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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 16 December, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: A 30-year-old software developer on €77,000 who invests €2,000 a month

The young software developer moved from Dublin to Berlin earlier this year

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 26-year-old banker who owns two properties in Munster walked us through his week. Today, a 30-year-old software developer on €77,000 writes how he balances an active social life with saving and investments.

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I’m a 30-year-old software developer from Dublin but living in Berlin. I moved here with my girlfriend in February with the idea mostly to experience a new city and to improve our quality of life. Although we both earn less than we did in Dublin, we’re able to live together in a non-shared apartment and save more each month. We split all bills, rent and groceries equally which is reflected in the numbers I list below.

I think I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to money and as soon as I get paid I move 2,000 to an investment account where I invest it in ETFs - which is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, much like stocks. I've been doing this since January 2017 and I try to keep my investments diversified. I don’t consider this money touchable, but I do have a regular savings account where I keep some savings accessible just in case. I’ve no plans for the money at the minute and no real interest in owning property right now.

In the evenings or weekends you’ll generally find me at a gig or catching up with friends over a drink. There’s plenty to do in the city, so we try to make the most of it when we can, visiting markets, festivals and whatever else we stumble across.

Occupation: Software Engineer
Age: 30
Location: Berlin, Germany
Salary: €77,250
Monthly pay (net): €3,700

Monthly expenses

Transport: €49.25 (with subsidy from work)
Rent: €456.67
Electricity: €39.50 (my half of €79)
Broadcasting license: €8.75 (my half of €17.50)
Internet: €7.50 (my half of €14.99)
Phone bill: €20 (still using my Irish number - it’s cheaper!)
Health insurance: Included in income tax
Groceries: €75 (my half of about €150 - we don't have a dishwasher but washing up liquid is included here)
Spotify: €9.99

***

Monday

8:30am: I’m up, showered and ready to leave the apartment by 8:50am. I have a couple of options to get to work - the bus and train or two trains, but it’s always about 40 minutes door-to-door and my monthly ticket covers all transport in the 'AB' (central) area. The bus arrives as I walk past the stop so I jump on, catch up on the news on the journey and arrive at the office at 9:35am. I have flexible hours, but need to be in the office by 10:45am at the latest for our daily meeting.

10:00am: I have my first coffee of the day with some guys on my team. It's free in the kitchen and usually it's not awful. I’m not one for breakfast during the week, so lunch is usually my first meal of the day.

1:00pm: Lunch today is a moussaka and salad that my girlfriend made for dinner last night. I eat at my desk and keep working through.

6:40pm: I head for the train and make my way home.

7:30pm: After some train cancellations and delays I make it home to have dinner with my girlfriend, who dropped into the supermarket on her way home - my half of which comes to €5.50. She's made herself something comforting as she's not feeling the best, and I finish off the moussaka and salad. 

8:15pm: I make herself a hot whiskey which she takes into the bath to relax with while I have a quiet night with my kindle and order lunch for tomorrow before heading to bed.

Today's total: €5.50

Tuesday

9:30am: Showered and out the door, I head to get the train to work since the bus is less frequent this late.

10:20am: I'm at my desk after grabbing some coffee on the way from the kitchen.

1:30pm: I pick up the lunch I ordered last night a bit later than planned since a meeting ran over. Lunch is subsidised by the company so the cost to me is €3.30. Today I got a lentil lime rice bowl with chicken. Since everyone else has already finished theirs, I have it at my desk again and work through.

5:30pm: One of the guys runs to the shop to grab some beers. He owes us from last week when he had no cash in the pub, so no cost here. 

6:20pm: We decide one wasn't enough so I run out to pick up a few more to have at the office - my share of which comes to €3.40 - and we finish out the day with two more each.

8:15pm: A post-beer falafel beside the office costs €4.30 and I head to get the train.

9:30pm: I watch the latest episode of Last Week Tonight while setting up the couch and blow-up bed for some friends from Ireland who'll be staying with us tomorrow night.

10:00pm: I order tomorrow's lunch and head to bed.

Today's total: €11

Wednesday

9:00am: I cancel my lunch order and decide to work from home for the day. I make some coffee and start back into what I had been working on yesterday.

1:40pm: I head out for a quick run before taking a shower and making some lunch from whatever we have in the fridge.

5:00pm: I get a call from a friend asking for some help carrying boxes up to his new apartment (which is directly across the road from me), so I head over to help him out. I get there to the news that his place is on the 4th floor with no lift but thankfully I just missed getting lumped with the washing machine run. Afterwards we grab some Thai food together, but he pays for mine (€6.50) as a thank you.

8:00pm: My friends who are in town tonight are here to play a gig, so I make my way over to the venue. We head to a bar after and I end up with a €25 shaped hole in my pocket. I'm not usually one for hangovers, so I'm hoping tomorrow won't be too bad. 

3:30am: The lads have Berlin kebab on the brain, so I oblige and we stop off on the way home. They pick up the tab for mine and I show them their beds for the night.

Today's total: €25

Thursday

9:15am: We have a team event day today and we're meeting at a paintballing venue at 10:30am so I head for the train.

1:30pm: After two hours of paintballing, we're ready for some lunch on the company. I get a schnitzel and a beer. Two hours later - thanks to German service - we're done, but five of us fancy continuing on for a few more beers and head somewhere nearby. We have four rounds which costs me €12.

7:30pm: I pick up a few bits on my way home at the supermarket (€3.46) and make some pasta for dinner. 

9:15pm: That's enough for one day, we head to bed early.

Today's total: €15.46

Friday

10:00am: I have a late start today, but I'm out the door and on my way to the office.

11:00am: I missed the daily meeting, but no one seems to have noticed.

1:45pm: I forgot to order the company lunch today, so I head out and treat myself to a pizza across the road. The company has a discount with this place so it comes to €6.

2:20pm: I'm back at the office. Friday is usually a handy day for us and beers get delivered to our desks around 4:00pm. I grab a Club Mate from the fridge on the way to my desk as I slowly become more and more German.

7:10pm: I had arranged to meet some friends after my tech meetup, but since I ended up working late and missed that, I head to meet my friends early after helping myself to three free beers at the office. My girlfriend picks up some bread, shampoo and a few other bits while I'm out. We use an app called Splitwise to manage the splitting of bills and stuff like this so I get a notification on my phone. My half comes to €9.

1:00am: I decide not to head to a club with some friends, but stay for another drink with the two others who didn't head either. The night’s drinking comes to €25. I spot a decent-looking burger place on my way to the bus and knock in. I have a bad habit of skipping dinner on a Friday night and heading for beers right after work, combine that with skipping breakfast and I really hope my Mam doesn't figure out who this is! Burger and chips sets me back €8.50.

3:40am: From here it's two buses home, and they run less frequently at this time so I get the first bus as close to our house as possible and then walk the remaining half an hour home since the second bus isn't for another 25 minutes.

Today's total: €48.50

Saturday

12:00pm: I have a much appreciated lie-in today. We get up and my girlfriend makes some eggs and toast - she gives me the runnier egg because this is true love. I promise to make a nice soup for us later on since I've been MIA most of this week.

2:00pm: She heads off to some vintage shops with her friends and I spend some time strumming away on my guitar.

4:00pm: I throw on a clothes wash and head out to the supermarket to pick up some bits (€14.95). On the way home I take out some cash, since I've run out and nowhere in Berlin takes card. I usually take out €150-200 at a time because the ATMs charge a fee and it's a real sore point, adding another €3.95 to today's total.

5:30pm: Back from the shop, I get started on the soup - making enough to get us through the winter - which we then eat together when my girlfriend gets home.

7:30pm: I decide to finally renew my passport which expires next May. I get the passport as well as the passport card so it costs €105. While I'm spending I decide to also book bus tickets for the two of us to visit a friend in Dresden next weekend which cost €16.30 per return seat. We'll stay at our friend's place, so no other costs there.

8:30pm: Thankfully everyone is on the same page about going out again tonight, so we cancel plans to go to a Halloween cover band gig. Instead I finally cave and buy a pair of Bluetooth earphones for my phone, since I lost the pair I'd been using along with the 3.5mm to USB-C converter. They're €79.99 but I used a voucher I got from the recruiter who got me my current job for passing my probation period.

Today's total: €140.20

Sunday

11:00am: I get up, shower and grind some coffee beans in preparation for the weekly Sunday video call catch up with the mammy. Afterwards I make some scrambled eggs and toast for me and my girlfriend.

12:30pm: I get started into the barmbrack I’ve decided to take a stab at, having soaked the fruit in tea and whiskey overnight already, giving the kitchen a bit of a tidy up as I go.

3:20pm: We heat up some of soup mountain to have for lunch.

5:00pm: We sit down to a slice of brack and a cup of Lyons. Berlin winter is rearing its head. I consider leaving the house for a walk or to read my Kindle in a cafe or bar to get out of the house, but this is the first weekend in a long time we’ve had the opportunity to do nothing, so the thought quickly passes. I make myself useful by moving some of the soup into lunchboxes and freezing it.

7:00pm: We’d usually try and get out for dinner together once a week, but this week since my girlfriend has been sick, we decide some brack and a simple rice salad will do us fine. I spend the evening listening to some podcasts with a glass of Lagavulin before bed.

Today's total: €0

Weekly subtotal: €245.66

***

What I learned:

  • Without the passport renewal, €140 in a week sounds about right for what I expected.
  • We usually cook more at home, this week hasn't been a great week for the nutrition.
  • My pension is being neglected. Though I did pay into one when I lived in Ireland, I’m a bit unsure of what to do with it since I may not end up staying in Berlin long term. I need to do some research on if it's possible to pay into an Irish pension from here and avail of the company's contributions on top of my own.
  • I’m on the sauce three-to-four times a week most weeks. It’s the easiest way to meet people in a new city, but I have made efforts to get the different groups of friends I’ve met to go out together so I can keep in touch with people but not devote a day of drinking to each group. I've also made more of an effort to meet people for non-alcohol related things like lunch, dinner or the cinema.
  • I could probably save another €4-500 a month, but I keep that money in my current account and use it for irregular purchases like the passport renewal, travel, etc. So I never end up taking money out of my savings account. If the money builds up, I usually throw a lump sum into my investments.
  • I don't think I take the money I’m lucky enough to have for granted, let's see what the comment section holds for me...

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