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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: A 33-year-old technical writer in Dublin on €65,000 looking to move house

The tech writer is trying to cut back on socialising in order to save for a mortgage

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. Want to take part? Details on how to do it are at the bottom of the piece.

Last time, a compliance officer and prop maker walked us through his week as he plans to travel the world. This time, a 33-year-old tech writer writes how she balances saving with an active social life.

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I live in Dublin with my boyfriend and we both work full-time and are in college part-time. I currently have a mortgage on a house in Dublin that I bought when I was 22 and have been paying off for the last 11 years. I bought my place through an affordable housing scheme at the time, which I would definitely recommend. I lived at home previously and paid no rent so I was able to save the deposit of €25,000 fairly easily over a two-year period. 

Now, I'm hoping to sell the house early next year and buy somewhere with my boyfriend with a third bedroom, a bigger garden and somewhere that is closer to work. I’m also sick of paying management fees and will only buy somewhere that doesn’t have them. Aside from house expenses, the bulk of my money goes on holidays, gigs, and probably too much wine.

Occupation: Technical writer for a tech company - basically, I translate geek talk into normal English and explain technical concepts. 
Age: 33
Location: Dublin
Salary: €65,000 + 10% bonus
Monthly pay (net): €3,709

Monthly expenses

Transport: €160 on petrol. I pay €270 for car tax and €496 for car insurance in one-off annual payments
Rent: €450 (this is half the mortgage - my boyfriend pays the other half)
Household bills: €77 (this is half of the gas, electricity, internet and TV bills) 
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: Paid by work
Gym: Gym in work
Groceries: €160 (half the grocery bill)
Subscriptions: €7.99 for Netflix (my boyfriend pays for Spotify and Audible)
College fees: €437.50
Property management fees: €83 (€1,000 annually)

Monday

6:45am: My alarm goes off and I get ready to head to work. My commute can take anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes depending on the traffic and weather. I’m out the door by 7:10am and have time to stop for a coffee on the way (€3.30).

8:00am: I can start work anytime between 8:00am and 10:00am but I always aim to get there early to beat the traffic in the evening. I brought overnight oats with me so I have them with my coffee at my desk before starting work.

1:00pm: Work is busy today so the morning flies in. I have a chicken and stuffing sandwich for lunch that I brought in from home and it’s delish. I make a cup of coffee from the Nespresso machine in work (free) and I make it super strong for a Monday boost!

4:00pm: The rest of the day flies in and I leave the office by 4:00pm. Google Maps says the M50 has a 45-minute delay due to the torrential rain so I take the back roads and get home by 5:00pm.

6:00pm: My boyfriend made a roast yesterday so there’s plenty of meat left over for dinner today. I make some potatoes, vegetables and gravy to go with it. We usually shop at the weekend and stock up for the week so we have plenty of food.

7:30pm: The evening is miserable, so we’re happy to spend it on the couch watching some Mindhunter on Netflix. 

10:00pm: We grab our books and read for a while before falling asleep.

Today's total: €3.30 

Tuesday

6:45am: My alarm goes off and I'm out the door by 7:10am. The traffic is far worse than yesterday as there’s still some flooding on the roads so things are a bit slower. I can't wait to move closer to work so I don't have to sit in so much traffic.

8:00am: There's no time this morning for a coffee but I just about get to my desk in time.

10:00am: I pop out on my morning break for a coffee instead (€3.30).

1:00pm: For lunch I head to Supervalu and grab a salad box and mushroom soup - it’s not nearly as nice as yesterday’s homemade lunch - and some parsnips for dinner later (€7.90).  

4:30pm: I leave the office and the traffic is grand so I'm home by 5:00pm.

6:00pm: My boyfriend makes us a fish and pasta dish, so we sit down and have that for dinner.

7:00pm: After dinner, I transfer €180 to my friend for a flight. He booked us a trip to Miami for next month because he gets great discounts through work. I can’t wait to see him as we’ve been friends since childhood but he lives abroad now. I need to take the time off work as unpaid leave since I used my holiday allowance on three trips earlier this year. It’ll eat into my savings a bit, but I definitely prioritise holidays over savings.

11:00pm: After chilling out for the evening, we head to bed. 

Today's total: €191.20

Wednesday

6:45am: My alarm goes off and I leave the house by 7:00am as I want to give myself a few extra minutes to stop for breakfast since I didn't make oats last night. I get coffee and a granola/yogurt pot for €5.

7:45am: I'm at my desk early and I eat my breakfast while reading the news. 

12:00pm: I have a presentation today, so I work through lunch to prepare.

2:00pm: The meeting goes well and the nerves don’t show too much but public speaking will never be my forte! I only started technical writing a few years ago and it can be stressful at times, but I've been liking it so far. It's one of the more rewarding jobs I've had. I’m a bit of an introvert so I think this is the kind of job that fits my personality. 

4:30pm: I'm out the door and home by 5:15pm. I cook a chicken chasseur for dinner. My boyfriend is a much better chef but I make a decent chili, chasseur and stew so I'm useful in the winter months. 

7:00pm: The weather is slightly better this evening, so I head out for a walk with a friend. We stop for a drink on the way back (€10.20)

11:00pm: I arrive home and have a quick shower before bed.

Today's total: €15.20

Thursday

6:45am: I get up and leave a bit early again to stop for coffee on the way to work (€3.30).

7:50am: I have my coffee and oats at my desk before starting work for the day.

10:30am: I forgot my headphones at home today, so I nip out on my morning break for a spare pair (€49.99). Most of my team work remotely so the office is very quiet. I always listen to podcasts while working so I would be totally lost without headphones. I'm currently on a My Favorite Murder binge and I’m heading to their live show next month, which I'm really excited for.

11:30am: There's an event on at work so we order some pizzas for lunch. 

3:30pm: Storm Lorenzo is threatening 100km winds, so I leave work early to make it across the M50 before the traffic gets too bad. It makes such a difference for the commute as I'm home by 3:50pm. My boyfriend worked from home today and he's cooked a lovely madras so we have that with a glass of red wine for dinner.

7:00pm: I meet a guy from college at a local coffee shop to go over a few bits before our exams. I grab us both coffees (€7.60)

9:00pm: I get home and my boyfriend and I finish the bottle of wine and have a hot whiskey (or two) before bed. I'm not up too early tomorrow so we make the most of it but normally I wouldn’t have too many drinks on a work night.

Today's total: €60.89

Friday

10:00am: I get up later than usual today because I'm working from home and can work the later shift because I don't have to worry about traffic later. The extra few hours in bed are needed after having a few drinks last night but I get to work straight away.

1:00pm: My boyfriend is also working from home today and he makes us lunch and some freshly brewed coffee which is perfect for the hangover. We watch an episode of Tiny House Nation on Netflix and consider foregoing all our bigger house plans for a tiny house at a fraction of the cost. The house from today was fab and had a baby grand piano in it! 

2:oopm: I get back to work and I have a couple of Skype calls before I can finish up with some writing assignments this afternoon. 

6:30pm: I finish up work for the evening and we make some soy garlic chicken for dinner. We used to love going to Crackbird before it closed, but this is a close second. 

11:00pm: We haven't left the house at all today and it has been bliss as a lazy day was needed after last night. We head to bed after watching a documentary on the couch. 

Today's total: €0  

Saturday

10:00am: We have another lie-in and decide to spend the morning relaxing because the weather is horrible.

4:00pm: I see tickets for Ross Noble on sale for a Galway gig so I buy us two (€67.86). It's the other half's birthday in a few weeks, so a weekend away will be a nice way to celebrate. 

8:00pm: We head to a friend’s house for the evening. We bring two bottles of wine and some beer (€45). We have a takeaway, which my friends pay for. Afterwards, we end up staying the night in their house.

Today's total: €112.86  

Sunday

7:30am: Their little one wakes us early, so we leave them to it and head home. We go back to bed for another couple of hours and laze about for the rest of the morning.

2:00pm: I head out for a walk and then pop down to see my Mam. She was away last week so we catch up over tea and biscuits.  

5:00pm: My boyfriend and I go to do the weekly shop which comes to €53.50. We normally split the shop, but I pay for this as my boyfriend picked up other bits we needed for the house in Argos. 

7:00pm: We have a late dinner and then I do some chores before settling down to a movie before bed.

Today's total: €53.50

Weekly subtotal: €436.95

***

What I learned:

  • I had a couple of big expenses this week like my flight and gig tickets. If I cut back on my entertainment expenses in the next few months it will really help with the goal of securing a mortgage next year. I’ll be finished paying off my college fees in December, so that’ll be a big help too. 
  • I save a lot of money by taking breakfast and lunch with me to work most days and since my boyfriend enjoys cooking, we tend to eat a lot of meals at home too. This will help in the next few years, if we decide to have kids and need to factor in childcare costs (on the fence at the moment as we really enjoy our lifestyle currently).

Are you a spender, a saver or a splurger? We’re looking for readers who will keep a money diary for a week. If you’re interested, send a mail to money@thejournal.ie.

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