enjoy life a little. In France I get 50 paid holiday days a year – that’s on top of the 12 public holidays. I take full advantage of this time off and would generally go on six to seven holidays a year with my fiancée as well as staying back in Ireland for extended periods of time.
  • I know I ate out a lot this week. Every second weekend my fiancé comes to Paris and I would generally cook all our meals bar one evening meal or lunch out at a restaurant. And yes, I have put on about 10kg since arriving in France hence why I joined the gym. Finding the energy to go can be very difficult. I work long enough hours, but then also the mental strain of having to think and talk in French all day really tires you out. I have decided to try get up early three days a week and go before work. If it goes well, I’ll submit a weight loss diary, and if I don’t… c’est la vie!
  • I just realised I never paid my M50 tolls, I’m expecting a fine from the car rental company!

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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