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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 27 January, 2020
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How I Spend My Money: A 29-year-old engineer on €42,000 getting ready for Christmas

The Dublin engineer is trying to curb spending at Christmas as she saves for a mortgage.

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. 

You can read all the previous diaries here. Today, a 29-year-old engineer on €42,000 walks us through her week earlier this month as she saves for a mortgage and gets ready for Christmas. 

image I’m currently renting in a house share in Dublin with my boyfriend, our dog and a housemate. We're saving for a house and hope to buy in the next year or two.

I save a set amount every month via a direct debit and should have plenty of disposable income left over but seem to struggle at the end of every month due to weddings, vet fees and too much alcohol, probably.

Occupation: Engineer
Age: 29
Location: Dublin
Salary: €42,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,619

Monthly expenses

Transport: €30 (I cycle to work but this covers the odd bus/Luas journey and my small share of car insurance as a named driver on my boyfriend’s car)
Rent: €540
Household bills: €70
Phone bill: paid for by work
Health insurance: None
Groceries: €100 (my half of groceries split with boyfriend)
Pet costs: €40 (my half of food and pet insurance)
Student loan repayment: (Masters and a further post-graduate course): €220
Savings (direct debit): €400
Podcast subscription: €5

***

Monday

10:00am: Today wasn’t a normal Monday as I was away for the weekend with my boyfriend in the west of Ireland. We get up and pack our stuff, leaving the holiday home around 12 noon to drive back to Dublin.

1:00pm: We stop to visit a friend who lives in the west for lunch on the way home.

4:00pm: After another hour or so, we stop again in the trusty Barack Obama Plaza to break the journey. I get a coffee (in my travel mug) and chocolate bar for €3.80.

8:00pm: We pick our dog up from the boarding place that evening when we get back. It costs €95 for three nights which we split so my share comes to €47.50.

9:00pm: We cave and get a takeaway when we get home (€15 each including a tip for the delivery driver). I walk to Lidl to pick up groceries for the week while we wait for the takeaway. The groceries come to €33. I usually try to buy all my fruit and veg loose in our local greengrocer but they were closed at this time so I buy as much loose produce in Lidl as I can. I owe my boyfriend for petrol from the trip, which was €15 each (there were four of us on the trip) so we call it even for the groceries I bought.

11:00pm: After a lovely takeaway, we chill out on the sofa with the dog and then head to bed.

Today's total: €99.30

Tuesday

7:30am: I get up at and get ready for work. I make my lunch and grab some porridge before cycling to work.

8:30am: I'm in work and I make a cup of coffee before starting for the day.

11:00am: I have a banana from the free fruit supply in the office and make another cup of coffee. 

1:00pm: It's lunch time and I have the sandwich and salad I brought in. I'm back at my desk for 1:30pm.

3:00pm: I have a few biscuits from the office stash for a sugar boost along with a cup of tea and then get back to work for the evening.

6:10pm: Work is done for the day and I cycle home for 6:30pm. I love being able to cycle to work and really enjoy the 20-minutes of exercise every morning and evening.

6:45pm: I bring the dog for a walk for 45 minutes when I get home.

7:30pm: My boyfriend is out to meet a friend for a few drinks this evening so I make a big batch of veggie curry for dinner and soup for lunch for the rest of the week with groceries bought from yesterday. 

9:30pm: By the time the dishes are washed and everything is done, I chill on the couch with the dog and decide to do the first of my Christmas shopping online. I find a lovely independent shop on Etsy and buy small gifts for three people  for €48.

11:00pm: My boyfriend comes home and I chat to him for a while before heading to bed around 11:30pm.

Today's total: €48

Wednesday

8:00am: My alarm goes off and I get up and get ready for work. I make some lunch and have breakfast and I'm out the door by 8:40am.

9:00am: I'm visiting a work site this morning so I cycle the 20 minutes along a nice scenic route and it's a lovely morning so I really enjoy the spin. 

12:30am: I finish my site visit and have a banana that I’d brought with me before cycling back to the office.

1:00pm: I get back to the office and heat up the soup I made for lunch, which I have along with a sandwich I brought in. I make a coffee and take it back to my desk to work for the afternoon.

4:00pm: I have more biscuits from the office supply with a cup of tea.

5:45pm: I pack up and head home on my bike.

6:30pm: Once I'm home, I bring the dog for a walk (my boyfriend has brought him out in the morning for the past two days) and phone an acquaintance who is helping me to organise an event for the charity I’m involved in.

7:15pm: I get home and my boyfriend is home before me and has made rice to go along with the leftover curry from yesterday. He has eaten and heads off to play astro with his friends. I eat dinner and do some housework, partly because the house needs it but also as I am expecting my mother to call in!

9:00pm: I finally make a cup of tea and sit down, and even though my mam phoned to say she couldn’t make it after all, it feels good to have a clean house. I do some more online shopping for Christmas presents, I felt inspired after last night’s success. My boyfriend watches TV beside me on the couch.

11:30pm: After futile browsing and racking my brains trying to think of what to get certain people, I only buy two gifts, again from small Irish companies (€49.50) and some arts and crafts supplies for myself to make some decorations for Christmas (€11.50). I close the laptop and head to bed.

Today's total: €61

Thursday

7:30am: I am on the morning shift today so I get up and bring the dog for a walk.

8:30am: I get organised, eat breakfast and grab lunch from the fridge.

9:00am: I leave for work on my bike and stop into a pet shop (first customer of the day!) to buy poo bags (the glamour) and a flashing light for the dog (€11).

9:30am: I make a coffee in work when I get in around 9:30am. Our office has flexible start time which is very handy.

11:30am: I have a banana from the free office fruit pile to get me through until lunch.

1:00pm: I wolf down lunch at my desk (the last of the curry from Tuesday night with rice from last night) before going to a shop near my office to pick up Christmas cards. I buy a gift for a friend too, flying through the Christmas shopping this week! (€22).

6:00pm: I leave work and I'm home by 6:30pm. 

6:45pm: I bring the dog for a walk again while my boyfriend makes veggie lasagne for dinner. We are not vegetarians but try to only buy good quality Irish meat once or twice a week from our local butcher. My boyfriend is the better cook so he does more of the cooking.

8:30pm: My parents call in to drop something off and catch up. I make my mam a G&T and a cup of tea for my Dad (the driver) and I have a bottle of beer. They leave around 10:00pm.

11:00pm: I waste time on my phone for a while before heading to bed.

Today's total: €33 

Friday

7:30am: I get up and bring the dog for a run. I usually try to go running with him twice or three times a week but I've been lazy for the past few weeks as cold wet mornings are not enticing for running.

8:15am: I get showered, make lunch, eat porridge and get out the door by 8:45am.

9:00am: I make some coffee and get started on work for the day. 

11:00am: I have a banana from the office supply (yes, I’m a creature of habit).

1:00pm: For lunch I eat the last of the soup from Tuesday evening with a sandwich I made at home. 

5:30pm: I leave work for the weekend and get home for

6:00pm. We eat leftover lasagne for dinner and my boyfriend walks the dog. 

7:00pm: We get the Luas into town (€2.40) and meet friends for a few pints. The four of us buy a round each and we're all on Guinness so it works out as €20.80 each. 

11:30pm: We have a quiet one and get the Luas home (€2.40). I eat some toast before bed.

Today's total: €25.60

Saturday

9:00am: I'm woken by the dog downstairs so get up and chill out on the couch with him with a cup of tea.

11:00am: My boyfriend and I head out and bring the dog for a long walk together. We stop on the way back in a lovely local cafe for coffee and a sandwich (€7.50). 

2:00pm: We get home and I do a few hours of housework and some work on the laptop for the charity I'm involved with.

5:00pm: I run to the grocery shop and butcher around the corner and buy a few things for dinner and for the week (my half comes to €16.20). My boyfriend makes meatballs for dinner which are delicious. 

8:00pm: I cycle to a friend’s house to catch up with a few friends. Some people are driving and others are hungover from yesterday so we just have tea and biscuits and catch up, it’s been a while since we all met up last.

10:30pm: I get home and my boyfriend is still out with his friends, after going out to watch a football match with them earlier. I read my book for a while before heading to bed at  midnight. 

Today's total: €23.70

Sunday

10:30am: My boyfriend got up earlier to let the dog out so I have a lie-in today. I have muesli and tea for breakfast and we lounge around listening to music for a few hours.

1:00pm: I head out in the car to buy a Christmas tree. I buy one for €45 (€22.50 each) and put €40 petrol into the car while I'm out (my boyfriend and I take turns filling up the car, we don’t keep track but it usually balances out). I get back and spend the afternoon decorating the tree and tidying the house.

5:00pm: We head to my boyfriend's parents' house for a lovely dinner.

9:00pm: We get home and spend the rest of the night watching a film before bed.

Today's total: €62.50

Weekly subtotal: €353.10 

***

What I learned:

  • I'm quite good at sticking to a routine of making healthy meals and bringing my lunch during the week. I could have had a few no-spend days this week if it wasn't December/Christmas time, which significantly increased my spending this week.
  • We could both probably do with having less pints and fancy coffee but life is short, and we enjoy our lifestyle while we have no other responsibilities.
  • I spend a lot using my card and should probably take out cash more, if my bank statements are going to be scrutinised when I go for a mortgage next year. 

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