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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 14 July, 2020
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How I Spend My Money: A 32-year-old talent acquisition manager on €70,000 who commutes to Dublin

The Kildare native is hoping to save for a new car and house renovations.

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 talent acquisition manager living in Kildare walks us through her week in mid-December.  

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I’m 32 and a talent acquisition manager living in Kildare, but commuting every day by train to work in Dublin. My husband bought our house 12 years ago (before we met) and we’ve been married for 2 and a half years. 

My husband and I earn similar amounts but are only now trying to start saving properly by putting away around €1,000 per month split between my savings account and his credit union account. We've been struggling to save over the last couple of months though as we’re paying off a hefty credit card bill from a trip to Japan in September, and have had some unexpected costs including new tires for the car and a roof repair, plus general Christmas spending. We’re hoping to get this back on track in the new year as we’re saving for a new car and some house renovations.

Occupation: Talent Acquisition Manager
Age: 32
Location: Co Kildare
Salary: €70,000 + potential for 15% bonus
Monthly pay (net): €3,666 (I put a fair amount into my pension)

Monthly expenses

Transport: Around €40 for petrol – we generally only use the car during the week to drive to the train station and supermarket. The car is ten years old and paid off. My commuting costs are covered by my company for the moment.
Mortgage: €800 for my half
Household bills: €110
Phone bill: €32
Health insurance: Paid for by work
Groceries: €220 for my half
Subscriptions: Patreon €15, Cineworld pass €23, gym €35 (for one in Kildare) and work covers one in Dublin. My husband pays for Netflix and Spotify. 
Dog sitting/walking: €100 (we’re looking at trying to cut this back next year, hopefully with the help of my in-laws - they’ve very much come around to the dog recently).

Monday

6:30am: I get up to start the day. My husband has been up for a while (crap sleeper) and he and the dog are watching the Star Wars trailer on the couch.

I brew coffee in the French press for my travel mug, bring the dog outside and give him his breakfast. I put his Christmas jumper on him (the house is cold when we’re not there, and it’s still below freezing outside), put on the radio for company for him, and my husband and I get the train at 7:15am to Heuston.

8:25am: I get to the office and start work for the day.

10:30am: I don’t usually bother with breakfast as lunch is so early here, but I get a Nutrigrain bar from the kitchen for a mid-morning snack.

12:15pm: Lunch is catered every day but since I don’t get to the kitchen until 12.15pm, everything is gone. Animals. I grab a Cully & Sully soup from the fridge instead with some bread and butter, to avoid spending on food. I do grab a Starbucks filter coffee though for €2.95.

3:00pm: I have another coffee from the Nespresso in our kitchen and book a nail appointment for Friday at a place near the office.

5:00pm: I leave work to walk to Heuston for the 5:30pm train home.

6:20pm: I'm home and reunited with the dog (and husband).

7:00pm: I take a spin up to Aldi for goodies after a hard day and come home with a packet of white chocolate and cranberry cookies and some fancy cheese which came to €4.20 altogether. I run on the treadmill for 25 minutes in the house, then have a dinner of a tortilla wrap pizza and some Quorn 'chicken' nuggets.

9:00pm: I watch some news and scroll Twitter for a while before going to sleep around 10:15pm.

Today's total: €7.15

Tuesday

6:20am: I wake up a little earlier today for a shower, then make some coffee, feed the dog and head to get the 7:00am train. My husband went to work a little earlier than me today, so it’s a solo journey. I'm in work for 8:15am.

11:00am: No breakfast again but have banana and a coffee with coconut milk after a busy morning.

12:00pm: I'm worried about missing the food again so I hit the kitchen for soup and sandwich day. I get a red pepper soup and a mozzarella, pepper and pesto panini. I run out to the post office to post 5 Christmas cards and spend €5 on stamps.

2:30pm: A doughnut shop we order from regularly sends in three boxes of festively decorated goodness, so I have a pistachio and salted caramel one with an espresso. I also order a jacket and shirt from ASOS as part of my husband’s Christmas present - €95.45.

4:50pm: I leave work a bit early to get a slightly earlier train so I can make my 6pm hair appointment. I grab a leftover veggie wrap and a kombucha from the kitchen for later as I’m going straight to the hairdresser off the train.

5:35pm: Train is delayed (we actually got on one train and had to get off to get another) so I jump on another, longer one that gets me in later than if I’d left work at normal time – commuter life.

6:30pm: Thankfully my hairdresser is able to take me 30 minutes later and all is well. I also buy a bottle of sulphate-free shampoo (€70+ €5 tip).

8:30pm: I stop in Aldi for cereal and Mr Kipling Christmas slices (€2.88) and and get home to hang out with the fam before bed about 10:00pm.

Today's total: €178.33

Wednesday

6:30am: I wake up and shower and then take some time to sort out my hair and makeup as I’m going out with some friends after work. My husband works from home on Wednesdays so there’s less of a rush to make sure the dog has peed and eaten. I make coffee for my mug and my husband drops me to the 7:25am train. I get a bus from Heuston to work and land in at about 8:25am.

11:20am: All teams go on a team lunch in the run up to Christmas, but with the amount of meetings taking place, we’ve been forced to make this a brunch. We’re a very small team so we’re going with another small team. We get a taxi on FreeNow to George’s Street as it’s raining.

1:15pm: We head back to the office after paying for brunch on the corporate card and get a FreeNow taxi back to the office for some meetings.

5:20pm: I freshen up my makeup before heading to meet some old colleagues at a local place before heading to the 3 Arena to see Jack Whitehall. I have some toast and peanut butter and an orange from the kitchen before I leave in case we don’t get to eat for a while -  I hate drinking on an empty stomach. I meet my friends in a bar on Leeson Street and we order two bottles of wine between five of us, then jump in a cab towards the 3 Arena. It's my friend's treat so it costs me €0.

7:15pm: We realise half of our corporate tickets were actually for last night- eek. Luckily we manage to get them changed for tonight’s show as it’s not sold out, so we grab some more wine and popcorn and find our seats. I get this round which comes to €35.50. 

10:00pm: The show was…ok. I think he’s much better on panel shows than solo stand-up, but it was a good night nonetheless and great to see friends. I leave as soon as the show is over, dodge the Luas queue and walk back toward Mayor Square where I just about manage to squeeze onto one. I get the 11:00pm train home and my husband collects me from the station. I get a bowl of cereal and water, and get into bed about 12:15am.

Today's total: €35.50

Thursday

7:10am: I took today off as my husband is a big Star Wars fan and wanted to catch the morning showing of the new movie, and I wanted to join him and have lunch in town. Unfortunately, not eating very much yesterday coupled with some probably crap wine means I’m not feeling great, and an IMAX 3D action movie at 9am doesn’t sound ideal. I get the 8:00am train with him anyway and hope for the best.

8:40am: We arrive into town on the Luas and pick up Starbucks coffee and Offbeat donuts for the film (€17 from our joint account, €8.50 for my half) and into the cinema (we bought the tickets in advance). The movie is ok - I’m not a SW fan and it was definitely a bit loud for me in my delicate state, but still glad I made it.

12:00pm: I run into Penneys to get a strapless bra (€6) for the Christmas season and then we wander back for a walk around the Christmas market in Dublin Castle. On the way we spot a restaurant opposite the Castle that does white pizza and earmark it for lunch. I love pizza, but mostly only the cheese and bread part so I’m delighted with this.

12:30pm: We walk down Grafton Street for a look in BT’s Marvel room then get tired of the crowds and head back to that place for lunch. We order two pizzas and the only bottle of sparkling rosé they have in the winter – feeling much better now! (€55.60 from our joint account, so €27.80).

1:50pm: We run for the bus and get the 2:00pm train back to Kildare. We get home, say hi to the dog and put on the heating. The cleaner has been (cost paid for by my in-laws as a present) so the house is nice and tidy, but the dog was acting the maggot and wouldn’t come back in from the back garden when she was leaving, and so is now soaking wet and is looking suitably chastened. He probably won’t pull that again. We towel him off and give out to him.

3:15pm: We jump back in the car for a look in Kildare Village. We’re not doing big presents this year, but I’m vaguely looking for a coat and a new pair of runners. I see a coat I sort of like but they don’t have it in my size, and it’s too much to pay for something that doesn’t fit perfectly. Leave it for now.

4:30pm: I run into the Parcel Motel in a near-by Tesco to collect a dress I ordered weeks ago (do better, Parcel Motel) that’s a possibility for my Dublin Christmas party on Saturday night, or else my Boston holiday party in January. I also buy milk, ice cream, tights, an avocado and a pair of men’s Only Fools and Horses pyjamas for myself because why not. It comes to €51.20 on the joint credit card, so €25.60.

5:00pm: Home, make tea and put on Die Hard for some Christmas spirit. I’m still full after my pizza so I just have an avocado on a broghie for dinner and hit the ice cream a bit later.

7:00pm: Skip Die Hard 2, but start Die Hard With a Vengeance before giving up and going to bed about 10:oopm. 

Today's total: €67.90

Friday

6:30am: I don’t know what day it is having been off yesterday, but I'm up and showered and out the door for the 7:20am train, with the dog fed and ready. We don’t have a dog walker today, but my in-laws will call in to take him out for a quick walk at some point.

8:25am: I arrive into work and there’s catered breakfast waiting – sausage rolls, croissants, pastries, muffins and scones. I grab three mini veggie sausage rolls, mini danish and a muffin and have it with my leftover coffee that I brought from home.

12:00pm: We have a manager’s lunch in one of the office’s conference rooms, and a local sandwich and salad place caters – there are great Christmas sandwiches and some mince pies for after.

4:00pm: I do the last few meetings then I'm free for the weekend. I head to my nail appointment at 5:15pm before meeting a friend for drinks - she’s just today landed back in from Colombia, having taken a 4-week sabbatical, and I wanted to catch up before Christmas. 

5:00pm: I leave the office to get my nails done (sparkles for Christmas) – they’re super fast but I realise they don’t accept credit card so I have to run to the ATM in the Spar next door. I have basically no money in my current account as I’ve moved it all to savings, so end up having to take €20 from my bank and €20 from my Revolut card. The nails come to €25 + €5 tip.

5:45pm: I text some friends to see if they’re around and end up going to my old company’s office near Stephen’s Green where they’re having some Christmas prosecco. Turns out that my friend who’s just back from holidays KO’d as soon as she got home, so won’t be seeing her tonight! Finish a drink quickly to make a bus to Heuston, and just about make the 8:15pm train back to Kildare. I grab a chipper on the way home from the station for €14.90 (super low on the vegetables this week) and chill for the night.

Today's total: €44.90

Saturday

10:00am: After a little lie-in and a bowl of cereal, I get up and drive to the gym which is 10 minutes away. Mornings coming up to Christmas are mercifully quiet there and I get a squat rack straight away, but there is some sort of kids’ performance in the other half of the hall and Jingle Bells keeps getting through my noise-cancelling headphones, which is distracting. Finish up and I'm home for 1:30pm.

2:00pm: I drive to the canal 5 minutes away to run the dog. It’s a lovely place to take him as it’s always quiet and safe for him to run. We spot some swans though, and turn back early before they spot him and start hissing.

3:00pm: I'm home and shower and wash my hair and then make some eggs and tomatoes with ingredients from the fridge. I chill out and watch some TV before my husband and I have to head to Dublin for my work Christmas party.

5:00pm: I head to the shop to grab some drinks for the train up and some snacks (€22.75) and we get a train at 7:00pm, then a bus from the station to O’Connell Bridge which is a short walk from the venue.

8:30pm: There’s hors d'oeuvres in the venue and prosecco on arrival, then little bowls of (I think) beef stroganoff and mashed potato going around on trays. There’s an open bar, so no money spent on drinks for the night.

1:30am: We dodge the after party and leave to get a late Christmas train home from Connolly, and grab Supermacs on the way (€15.60) but also have to buy a connecting ticket to add onto our monthly tickets as it’s a different train (€2.50). Home and in bed about 3:00am, glugging some water on the way up the stairs.

Today's total: €40.85

Sunday 

9:45am: I wake properly after being awake way too early but managing to get back to sleep. I feel totally fine – I’m generally really good at drinking enough water and also making sure I eat enough, plus we offered to babysit our friends’ son at some point today. My husband collects him and brings him back to my in-law’s house where there are toys (he has small nieces and nephews) and a big garden as it’s a nice day. I get dressed and walk the dog up to meet them. I have some tea and scones.

1:00pm: After playing in the garden with the dog and baby, watching some Baby Shark and having some snacks, my husband drops him back to his mom and I head home to do some laundry and tidy up - but when I’m upstairs, the dog manages to open the front door and get out. I run out to look for him and don’t find him, so ring my husband in a panic and he drives down, collects me and we drive around for ten minutes looking for him. Whenever this happens he’s usually on his way back up to the in-laws’ house as he loves it there. We drive back into our estate and find him frolicking just down from our house. We give him a stern talking-to and resolve to keep the door locked at all times.  

3:30pm: I make some eggs and avocado and watch some Christmas special while husband and dog nap. My mother calls to finalise plans for Christmas Eve. 

6:00pm: I eat some posh cheese (Christmas) and feed the dog, then sort out clothes for tomorrow. I’m probably going for drinks after work again, so gather up some makeup to put in my bag, do a facemask and teeth whitening and retire to bed early, listening to true crime podcasts.

Today's total: €0

Weekly subtotal: €374.63

*** 

What I learned:

  • I realise how incredibly lucky I am in terms of how much work pays for – I can regularly have no–spend days during the week, as coffee and lunch are never a necessary expense.
  • This week is not a normal week in terms of how much crap I ate and how few times I trained, along with how often I drank - Christmas definitely messes with routine.
  • Little trips to the shop on top of the weekly “big shop” definitely add up, and we’ve made a new year’s resolution to cut these out and eat what we have.
  • We’re both relatively high earners, so pending no big unexpected expenses, we’re hoping to save much more in 2020 - there’s no excuse for us not to.

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