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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: A 43-year-old Wexford solicitor on €22k whose rescue dogs changed her life

The solicitor works three days a week and volunteers at a free legal advice clinic in her 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 young engineer walked us through his week which involved going home to Offaly at weekends to work as a referee. This week, a solicitor on €22,000 from Wexford writes about her week.

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I’m a 43-year-old single solicitor living in Wexford town. I bought a house in 2004 on which I pay a mortgage. In 2015, I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and I'm currently on a hi-tech disease modifying treatment (DMT) shown to slow progression. I qualify for a Government scheme so I get this treatment for free.

I started my career as a legal secretary and I qualified as a solicitor at 35 - which was during the height of the recession. I eventually got contract work in Dublin, so I rented my house in Wexford and house-shared in Dublin. Working in Dublin was extremely high-pressured and stressful and I worked long hours. Now I work three days a week with a small firm in Wexford. The working hours are flexible and it’s a relaxed atmosphere which cancels out the reduced salary. 

I have two rescue dogs who have really helped me with my depression and have changed my life for the better in every way.

Occupation: Solicitor
Age: 43
Location: Wexford
Salary: €22,350 (€37,250 pro rata)
Monthly pay: €1,681.33

Monthly expenses

Transport: Car loan €216, car insurance €40, car tax €43, NCT and maintenance €21, petrol €86.
Mortgage: €715
Mortgage protection: €15
Home insurance: €25
Household bills: Property tax €20, ESB €47, bins €20, TV licence €13, oil €67, solid fuel €48.
Mobile phone bill: €20
Health insurance: None for me but I pay €28 per month for VHI for my parents - my siblings all contribute too.
Groceries: €250
Wi-fi: none (I use my phone as a hotspot)
Dogs: Fleas and worming €18.66, booster jabs €5, food and treats €35

Monday

8:00am: My alarm goes off and I get up and let the dogs out and feed them. I make some coffee, a green juice and lunch for later before getting ready for work. I can walk to work in 20 minutes but as the weather is particularly bad I drive in and pay €4 for parking.

9:00am: I swing by Daybreak for a small carton of milk for the office (89c) and the chemist for some headache tabs (€9). I get Solpadeine because I can’t take Nurofen with my medication and Panadol hasn't worked for the past three days. I used to get stress headaches every week but now it's only two or three times a year thankfully!

11:00am: I take a coffee break and have a banana and yoghurt drink that I brought from home.

1:00pm: At lunchtime I walk with a friend and we have a catch up. I’ve brought a salad into the office so I eat that with some crisps after. I tend to buy groceries in bulk once a week and batch cook every two/three days to save money on eating out.

6:00pm: I finish work and get home by 6:15pm. I let the dogs in, feed them and then make some dinner.

7:30pm: I take the dogs for a walk which I love doing except when it's raining. It's lovely to meet other dog owners out and about as we have something in common to chat about. It also keeps me focused that the dogs depend on me for their basic needs which helps me with my anxiety and depression. I have learned great patience and not to be so precious about material things (when you see your curtains shredded for the second time and all the corners chewed on your kitchen chairs it can be trying).

8:30pm: After the walk, I tidy up around the house. I put on a wash and wash the dishes (I don’t have a dishwasher so I don’t have the expense of tablets!).

10:00pm: I watch some TV before going to bed.

Today's total: €13.89

Tuesday

8:00am: I get up, feed the dogs and let them out. I fill up my car with petrol (€50 goes straight onto my credit card) and then decide to walk to work.

9:30am: I start work for the day, which I usually enjoy. Working in Dublin was so stressful as there was so much to learn and huge targets to be met. There are only two of us in the office here and we get on very well. Some days can be challenging but I enjoy the interaction with the public. I also volunteer with a free legal advice clinic locally which gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

6:00pm: After a busy day at work, I arrive home. As always the first thing I do is let the dogs in and feed them and then make dinner for myself.

7:00pm: Tonight I start a cross-stitch course in the local community centre. I like sewing and decided to take up something new to meet some more people. It’s two hours on a Tuesday for the next three weeks and costs €23.

9:30pm: I arrive home and walk the dogs for an hour.

10:30pm: I wash the dishes and do some laundry before going to bed.

Today's total: €73

Wednesday

9:00am: I get up a little later today because I'm not working. I let the dogs out and feed them and then make some breakfast for myself.

10:00am: I go to the hardware shop and buy paint for upcycling some furniture in my house (€26) and some coal, firelighters etc. for the next few weeks (€48). I put these expenses on my credit card.

1:00pm: My dad makes a big dinner on Wednesdays so I pop around to my parents' house where my sister and nephew are also visiting.

3:00pm: I pop to the doctor to get the flu jab and a repeat prescription. I have a medical card which is very helpful when paying for things like this.

3:30pm: I’ve offered to bring my aunt to a hospital appointment and when I swing by her house (beside a busy school on a one-way street) I sideswiped a parked car. I’m raging with myself and I leave a note and take pictures of the damage. The owner rings me later and I make an enquiry with a garage about a quote for repairing the damage to her car which is €250! I can't help but get upset.

5:00pm: I go home and make a cup of tea and arrange to meet my friend at the cinema to distract me. Food and a cinema ticket come to €21.45.

8:00pm: After the cinema, I walk the dogs and do some cross-stitching in front of the TV for the evening before bed.

Today's total: €95.45

Thursday

8:00am: I get up and tend to the dogs and then get ready for work.

1:00pm: At lunchtime I go to a nearby charity shop and buy two coats and a pair of new shoes for €40. I don’t usually buy my clothes in charity shops but I have started doing it more recently. I saw a Stacey Dooley documentary about how much water is used in the creation of clothing and consciously made the decision to try not to buy new in future.

1:30pm: I buy some cotton buds and baby oil in the chemist (€2.90) and a packet of biscuits for the office for €1. I ring another garage and get a €300 quote for the work to be done on the other car which is not good but I feel a bit better about the first quote now!

6:00pm: I have a book launch to go to this evening after work so I rush home and get changed. I haven’t time to walk the dogs so I let them run in the garden.

7:00pm: I head to the local library where the book launch is on and attend the drinks reception after.

12:00am: I'm home and head to bed.

Today's total: €43.90

Friday

8:00am: I get up and bring one of the dogs to doggy daycare for a half-day treat as she still has quite a lot of puppy energy.

9:00am: I pop to another three garages for quotes on the car repair work - all of which are much higher than the first guy. I text the owner of the car I damaged and go to meet her. She knows the garage where I got the €250 quote so she’s happy to go there.

2:00pm: I pick the dog up from daycare (€10) and meet a friend for lunch (€14.85).

4:00pm: I get home, feed the dogs and I settle down to do some sewing but I find I’m fatigued after the day and we all doze on the couch. I find it difficult to do as much as I used to and I can suffer terrible brain fog also which makes me forget words and affects my ability to finish some sentences or even remember what I just said!

6:00pm: I wake up and make some dinner and then light the fire and settle in for the evening.

Today's total: €24.85

Saturday

10:00am: I have a lazy morning and tend to the dogs and make some breakfast.

11:00am: I used to go to Slimming World but I can’t really afford it anymore. However, the girls meet for coffee in a local hotel after their early morning weigh-in so I go to join them. Some of them are in my sewing group also. I buy a tea in the hotel lobby for €2.50.

1:00pm: I potter about the house and garden for most of the day. I’m going to Galway with the dogs for a few days next week so I’m keeping my spending money. I don’t really have much money to go socialising with and if I’m honest, I’m not really into the pub scene anymore. It takes me about three days to recover if I’ve been out drinking and the loss of time just isn’t worth it anymore.

Today's total: €2.50

Sunday

9:00am: I get up and I take the dogs to a local recreational area and let them explore for a bit. 

11:00am: I pop in to see my parents and aunt on the way home. My nephew is there also - he’s four going on 84!

2:00pm: I go to Lidl to do the grocery shopping which comes in around €56. 

3:00pm: The lady whose car I hit text me to say she will drop it into the garage on Monday and I reply that my father will drop the money to the garage when it's ready. I make a note to ask dad to lend me that money until I can get to my savings.

5:oopm: I finish my Sunday by prepping a chair for painting, lighting the fire, cooking dinner and snuggling down with my two fur babies to do some cross-stitch and watch TV.

Today's total: €56

Weekly subtotal: €309.59

***

What I learned:

  • This week was fairly a heavy week financially and I put quite a bit on my credit card.
  • I have very little left over for clothing, accessories, special occasions, toiletries, makeup, “emergencies” or to get work done around the house and garden so I need to look at everything more carefully. I could ditch the cinema and doggy daycare I suppose. It’s hard though. I want to treat myself but also the cinema and the doggy daycare are local businesses and I feel it’s important to support these even if it’s minimal.
  • I could also be a more careful driver!

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