WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie 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 project manager on €67K living in Wexford. This week, a young software developer living in Dublin on €40K.
Growing up my parents would fight a lot over money. My dad would try to save excessively and mum would always complain we aren’t really living when we’re constantly thinking about money.
I feel like I’m always trying to find that balance internally (as most probably do). I try to automate as much of my finances as possible so that I can stick to a budget without thinking too much about it. I don’t intend to buy a house for at least another decade so I’m just saving without any strong goals for now.
Currently, I’ve got a seven-month emergency fund and about a year’s salary in investments. I don’t like to plan for any bonuses since they’re not very predictable but normally I invest some and then I spend some on gadgets (however this diary is only based on my base pay).
Over the next few years, I’d like to increase my annual holiday fund a lot more so that I can try out the digital nomad lifestyle. I know my partner has similar goals too and has a similar attitude towards money so it’s nice to be on the same journey together.
Occupation: Software Developer
Monthly pay (net): €2,467 (€216 Pension + BIK for health insurance)
Rent: €775 (my half for a two-bedroom flat)
Household bills: €90 (my half; 60 Electric, 30 Wifi)
Phone bill: €10
Subscriptions: €10 for PS Now
Critical Illness Cover: €21
Savings and Investments: €875
Annual expenses fund: €150 (clothing, gifts, medical, etc. managed on Revolut vaults)
Annual holiday fund: €125
7:30 am: I force myself to get out of bed and put on my workout clothes since that mentally prepares me to go for a walk and do some light exercise. I return home and make myself some porridge and write in my gratitude journal. Since I’ve woken up an hour later than usual, I don’t have enough time to feel relaxed. I tell myself I will go to bed on time tonight so that I can fix my schedule again.
9:10 am: I’m currently working on a massive piece of work with a lot of possibilities of things breaking. Unfortunately for me, I’m supposed to be delivering this work by the end of tomorrow so I’m already feeling the pressure even though it’s only a Monday. I know I tend to make more mistakes when I’m stressed so I decide to take the full hour for lunch so I can take a step back.
12:00 pm: For lunch, I make a salmon sandwich and snack on some nuts and seeds since I’m still hungry after the sandwich. I pop into Nourish since I need to replenish my shampoo (€13.50) and also managed to make a quick run to Centra for a return package. I’m expecting a few more packages to arrive this week since I spent most of my yearly clothing budget recently and am still in the process of trying and returning things that don’t fit.
1:30 pm: I resume working and feel quite victorious since I feel the end of this work project ticket is near; however when I start manually testing the work I realise I’ve broken something in the system. I spend the rest of the day trying to fix this but end up finding myself going nowhere. The mystery behind this bug captivates me since I’m absolutely clueless about what’s going on.
6:00 pm: I decide I’ve had enough and laze in bed in an attempt to distract myself from work. Somehow I fall asleep super early by about 6:30 pm (there goes my attempt at fixing my routine!).
3:00 am: My body clock tells me it’s morning but it lied. I turn on a calming twitch stream and eventually go back to sleep.
Today’s total: €13.50
6:30 am: I go for my usual morning walk and exercise but I have to rush it this time since I intend to start work a bit early to finish up on yesterday’s work in time. I microwave my porridge instead of making it on the stovetop to save time. I take my breakfast to the desk with the intention of eating while working.
7:50 am: I get into deep work straight away and pick up where I left off yesterday. Just when I think I’m getting productive my machine crashes and then takes quite a while to reboot. In the attempt to reboot I find Microsoft has left a very useful error code that leads me straight to the root of the problem I was facing (who doesn’t love an unexpected breakthrough!). I make notes of what steps I intend to follow next and pause for a break.
12:30 pm: For lunch, I make an easy pasta with canned mackerel and some veg. I can hardly enjoy my lunch since all I can think about is finishing up on my task.
1:00 pm: I resume working in a much more structured manner and things start falling in place. Close call but I make it just in time for the delivery.
5:00 pm: All done with work. I start studying for a certification I’m aiming to get by the end of this year.
6:00 pm: I browse the internet for a while. For dinner, we have oysters and bread and then I continue browsing. I look at Pinterest boards, I search for answers to random questions that pop into my head about skincare. I wonder if I should pop into Lidl for a few items I forgot to buy on Sunday and then decide against it.
10:00 pm: I take a hot shower and go to bed.
Today’s total: €0.00
6.45 am: Woke up without the alarm so I know it’s going to be a good day. I go out for a walk and a bit of exercise and then I make myself a nice bowl of porridge with some grapes and pomegranate and start writing in my gratitude journal. Today’s topic is why I’m grateful to be 24 and what stood out for me the most is that it’s a great age to try new and bigger projects and mistakes are more easily forgiven I think.
8:15 am: I quickly run down to Lidl to pick up some milk and rocket (€2.13) and to drop off a return package (Patagonia customer service is excellent, btw). I then give my houseplants a trim and start getting ready for the day.
9:00 am: I start my work day – it’s mostly a day of meetings since every quarter we stop coding for a few days and instead we talk to stakeholders about upcoming work and try to get the work items in a good state so that delivery is a bit more efficient. I really enjoy this phase since it’s always nice to get different perspectives in and I enjoy thinking about the big picture and connecting that to the work we do on a day-to-day.
12:30 pm: A friend and I decided to pack lunch, grab a latte (€3.50) and go down to a nearby park. For lunch today I’m having some quinoa with rocket, beans and sea bream fish. It wasn’t as nice out as we were expecting but it’s still nice to be able to get outdoors for lunch and of course, to catch up with her.
1:30 pm: I resume work and all the meetings resume too. After a while, it starts feeling a bit exhaustive since we forgot to take breaks and active meetings can be energy-intensive.
5:30 pm: It’s the end of the work day so Significant Other (S.O.) and I watch mindless YouTube videos for a while while we unwind for the day. For dinner, we make spaghetti and meatballs. I fall asleep before I know it.
11:15 pm: I wake up worrying about a totally unrealistic scenario in disaster recovery. S.O. consoles me and we go to sleep after a while.
Today’s total: €5.63
7.20 am: I wake up feeling quite miserable from last night’s interrupted sleep. I go for a short walk and try a bit of exercise but I’m literally falling asleep on the exercise mat. I decide to call it quits and didn’t write in my journal either. I make a nice bowl of porridge with golden berries and pomegranate and realise I need a strong coffee. I pop into a cafe and get a croissant for S.O. along with the coffee for myself since I know he really likes this cafe in particular for their croissants (€4.95).
9:00 am: It’s the usual work day with a continuation from yesterday’s meetings. My energy levels start recovering as one of my teammates always puts me in a good mood. She’s about to get her second dose of the vaccine and I’m looking forward to it for her.
12:30 pm: For lunch, I heat up a chicken curry with rice and a side of mini peppers. I fix an alcohol-free drink and enjoy it under the sun while I reply back to a few emails.
1:30 pm: Back to work and the work items we were working on are finally taking shape. We start getting sign-offs from stakeholders and socialize what work and deadlines we’re committing to.
5:30 pm: It’s home time and somehow it already feels like a weekend. I stay at my desk to study for the certification.
6:30 pm: I look in the fridge and it’s still quite full even though it’s nearing the end of the week. I try to finish up some of the leftovers by putting them in a bowl of instant ramen. I also steam some dumplings but realise it’s too much food so save some of the Ramen for later. S.O. invites me to dinner with his friends on Friday- I secretly hope we won’t be getting ramen.
8:30 pm: After watching a few too many youtube videos I take a hot shower and we eventually fall asleep by about 10:45 pm.
Today’s total: €4.95
6.30 am: The usual walk and exercise with a podcast. According to the podcast 86% users when given the choice of personalisation vs data privacy prefer to keep their data private; I’ve always been open to sharing my data but that stat made me wonder if I should change my privacy settings too. I write in my journal and get ready for the day.
9:10 am: It’s back to coding and I’m pairing with a teammate on a ticket. I let them take the lead and try to contribute while not getting in their way. We eventually find a good way to work simultaneously on two separate but related pieces and make really good progress.
12:30 pm: For lunch, I make chicken wraps and eat it under the sun.
1:30 pm: Work again and we continue on with the ticket. Since it’s quite a massive piece of work I expect that we’ll continue to work on this next week as well.
5:30 pm: S.O and I get dressed to go meet his friends for dinner. We all decided to get takeaway fish and chips (€11.90) and I also went into a nearby Centra for some Innocent juice to pair with it (€2.75). We eat our meal at one of the new temporary picnic tables around town. Everyone comes back to ours for a few drinks and conversation. I’d bought a few bottles of wine a few weeks ago and S.O. and I are still making our way through them so we didn’t have to get more drinks for this weekend.
2:00 am: It starts getting late and everyone says their goodbyes. S.O. and I go to bed soon after everyone’s gone. He does the cleaning up.
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Today’s total: €14.65
10:30 am: Today is a rest day so I don’t mind waking up late and not going for my usual morning walk. I offer to help with breakfast but S.O. denies and cooks us a delicious fry-up. There are even leftovers for later which I’m sure would be great with toast.
1:30 pm: We meet up with one of my friends since he’s in town and walk around the city centre. It’s absolutely packed and we struggle to make our way but eventually find a nice spot to sit and people-watch. It’s been a while since we met this friend so it’s really nice to catch up. The friend had already had lunch and we’re still too full from the late brunch/breakfast so I was happy we won’t be spending money on lunch. After a while, another friend joins in and we get takeaway drinks. Two cocktails set me back €13.80.
7:00 pm: S.O. and I get back home and game for the rest of the evening. For dinner, we eat random leftovers from the fridge but I try to make it look pretty by displaying it on a chopping board and serving it with grapes.
1:30 am: It seems we lost track of time- the game we’re playing has definitely got us hooked. We’re too lazy to refrigerate the remaining food and go to sleep.
Today’s total: €13.80
10:00 am: I wake up hungry and conveniently last night’s food is still at arm’s length from the bed (probably not safe to consume but I eat it anyway). S.O. appears to have gone out and I realise it’s 10 am and that it’s too late to go for my morning exercise so skip it but feel guilty about it. I start preparing for the weekly meal prep by making a shopping list on my phone – this always feels like such a chore.
12:00 pm: I look out and it’s too nice to go grocery shopping so I decide to do it later. Instead, I go to McDonald’s and get a Big Mac and Chips for €3.90 (FYI they do incredible deals on the app – would highly recommend downloading it). I eat my meal at a nearby park then walk around town for a while.
5:00 pm: I try to do my grocery shop at Lidl and pick up a few items (€3.81 – my half) but it’s too crowded so I go to Dunnes instead to finish the rest of my shop. Dunnes has much better variety anyway and since I’d already got my fruit and veg from the Lidl weekly specials, I was quite pleased when the total rang in at €22.50 (my half at Dunnes).
5:45 pm: I meal prep by chopping up fruit and salad veg, roasting remaining veg and chicken, and boiling quinoa. I also make a tomato sauce that can be turned into a soup or used as pasta sauce/curry depending on what I’m feeling during the week. S.O. is home so we decide to continue on with the game. Neither of us is hungry so we share a bag of popcorn and continue gaming.
11:00 pm: I go for a hot shower and start prepping for bed. I panic a little since it’s already past bedtime and tomorrow is a weekday.
Today’s total: €30.21
Weekly subtotal: €82.74
What I learned –
- I tend to spend more in social settings and quite frankly I don’t mind it. Since we’re only just coming out of lockdown and it is summertime I know that this spending would eventually ease off.
- I’d like to work on avoiding convenience items like coffee and McDonalds since even though they’re small expenses they add up and I could get much better value at the grocery store instead.
- I tend to have an energy crash right after work that if I’m able to manage better I will be able to spend my time more effectively. I’m also not a big fan of how different my weekdays are from the weekends. I’d like to bring a little more balance to this dynamic.