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How I Spend My Money: A Kilkenny farmer on €32,000 with six adult children who likes a quiet life

The mother-of-six is keeping a tight budget in order to put her children through college.

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 doctor in Galway wrote how he saves €2,000 a month by living at home with his parents. Today, a farmer and a mother-of-six walks us through her week which involves putting two children through college and paying off a mortgage. 

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I am a married mother of six grown children. Two of my children are settled abroad, two are working here in Ireland and the youngest two are in college. I like dogs, reading and eating out. I hate pubs and noisy crowds and I like a quiet life generally. My husband and I are currently saving for a trip to Australia next March to see our two sons and two granddaughters.

Occupation: Agricultural worker 
Age: 59
Location: Kilkenny 
Salary: €32,032
Monthly pay (net): €2,340. My husband also contributes €1,880 of his salary to our household expenses each month.

Monthly expenses 

Mortgage: €940
Life and mortgage insurance: €166
Credit Union: €1,200. This includes €400 for a car loan, €400 for a personal loan and €400 into a budget account which covers all major bills throughout the year such as the car tax, insurance and servicing, electricity, the TV licence and home heating fuel.
Transport: €120
Phone: €30
Groceries: €400
College fees: €460. I save this each month so I can pay the fees for my two children in September. 
Student rent: €712. I pay €300 a month to my sister-in-law for my son's rent as he lives on my brother's farm with my nephew. I also pay my daughter's rent which is €412 a month.

******

Monday

7:15am: I get up and make breakfast of tea, toast, poached egg and a banana. I let the dog out to run around for a while as I get ready for work.

7:45am: I drive to work. I could walk but I come home for lunch so it's easier to drive.

11:00am: I have a couple of pieces of fruit and a cup of tea.

1:30pm: I drive home for lunch and have a ham sandwich and a cup of tea. I prepare a chicken casserole in the slow cooker and par-boil the potatoes for dinner this evening before heading back to work.

5:00pm: I finish work, shower and go home.

6:00pm: I finish making the dinner, eat and then watch some TV for the evening.

10:00pm: I head to bed.

Today’s total: €0

Tuesday

7:15am: I get up and make my usual breakfast while the dog runs around outside.

7:45am: I drive to work.

11:00am: I take a quick break and have my usual fruit and tea.

1:30pm: I head home for lunch and have some more tea and a sandwich. I fry mince and vegetables in a tomato sauce for spaghetti bolognese this evening before heading back to work.

5:00pm: I finish work, take a shower and head home to finish making the dinner.

6:30pm: After dinner, I clean the house and then I relax for the evening by watching some TV.

10:00pm: I head to bed.

Today’s total: €0

Wednesday

7:15am: Same morning routine as usual and I'm out the door for work at 7:45am.

11:00am: I have some tea and fruit at work.

1:30pm: I head home for lunch and have some more tea and a sandwich. We're having a stir-fry for dinner tonight so there's no preparation required. I browse through my phone for the hour instead. 

5:00pm: Work is finished for the day so I shower and head home to make the dinner. I chop chicken for a stir-fry and I use ready prepared frozen vegetables and microwaveable rice with spices and soy sauce to save time and effort.

6:00pm: After dinner I watch TV for a few hours.

8:00pm: I head to the shop to buy the paper and decide to treat myself and my husband to a bar of chocolate. This comes to €7.30.

8:30pm: I read the paper over tea and chocolate before heading to bed for 10:30pm.

Today’s total: €7.30

Thursday

7:30am: I get up later than usual and have a rushed breakfast before heading to work for 8:00am. 

1:30pm: Work is busy today so I don't get a break until lunchtime. I have beans on toast at home for a change. I then start preparing dinner - today we're going to have turkey burgers, wedges and salad. 

5:00pm: I finish work, shower and head home to put the wedges in the oven and cook the burgers. 

6:30pm: After dinner, I do some tidying up and then watch some TV.

7:00pm: My daughter arrives home as she works with us on the farm on Fridays and the weekend. My son who is in college too rarely comes home as he has a job in Limerick where he studies so that he can support himself.

9:00pm: I head to Aldi for the weekly shop. It comes to €110 but I rarely have to top up during the week. Afterwards, I put €30 worth of diesel in the car, which is usually enough for the week unless an unexpected trip crops up.

11:00pm: I head to bed.

Today’s total: €140

Friday

7:15am: I get up and make poached eggs and avocado for breakfast. It is Friday!

7:50am: I get to work early and work until a break at 11:00am, when I have my tea, fruit and some crackers.

3:30pm: No lunch break today as we finish earlier on Fridays, hence the crackers at break, so I'm home by 3:30pm. I have a cup of tea and relax for an hour. 

5:00pm: My husband and I decide to go out for dinner. We go to a cafe where they know us so well they don’t even ask what we want. We have our usual - lamb chops, chips and tea for him and fish and chips and tea for me. This comes to €24.

Today’s total: €24

Saturday

8:30am: I get up and make a breakfast of brie, pate and toast with marmalade. I let the dog out and I'm at work for 9:15am. We work for two hours on the weekend mornings with flexible starting times.

11:30am: I shower and head home and make a fry for lunch. Afterwards, I do some housework and laundry before going into town for a browse around the shops.

2:00pm: I treat myself to a coffee and a cake for €6 and I pick up the newspaper (€2.20) for a read later.

6:00pm: I'm back home and start making the dinner.

8:00pm: I drop my husband to the pub and then read the paper with some tea and biscuits for the evening before bed.

Today’s total: €8.20

Sunday

9:00am: I get up and get ready for work for 10:00am.

12:00pm: I finish work and head home to make a roast chicken for dinner.

2:00pm: I go to the shop for the paper (€3.20), and treat myself to an ice cream for €1.80. The afternoon is spent reading and dozing in bed.

10:00pm: I head to bed and get ready to start all over again tomorrow.

Today’s total: €5

Weekly subtotal: €184.50

What I learned:

  • I am a very routine person, which I like but some may find boring.
  • I’m also good with money but as we are on a very tight budget at the moment, with the kids in college and a mortgage to be paid, I have to be.
  • However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In less than three years, college will be finished and the mortgage will be paid, so I fully intend to live it up then, with lots of travel planned!

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