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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 14 July, 2020
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How I Spend My Money: A 23-year-old engineer in Limerick on €37,000 balancing work and a masters

The young engineer plays rugby in his spare time.

TheJournal.ie reader

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’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 22-year-old psychiatric nurse on €30,000 walked us through her week which involved 13-hour shifts and overtime.  This time, a young engineer in Limerick on €37,000 writes about his week as he balances work, college and socialising. 

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I’m living in Limerick and work as an engineer for a medical device manufacturer.

I aim to save €300 to €400 per month, as well as adding €75 to my pension fund. The pension payment is consistent as it is deducted at source, however sometimes I fall short of my savings target depending on what crops up that month. I aim to travel late next year and would like to have as much money as possible saved up before going.

My girlfriend lives in Dublin so I spend a lot of time travelling up and down at weekends, as well as visiting family and friends at home in Galway. I play rugby for a local club in Limerick, normally training twice per week with matches on Saturdays.

In my spare time, I go to the gym and travel to watch rugby matches when I can. I’m also studying for a masters part-time in the evenings, so all of this results in a fairly packed schedule alongside my job, which takes up 45-50 hours per week on average.

Occupation: Engineer
Age: 23
Location: Limerick
Salary: €37,500
Monthly pay (net): €2,455

Monthly expenses

Transport: €558 (including annual expenses averaged across 12 months)
-Car loan (€245)
-Insurance (€102)
-Tax (€14)
-NCT (€5)
-Petrol (€160)
-Servicing costs (€17)
-Tolls (€15)
Rent: €360 (includes heat and electricity)
Household bills: €25 (TV, internet, bins)
Phone credit: €20
Groceries: €160
Subscriptions: €25 (Spotify, Audible, Ultimate Rugby, iCloud)
Contact lenses: €25
Credit card bill: €95
Health insurance: €0 (company-funded)
Gym membership: €0 (company-funded)

***

Monday

6:15am: I commute from Galway to Limerick this morning as I was home for the weekend visiting family and friends. The drive takes an hour and twenty minutes and I head straight into work.

10:00am: After a frustrating morning in work, I head to break my fast. We have a subsidised canteen at work, and I choose two eggs, one sausage and an americano for €2.45.

1:15pm: I head down to the canteen again for lunch after our project meetings. I brought some leftover chicken, chickpeas and pasta from Sunday’s dinner, as well as picking up a free apple from the fruit bowl. We receive free fruit three times per week as part of the company’s healthy eating initiative. I again grab my usual americano from the machine to complete today’s lunch for €1.

5:15pm: I leave work and head to the physiotherapist. I’m currently suffering from an injury sustained in a rugby match a few weeks ago, leaving me sidelined since early November. This treatment costed €55 per session but I can claim €30 of it back from my insurance (€25). This is my last physio session, thankfully.

6:00pm: I get called back into work to resolve a minor issue – this doesn’t take too long.

6:30pm: I head to Dunnes Stores to do the weekly shop. I normally shop in Lidl as it is cheaper but for a change I decide on Dunnes. I have a few groceries in the house already so the total comes to €21.50 and this should do me until Friday.

8:00pm: After cooking some meals for the week ahead and eating dinner, I head back into work to finish an assignment due for my masters. I find it easier to do college work in the office and it’s only a 5-minute drive from home with no traffic. I also get the benefit of having two monitors in front of me which makes it much easier to work versus my laptop alone. My assignment is due at 11:59pm and I have a lot to do.

11:45pm: I get it done. I then head home and straight to bed.

Today's total: €49.95

Tuesday

7:20am: I get up feeling tired after a late one doing college work last night. I shower, grab my lunch from the fridge and head out to the car. The car temperature reads -2C and the windscreen is frozen. I go back in to get water and defrost it before heading on my way.

9:30am: Another busy morning in work, but I get down for breakfast soon after the morning meetings. I choose two boiled eggs, a slice of soda bread with butter and an americano for €2.30.

1:00pm: I finish off some purchase orders for work and complete some online regulatory training before heading down to the canteen once more. I have some of last night’s stir fry for lunch, which I heat up in the microwave. I end up buying coffee for myself and a colleague (€2) before heading back to work. Our coffee machine is very good, so I really don’t mind paying €1 a couple of times a day. We also have cheaper instant coffee for €0.15, but it tastes like tar.

5:15pm: I head home from work, make myself a tuna melt on brown toast and do some laundry. I then get changed and head to the gym.

7:00pm: My injury has improved a lot, so I feel great after an hour of weights and some cardio. I head home and pop one of the meals I made on Monday into the microwave. After eating that and ironing some shirts for work, I head upstairs to shower and listen to music on Spotify before bed.

9:00pm: I open up my laptop and decide to get some Christmas shopping done from bed. I pick up a few presents for my girlfriend (€63.98) as Cyber Monday has seemed to spill out to Cyber Week on many sites. I end up getting some decent discounts.  

11:00pm: After a few YouTube videos, it’s lights out.

Today's total: €68.28

Wednesday

7:40am: I sleep in by 20 minutes and feel as if I am coming down with something. My throat is sore and I have a headache. I force myself up out of bed to shower and then make my way to work.

9:10am: I head to the canteen to try and pick myself up a bit. I get almost the same as yesterday: two boiled eggs, a slice of soda bread with butter, a sausage and an americano for €2.95.

12:45pm: After a relatively productive morning I go to the canteen for lunch, again having brought my lunch with me from home. I grab my second coffee of the day for €1 as usual. I’m feeling much better than I was this morning, so hopefully I’ve gotten away without getting a cold or flu.

4:30pm: An issue crops up in our department, so I am forced to stay on to investigate.

8:15pm: The issue doesn’t go away, and it ends up being a very late evening. I put a temporary fix in place and eventually get out the door. 

8:30pm: I collect my housemate from college as he is in the library studying for exams. We stop in Centra - I grab a can of 7UP Free and a Dairy Milk for €2.50.

9:00pm: I cook up a few portions of spaghetti bolognese and head to get ready for bed after a quick bite. I Skype call my girlfriend for a half hour.

10:30pm: Straight to sleep.

Today's total: €6.45

Thursday

7:20am: Up again to tackle the day. I get to work on time and fill the team in on the previous night’s issues.

9:30am: Breakfast time – eggs and soda bread with butter and an americano for €2.30.

1:00pm: At lunch, I have some of last night’s bolognese and get another americano for €1.

5:00pm: I get home and do some laundry, before changing and heading to the gym. A good 40 minutes of weights and cardio is well needed. It helps clear my head.

8:00pm: When I get home, one of my housemates suggests getting a burrito in town. I have food in the fridge, but I cave in – I put my extra meal into the freezer instead. A burrito bowl and drink sets me back €7.50, which is decent considering the size of the portion. The Thursday night burrito is a fairly usual occurrence, I must admit.

9:30pm: I chill out in front of the TV for a while and then head up to bed… long week nearly over.

Today’s total: €10.75

Friday

7:15am: Friday finally! Up and shower and in to work for 7:45am.

9:00am: Breakfast is the usual eggs, soda bread, butter and americano. I get an extra egg today so it's €2.85 in total. 

12:45am: I manage to knock out most of my Friday work early and head for lunch. No packed lunch with me today, so as a treat I get fish and chips with peas from the canteen for €5.90.

2:00pm: Having done lots of extra hours during the week I decide to head away from work early. I don’t get paid extra for overtime, however it is necessary to do some on most weeks due to the demands of the job. I do take back some of the hours on occasion, however this is unofficial. I decide to go for a haircut for €19.

2:30pm: I head to Dunnes Stores to pick up a few bits, including a new belt, razor blades and a few beers. It’s our Christmas work party tonight so I’m in good form. I have a voucher for Dunnes Stores so this luckily sets me back nothing.

3:00pm: I head home and change quickly before heading for a quick 30 minutes in the gym.

4:00pm: I get home once more and grab a sandwich and get ready for the night ahead.

5:00pm: Taxi called, I head into town to meet my colleagues.

3:00am: After a great night I finally get home. Checking the damage the next day, I didn’t do too badly. The meal and most of my drinks were taken care of by the company, but I still paid for two taxis and a couple of rounds of drinks later on in the night, as well as entry to the nightclub. The night came to €55.

Today’s total: €82.75

Saturday

12:00pm: The hangover is in full swing, so I get up to very little besides watching the Heineken Cup with my girlfriend who is visiting me for the weekend.

7:00pm: She treats me to a takeaway from the local chipper to try and cure me … definitely helps the pain!

10:30pm: After a very chill day recovering, lights out early. Glad not to be out on the town again!

Today’s total: €0

Sunday

10:00am: Feeling much fresher, I go to a local restaurant with my girlfriend for breakfast. I get a full Irish and an americano. She picks up the bill for both of us. Next weekend is my turn to buy the food. We normally alternate rather than going to the hassle of splitting bills.

12:00pm: We head to a local shopping centre to do some Christmas shopping, but I don’t get anything as I have most of it done already.

2:00pm: We head home and relax for the afternoon, before I drop her to the bus stop to head back to Dublin.

6:00pm: I head to Dunnes and do the weekly shop, which comes to €29.25, but again this is covered by the voucher I had.

10:00pm: After making and eating dinner, it’s time for bed.

Today’s total: €0

Weekly subtotal: €218.18

***

What I learned:

Granted this week is on the more expensive side due to the likes of the physio appointment, the Christmas shopping and Christmas party, however is there really such thing as a typical week? Some key takeaways:

  • When I took the loan out for the car initially, I was living at home and found the expense more manageable. I also never expected to be doing as much mileage, so my petrol costs are way higher than I had originally planned. Between driving home, visiting my girlfriend in Dublin and driving to away rugby matches the miles add up quickly. I tend to be on the road 6 out of 7 weekends. I understand that my travel costs are very high in relation to my take-home pay (25%), so this is something I am going to try and reduce going forward as it is not sustainable.
  • My coffee cost is up around €10-12 per week which although is not huge day-to-day is still over €500 per year. I really enjoy my coffee though, so I don’t plan on giving it up.
  • Some things are unavoidable, such as having to pay for physiotherapy – however I am lucky in having company health insurance cover part of the expense.
  • I’m lucky to not have to pay for gym membership as this is also covered by my employer, as this would be another significant expense.
  • I make good savings by making my lunch and dinner at home most days – I could probably increase this in an effort to save more. My breakfast costs in work are low also, so not too concerned there.
  • I tend to have one night-out per week, and at 23 I’m happy to allocate around €50 to it per week, as I won’t always have the freedom to do so.
  • I think I will be able to save enough money to go abroad if I can continue my progress of €300-400 per month in savings. I am also happy with my pension which I have started building at what is a young age. I hope you enjoyed my money diary!

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