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How I Spend My Money: A 25-year-old civil servant on €38,000 struggling to save while commuting to Dublin

The 25-year-old moved from Dublin to Kildare to cut down on expenses reader

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’ve asked 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. 

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.

Last time, a 24-year-old masters student wrote about how she balances work and college life. This time, a civil servant on €38,000 living in Kildare walks us through her week.


I'm a 25-year-old civil servant living in Kildare and commuting to work in Dublin. I used to live in Dublin but the rent was just ridiculous so I had to move out. I now live with my boyfriend in an apartment in Kildare, but I go back to my family home in the west of Ireland every weekend. I have tried to save in the past but have been unsuccessful.

Occupation: Civil servant
Age: 25
Location: Kildare
Salary: €38,580
Monthly pay (net): €2,350

Monthly expenses

Transport: €200
Rent: €480
Household bills: €55
Phone bill: €30
Groceries: €160 (usually split between myself and boyfriend)
Subscriptions: Spotify €10
Credit card: €40 per month (€1,500 outstanding)
Car loan: €436
Doctor visits: €18 (€55 every 3 months)
Prescriptions: €30


5:30am: I get up and get ready for work. I try to have breakfast in the mornings but I'm usually rushing out the door and don’t have time to eat. I live in one of the commuter towns in Kildare and get a private bus at 6:10am to Dublin.

7:30am: I get off the bus and grab a coffee for €3.55 before starting work for the day.

11:00am: I leave work to get something to eat. I try to bring in lunch to work but this doesn’t usually happen on a Monday. I get a salad bowl in the local Fresh shop which costs €5.40.

1:oopm: I have my lunch and still have some of the salad bowl leftover so I just have that. Usually for lunch I would have some leftover dinner from the evening before. I take a half-hour lunch and go back to my desk. I'm only six weeks in my new role so I'm constantly learning every day. I'm in the finance part of my department so my role is to check payments and deal with people from different companies. Because we're coming up to the end of the year, there is a bit of pressure to get all of the payments done so it's very busy and the day flies in.

4:30pm: After work I pop into Penneys on O'Connell Street to pick up a few things for me and my sister. This comes to €96.30 which I consider to be ok as it's very easy to spend all of your money in Penneys!

7:oopm: I get home and throw a random dinner together of fish and veg. Because work is so busy, I rarely have any energy to do things in the evenings.

9:oopm: I shower and head to bed as I'm exhausted. I’m still getting used to getting up really early every morning.

Today's total: €105.25


5:45am: I get up and get ready for work. I decide to drive into work today as I might have to call to a friend’s house after. I don't usually drive to work because the cost of parking is €15.20, but my bus only goes at certain times so if I want to do anything after work I have to drive.

7:40am: I get a coffee before work for €3.55. I didn’t think I would start a habit of getting coffee before work but it is a regular occurrence at the moment and I need to stop as I would save a fortune.

1:00pm: I pop out for lunch as I forgot to bring in leftover dinner from yesterday. This costs €4.40. I’m sickened I forgot to bring something as I hate going out to get lunch.

1:30pm: I withdraw €20 euro from the ATM to pay for my Christmas party and the Lotto we do at work. I head back to the office and get straight back into work. Every day at work is so busy at the moment but apparently the quiet period is around February. I feel like I have been thrown in at the deep end!

5:00pm: I leave work a bit later than usual because I got caught up on a phone call. I drive home and stop by the chipper in my local village as I am too lazy to make dinner. This comes to €16 for me and my boyfriend. I know this is an unnecessary expense but I don't do it often. 

7:00pm: My boyfriend and I watch a film and binge on junk food. Not the healthiest day I've had but it’s only once in a blue moon it happens. I try to eat as best I can because if I don’t I feel sluggish. That went out the window today anyway!

9:00pm: I head for bed because the early mornings are a killer. I used to never sleep well but because I’m back on normal hours and I’m so busy at work, I'm usually asleep in minutes.

Today's total: €59.15


5:45am: I get up and get ready for work before catching the bus to Dublin.

6:10am: I pay for a weekly bus ticket which is €40 and I think is a reasonable price.

8:00am: I grab a coffee before starting work for €3.20. I make a mental note to bring in my travel cup to get a discount in future.

11:ooam: I take a break and eat yoghurt and fruit that I brought in from home.

2:00pm: I take my half-hour lunch and eat a salad I threw together at home.

5:00pm: After work, I visit family for a few hours. I haven’t seen them in a while so most of the time is spent catching up and drinking tea with biscuits. 

8:oopm: I head home and prepare some lunch for tomorrow.

8:30pm: I shower and go to bed as I don't feel well.

Today's total: €43.20


5:45am: I get up, get ready and catch the bus to Dublin. 

6:00am: My car loan comes out of my account today which is €218 every fortnight. I have this loan since January and it's a five-year loan. I'd rather not have this much money coming out of my account so often but what can you do!

7:45am: While taking note of my spending I notice I spend a lot on coffee so today I bring a travel cup with me and just get coffee at work. I hope I will save a fortune!

1:00pm: I made egg muffins last night so I have this and soup I brought from home for lunch.

6:00pm: I got paid today so my boyfriend and I decide to go out for dinner. My half comes to €14.  

9:00pm: After dinner we watch some TV. We've been watching Line of Duty and I love it. The only problem is that we can never just watch one episode and before I know it, it's midnight so we head to bed.

Today's total: €14 (not including loan which comes out of monthly expenses)


5:45am: I get up, get ready and catch the bus to Dublin. 

11:00am: I go out for breakfast with some colleagues which comes to €9.50. This is a nice treat to end the week and we go to different places every Friday. I’m back in the office for 11:30am and have a few phone calls to make which will probably tie me up until lunch.

2:00pm: I don’t bother having anything for lunch as breakfast was very filling. I start prioritising what I need to do on Monday morning when I come in. I probably shouldn’t do this on my lunch break but I just don’t have enough time today to get it done.

4:00pm: I don’t usually stay past 4pm on a Friday as I'm mad to get on the road to my family home in the west. In my old job I never got to go home at weekends so I make the most of it now that I have every weekend off.

5:30pm: I get off the bus in Kildare and into my car. I stop off at petrol station and put €50 of petrol in the car. That will do me for most of the week. It's only an hour and 40 minutes home and traffic isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

7:10pm: I arrive home for dinner with my parents. I love coming home on a Friday to a homemade dinner. It’s the only time it happens and I take full advantage. I always call to my granny on a Friday evening so after dinner I call to her for an hour.

10:00pm: It's time for bed as it's been a long day.

Today's total: €59.50


11:00am: I have a lie-in and get up to do a few bits around the house. This is relatively early for me - I would quite happily sleep in until 1pm! I tidy my room, make tea, have breakfast and go to my granny’s house to bring her into town.

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2:00pm: While my granny is doing her errands, I pop into a few shops and have a look around. I call into the chemist and see what new bits of make-up are in but I won’t be buying anything today.

6:00pm: I visit my boyfriend and his family as his sister is home from abroad. She lives in Australia and she's home until after Christmas.

8:30pm: I go for dinner with my boyfriend. My parents gave us a voucher a while back so we only have to put €10 towards the meal. 

10:00pm: I spend the evening watching a film and fall asleep. I seem to have spent a lot of time watching films this week. I usually go out on a Saturday evening but I'm having a quiet weekend instead. I have Christmas parties coming up and I want to try keep my money for them.

Today's total: €10


11:30am: I get up and decide to go to town to do a grocery shop in Aldi for the week which comes to €15. I would rather get it done early and not have to deal with it when driving up to Kildare. I don’t buy much this week because I find I buy a lot of food that goes to waste.

1:00pm: I meet my friend for lunch that I haven’t seen in ages. Since everyone is working or abroad it’s very hard to meet up with friends for a catch up. Anytime we get the chance we take full advantage. The lunch comes to €7.50.

3:00pm: I help my brother with some homework. He’s in Leaving Cert year and I try to help as much as I can. We also go through different courses/PLCs he can do afterwards. He isn’t sure what he wants to do yet.

5:00pm: I head back to Kildare early because our apartment is a mess and has to be cleaned. I love listening to podcasts on the way up as the time goes quicker.

7:00pm: I start cleaning and this takes me over an hour. When I’m finished I make a cup of tea and sit down to watch two episodes of Line of Duty.

10:00pm: I get lunch ready for tomorrow and prepare for the week ahead.

10:30pm: I shower and head to bed.

Today's total: €22.50

Weekly subtotal: €313.60

What I learned:

  • When keeping note of spending I noticed that a coffee every morning was an unnecessary expense so I am now trying to bring a travel mug with me and get coffee at work.
  • It was a lazy week for making dinner and doing a food shop and we usually don't eat out every week. Usually we are very good at making meals at home.
  • Rent near Dublin is so expensive and I find there are so many weeks I'm just working for nothing and I do always feel bad for spending money on treating myself like going shopping.
  • It was a very quiet weekend for me! Usually I go to the pub on Friday or Saturday night and can spend anything from €30 t0 €80.
  • I have a lot of monthly expenses. Some months I have to renew my prescription and go to the doctor for consultations as I have mental health issues.
  • I want to save but I find it impossible to save when working and living near Dublin. 

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