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Dublin: 20°C Thursday 11 August 2022

How I Spend My Money: A 35-year-old manager from Dublin earning €55,000 living and working in Sweden

This week’s reader lives on the west coast of Sweden and owns an apartment with his girlfriend.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on running weekly and looking at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

We’re asking 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. The diaries have been recorded before the Covid-19 changes.

Last week, we heard from a 28-year-old doctor commuting from Dublin to the midlands for work. This week, we meet a 35-year-old man from Dublin who owns an apartment with his girlfriend in Sweden. They have a son and are thinking about buying a house. 

how i spend my money

I am a 35-year-old man from Dublin and I have been living in Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden for the past six years. Myself and my Swedish girlfriend have a four-year-old son. We both work full-time and own a three-bed apartment close to the city centre. Between funds, private pension and savings accounts I try to save between €700 and €1,000 a month.

I try to put my money away as quick as I can after I get paid and then give myself a budget for the month to live on. What I save and live off can vary month to month as there might be things to plan, like flights, holidays, repairs or something to buy for the apartment. 

We love our apartment and the area, but we are thinking more and more about buying a house. We are saving and planning for that. 

People buy and sell property in Sweden the way Irish people buy cars. Moving in Sweden is not seen as a big deal. Interest rates here are also very low, especially compared to Ireland which makes repayments cheaper. 

At the moment we don’t have plans to move back to Dublin, but this could change over the coming years. 

Occupation: Business Unit Manager
Age: 35
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden 
Salary: Base €55,000 (+ up to €10,000 bonus) 
Monthly pay (net): €3,300 

Monthly expenses 

My girlfriend and myself have a joint current account which we put around €2,500 into each month. We split our bill based on our income levels, which suits us well. 

Joint account costs (my share)

Mortgage: €528
Mortgage interest: €165 (Swedish interest rates are typically from 1.2%-1.5%) 
Management fees: €248 (TV, broadband, water and parking) 
Heating and hot water bill: €28
Home insurance: €5
Car expenses: €173
Groceries: €220-€275
Subscriptions: Spotify €6, Netflix €7, HBO Nordic €6
Preschool: €53 (childcare fees in Sweden are very affordable)

Individual costs

Union fees: €23
Income protection insurance: €11
Phone bill: €0 (covered by employer) 
Health insurance: €0 (covered by employer)
Public Transport: €0 (I live a 10-minute walk from work)
Subscriptions: Gym €45 (partially covered by employer), Second Captains Podcast €6
Private savings: €300 in funds. A further €200-€500 goes in a savings account, depending on the month.
Pension: €200 goes into an extra pension fund I can only access from the age of 55. This is taken out of my base salary before tax.



7am: I am woken up by the heavenly sound of our son demanding to be fed. I drag myself up ten minutes later, shower and get myself and my son ready for the day ahead. 

I’m dropping off our son at preschool this morning and we should be out the door by 7.45am, but we decide to have breakfast at home instead. 

8.30am: I drop my son to preschool and I’m in work by 8.45am. Normally, whoever does the drop off, the other person picks up. He’s normally there from 8am to 4pm during the week, although some mornings we stay home and have breakfast together and I’ll work a little later in the evening to make up the time.   

12pm: Lunch today was yesterday’s leftover dinner. We normally try to do this several times a week, either batch cooking and freezing meals or making extra dinner and bringing some in the next day. After lunch I go for a quick walk with a colleague and grab a coffee. We take turns buying and today is my turn to fork out €6.50.  

5.30pm: I get back home and I play for a while with my son. I then spend a bit of time trying to put a hyperactive child to bed. After a good bit of bargaining, cajoling, bribing, emotional blackmail and open threats (all by him) he’s asleep by 7.30pm. 

8pm: I make myself a sandwich and then head off to play five-a-side. I get back a couple of hours later and catch the end of the Liverpool match before heading to bed.  

Today’s total: €6.50


6.45am: I wake up and get ready for work. I’m doing the pickup today, so I head in early to be finished by 4pm.

7.15am: I get to work and forage for some cereal that is left over from last week’s monthly company breakfast. Today is payday – we were away for a couple of weeks in early February and we went a bit over budget, so it’s very welcome this month. Salaries are paid monthly in Sweden on the 25th (or closest working day), and some months it can be a long stretch waiting for the end of the month! 

12pm: Lunch was pasta made by my girlfriend the previous evening.  

4pm: I pick up the golden child and we head home and play for a bit. I make him some dinner and a smoothie for dessert and then start getting him ready for bed. During weeknights, we try to put him to bed by around 7pm, some evenings more successfully than others. He’s asleep by 7.30pm and I go and get us sushi for dinner (€22). 

8.30pm: We eat dinner and watch TV. I watch the second half of the Napoli Barca game and then head to bed afterwards at around 11pm.

Today’s total: €22


6.45am: I’m on pick up duty again today so I’m up early and out the door by 7.10am and in work ten minutes later. 

8.30am: I make some porridge for breakfast. A lot of my colleagues have a food stash for breakfasts and snacks, and I am no exception. 

12pm: I go for a run during lunch with a colleague. I try and run during lunch once a week, but I’ve been a bit lazy since the new year. The world’s biggest half marathon is on in Gothenburg each May and I have run it every year since moving here – it’s a great way to keep fit over the winter and spring, before gradually undoing all the work during the summer. We finish the run by 1pm. I grab a takeaway salad (€8) and eat by my desk. 

4.30pm: My girlfriend and I both had late meetings today (which is uncommon) so I pick up the young lad a bit later today. 

6pm: I meet a friend in town for a few beers – I may have had a few more than one or two. I get home at close to midnight, raid the fridge and fall into bed. I spent €50 on drinks and food.  

Today’s total: €58


7.30am: I wake up feeling very sorry for myself. I’m not dropping our son off today and I decide to stay home and work in the morning and take a few Skype calls from home. I get into work at around 10.30am.  

12pm: I have some pasta for lunch that was made the evening before, then I pick up a bottle of fizzy orange (€2.25) to give me some energy for the afternoon. I have a shorter lunch today and go back to work at 12.30pm.  

4pm: I pick up our darling angel and take him to get a haircut (€15). It’s been far too long. 

5.30pm: We get home and I start the dinner – roast cod and potatoes. 

7pm: While the bedtime routine is underway, I head out for a walk, listen to a podcast and try to clear my head. The self-pity continues with the only known cure being chocolate. I do a bit of a mid-week shop, pick up the precious cargo (€10) and head home. 

8pm: We watch some TV, read for a bit and go to bed at around 10.30pm.  

Today’s total: €27.25


7am: I wake up and get our son and myself ready. We decide to have breakfast at home again, so I text the pre-school and let them know. I drop him off at 8.30am and I’m at my desk 15 minutes later. 

12pm: I was planning to run during lunch, but I decide to skip it. I could blame the ice and snow, the arctic wind, but the reality is that I’m feeling a bit lazy. I slightly miscalculated the portions for dinner the previous evening so there was only enough for one lunch. Being the gentlemen I am, I offer it to my girlfriend (she was actually just up earlier than me and swiped it). 

I go for lunch with a colleague and we each get a poké bowl (€12.20) which was delicious. Raw salmon is definitely better for you than a run in -3 degrees. It’s also his turn to buy the coffee today.  

4.45pm: I was planning on heading home after work but I get a text earlier in the afternoon from a friend to meet for a drink. The Friday thirst is strong. I ask a few colleagues if they want to join and, amazingly for Sweden, they agree at short notice. 

After work drinks usually require weeks of planning. We actually keep it well behaved for a change and I’m home at 7.30pm having spent €29.25. As is usually the case, I fall asleep in the bed beside my son after reading to him and I’m woken up by my girlfriend at around 8.30pm. 

9pm: We have a frozen pizza and watch some TV. The drinks earlier have knocked me out a bit and I head to bed at around 10.30pm. I try to read for a bit but it’s not happening.  

Today’s total: €41.45


8.30am: I wake up but don’t get out of bed until around 9am. The weather is awful today, and the others head out to the swimming pool. I have breakfast, do some housework and read for a bit. When I can, I try to listen to Irish radio which is a nice way of keeping up with what’s going on back home. 

12pm: The others get back around midday and we make some lunch. My girlfriend heads into town for a few hours and the two boys play for a while at home. Normally we’d go out and try and meet some friends of ours with kids, but the weather is terrible, so we stay inside. I ask my girlfriend to pick me up a few regular and non-alcoholic beers from the state run off-license (€13.20) It’s the only place in Sweden that you can legally buy alcohol and it closes at 3pm on a Saturday and it’s not open at all on Sunday. That took a little getting used to. Now when I go home, I find it weird to see alcohol for sale in the supermarket.  

5pm: In Sweden, for nearly every kid, Saturday is sweets day and it’s no exception in our household. So we brave the elements (I drive) and we go to our local sweet shop. We may as well pick up a few for ourselves while we’re there (€2). 

5.45pm: Naturally, we use the sweets as a bargaining tool to make him eat his dinner. We don’t have to try too hard as he has pancakes this evening. After dinner he watches a bit of TV and we then get him ready for bed around 7.30pm.

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8pm: Our overtired child refuses to go to bed. He insists that his mamma reads him a book this evening, so I go out for a walk and pick up a carton of milk on the way back (€1.80).  

9pm: We have dinner – I make a rocket salad. We chill out, have our sweets and a couple of drinks. We head to bed at around 11pm. I read a little before falling asleep shortly after. 

Today’s total: €17


9.30am: We get up a little later today. Weather is still cold, wet and windy so we have breakfast and stay home most of the morning. Sweden is great, but the winters can drag on. 

12pm: We decide to go to a house viewing as we don’t have much else planned. We’re not serious about buying yet, but we are thinking about moving so the odd time we’ll visit a house for sale to get an idea of what we like or don’t like. This house was quite nice but needed a bit of work and seemed a bit overpriced in my opinion. 

1.30pm: I drop the others into town. They are going to the cinema to see a Swedish children’s film (nap time for my girlfriend). I head home and pick a friend up on the way and we go for a run. The weather has improved a little but it’s still quite windy.  

3pm: I get back, have a shower, have a bit of lunch and watch some football. The others arrive back at around 3.45pm. 

4.15pm: We go to a gardening shop and we buy a few plants for the apartment (€37).   

5.30pm: Back home again and we prepare dinner for our son. They Facetime his mormor (granny) and that’s my cue to go and do the weekly shop (€40).  

7pm: We start the bedtime routine and while he is being put to bed, I make the dinner. We eat at around 8pm. I felt like having a burger, so I made portobello mushroom and halloumi burgers for us. I’ve never tried them before and they were, as Damien Duff would say, pretty good.  

9pm: We chill out and watch some TV before going to bed at around 10.30pm. 

Today’s total: €77

Weekly subtotal: €249.20


What I’ve learned:  

  • I’m a little surprised by how much I spent this week, some of it from my own account and some on the joint account. I could say that there were a few unusually large expenses this week like the midweek pints and plants, but there is always an unusual expense really. 
  • A find a good way to save and plan is having multiple accounts. With my bank here I have 6 or 7 different savings accounts that I usually put money into each month. For example, the standard current account, joint current account, savings account, summer holiday account, apartment repair account, etc.
  • Without waxing lyrical too much about the Swedish utopia and extolling the virtues of where I live, in my opinion, Dublin is a better place to live if you are single or a couple without kids. There is more happening, the social side is better, there are very good job opportunities, salaries are higher and so on. However, if you have kids then I would say Sweden is much better for childcare costs, shared parental leave, free healthcare and the right to take time off work when your child is sick. 
  • I was reminded of a valuable lesson this week – midweek drinking is rarely ever worth it. 

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