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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: A Kerry woman in Toronto saving €700 a month to build her dream Irish home

The TV programmer is hoping to return to Ireland and build a home on her family’s land

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.

Today, a 33-year-old Irish woman living in Toronto for the past three years walks us through her week which involves saving €700 a month in order to build a home on her family’s land in Kerry.

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I have been living in Toronto for the last three years and working in the television industry. I'm saving for Canadian citizenship but I'm hoping to move home to Ireland and build a small house on my family's land - that’s the only way I’ll ever own property with the current housing market. I try to put away €700 a month but I have a weakness for live music and good food.

Occupation: TV programme scheduler
Age: 33
Location: Toronto
Salary: €32,250 a year
Monthly pay (net): €2,000

Monthly Expenses

Rent: €510
Renter’s insurance: €5
Electricity: €14
Internet: €8.75
Phone: €45
Netflix: €9.60
Spotify: €7
Patreon Podcast: €6.20
Basketball: €55
Groceries: €150

Monday 

7:30am: My alarm goes off and I shower and have a breakfast of baked egg muffins. I cycle to work to save money on transport.

8:45am: I run to the supermarket across the road from work and grab ingredients for dinner this evening for €7.70.

12:30pm: For lunch I have a Thai curry that I brought from home. 

5:00pm: I cycle home and start preparing a vegetable curry for dinner. I also make some food in bulk for the week. 

7:00pm: After dinner, I hop into bed and play some video games and watch Netflix.

10:00pm: The internet gives out so it seems like a good time to shut off the lights and sleep.

Today's total: €7.70

Tuesday

7:30am: I wake up and shower and make egg muffins for breakfast. 

8:00am: I do half an hour of Irish on Duolingo before I cycle to work. Even though I'm living abroad, I want to keep up my Irish.

12:00pm: For lunch, I have the leftover curry from last night's dinner. I nip over to the supermarket to grab bananas and chocolate peanut butter cups to snack on for €1.40

5:00pm: After work, I meet a friend for tea and chats. I get it as she bought it last time (€4.27). After tea we decide to go get chips - the delicious salty foundation upon which our friendship is built - for €4.95.

8:00pm: I should be doing laundry but I can’t be bothered walking to the laundromat at this hour so I go to bed and to play video games and watch Netflix.

11:00pm: I turn off the lights and go to sleep.

Today's total: €10.62

Wednesday

7:30am: I get up and shower before grabbing breakfast. I do a half an hour on Duolingo again - but this time in Spanish.

8:30am: I cycle to work.

12:00pm: For lunch, I have more leftover pad Thai and a deep fried apple pie that a co-worker made for our manager's birthday. Maintaining a healthy diet in an office is a challenge.

1:00pm: I stroll to the shops with a friend for bananas and groceries for home €9.41 and then head back to work.

5:00pm: I cycle home and make tofu BLTs. It pairs nicely with a pack of cheese and onion Tayto a friend brought from home recently. I wash it down with my fourth mug today of Barry's tea.

6:30pm: Tonight is the first game of my basketball season but I got a ticket months ago to see Two Door Cinema Club with my housemates. I take the subway and use my friend's transit pass which he gave me when he left Toronto recently.

7:30pm: I meet the girls before the gig for a glass of wine which costs €8.45.

10:30pm: The concert ends and I'm home in bed by 11:00pm.

Today's total: €17.86

Thursday

7:30am: I get up and have a fried egg sandwich for breakfast. I'm tired this morning so I take the subway to work.

9:00am: I do half an hour of Irish/Spanish practice on Duolingo before I start work.

10:30am: I get a free 15-minute massage offered by work. They do this every couple of months and I never miss the opportunity to sign up.

12:30pm: I have a tofu BLT for lunch and a banana as well as chocolate mints leftover from the birthday yesterday.

2:30pm: I have a second lunch and eat a tiny portion of the remaining pad Thai and more mint chocolates. Please someone hide them from me.

5:00pm: I head home and change for basketball. Tonight is the first game of the co-ed fall season which will run every Thursday. The captain comes to pick me up for our 7:00pm game.

8:30pm: After the match, the captain drops me home. We lost by a point in the last 40 seconds but it was a great game. My housemates have had a friend stay for a week so she cooks us dinner as a thank you. 

9:30pm: I hop into bed and watch Netflix.

11:00pm: I turn out the lights and go to sleep.

Today's total: €0

Friday

7:30am: I get up, shower and grab an egg muffin for breakfast before getting the subway to work.

9:00am: My co-worker got me two free tickets to a 'Just For Laughs' event tonight so I grab him a gift card and cookie at Tim Horton’s as a thank you for €14.65.

12:15pm: For lunch we have leftover lasagne and a brownie from dinner last night.

1:00pm: Our electricity bill comes in so I split that with my housemates (€12.10).

5:00pm: I leave work to meet friends for food before the gig which starts at 7:00pm. I have a grilled cheese and fries for €11.

8:30pm: After the gig, my friend drops me home. I eat ice cream and watch Netflix in bed until lights out at 11:40pm.

Today's total: €37.75

Saturday

8:00am: I wake up and make myself an omelette and salad.

10:00am: I walk to the laundromat and put on a wash for €2.05. I dry it on the patio to save waiting in the laundromat and because it’s going to get up to 26 degrees today. Great drying in this weather, as they'd say back home.

12:30pm: I cycle to to the beach to meet friends for a kite festival and we sit by the lake-shore chatting and enjoying the kites.

3:30pm: My housemates are having a BBQ later so I walk to the shops to grab veggie burgers and some other groceries. This comes to €15.20.

7:00pm: The friend who moved out of town is back for the night for a comedy show. He has a spare ticket for me. I invite him to the BBQ and go grab beers at the off-licence for €7.20. The show doesn’t start until midnight so we enjoy beers and a BBQ on the patio with the gang before leaving at 11:45pm to walk up the road to the theatre.

1:00am: The show finishes and it’s time for bed.

Today's total: €24.45

Sunday

10:00am: I wake up and make poached eggs on an English muffin.

11:00am: I do some meal prep for the week.

12:00pm: I hit the couch for a Netflix binge. The internet bill comes in and again it’s split four ways so mine comes to €8.75.

1:00pm: For lunch, I have a leftover veggie burger from the BBQ last night and some ice cream I had in the freezer.

5:00pm: I go to play softball with friends for an hour and a half.

7:00pm: I get home and have a small bowl of lasagne. My housemate has baked a
chocolate tart and I have a slice of that and it’s absolutely delicious.

9:15pm: The hair salon downstairs, who are having an event, finally stop playing music and I can go relax in my room. I catch up on my Irish/Spanish on Duolingo. I still hope to live in a Spanish-speaking country someday so I’ve got to keep practicing.

Today's total: €8.75

Weekly subtotal: €107.13

What I learned:

  • I realise that had I kept this diary last week after payday the total would be much higher but I’m actually surprised by how frugal I am able to be when I want to be. I know I had a big week last week as after I got paid I got a haircut, went for a fancy meal with my housemates, had a big night out and went to another friend's birthday.
  • I’m doing better at saving than I thought I was. There’s a lot of temptation to eat out here because the restaurants are so good but I’m glad I was able to mostly resist.
  • I’m more on top of my spending when I track it. This last week I’ve been hyper conscious of what I spend so I will consider keeping a money diary in the future. 
  • I snack on sugary treats and chocolate way too much. I knew this already but keeping track of it and writing it down made it that bit more obvious. There was some I even left out because this is a financial diary not a diet diary so it’s worse than what I documented here. I need to work on my willpower and try to tackle that sweet-tooth.

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