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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 8 December 2021

How I Spend My Money: A mum on maternity leave weighing up a permanent move from Dublin

She is earning €72,000 in Dublin but wants a more family-orientated life.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that 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 mother from the west of Ireland on maternity leave weighs up the move back to Dublin as the family try save for a deposit on a home.

imageOccupation: Customer Services Operations Manager
Age: 32
Location: Roscommon
Salary: €72,000 and annual performance bonus of up to 20%
Monthly pay (net): €3,600

Monthly expenses:

Transport: €49 per month on car insurance and €100 per month on petrol
Rent: €800
Household bills: Electricity €57, bins €33, internet €30, Sky €37
Phone bill: €10
Health insurance: Covered by work
Groceries: €320
Subscriptions: Netflix €7.99, Spotify €14.99, Headspace €9.99
Pension: €420 (matched by employer)



12:43am: I’ve been in bed asleep less than 90 mins and I get my son’s first wake up call of the night. He’s hungry! Within 15 minutes I’m rolling back over to sleep. He wakes again to feed at 3:31am, 5:33am and 9:26am.

9:45am: We get up. I change and dress the baby and then have my porridge with seeds, berries and nuts. I grab a quick coffee and I’ve just enough time to get dressed, before rushing to get out the door. This morning we are going to a weekly breastfeeding group. It’s a nice gathering for mums and babies where we have a cuppa and a chat. Afterwards, a gang of us pop into a coffee shop close by to chat some more. Coffee is €3.30.

1:00pm: We are in the very early stages of planning a house build on family land. My husband is off work today as we've organised an architect to call out to do an initial consultation where we chat about the site options. We get a bit of a reality check on timelines, a finished house by April/May 2021 would be our best bet if everything goes to plan. After the architect is gone it’s time for a late lunch of scrambled eggs and toast. We’ve been away for the weekend and the cupboards are a bit bare! We live in the countryside and head out for a walk to chat about the building plans.

4:30pm: I’ve an acupuncture appointment today. I’ve been going once a month since the baby was born to help with postnatal recovery. Usually, I bring the baby with me to this appointment but as my husband is off today I get to head off alone. Cost €50.

6:30pm: We have a coffee and then head into town to Lidl to pick up some food for the week which costs €68.45. We alternate between Dunnes and Lidl depending on what we need. We have a preference for some branded goods, but our local Dunnes is small and I find it annoying shopping there. Once we are home I make a start on dinner. We have homemade spiced sweet potato fries, fried hake and stir fry veg. My brother who lives abroad phones me midway through chopping the veg and my husband takes over the dinner. We have dinner in front of the TV and it’s followed by tea and chocolate. My mum drops in for 10 minutes to say hello to the baby, she is on her way to a class so can’t stay long.

9:00pm: My husband puts the baby down to bed, then we chill in front of the TV, snacking on crusty bread and jam and an apple before bed at 11:30pm.

Today's total: €121.75


11:00am: I have nowhere to be this morning so I nap the morning away, catching up on some lost sleep from a busy weekend away and the broken sleep which I’ve become accustomed too. The baby was awake for a feed at 3:08am, 5:31am and 8:39am. I get up at 11:00am and have turkey rashers on toasted bread with tea.

1:00pm: My husband works from home and takes a break for lunch. I sit and join him for his break and sip a coffee and have a yoghurt. I spent the afternoon getting dinner ready in between the baby's naps, feeds and changes. I make homemade lasagna, it should be enough for two days. I also add some sliced sweet potatoes into the oven. My mum calls in for an hour on her way home from work and later on my husband's parents drop over too. We have tea and more tea and there always has to be a biscuit or two.

6:00pm: I’ve signed up for a six-week yoga class, which I’m really enjoying. It’s my only real time each week away from the baby and I enjoy just focusing on breathing. I always leave so relaxed. At the start of the course, I paid upfront €60 for a 6-week course. The fuel light is on in the car, so I put €40 diesel in. I come home to find the baby and my husband in fits of giggles, they are on the floor having tummy time. It’s too cute! My dad had dropped in to visit while I was gone, so I give the baby a feed and then pop to see my parents who live close by, leaving my husband to put the baby to bed. I have tea and mam’s brown bread with butter and jam and catch up with dad about the architect's visit.

10:00pm: I’m back home and chill in front of the TV for an hour with my husband and we snack on crisps.

Today's total: €40


10:00am: Baby slept better last night only waking twice at 4:40am and 7:16am, so we get up when he wakes at 10:00am. I have porridge with seeds and berries and then a coffee. On a whim I decide to go to a local spa for a back and head massage, I got a text yesterday about a special offer and it sounded dreamy. Usually, I ignore those marketing ploys, but my mother-in-law has offered to mind the baby today and I decide to treat myself. Before I head off I gatecrash my husband’s lunch, he makes us scrambled eggs and toast. Spa treatment costs €75.

5:00pm: My sister and her kids call to visit on her way home from work. We have tea and biscuits. We have leftover lasagna for dinner, there’s not so much left so I stir fry some extra veg to have with it. Later my dad calls. More tea and biscuits! My parents are planning on going on a last-minute holiday in a few weeks so I do some Googling to see if I can find any deals for them.

9:00pm: My husband puts the baby to bed and we watch some TV. We always snack in front of the TV, tonight for me it’s a weird mix - an apple, followed by Doritos.

Today's total: €75


8:00am: I wake up as my husband gets out of bed. He’s stumbling and can hardly walk. He injured himself at training last night and can just about move, luckily he doesn't have far to go as he works from home. If he had to travel for work, he’d need to call in sick. I get up with him, help him get set up in his office and make his breakfast, then I jump back in bed. I had a rough night, the baby had multiple feeds and seemed to spend more of the night awake than asleep, but one drooling kiss from the little man in the morning and all is forgiven.

10:00am: I get up and have my porridge and then bring my husband to the doctor and pop to the pharmacy for painkillers (€8) and a probiotic (€32.35). My mum calls at lunchtime and we have tea and buns. My sister and her kids are calling to mum’s for dinner today. My mum loves having a house full of people and always puts on too much food for dinner, so we are easily convinced that there is enough dinner for us to join last minute too. She has cooked a never-ending pot of stew, with potatoes, rice and lots of veg. We all go back for seconds then there is apple tart with tea. My mum is expecting visitors tomorrow, so after dinner, I help her change beds and do some vacuuming.

8:00pm: We pop back home. My husband puts the baby to bed, we watch some telly while snacking on granola.

Today's total: €40.35


9:00am: The baby has an active night and I have to drag myself out of bed this morning when my alarm goes. I have two coffees and my porridge.

10:00am: I go to a post-natal exercise class and our instructor encourages us to bring our babies (no excuses for no babysitters here) and we pop them on mats in a corner where they can sleep/roll/shout/play! They are all too young to move too far, and she allows us to take breaks between sets when we need to entertain them. Again I’ve paid upfront, €60 for 6 classes.

3:00pm: I nip home for lunch, a ham and cheese toasty with tea, and put the baby down for a nap. In the afternoon I bring the baby to a swim class. It’s a six-week class, I paid €70 in week 1. We are a couple of weeks in now and the baby is loving the water. On the way home I pop to the shop and pick up a few essentials we are running low on (milk, eggs, bread, spuds and protein bars) for €13.75.

5:00pm: My mum’s visitors have arrived (cousins from England) plus cousins from Limerick and Kildare to see the English cousins. We all descend on mum for dinner of steaks or salmon, she’s in her element and after we have coffee cake with tea. After dinner we all hang around for a few drinks. I’m on the 7up (the joys of breastfeeding). I put the baby down for the first part of his sleep and as soon as he wakes just after midnight we go home.

Today's total: €13.75


9:ooam: We go to mum’s for breakfast as she is doing a big fry for all the cousins. We have a lazy morning there, catching up before our cousins scatter around the country again. We spend the morning drinking countless cups of tea and I finish off the last slice of the coffee cake at some stage too.

2:00pm: When we get home, my husband's family drop over for an hour. After they’ve gone it's time for a quick bath for the baby. I heat up some soup and later make a quick dinner of spuds chopped into chips, steak on the pan with onions and mushroom and then I drop baby to my mum’s for a couple of hours as we're off to a GAA league match. Dad comes with us. It’s €60 for tickets for me, Dad and my husband and €3 for a match programme. We don’t leave our seats at half time as it's getting cold and instead, we have protein bars that my husband brought.

6:00pm: We have tea and toast in mum’s when we get home. The baby is napping and once he wakes we dash home to put him down to bed properly.

9:00pm: We then watch some telly, but are both half asleep.

Today's total: €63


10:00am: We have the usual breakfast of porridge followed by tea and toast. We head out for a walk, but a few drops of rain turned it into a very quick one. We head to my husband’s parents for dinner, picking up apple tart, custard and ice cream en route for €9.25.

1:00pm: We spend the afternoon watching GAA matches and stop off in Lidl on our way home to get some shopping in for the week, including branded dishwasher tablets for €11.99! Shopping comes to €92.95.

5:00pm: I call back to my parents and help them book a holiday to Lanzarote in two weeks' time. My husband and I start to wonder if we should plan a getaway with the baby soon. The thoughts of packing all his stuff and trying to feed a weaning baby abroad puts me off initially...but my husband says he will do all the research!

9:00pm: It’s been a busy week and we’ve had so much stuff on with family around this week that we’ve barely had time to chill out together. Once the baby is down we put on a pizza and have some crisps chatting and watching the Sunday Game.

11:00pm: We’re in bed, ready for the week ahead!

Today's total: €102.20

Weekly subtotal: €456.05


What I've learned:

  • I should review my current account and saving accounts and amend my saving direct debits. I really do leave too much money in my current account and I probably would be forced to think more carefully about some of my spending if I had to check my balance first before spending. Readers - any advice on a decent saving account would be helpful!
  • We should meal plan! We do a big shop buying meat and veg without much thought and often throw out unused veg or have to stop off mid-week to pick up extra bits. 
  • This particular week we did not buy any baby supplies. I tend to bulk buy nappies, water-wipes and cotton wool pads every 5-6 weeks. Aldi’s Mamia nappies are €2.99 for 56 nappies versus Pampers €13 for 100 and Aldi’s cotton wool pads are €1.99. There is no Aldi locally, so when I’m in a town with Aldi I’ll always pop in there. There are some discount stores that sell water-wipes for €1.99, rather then €3.45 in most of the supermarkets. Again I hold out for when they are in stock and buy in bulk. I also pick up most cleaning products there.
  • Our rent of €800 in Roscommon is temporary (if we move back to Dublin, we were paying €1,450 for a 1-bed apartment before we left). Bills are more expensive now, as bins and heating oil are additional costs.
  • This week was unusual in that we saw so much of both of our families. We barely had a day to ourselves, we do get lots of visits and visit both our parents but this week was exceptionally full-on family time. While it can drive us mad at times, we would miss this if we moved back to Dublin where we have no family.
  • Finally, I eat way too many biscuits/cake/buns/chocolate with my tea. 

About the author:

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