Money Diaries: A civil servant on €42K in Dublin currently on maternity leave

2022-05-28 04:38:01 By : Ms. LINDA LI

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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 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 quality assurance analyst in biopharmaceuticals on €99K living in Dublin. This week, a civil servant on €42K currently on maternity leave living in Dublin. 

I am a 33-year-old civil servant, on maternity leave living in Dublin with my husband and two children. We bought our house back in 2014 when house prices were very reasonable compared to now and we released some equity into our house in 2019 to do an extension and add a downstairs bathroom, etc.

I am currently saving to take 16 weeks of unpaid maternity leave and will save enough to cover my share of bills during this period. It will be very tight for me during this time off, but I will never have this time with my young children again so it’s worth the sacrifice.

My mam is our childcare as I work a three-day week, which makes such a difference to our income. I genuinely don’t know how people can afford childcare, especially in Dublin. It’s outrageous.

We haven’t been abroad since the pandemic started, so we have booked to go away at the end of May and my other half is saving separately to cover our holiday.

My husband pays the mortgage, which comes out of a separate account. We switched mortgages in 2020 and the repayment was slightly reduced but we kept our original payment of €1,300. It’s a small overpayment, but we’ll look to increase it when we’re comfortable. I lodge €1,000 per month to our joint household account to cover bills. We would like to put in place some long-term savings/investments for our kids, but we just haven’t sat down and looked at the options available yet.

Occupation: Civil servant Age: 33 Location: Dublin Salary: €42,000 approx Monthly pay (net): €2,592.30 paid fortnightly

Transport: Husband uses the car primarily and diesel is taken from the household expenses Mortgage: €1,300 (husband pays) Household bills: €300 Health insurance: €137 for me and the two kids Groceries: €600 Gym: €32.99 Phone: €28.91 Subscriptions: Netflix – €12.99, husband covers Spotify

7.45 am: I wake up. Toddler is still asleep, so I enjoy 15 minutes scrolling aimlessly before they wake up.

8.30 am: Time for breakfast – porridge with raisins, honey banana and glass of milk. Tea for me.

9.00 am: Bathe baby as we have an appointment this morning. Other half has the car today so set out at 10am for appointment. A 25 minute walk. We have a Ride on Board attached to the pram for our toddler and it’s the best money we’ve ever spent.

12.00 pm: We arrive home and I make lunch of cheese and spinach quesadilla and some mango.

1.00 pm: Nap time for toddler. Two hours of peace so I watch the last episode of season two of Bridgerton as I binged at the weekend and have some tea and cuddles with baby.

3.00 pm: Toddler is awake so make a quick snack of apple slices, crackers and nut butter. 

3.30 pm: Tesco delivery arrives with the weekly shop (€147.23, which comes from household account). Only toddler nappies this week. We try to buy each on alternate weeks and don’t use formula so that saves a bit. It takes about half an hour to put it away with the help of toddler.

4.00 pm: Spend afternoon in the garden playing with bubbles and generally upending the place.

6.00 pm: Husband arrives home and we have dinner of mixed veg omelette with sweet potato wedges.

7.00 pm: Toddler goes for a bath while I tidy up downstairs and get baby ready for bed.

8.00 pm: Toddler to bed and I have a quick cup of tea with husband and take baby to bed at 8.30 pm.

8.00 am: Same breakfast as morning above.

10.00 am: My mam collects toddler. She does this a few times a week to give me a break with the baby and I catch up on jobs from the weekend as we had a family party in our house on Saturday, so everything piled up.

12.00 pm: Make toast and scrambled eggs for lunch and scroll on my phone while baby naps.

3.30 pm: Toddler arrives home and mam stays with both kids. I’ve a meeting with toddler’s playschool as he’s starting part-time soon. Fees are only €35 for two half days from 9 am to 12 pm per week.

5.00 pm: Pop into Tesco on the way home and grab some mash and chicken slices for my mam. (€3.60)

6.00 pm: Dinner of mash, peas and veggie nuggets for dinner, most of which end up on the floor.

7.00 pm: Bring toddler up for a bath and then we watch some Cocomelon before bedtime. They don’t get much TV but it’s a way to wind down before bedtime and it works for us.

8.00 pm: Toddler into bed and I give downstairs a quick clean up before baby and I head to bed.

9.00 pm: The playschool toddler will be going to has a uniform so I purchase it online – €42.90 for the jumper, bottoms and polo shirt. I’m happy that there is a uniform as it takes the hassle out of choosing outfits every day.

10.00 pm: Just as I nod off, baby wakes and so the night feed cycle begins.

8.00 am: Same morning routine – consistency is key with young kids.

9.00 am: Our washing machine broke last week and the new one is delivered. Husband paid for this. I have a mini meltdown when the guy who delivers it says husband didn’t pay the installation fee.

9.40 am: Out the door for toddler group which is €3 at our local centre. I find these groups great as toddler missed out on a lot with Covid, so it’s great for them to socialise. The €3 covers refreshments and it’s lovely to have a nice cup of tea and chat with other parents.

12.00 pm: Arrive home and make a quick lunch of a cream cheese bagel, yoghurt and strawberries. I sneak a small Dairy Milk while toddler isn’t looking.

1.00 pm: Toddler and baby both asleep so I book a hair and makeup appointment for an upcoming wedding (€3 deposit to book). Make a batch of soup and a wholemeal bread mix while both sleep and listen to Newstalk.

3.00 pm: Toddler wakes up and husband arrives home from a work event away.

3.30 pm: Husband fits the new washing machine. Installation charge was €50, so we saved on that, so he tells me.

5.00 pm: Have soup and bread for dinner. Toddler only eats the butter off the bread. We’re in the not liking food phase.

8.00 pm: Same evening routine and toddler to bed. I head to bed after a cup of tea with my husband and I look on ASOS for a dress for wedding. Eventually find one which costs €90.80 with husband’s student discount.

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7.00 am: Payday today. €1,068 into my account as €200 is deducted at source into Credit Union. €500 to household account for bills and €300 to my unpaid leave savings.

7.30 am: Toddler wakes up. We’re out early this morning as baby has a GP appointment, so a quick breakfast of porridge, raspberries and yoghurt is had before we head out the door.

11.00 am: Toddler is gone to nana’s for a few hours today, which I’m thankful for as I had a long, sleepless night with baby.

12.00 pm: Baby is napping, so I look online and see I can set up Credit Union accounts for the kids. I get all the documents I need to upload and have both applications submitted within ten minutes. Half an hour later, both accounts are approved. I’m really impressed!

12.30 pm: Make a quick lunch of scrambled eggs and toast, do some housework and play with baby for the rest of the afternoon.

4.00 pm: Toddler arrives home and we spend the afternoon in the garden.

6.00 pm: Husband arrives home and we have dinner of chicken breasts with potatoes and veg.

8.00 pm: Same bedtime routine for myself, toddler and baby.

6.30 am: Last night was rough, so I doze with baby until toddler wakes at 7.30 am. Same breakfast routine again.

9.30 am: Out the door and head to the local Credit Union to lodge €50 into each child’s account in order to activate them.

10.00 am: Walk to the local playground and spend some time there and take a walk around the park. Pop into Mr Price on the way home to buy toddler some sticker books and paint supplies for this afternoon. I also buy a small digger toy that toddler took a shine to. I’m terrible for picking up random toys for the kids, but sometimes it’s not worth the battle (€36.42). Also grab some fresh rolls, falafel, raspberries and biscuits in Lidl for €9.49.

12.00 pm: Home and make lunch, wholemeal rolls with tomato, lettuce and cheese, raspberries and a mandarin. Roll gets launched onto floor so I hit the biscuits.

1.00 pm: Toddler gone for a nap, so I catch up on some jobs and have a quiet cup of tea.

3.00 pm: Toddler awake, so quick snack of strawberry and spinach smoothie and hit the sticker books for the afternoon.

6.00 pm: Husband arrives home and we have dinner together – pasta with hidden veg sauce and salmon.

7.30 pm: Scrolling online while toddler watches Cocomelon and book a visit to a local pet farm that’s doing an Easter trail next weekend. €17 for two adults as under 3s are free.

8.00 pm: Toddler is in bed. I’d normally have a glass of wine on a Friday evening, but baby isn’t in good form and I can sense a long night ahead, so just tea for me.

10.00 pm: Bed for me and baby.

9.00 am: Wake up with baby beside me. Other half woke up with toddler at 8 am. Funny how 9 am feels like a lie in these days.

9.30 am: Have a quick breakfast of bran flakes and tea. The weather doesn’t look the best, so we head to the local play centre to burn off some of toddler’s energy. (€7)

11.30 am: Pop into the local Spar on the way home for some rashers and bread and make eggs rashers and toast for lunch. (€6.34)

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12.00 pm: Other half gone to Smyths. We had a few vouchers from Christmas so decided to get a trampoline with them (€160 but vouchers cover this). Also, buy a new mattress for baby’s cot as they’ll be moving to their own room in a few months (€100 from household account for the mattress).

1.00 pm: Toddler gone for a nap and other half arrives home. Trampoline assembly begins but I’m taking a supervisory role in the whole thing.

3.00 pm: Toddler wakes up and we spend the afternoon on the trampoline.

5.00 pm: Easy supper of veg and cheese puff pastry tart.

8.00 pm: Toddler to bed after bath and a movie, so I have a glass of wine and watch Netflix with husband.

8.30 am: Wake up with baby, have some tea and toast. It’s a gorgeous morning so we get ready to go for a walk on the beach. Toddler brings half their toy collection and we spend some time playing in the sand.

11.00 am: Pop into the local SuperValu on the way home from the beach to grab some pancakes. I normally make them every Sunday but forgot to get the mix. No pancakes, so pick up some hot cross buns, rolls, KitKats and coleslaw. (€9.50 from household)

11.30 am: Have some hot cross buns with fruit, yoghurt and tea.

12.30 pm: Tesco delivery arrives (€120.90). We didn’t need to buy any nappies this week, although Tesco normally has a two for €20 offer, so we stock up when they do. We also buy water wipes in bulk from Amazon as they’re so expensive.

1.15 pm: Toddler goes for a nap, so I start to prep Sunday dinner. The cold weather has given me a notion to do a roast.

3.00 pm: Toddler wakes and we spend the afternoon on the trampoline and playing together.

5.00 pm: We enjoy a lovely roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings and watch a Disney movie together afterwards.

8.00 pm: Both kids bathed and into bed. I head to bed too as other half is staying up to watch Peaky Blinders and I never got into it.

9.00 pm: Scroll on Zalando and spot a dress I like that’s on sale for €30. We’re going on holiday in a few months, so I think it’s justified.

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