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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 3°C
How I Spend My Money A student on €12,000 trying to balance work and college life
His parents are helping him pay for his rent and monthly expenses.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on 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, an engineer from Dublin – but living in Perth for the past eight years – wondered if it is cheaper to live back homeToday, a student on €12,000 walks us through his week of trying to balance work in Cork and college life in Dublin.

imageOccupation: Student/part-time worker
Age: 20
Location: Dublin/Cork
Monthly pay (net): €1,000

Monthly expenses

Rent: €850 (I pay €250 - my parents pay the rest)
Household bills: Included in rent
Phone bill: €60
Health insurance: Covered under family plan
Groceries: €150
Transport: €350 (covers car insurance, tolls and parking space in Dublin,
diesel is covered by parents)
Subscriptions: Spotify (included in phone bill), Netflix (use my sister's)


7:00am: I get up to go for a run and then shower and have breakfast.
8:40am: I walk 10 minutes to college and start my lectures.
11:00am: I have a tea break for 20 minutes before heading back to class. I buy tea for €2.50.
1:00pm: I walk to Centra for lunch and pay €3.50 for a chicken fillet roll.
4:00pm: College finally finishes so I hop in the car and head to Aldi to do my shopping for the week. I get all the essentials for €22.
7:00pm: I meet a few friends from my course and head for a drink in the local pub. I spend €40 on pints.
12:30am: I arrive home from the pub and watch Netflix before going to bed.

Today's total: €68


7:00am: I get up to go for a run and then shower and have breakfast.
9:00am: I arrive at college and start lectures.
11:00am: I buy a cup of coffee for €2.50.
1:00pm: For lunch, I eat soup that I bought yesterday and then go back to lectures.
5:00pm: Lectures are finished so I head to a friend’s house before going to soccer training.
8:00pm: I get back from training and cook dinner. I’m absolutely wrecked from today so I relax for the evening.

Today's total: €2.50


7:00am: I get up to go for a run and then shower and have breakfast before heading into college. Phone bill is due today which is €60.
12:00pm: I finish college at 12 so I help my aunt move some furniture. I spend €5 on a return ticket for the Luas.
2:00pm: My aunt gives me lunch and €20 for helping her.
5:00pm: I watch my cousin play in a GAA match.
7:30pm: I get back to my apartment and cook dinner. I tidy up a bit and watch some Netflix before bed.

Today's total: €65


8:15am: I wake up later than usual and rush into college.
1:00pm: I go to Spar for lunch and spend €5.50 on a chicken wrap and a bottle of Vit-Hit before going back to lectures at 2pm.
4:30pm: My lectures finish early so I go home and drive back to Cork. The traffic is ridiculously bad as usual on the M50 and I have to pay €2.10 for the toll (I have a toll tag so I get cheaper tolls). I also have to pay the toll at Portlaoise which is €1.90 and again at Watergrasshill which is also €1.90.
7:45pm: I get home to Cork and my mum has kept dinner for me which is great. I watch some TV with my parents and then head to bed around 10:00pm as I’ve work in the morning.

Today's total: €11.40


6:10am: Early start this morning as I start work at 7:00am. I enjoy work as I’ve been working part-time since I was 14 so I know everyone well.
1:00pm: I grab lunch with co-workers and spend €12. 
5:00pm: I head home and have dinner with my parents.
7:00pm: My dad and I go for a game of tennis and it's €5 entry.
9:00pm: My sister begs me to drop her and her friends into Cork city so I do. I pop into the local chipper on the way home and pick up food for me and my parents for €30.

Today's total: €47


4:00am: I get the dreaded call from my sister asking if I can pick her and her friends up from Cork city. I get in the car and prepare to give her a lecture but I decide to wait until the morning.
6:00am: I can't get back to sleep so I take the dog for a walk and get ready for work.
7:00am: I head to work.
1:00pm: I come home and mum makes me lunch while I give out about having to collect my sister before going back to work.
5:00pm: I finish work and head home for dinner.
6:00pm: I go to my older sister's house to babysit my nephew while she and her partner head out. We go to McDonald's for ice cream which comes to €5.55. Mercifully, my nephew is wrecked after a birthday party so he’s asleep by 8:00pm and I fall asleep on the couch around 11:oopm. I stay the night at my sister's and she gives me €15 for babysitting.

Today's total: €5.55 


9:00am: I wake up and play with my nephew before going home.
2:00pm: I have lunch with my family and my mum makes a roast.
4:00pm: I head back to Dublin with fresh clothes. My dad pays €42 for diesel to refill my car and I pay €5.90 in tolls.
6:30pm: I arrive back in Dublin and meet some friends and watch Netflix before heading to bed.

Today's total: €5.90

Weekly subtotal: €205.35 - babysitting money (€15) and money from aunt (€20) = €170.35


What I've learned:

  • After tracking my spending for the week I didn’t realise how much I was spending on alcohol when I go out drinking on Mondays.
  • My car costs are expensive but public transport in my area of Cork are poor so I need the car to get home.
  • Next September I will be moving in with my aunt in Dublin to save on rent as the private student accommodation I’m in currently is just ridiculously expensive and such a burden on my parents.
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