WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on The Journal that looks at how people in Ireland really handle their finances.
We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, what they save if anything, and what they’re spending their money on over the course of one week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
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, so let’s be kind.
Last time around, we heard from a senior software engineer on €60K living in the midlands. This week, a therapist on €47K living in the midwest of the country…
I’m a therapist in my 30s living in the midwest of the country. I live with my partner in a small, older home that we’ve been renovating as we go. We’ve completed a lot of work on the house, but there’s still a good bit to do. Some of this we’ve done ourselves (with the help of YouTube and prayers) but for some of the more technical or long-term work, we’ve resorted to builders.
So far, the house has been insulated externally, had a new bathroom completed, new roof and garage built, along with fencing the large garden, some electrical work and installation of Velux windows, some window upgrades (more to do), plastering work and general modernisation of the space. Generally, we save for household-related work and fun times!
My mom taught me to budget when I was younger and when I moved out of home aged 18, I began following all the steps she showed me to ensure the bills never overwhelm while I probably don’t need to do this anymore, it’s a habit I haven’t yet broken!
I have a savings direct debit, which is allocated to house projects, and I also use Revolut’s Vaults. I put €100 a month in the Christmas vault and €50 in a joint savings vault with my partner, who puts in €80 a month. We generally use this for things like property tax, and our TV license at the end of the year, along with some general household maintenance like painting, decorating, new appliances etc. as the need arises. I find this prevents large unexpected bills. The Christmas vault probably does not need to be so high as we have no children. However, we will use what’s left over for a weekend away (in December or early January). The remaining €45 can be attributed to a recent enough pay rise, so I’ve set up another vault to transfer this into with a view to chipping it off the credit union loan.
Additionally, I have two further vaults that I save all the mileage and expenses in monthly – 20% into vehicle upkeep and the remaining 80% into a holiday fund which will cover flights, accommodation, and spending money. We have a holiday booked for later in the year, with flights and accommodation for one leg of the trip paid for, and five more days of accommodation still to book (we like to move around on holidays if it’s a longer stay). I’m looking forward to the sun and some R and R! Regular holidays were not high on the agenda over the last couple of years due to some significant household projects, but we’ve both come to the realisation that holidays are important and foregoing a yearly break makes us both feel resentful and overworked, so we have decided to prioritise holidays for a while. Equally, it’s a terrible time to hire builders with the price of materials skyrocketing, and we can hold off on remaining housework for the time being until things look like we may get better value for money.
I find the system of Revolut Vaults easy to manage and track on my account. I read somewhere once that if pots of savings are given names for what we hope to use them for then we are less likely to dip into them. It stuck with me and try to follow it as best as I can!
Salary: €47,600 (approx €2,600 of this can be accounted for in additional work duties which are dispersed per annum throughout my salary with some months yielding a greater portion of this than others. My partner earns a similar wage to me – slightly higher, but not by more than a few thousand, which after taxes and pension contribution, amounts to little difference month on month.)
Monthly pay (net): This varies due to additional duties wage – this month it’s €2,938.10.
Work-related expenses and mileage: Anywhere from €400 – €1,000 (last month €1,100 and change, this month I am expecting closer to €600.00.) This is not paid on payday but later in the month. I always try to save this.
Pension contribution 3.5 %, AVC 1.5%, employer pays 6.5%.
Transport: Approx €250 – €60-ish to fill the tank once per week
Mortgage: €700 – partner pays, and I cover household savings and higher bills – this system works well for us
Household bills: Broadband – €40, heating – €150 (I transfer €150 to the oil company on payday religiously to build up some credit for winter). Electricity and Sky covered by partner.
Health insurance: €54.96
Car insurance: €51.13
Vet plan: €36 – I really like this option. It’s €18 per dog per month and provides two covered vet visits per year per dog, 10% off the dog food and all flee and worm treatment for the year (easy way to spread out the costs of responsible pet ownership!)
Pet insurance: €22
Phone bill: €60 – I cover mine and my partner’s
Life insurance: €30
Bins: €40 – I transfer this on payday, a similar set up to the oil payment
Credit union loan: €400 – fairly large loan but used it for a household project and new vehicle, I overpay this a little when I can, but sometimes you just gotta suck up the interest and go for it!
Groceries: €200-ish – this is matched by partner each month
Subscriptions: Spotify student – €5.99, Amazon Prime – €6 (got the student options when I enrolled in a course last year- no idea how long this will last but I’ll take it while the going is good!) – partner covers Netflix through our Sky bill.
Savings: €400 savings direct debit and €195 savings in Revolut monthly (allocated €100 in Christmas vault and €50 in a joint savings vault with partner who transfers approx €80 each month.
7.00 am: Alarm goes off. Rouse myself and head downstairs for coffee with the partner and let the dogs out. Play the Wordle and send results into the group chat (one Covid habit that has stayed). Flick kettle for the second coffee and it’s into the shower and time to get dressed. I make my second coffee and it’s straight on the computer for work. I don’t usually work from home but I’m admin-heavy today, and it’s easier to complete this in a distraction-free environment.
11.00 am: Breakfast banana and yoghurt.
1.00 pm: Lunchtime. Shopping day is tomorrow, and fresh vegetable supply is running low. I make an omelette with some onion and mushrooms.
1.30 pm: Back to the PC and belt through my tasks with all the efficiency, enthusiasm and productivity of a Monday.
5.00 pm: Log off. Straight in the car and off to a board of management meeting. I’m on the board of a local charity. I find this a really rewarding and low-commitment volunteer option. It’s also great for professional development on the CV. For anyone considering becoming a director for a local charity, I would recommend jumping in and going for it, there’s nothing to lose and my experience has only been positive thus far.
7.30 pm: Back home and my partner has made dinner – delighted that I didn’t have to cook! We chill for the rest of the evening between cuppas, chats and Netflix.
11.00 pm: Time for bed!
Today’s total: €0.00
7.00 am: Hear my alarm, up and at ‘em. Same routine as yesterday.
7.30 am: It’s payday, so I’m plus €2,938.10. I immediately get to work on money management: €195 transferred to Revolut savings (€100 for Christmas, €50 to our joint savings vault, and €45 into the pay rise vault), €150 to the oil bill, and €40 to bins. I pay €80 on the credit card bill. I don’t normally have a credit card bill but I made a significant purchase for my partner’s upcoming birthday a couple of months ago and instead of going into savings, I used the card. I’m paying no interest as I pay well over the monthly minimum and I should clear it next month, so I’m comfortable with the choice I made.
I then take €1,200 and transfer that into a second bank account. I’ve always struggled with being paid monthly so I pay myself bi-monthly. Two weeks from today I’ll transfer the €1,200 back into my current account and it’s like payday all over again! This took a bit of planning, and I’ve scheduled some direct debits to come out on the 14th of the month and some on the 28th to cover how I work this. This system might not work for everyone, but at this stage, it’s second nature to me.
8.30 am: I have a yoghurt before I hit the road. Hop in the car with a travel mug of coffee and away I go. I’ll be on the road for a lot of today meeting clients.
1.00 pm: Head to the local supermarket and pick up a can of diet 7UP, vegetable soup and a large pack of chewing gum that caught my fancy. (€7.00)
1.30 pm: Back to work for the rest of the afternoon and will be working late this evening. It doesn’t often happen, and the good weather makes me feel motivated to keep going.
6.30 pm: On a quick break I stop into Easons for a wedding card for a friend’s wedding this weekend. (€4.99 – steep, considering the card is not super fancy!)
8.00 pm: Fill up the car with petrol on the way home. (€62.76)
8.30 pm: Finally home. The shopping from Dunnes arrived while I was still out at work. My partner was home to collect it though. €107.07 (partner pays €50, so I pay €57.07). People think Dunnes is expensive, however, with the €10 off €50 vouchers, I find Dunnes a good option. The online shopping aspect stops me throwing unnecessary impulse purchases into the trolly which in the past I have been extremely guilty of. Also, a great time saver and when I can get the €5 delivery slot, I feel like I have really won.
8.45 pm: My partner is working late on a Zoom call this evening, so I’m on dinner duty. It’s salmon and roast veg, but my partner doesn’t eat fish, so I pop a kale and quinoa burger from the freezer in. After eating, I throw on a wash in the washing machine, do a quick tidy up and chill in front of the TV.
11.30 pm: Bed with Kindle.
Today’s total: €401.82
(I won’t count the savings, because it’s technically not spent)
7.00 am: Alarm. I won’t blab on about my morning routine being the same as yesterday – midweek, it’s always the same. Breakfast is a yoghurt and I meal prep a salad to take with me.
8.45 am: I’m out the door. Go through a toll to mid-morning to shorten a journey – €2.00 but I’ll get this back in expenses. It’s back-to-back work until lunchtime – busy day today, a lot to get done before heading into the bank holiday weekend.
1.30 pm: Lunch is the salad I prepped. On the road, I stop at a shop and buy some pitta breads to go with it (€1.25). I’ll take the rest of the packet home. Check my online banking at lunchtime and car insurance has come out (€51.13). It’s a monthly charge I’d rather not have and plan to pay it in full at my next renewal date to avoid the extra costs of spreading it monthly.
2.00 pm: I spend the rest of the day in the office, completing paperwork and catching up with colleagues on the team.
5.00 pm: Hit the road home. Stop in the local village to post a letter on my way. The letter is stamped already, and I didn’t pay for it. Straight in the post box and back in the car.
5.45 pm: Get into the house and take a shower. The dog runs in from the garden having rolled in something awful. Shower the dog with the help of partner (a terrible task!).
6.00 pm: Turn on a wash and attempt to finish a craft project I’m working on that’s time-sensitive. Partner rushes in to tell me the kitchen is flooding from the washing machine (I did not need this!!). Towels thrown everywhere and partner pauses machine to have a go at fixing a suspected blocked drainage pipe (fingers crossed). Updates to follow on this situation. I really don’t want to have to use the renovation fund on a plumber.
7.30 pm: I spend a lot of the evening holding a torch over the drain pipe while partner pours concoctions of drain unblocker through a makeshift funnel (a cut-off 7UP bottle).
8.00 pm: Catch up on TV and chill for the evening, ignoring the washing machine-shaped elephant in the room.
11.00 pm: Bed!
Today’s total: €52.38
7.00 am: Alarm. Standard morning routine.
7.30 am: Partner checks washing machine and the salvage plan appears to have worked. I’ll never call my partner a hoarder again, considering the hoarding of drain unblocker came in pretty handy. I meal prep lunch and breakfast as it’s an early start and fire it into a lunch bag. I plan to eat breakfast at work this morning.
Read Next Related Reads Money Diaries: A 25-year-old recruitment consultant on €40K living in Dublin Money Diaries: A 48-year-old procurement manager on €105K living in Leinster Money Diaries: A senior software engineer on €60K living in the midlands
8.30 am: Leave for the office.
9.15 am: Arrive at work without lunch bag! Totally gutted, I had a really nice lunch and was anticipating a €0.00 total today. Now I need to get both breakfast and lunch in the local shop. Head straight there and pick up a yoghurt for breakfast, a microwave low-fat ready meal, fruit and a drink for lunch. (€8.89)
12.00 pm: Work meetings all morning – busy busy.
1.30 pm: Lunch. I grumble some more about my forgotten meal prep.
2.30 pm: Spend the rest of the afternoon finishing work tasks and meeting clients.
5.30 pm: On the road home.
6.00 pm: Tentatively throw on a wash, take a shower, have a play with the dogs in the garden and start dinner. It’s pasta and roast veg with some vegetarian mince today.
7.00 pm: Start getting organised for the wedding at the weekend, packing a few bits and pieces that I’d rather not be rushing around tomorrow evening doing.
8.00 pm: Chill for the evening with partner, catching up on respective workdays and plans for the bank holiday. Start chatting about our own holiday booking!
11.00 pm: Bed with Kindle.
Today’s total: €8.89 (grudgingly).
6.45 am: Alarm goes off. I’ve to be out earlier than usual today. Thankfully the lunch (and breakfast) I forgot about yesterday is still in the fridge. Standard morning routine and I’m out of the house by 8.45 am.
1.00 pm: Had a couple of appointments this morning and now heading back to the office to reheat lunch. The rest of the afternoon passes quickly enough, and the Friday feeling is growing strong!
5.30 pm: Hairdressers’ appointment for wedding tomorrow (€31.50). Pop into Dunnes for a couple of bits of wedding-related clothing after checking the weather forecast and realising my choice of clothing might leave me cold in the evening. I’m looking for a new cardigan to match my outfit and a few other bits. In and out in record time. (€44.00)
6.15 pm: Get home and start getting packed up. My mother will keep the dogs for us over the weekend. There’s quite a bit to pack. I’m a serial double-checker so the bag will be opened and shut several times this evening. Pop on the kettle and wait for partner to get home. Check the online banking and credit union direct debit has come out. (€400)
8.00 pm. Everyone into the car on the way to my mother’s (more complicated operation than you’d imagine). My partner stops for petrol, which I pay for (€25) and I also flick on to the Just Eat app to order a Chinese takeaway for the three of us to say thanks to my mother for being a dogsitter. Order three different sides and a couple of mains. (€36.70)
8.30 pm: Get to my mother’s and settle everyone in, open a beer and the food is not far behind. We relax for the evening.
Today’s total: €537.20
7.00 am: Up early to get ready for the wedding.
11.00 am: Breakfast at my mother’s.
12.30 pm: Both of us suited and booted and looking well, we head off. Stop at an ATM en route and withdraw the wedding gift (€100 from joint vault). We are not total cheapskates with the card, we contributed a significant gift to the couple for their wedding day event which we paid for, set up and designed. It’s approx. €300-ish in value which we organised in bits at a time over the last few months.
The rest of the day passes in a haze of fun times and catch-ups with people we have not seen in ages. At some point, my partner checks into the hotel. It costs €100 – great deal on rooms. (Partner pays from joint vault). We set up a joint vault a couple of months ago to prepare for the wedding, as the gift, card and accommodation costs together were expected to come to over €550.00. It was helpful to prepare in advance.
Bed is a late one. There was so much alcohol at the wedding it doesn’t appear that I’ve spent much at all between rounds with partner and water breaks in between.
Today’s total: €224.30
7.30 am: Up in time for the hotel breakfast and we start packing up afterwards. Say goodbye to happy couple and make promises about sticking the head into day two later. Partner driving, so I can feel as ropey as I like.
8.00 am: Stop into my mother’s on the way home to collect the dogs. Have a quick catch-up and it’s on the road home.
9.00 am: Arrive home and settle in, do a bit of unpacking.
2.00 pm: Go for a long dog walk to clear the head.
3.00 pm: Back home and think about getting ready for day two. Partner willing to drive again, so I can have a few beers to cure the hangover.
5.30 pm: Head for day two: I get two rounds in over a couple of hours (€21.60). Partner gets in one and one is bought for all guests. Four beers are plenty for me and partner is not drinking so we decide to call it a night early.
9.00 pm: Home. Empty suitcases, throw on a wash and chill for the evening after a heavy weekend.
Today’s total: €21.60
What I learned –
Making a difference
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