Money Diaries: A charity shop manager in the south of the country trying to make ends meet

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This week, our reader is a charity shop manager receiving the Covid payment while lockdown continues.

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 primary school teacher renting a house in Dublin. This week, a charity shop manager in the south of the country struggling to make ends meet while receiving the PUP payment.

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I am a Charity shop manager and live in the south of the country. I live with my partner and we own our house which is mortgaged. We have about 14 years left to pay. 

My partner pays the mortgage, electricity and internet and I pay other utility bills such as solid fuel, the car and car maintenance. We share the waste collection bill and heating oil. My partner works from home and so we only need one car. I am also paying back a credit union loan. There are about 10 months left on this loan and when it is cleared I will immediately take out another one to put in a new kitchen.

I always have a good credit rating with the credit union which helps if I need money quickly. I do have savings of approx €4000 there and €23 is taken out of my payment and added to my savings each week.

The house is an old house and needed much money spent on it.  All of our excess monies are going into trying to upgrade the house, even with my partner doing a lot of the work himself.

I have been on the Covid payment this year so I’ve had to really budget for birthday and Christmas presents, and I very often put a €50 in from my wages so I’ll have cash when I need it.  I’m never overdrawn but I never have excess cash either.

Occupation: Charity shop manager
Location: South of the country
Monthly pay (net): Normally €2015  or €465 p/w but now I get €350 p/w on Covid so am dipping into my little savings to keep my daily bills paid.

Monthly expenses

Car repayment:  €271
Car Tax & petrol: €126 I travel to work 70 km round trip
Oil heating: €45 or €540 per year
Firewood: €55
Food: €300 each
Mob phone: €25
Health insurance: €117
Bin collection: €15
Credit union: €693
Total outgoings: €1647.60 which normally leaves approx €368 for myself and any other expenses which may turn up, but on the Covid payment, It means I have to add €185 from my savings.

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Monday 

8.10 am: I get up and do some yoga. This is a real indulgence while I am off work as when I’m back at work I will leave the house at 8.15 and never have time for this.
Right now I am off because of Covid but will be back at work soon behind the scenes.

11.00 am: I do some chores in the morning and then I meet a friend we go for a walk.
It rains heavily and I get soaked to the skin, right through to my underwear. My coat is useless.

1.15 pm: My partner and I have lunch together, another indulgence or perk from being at home at the moment, we have Halloumi and salad with hummus I made myself. This is another up-side of the lockdown, having time to cook and bake. I’m loving it. After I’ve tidied up I put on the fire in the sitting room and I enrol in a refresher Excel course with Alison.com. Most of their courses are free

3.30 pm: I watch a place in the sun. Another indulgence!!

5.30 pm: I prepare dinner. Tonight it is vegetarian moussaka. There is quite a bit of work to it but is really worth it as it is delicious. We finish dinner around 7 pm so after the wash-up I peruse the internet for a coat but without much look. We watch a free movie from Rakuten, it’s not a great movie really so we both read for an hour or two.

11.30 pm: I go to bed.

                              Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

7.30 am: Today is fine so I’m up early. I have great plans as I intend to work on a painting which I started a few weeks back. I’m trying to get back into painting with a view to maybe selling a few to make some money. Dream on girl!! We are almost out of milk so I go to Lidl. I drive because it is too far to walk and I buy a few other groceries which come to €14.55.

1.00 pm: I’ve decided to make a soup for lunch, I had picked up butternut squash in Lidl for .89c and I add a few more ingredients. It turns out ok, we have it with homemade bread.

3.00 pm: I’m starving so I make toasted sambo’s for us, so much for my diet anyway. I’ve done everything except for my painting. Now I decide the light is too poor to paint so I’m going for a walk on my own.

5.00 pm: I dawdle around the house until it’s time to start dinner, tonight its quick, pork curry. It’s one of my favourite dishes and I make it all from scratch. I love the aroma of the spices.

8.10 pm: All tided up after dinner, now we watch a movie. We are watching part one of a trilogy, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I love it and love how independent the girl is in it.
I go to bed at 11 pm with a view to reading but instead, I just fall asleep.

                               Today’s total: €14.55

Wednesday

8.00 am: Today I have a zoom meeting with my line manager. To prepare I do yoga from an app that I have downloaded for free. It gives me the courage to endure this meeting.

11.10 am: I don’t have my breakfast until the meeting finishes, as I always fret before these meetings. It’s not a one-on-one, there are many of us present. Most managers are afraid to speak freely I never say anything either, it’s a bit tense. I’m in great form now that my meeting is over me so I’ll go for a walk as its fine outside.

3.00 pm: I’m back just in time to make a tomato and basil soup for lunch with garlic bread. It is very nice and quick too. I’ve cleared the kitchen table and spend over two hours working on a painting. I‘m pleased with it and my partner loves it. And he doesn’t usually gush. I’m so pleased actually I make us two Irish coffees. Live large!! I relax in front of the fire for a while and chat. We always have plenty of alcohol in the house as we buy in bulk at Christmas or if we have housekeeping money left over we buy whatever is on special offer. Also, because of the lockdown, we didn’t visit anyone over Christmas so we still have whisky and brandy left.

5.30 pm: and I’m off to the kitchen again. Tonight we are having a baked pasta dish with mozzarella and broccoli. It takes about an hour in total so I do the ironing while I cook.

8.15 pm: After dinner, we watch The Girl who Played with Fire, the second film of the Swedish trilogy. It too is great and real escapism.

10.15 pm: After it’s finished I spend an hour looking at coats online again, juggling my money to see what I can afford. My partner is fed up with my moaning so he offers to buy one for me but I decline. Still, it makes it easier for me to buy as I know if I am broke I can always ask him for money. Though that is rare. 

                               Today’s total: €0.00

Thursday

7.40 am: I’m up and running early today. Mainly because I have to do a big shop.
I go early because I hate the crowds later on. It’s not a very large town but the supermarket is not near large enough now. My shop comes to €127.00 but I have two vouchers which bring it down to €107.00. It doesn’t cover everything so I then continue to Lidl and get some extras. My bill here is €37.30 bringing my total shop to €144.30.

1.00 pm: We have a quick lunch. Salad with ham and olives. I bought some cooking apples so I make a tart.

3.30 pm: I am about to go for a walk when it looks like rain so instead I make up two parcels to the post office. One is a few vinyls for a friend who has just bought a record player. They are from my own collection but are ones I don’t listen to often. The other parcel is made up of a book and two DVDs for a relative who lives alone in Dublin and doesn’t meet many people. The total amount for postage is €16.25. I drive to the post office as this is not close by either.

4.45 pm: My partner is finished work so we have a coffee together after I put a free-range chicken in the oven. Free-range is double the price of a normal chicken but as they are only two of us I feel it is worthwhile. Though in fact, I would never buy chicken if I lived on my own.

7.30 pm: Dinner is nice and tonight we watch the last film in the trilogy. Love it too. Afterwards, we watch a bit more tv and go to bed at around 11.00.

                               Total’s total: €160.55

Friday

9.15 am: My partner is off work today so we go for a long walk first thing. We don’t return until 11.30 and then I cook rashers and sausages which becomes a sort of brunch.
Today I am preparing stuff to take to the recycling. I’m in the mood to really clear stuff so I fill the car. We won’t actually go until tomorrow as my partner is working on the house again.

3.30 pm: After a load of manual work and clearing out, we have tea and tart. Yum.
I look up coats online again and still I don’t think I can justify spending that much money. My savings are running low and I have to be careful. It could be another two months before I am back at work.

5.00 pm: Tonight’s dinner is easy to prepare. Salmon pasta made with a cheese sauce and tagliatelle. It looks good and I have a bottle of white wine chilled in the fridge. My partner hardly drinks at all but I have three glasses tonight. Happy days. It’s Friday. He is reading so I play my vinyls. We go to bed around midnight.

                           Today’s total: €0.00

Saturday

8.30 am: I normally go to the small market in our town but as I had already bought veggies in the supermarket I give it a miss.

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12.00 pm: I make some bread and I meet my friend for a walk. We have a laugh which I find I’m having less of during the lockdown.

3.00 pm: It’s a fairly uneventful day, My partner is off work to-day also, and he is cooking tonight. Its a dish he learned from his mother, not at all my fav but I eat it anyway. We did some work on the house again but it is all very slow.

8.15 pm: We Skype friends who live in Canada. They are in lockdown also but it won’t last very long. We speak for over an hour and afterwards we discuss moving to Canada, not for the first time. We both agree that if we had the house finished it would yield a better price on the market but at the moment all that is a pipe dream.

10.30 pm: We start getting ready for bed. I’m not very tired so I listen to music for a while and go to sleep around 1.am.

                           Today’s total: €0.00

Sunday

8.30 am: First thing I do after my shower is walk to the shop to buy the paper and milk.
The bill is €4.40. I spend an hour over breakfast reading and afterwards I prepare the dough for a homemade pizza. In the meantime, I make a leek and potato soup.

2.30 pm: It’s been another lazy day so I get a spurt and take out my painting again. I’m trying something a little different but it doesn’t work out.

4.00 pm: I put all my gear away. The weather is pleasant and my partner cuts the grass. I take this time to look up coats again but now I’ve decided I cannot afford one right now. The good ones are too expensive at €190 and there is no point in buying a cheap one.

6.30 pm: We have dinner, pizza and garlic bread and afterwards watch a Hitchcock movie.

11.00 pm: My partner starts work at 7 so we try to go to bed by 11.pm. In the past, that would have been much too early for me but during the lockdown, I’m sleeping much better.

                            Total spend today: €4.40

Weekly subtotal: €179.50

 

***

Lessons I learned –

  • Looking at my week I see we spend €400 in bills including €75 each for groceries and €16.25 extra spend for the post. So I spend on average a min of €420.00. This has made me realise that I am not very well paid. I am really only scraping by and when Covid is behind us I need to look for a better paying job, maybe I need to up-skill for that. 
  • When my loans are paid off I will have extra cash for myself but that is not for a while yet. At the moment my outgoings are higher than my income, €420 going out p/w and €350 (Covid payment) coming in.
  • During normal times I would have €45 p/w left to buy clothes, doctor and dentist bills etc. I know I’m luckier than some but I don’t feel very lucky, to be honest.
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