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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 11 November, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: A 24-year-old software developer in Limerick on €35,000

The 24-year-old is adjusting to life in Limerick after completing his masters in Dublin.

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 solicitor from Wexford on €22,000 walked us through her week. Today, a 24-year-old software developer in Limerick on €35,000 writes how he tries to balance saving with an active social life.

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I'm 24 and I live in Limerick where I have been working as a software developer for the past six months. I was initially reluctant to take up a job outside of Dublin after completing my masters but the quality of life and cost of living in Limerick is much better.

I live in a shared house with my boyfriend and three lads from college.

Our total rent is €1,650 - which isn't expensive when we divide it between us - so this allows me to be more relaxed with my spending.

I’m currently saving about €600 a month and I'm hoping to put it towards a new car or eventually towards a house deposit.

I also have high hopes of being able to quit work and go travelling in a few years but I can't motivate myself to save enough!

Occupation: Software Developer
Age: 24
Location: Limerick
Salary: €35,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,261

Monthly expenses;

Transport: Petrol €140, tolls €60
Rent: €225 (half of an ensuite double bedroom in a four-bed house)
Household bills: €51
Phone bill: €15
Health insurance: Covered by my employer
Groceries: €115
Subscriptions: Netflix €7.99
Apple Music: €4.99 (I haven’t been kicked off the student plan yet!)

Monday

8:15am: I get up, shower and have a quick breakfast before leaving the house at 8:45am. I usually drive to work and this morning traffic is heavy so I take the M18 tunnel and pay the toll (€1.90). I can rarely bring myself to get up early enough to take the long route to work.

9:10am: After a 20-minute drive, I arrive at work just after 9am which isn’t bad for a Monday.

10:30am: I have a mandatory mid-morning tea break and I grab some free fruit on the way back to my desk which will tide me over until lunch.

12:30pm: It's eventually lunch time and I make use of the subsidised canteen at work and go for a chicken tikka wrap (€4.60). It’s a bit overpriced for what it is but the portions are large and the service is fast.

1:30pm: I head back to work for the afternoon slog and I have a few meetings so hopefully they will break up the afternoon.

3:00pm: I grab a quick tea break with my team.

4:00pm: As I walk to my final meeting of the day, I pass by the canteen and grab some more free fruit. I’d be spending way too much on snacks if it wasn’t for the free fruit basket.

5:15pm: I pack it in for the day and stop by Lidl to pick up a few bits for tonight’s dinner. I'm surprised by how expensive it is for two breasts of organic chicken and some trimmings (€27.13).

5:40pm: I'm feeling tired and Google maps says there's a lot of traffic in the city centre so I take the M18 toll again (€1.90). Having a toll tag definitely makes you forget how much you’re actually spending.

6:10pm: I get home and do some housework before getting ready for tag rugby with some people at work at 7:30pm. I bust up my ankle during the match so I buy a pack of Panadol on the way home (€1.95).

9:00pm: I'm back home and I cook a quick dinner and then settle down for the evening with some Netflix.

10:30pm: I'm trying to get my sleep schedule back on track after the weekend so I turn in a bit earlier than usual.

Today's total: €37.48

Tuesday

8:00am: I have meetings this morning so I'm up early.

8:20am: I grab a small breakfast of porridge and fruit on my way out the door. Traffic is much heavier this morning so again I take the M18 toll (€1.90) and make it to work just before 9:00am.

10:00am: I know I’ll be out with friends later in the week so I resist the urge to go down for a cooked breakfast with my team after my meeting finishes up. It doesn't cost much but at least it will make me feel less guilty later on in the week.

12:00pm: I head to lunch early today and stock up at the canteen salad bar. A full plate weighs in at €3.57 which is much less than I anticipated. I make a mental note to visit the salad bar more frequently.

3:00pm: Another mandatory tea break - I promise I do actually do work!

3:30pm: It's a quiet afternoon so I put my head down and blaze through my work.

5:15pm: I finish up and decide to take the long way home and avoid the toll as I've no plans for the evening.

6:10pm: I arrive home and find my housemate is cooking dinner - it's great to not have to make anything!

8:20pm: My boyfriend is learning how to drive at the moment so I accompany him on a practice drive around the local industrial estate which includes a lot of dodgy three-point turns and stalling. We fill the tank on the way home which should last me for two weeks (€71.62).

9:40pm: We get home and settle in for the night.

Today's total: €77.09

Wednesday

7:30am: I get up early today so that I can head to the gym before work starts. I'm lucky that there are gym facilities at work otherwise I doubt I'd ever go if I had to pay for a membership. I grab some fruit and I'm out the door by 7:50am. I pass through the toll on my way to work (€1.90)

8:55am: I finish up in the gym, have a shower and then start work for the day.

9:30am: I'm beginning to regret the lack of a proper breakfast now so I cave and head down for a cooked breakfast in the canteen (€2.55).

12:45pm: It's lunch time and I'm back in the canteen again. I get a big plate of salad and check out for a measly €3.87. This salad bar could become my new favorite thing.

1:45pm: I head back to my desk and start the afternoon slog.

5:30pm: I leave work and pay the toll again (€1.90).

6:10pm: I’ve been invited out for dinner and pints with friends this evening so I drop the car at home and get a lift into town with my housemate. I'm counting my blessings that I don’t have to wait for the local Bus Éireann to not turn up on time.

9:45pm: After a very leisurely dinner and post-dinner pints (€35), I make my way home. Luckily I’m just in time for the last bus which saves me the cost of a taxi (€1.98).

10:35pm: Against my better judgement, I settle down on the sofa for a quick hour on the Xbox before heading to bed.

Today's total: €47.20

Thursday

8:30am: I wake up slightly later today and I'm running late so I hop in the shower and head out to work. I make the daily toll journey once again (€1.90).

9:20am: I arrive into work a bit later than I intended and head to my first meeting of the day.

10:25am: I head down for breakfast in the canteen but I'm trying to be healthy so I stray away from the hot counter and go for porridge (€1.25). I head back to work fairly pronto for the remainder of the morning.

1:30pm: I take my lunch break later than usual so the salad bar has been depleted and I choose a wrap instead (€4.60).

2:30pm: I get back to work and put my head down as I'm hoping to leave early today.

4:00pm: I'm invited out for a Starbucks run by my manager in lieu of a mid-afternoon tea break and I take up the offer. I resign myself to not going home early. In Starbucks I treat myself to an incredibly overpriced caramel coffee (€4.10).

4:45pm: Back in the office again, feeling like I’ve done very little work today!

6:15pm: With energy levels waning I finally close up for the day and head home. Luckily traffic has died down so I take the long route through the city to avoid the toll.

7:00pm: I arrive home to find my boyfriend cooking dinner - a very welcome surprise!

8:00pm: After dinner we settle in for a night on the sofa with some movies.

11:00pm: Lights out.

Today's total: €11.85

Friday

8:15am: I'm up and out the door quickly this morning. I pass the toll on my way to work (€1.90).

9:00am: I arrive in work bang on time so hopefully it'll be a relaxed end to the week.

12:00pm: Lunch time - luckily I had the foresight to box up some of the leftovers from last night’s dinner and bring them with me today. I tuck in, feeling good about myself for not dropping another fiver on canteen food.

1:30pm: I head back to work after taking a long Friday lunch.

3:00pm: You probably know the drill by now - 3:00pm means tea break.

4:45pm: Just as I’m closing up for the day I’m invited out by some work friends to a leaving party for one of our colleagues later in the evening. Although my wallet probably doesn’t agree with me I conclude it would be good for me to get out of the house for the evening.

5:25pm: I take the toll home (€1.90) and catch up on a few errands before heading back into town to the party for 7:30pm. The customary BYOB slab sets me back €12.

9:30pm: After drinking for a while at the house, we get a bus into town (€1.98). Once we make it to the pub a series of rounds ensues. Unfortunately it’s quite a large group so I drop €63 once my round hits.

12:15am: The remaining 11 stumble towards the nearest late bar. A few drinks for myself and rounds over the next few hours set me back €40.95.

4:10am: I grab a McDonald's and a taxi home which comes to €37.10.

Today's total: €158.83

Saturday

11:30am: I get up late today and cobble together a breakfast and watch some TV.

3:30pm: I eventually drag myself off the sofa and head down to the local leisure centre for a swim. I use my old student card to get the student rate admission (€2.80). I don’t know how long I’ll be able to pull this off but I haven’t been called on it yet.

5:50pm: I get back from the pool and spend a few hours doing some chores and watching TV.

8:30pm: I resist the urge to order take-out and I scrape together a quick dinner.

12:00am: I head to bed.

Today's total: €2.80

Sunday

10:30am: I wake up refreshed this morning and head out for an early morning run.

11:30am: After my run I make some breakfast and get ready for the day.

2:30pm: Myself and my boyfriend head to the cinema to watch the Joker movie. A ticket and popcorn sets me back €14.

5:15pm: After the cinema, we decide to go to a Thai restaurant which sets me back €18.

7:00pm: We head home and wind down for the rest of the evening and prepare for the week ahead.

11:00pm: Lights out.

Today's total: €32

Weekly subtotal: €367.25

What I learned:

  • This week was especially busy so I spent a lot more than I usually would.
  • Nights out are my weakness! I can rarely bring myself to refuse a social occasion even though that’s where I spend most of my money.
  • I spend an awful lot more than I thought I did on food. I used to be good at preparing my own lunch at home and bringing it in to work but the work canteen has made me lazy.
  • The lack of reliable public transport makes it insanely difficult to cut back on transport spending, especially tolls. When I lived in Dublin there was always the option of buses but now I'm chained to cars and taxis. This is the only big downside I’ve found to living in Limerick.
  • I always justify my spending by telling myself that my rent is cheaper than average but think I’m beginning to stretch the limits of that excuse.
  • I need to cut back and save if I’m going to fulfill my travel goals anytime in the near future.

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