Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
This week we're with a 27-year-old environmental scientist who lives in Dublin with her boyfriend, a friend and a dog.
Occupation: Environmental Scientist Industry: Utilities Age: 27 Location: Dublin, Ireland Salary: £38,000 Paycheque amount: £1,010, twice a month
Housing: £330 to share the master bedroom of an apartment with my boyfriend. (He also pays £330.) The apartment is shared with one flatmate and my dog. Loan payments: I pay at least £330 a month towards credit card debt that I stupidly got myself into during uni. Gym membership: £49 Mobile phone: £16 top-up. Includes unlimited data — such a bargain in Ireland! Electricity: £62.57 for my third of the bill. (This can be significantly higher in winter.) Dog food & treats: £22 Transport: £18.40 a month to top up my travel card, which is valid on the regional train, bus and tram. Netflix: Mooch off my parents still. Health insurance: My boyfriend's employer miraculously covers both of us. City car share: Boyfriend pays for our membership, although I reimburse him for trips sometimes. Savings: I try to save £220 per month. Pension: 5%, deducted pre-tax from my salary. My employer matches 7%.
Day One 7.45am: I make myself a vanilla Nespresso while getting ready for work, an essential morning ritual that makes the chore of doing my makeup bearable. The pods are quite pricey, but the expense is justifiable because it's way cheaper than buying a coffee from a café. I'm out the door by 8.45. 11am: My team takes a communal tea break every day around this time. It's great for getting to socialise with your coworkers a bit. I have coffee and brown toast with cream cheese and raspberry jam. My coworkers regard it with suspicion but it really is the best combo! £2.13 12.45pm: I meet my BF for an underwhelming lunch at a nearby "Japanese" restaurant. If this is Japanese food, I'm the Queen of England; it was so bland! BF feels guilty because it was his idea to come here, so he pays. 1.30pm: I compensate for our lacklustre lunch by getting us coffees and desserts from the hipster café next door. I get a matcha latte and a chocolate, caramel, peanut slice. £11.12 3pm: A coworker is leaving our team to work in another department, so I pass on my favourite weightlifting class to go for pints with my team instead (an all-too-common occurrence, I'm afraid). Drinking during the week is normally not something I like to do, however, in Ireland, it is pretty much the main form of breaking the ice with your coworkers. I contribute £8.80 towards the farewell gift another coworker bought. £8.80 6pm: The tradition of buying rounds in Ireland is sacred, and to break it is social suicide. I end up buying my fair share (two rounds) and drink a total of five pints over the course of the evening. Yikes. £30.12 11pm: It's late and I'm not really hungry after all that beer but I know I will regret it tomorrow if I don't eat dinner. I order Indian food to be delivered, and pick at it when it arrives. I sober up while watching two episodes of Orphan Black with the BF and flatmate, and go to sleep way too late. £13.37 Total: £65.54
Day Two 8.15am: I wake up ridiculously late; no time for my beloved Nespresso. When I get to work, I discover that, in a cruel twist of fate, the office canteen is closed. So I venture outside in my hungover state to buy a flat white with coconut milk and a Bakewell pastry. £4.93 12.30pm: Feeling sluggish, I eat a huge salad in the now-open canteen to "undo" the damage from last night and hopefully energise myself. £3.31 5.15pm: Not feeling even remotely energised. I head home and take a power nap (I'm too old for this lifestyle!) and drag myself to the gym. 7pm: I pop into my local Tesco on the way home for some vegetables to jazz up my Indian leftovers. (I bought more than enough for two people; Drunk Me went a bit overboard.) My boyfriend and I eat, and then I play piano for a while to unwind. I conk out by 12, which is pretty early by my night owl standards. £2.50 Total: £10.74
Day Three 7.30am: Feeling human again! I savour my Nespresso while getting ready for work. 9am: I arrive at work and, vowing to get my life back on track, make myself porridge with coconut almond butter and a green tea to enjoy at my desk. I enjoy the vague, smug feeling of being akin to an Instagram lifestyle guru. 10.30am: I browse accommodation online for our upcoming holiday in Italy and send a few Airbnb links to the boyfriend for his input. He approves of the loft I found in Florence, so I go ahead and book it. I've been saving up for this trip and can take the hit. I'm thrilled to be crossing another country off my bucket list — and to be making a pilgrimage to the birthplace of pizza. £305.65 12.30pm: For lunch, I decide to continue my healthy eating streak and get the vegetarian option from the canteen. It is a slightly bizarre stew of mushrooms, butter beans and pickles (?) but it's edible. £4.64 5.15pm: I come home, take the pooch for a long walk (despite the miserable grey weather, which he doesn't mind one bit), then cheer myself up with more holiday planning. BF goes to the shop to buy pesto and parmesan cheese for the pasta he is planning to cook tonight. 7pm: After daydreaming about the Tuscan sun all day, I can't resist running back to the shop to grab a bottle of Sangiovese to accompany our dinner. We cap off the evening by watching a travel show about Italy to get some more inspo for our trip. £8.25 Total: £318.54
Day Four 8.10am: Wake up late (mornings are hard), but still make time for my beloved Nespresso, plus one I bring to my BF in bed. What a lucky guy. 10.30am: Break time. I treat myself to an Irish delicacy known as a "jambon" (basically a puff pastry with bits of bacon and cheese — so heavenly), and an Americano from the canteen. Healthy streak officially ended. £2.95 1pm: My team members and I decide to be frugal and head to the canteen for lunch. It is subsidised by my employer, so it's very affordable. I get a pastrami and Swiss sandwich and a cup of soup for the low price of £2.06. The sun has made a rare appearance, so we go for a brisk stroll along the river before heading back to work. I have to submit my final assignment for an online course my job sponsored by tomorrow, so it's time to get focused. £2.06 5pm: Can't believe the sun is still shining after work! This is a drop-everything situation in Ireland. BF and I take the train to the other side of town to try out a pub that's a converted Victorian schoolhouse. He buys us each a pint and we drink them on the terrace while soaking up that precious vitamin D. 8.30pm: We try to go to our favourite pizza place but they are fully booked. I call my other favourite joints but they are booked, too; poor planning on our part. Finally, we decide to walk back across town to try a hole-in-the-wall place in our neighbourhood and discover it's fantastic! We have prawns in spicy tomato sauce, two personal pizzas, and a couple of Aperol spritzes. Since my BF tends to do a lot more grocery shopping and cooking than I do, I tend to pay for more of our dining out. £47.82 11pm: Living next door to a corner shop is sometimes dangerous. On the way home, we pop in to buy peanut butter Kit-Kats. Our flatmate is home, so we watch a few episodes of Orphan Black together (we are addicted at this point) and then hit the hay. Total: £52.83
Day Five 9.45am: You know you're getting old when you get a hangover from three drinks! A throbbing head is not a great way to start the weekend. Incredibly, the sun is shining again but it can wait until my paracetamol kicks in. I have a piece of PB&J toast. 11am: We take the train a few stops to bring the dog to the groomer. I guiltily drop the pup off (that look of betrayal!) and we go for a run on the beach. 12.30pm: The beach is insanely windy and the run ends up being more of a survival race. We finish our 10k in a nearby park where there's a food market and shelter from the wind. We reward ourselves with delicious vegetarian food followed by a well-earned scoop of gelato. BF has cash (I never do) so he generously pays. 3pm: Time to collect the pup. He is so insanely cute and fluffy; I can't handle it! I happily pay the bill. (Tipping is not really a thing in Ireland, and there is rarely an option to tip when paying by card.) We take the train back home, shower, and promptly pass out on the sofa. £44 7pm: I wake up feeling groggy from my unplanned nap to find that the BF has woken up and is nearly finished making Chinese dumplings for dinner. (Get yourself an S.O. who can cook!) The food is delicious and we finish the bottle of red wine from earlier in the week. 9pm: BF goes to join our friends at a nearby pub, but I have to finish that assignment for my online course first. Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator. When I do finally show up, I quickly realise this is a karaoke ambush! I would never willingly agree to a karaoke night unless many, many drinks are involved. I order myself a vodka soda to catch up and later buy a round for my boyfriend and me. I spend most of the night chatting to various friends on the chilly patio and generally avoiding the din of horrible Journey renditions. £16.55 Total: £60.55
Day Six 10am: Boyfriend imbibed a bit too much last night and now it's his turn to be hungover. We have Nespresso and toast and lounge around since it's grey and horrible-looking outside. I read a book for a while and then we check out apartments online before quickly becoming depressed by the sad, overpriced shoeboxes on offer in Dublin. 11.30am: BF wants to check out a new cookery shop across town, so we head out into the cold for a walk, which ends up being refreshing. He buys a new pizza dish and a pair of kitchen tongs while I peruse the cookbooks. He is still looking worse for wear, so I bring him to my favourite kebab place for my go-to hangover cure. I get us each a chicken shawarma, and it works like a treat. £16.92 3.30pm: Before heading home, I make a quick stop at the tanning salon. I know this is a terrible habit but I go very rarely, only when the endless grey days start getting to me. It's an instant mood and self-confidence booster. £4.13 5pm: No need to eat dinner after our massive lunch, so I putter around and do laundry for a while before we settle in to watch some Netflix. We watch The White Helmets, which is brilliantly made but so bleak. I read my book for an hour before bed to distract myself from everything that's wrong with the world. Total: £21.05
Day Seven 7.45am: Back to the grind. Morning Nespresso like always. I don't even remember what my life was like before this amazing invention. 12.30pm: I have one of those frantic mornings where you look up and can't believe it's already lunchtime. BF is working from home today, so I pop home for lunch. He's made a yummy pasta salad for us to share. 5pm: I'm in meetings all afternoon and before I know it, it's quitting time. I go home, feed the pup, get changed, and head to the gym for a full-body weightlifting session. On the way home, I pop into Marks & Spencer (it's too tempting) and buy some exotic-looking fish fillets from a Scottish loch, and a bottle of Provence rosé. I consider this my reward for surviving a frantic Monday. £16.57 7.30pm: I tinker on the piano while the BF cooks us sautéed fish and veggies. (Did I mention I'm really, really lucky to have a man who can cook?) We eat, walk the dog, and then settle in with a Netflix documentary until it's time for bed. Total: £16.57
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £183.24 Entertainment: £0 Clothes/Beauty: £4.13 Travel: £0 Other: £358.45 Total: £545.82 Ed. note: Amounts converted from euros to sterling