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 [email protected] 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 public servant on €83K living in Dublin. This week, a doctor on €83K living in the midlands.
I’m an immigrant healthcare worker who relocated to Ireland ten years ago. I’ve lived in different parts of the country due to the rotational nature of my job. I currently live alone in rented accommodation in the north midlands.
At the end of 2019, I made a decision to be intentional about my finances. I became strategic about what my various accounts can do. I presently have a current account with a bricks-and-mortar bank to receive my salary. I don’t use the card for this account, unless I want cashback when grocery shopping. I also have a credit union deposit account and an N26 account for my subscriptions. I enabled the maximum roundup (x5) to go into a dedicated Space. I use my Revolut account for day-to-day purchases and online shopping. This also has the maximum roundup (x10) enabled. This is the main card I use.
I feel satisfied with my current progress, and keeping this diary gives me the opportunity to re-evaluate. My typical week is filled with 9-to-5 community-based work and additional on-call work in the hospital on weekdays and weekends. I used to get to Dublin frequently for dance classes, socialising, etc, but other priorities and the pandemic challenges have interfered with this. The main reason being specialty membership exams I have to sit in the coming months.
Location: North midlands
Salary: €83,700 (includes overtime)
Monthly pay (net): €3,400 basic
Transport: Diesel – €70, car wash – €6
Household bills: Smart metre – €80-100, heating – €295 (three-monthly)
Health insurance: €90
Subscriptions: Patreon – $5, career-related membership – £8, Fitness Blender – $9, Dropbox – €12
Pension: Deducted via PAYE
Credit union deposit: 10% of salary
Income protection: €137
Virtual office: €48
Shopping loan: €165 (one payment left)
Toll tag: €1.23 + additional trips
Rubbish and recycling: €18
Grass-cutting: €15 per cut
Start-up contribution: £100
Cinema ticket: €10
Irish residency permit (€300).
Medical council registration: (€605)
Specialty subscription: (£107)
CPD programme: (€250)
Car insurance: (€800 last year)
Car tax: (€100)
Car service: (variable)
Online dance tutorials: ($99)
Social club membership: (€100)
Microsoft 365: (€69).
Anti-virus/Anti-Malware protection: (€40).
5.00 am: I wake up to do some studying. When I finish, I begin my workout.
7.00 am: After working out, I have some herbal tea while preparing for work and my hour-long commute.
8.00 am: I leave to head to work. I enjoy listening to podcasts during my drive. Two years ago, I upgraded my mobile phone plan to allow me to have unlimited internet data for attending work meetings virtually during the height of the Covid restrictions. Otherwise, my phone bill plus regular top-ups of fixed data, was costing the same. With the upgrade, I automatically lost my subsidised Spotify Premium subscription add-on. To add insult to injury, I discovered that the add-on price for Premium had been increased from €5.99 per month to €8.99 per month (which was only €1 less than the standard price). I said I’d do a trial without it, and since then, I have realised that I don’t miss it.
9.00 am: I get to work and prepare to attend the Monday morning meeting.
1.00 pm: It’s lunchtime. I have my packed lunch. It’s a habit I’m still getting used to.
6.00 pm: I try to leave as early as I can to be home for the delivery of my parcel and collection of the item I was returning. Despite arriving before the delivery window, the delivery was already done. Thankfully, I was able to catch up with the courier to ask about returning the faulty item. I was told that it wasn’t part of the schedule that day, and would have to be arranged separately. I do a check to make sure everything is as it should be before sending an email to the store to acknowledge receipt of the new item and enquire why the courier didn’t take the other one.
6.50 pm: I go for a quick walk. When I get home, I cook and eat dinner, then browse social media. I notice that the direct debits were taken for my toll tag (€1.23) and my shopping loan (€165.08).
8.00 pm: After cleaning up, I do some reading, then practice a few language lessons on the Duolingo app to maintain my streak, before retiring to bed.
Today’s total: €166.31
5.00 am: Same morning routine as yesterday.
1.00 pm: I eat my packed lunch that I brought with me. I check my email and see a reply from the store. They have arranged for the item to be picked up later this week. I’ll be working from home that day, so it works out well. I feel relieved that I won’t have to worry about not being at home.
2.00 pm: Time to get back to work.
6.00 pm: I get home and make something quick to eat for dinner.
6.50 pm: After eating, I assemble the item which was delivered yesterday, and spend the rest of the evening as I did yesterday.
Today’s total: €0.00
5.00 am: Same morning routine. While settling down into work, I receive a call from a colleague. We haven’t spoken in almost a month due to our schedules. We agree to meet during the coming bank holiday weekend and catch up in person.
1.00 pm: Lunch as usual.
2.00 pm: Back to work.
4.30 pm: I notice a text message from my father, but wait until I arrive at home to ring him.
5.30 pm: He doesn’t answer, so I delay going for my walk until I speak with him
7.50 pm: I go on my walk after our conversation. When I get home, I make dinner and spend the rest of the evening as usual. Ordinarily, I would have been attending my fortnightly social club meeting, but I chose to skip it today and use the time for studying.
Today’s total: €90.58 (direct debit taken for health insurance)
6.00 am: I’m working remotely today, and allow myself a little lie in before starting my morning routine. Today is payday. I transfer €170 to my credit union account and €400 to Revolut for later.
10.00 am: I log in and attend our weekly teaching meeting.
11.30 am: The doorbell rings and it’s the courier to pick up the returned item.
12.30 pm: I have my usual lunch, instead of succumbing to the temptation of eating something else. I make a transfer of £200 (€236) from Revolut, as my payment towards the start-up I’m supporting. My contribution is £100 a month, but I forgot to send it last month.
3.00 pm: I attend a weekly lecture series for one hour, and a monthly masterclass series at 5pm. They both provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points, which I need as proof of continuing education.
8.00 pm: I make dinner for tonight and tomorrow, before going for my walk. Then spend the evening as usual.
Today’s total: €406.00
5.00 am: The usual morning routine. I have a busier work day ahead, and will be on call from the evening until tomorrow morning.
1.30 pm: As it turns out, I end up having a half day! I eat my packed lunch when I get home. My rent comes out today (€800) and my N26 fee (€100).
4.00 pm: My work for the night begins. I brought my dinner with me.
Today’s total: €900.00
11.15 am: I arrive back home and immediately pack up the waste and recycling to be taken to the recycling centre before it closes (€10). On my way home, I stop to fill up the car. I prefer to top up before it drops to half tank, but didn’t get around to doing so in the last while, before the gauge got close to the quarter mark. I also pick up a newspaper (€94.91). I get home, have something light to eat, refresh myself and rest.
7.05 pm: I go to SuperValu for groceries and I request €20 cashback (€179.47).
7.45 pm: I get home and unpack my shopping bags, arrange the fresh flowers into a vase, and water my potted plants, before I go for my walk.
8.30 pm: At this time, it’s too late to think about cooking dinner. I eat some pre-packaged food I bought earlier. I relax and watch a movie.
Today’s total: €284.38
7.30 am: I wake up and do my workout. Afterwards, I begin to do the cleaning and laundry.
3.00 pm: I eat a pre-packaged lunch. I’m expecting a phone call from my mentor.
5:05 pm: I go for my walk early, while reflecting on the earlier conversation.
8.20 pm: I place my weekly call to my parents. Later on, a friend rings me and we have a long chat. I eat the same dinner as last night. Cooking will resume tomorrow!
Today’s total: €0.00
Weekly subtotal: €1,847.27
What I learned –
- Keeping this diary has provided a better insight into my money habits. I can see that there may be areas I could tidy up.
- I have a few goals I’d like to get started with after I’m finished with taking my exams this year, the first being postgraduate studies, and I’ll have to spend less and/or grow my income with additional streams, to cover the tuition fees.
- The importance of financial literacy can’t be emphasised enough. Budgeting hasn’t been (and still isn’t) a strong skill of mine, and I’m working on it.
- I am grateful to have a means of livelihood during these times, but it made me almost panic to think of how financially vulnerable I had been. The first concrete step I made towards financial stability was successfully saving €1,000 into a starter emergency fund, and not needing to access it. My previous attempts to do so were unsuccessful until I got serious about what I spent money on. I joined a savings challenge from a template I downloaded online, which guided me through the 52 weeks. I’ve since started an advanced version of the challenge to save €5,000, and it’s going well. These monies are being saved into accounts that I don’t access for expenses, hence removing the possibility of spending them. Another step was to go through my subscriptions and remove any I wasn’t using. For example, I had paid for yearly tennis club membership, but never made it to the courts! I began to pay attention to using the coupons and vouchers that I received from the stores. It feels so good to see the discounts being applied.
- I stopped shopping at random times and now wait as long as possible, until there’s sales/offers or the item becomes a need. This also applies to booking hotels for holidays.
- Enabling the roundup and saving of spare change in my digital accounts has helped me sort out the odd expense, like getting a takeaway. I highly recommend it.