Rainy Day Fund

Being able to make money is great. Being able to pay off debts is great. Being able to take care of the bills is great. But being able to save money – well that’s just super. Every euro that you save is an investment in your future.  

We all have many different reasons to save – could be putting money aside for Christmas, might be saving for a wedding, putting away a few euro each month towards a holiday fund. Whatever it may be, we all know, whether we do it or not, that saving is the right thing to do. But what about saving for the unknown – saving for a not yet established reason. This is what we call a Rainy Day fund or an Emergency Fund.  

The car breaks down and needs a costly new part. The washing machine suddenly stops working. You need to take a last minute trip for an emergency. Whatever it might be, we all have had, and likely will have again, reasons where we need to access money quickly, that is not in our planned expenses for that month. 

Top Reasons why we should all have an Emergency Fund: 

  1. You won’t get yourself in (further) debt if you have a pot of money that can be used for emergencies 
  2. You can cover any items that you may have accidentally forgotten about while doing your monthly budget 
  3. You can support your needs should your income decrease or stop 
  4. You can protect your other savings should an emergency arise – no need to cancel the holiday plans 
  5. You will have less stress when the emergency arises 

So obviously the only way we can build up our Emergency Funds is by having the ability to set aside some money every week or every month, and putting that money somewhere that you aren’t likely to dip into. Take a look at your monthly spending and check the following things: 

  • Could you afford to save a little more each month? 
  • Could you alter your budget to redirect some of your existing saving habits to an emergency fund? 
  • Could you cut something out and sacrifice it in order to build up an emergency fund? 
  • Could you increase your monthly income in some way? 

Very often the easiest way to quickly build up money is by cutting something out of your spending, perhaps going without something that isn’t absolutely necessary or finding cheaper options for something that you use. I previously talked about switching providers – perhaps the money saved by switching providers can be deposited into the Emergency Fund.  

Think of it – if you put as little as €100 each month into your Emergency fund, you will have €1200 saved after 1 year.  

Shopping Around

*TIP for Irish Shoppers: Bookmark this page to refer to the links when working on your weekly shopping list! 

If you’re lucky enough to live close to multiple supermarkets, and have a little time to plan your shopping trips, you can save a lot of money on your weekly grocery bills by shopping around. Competitive pricing and special offers, together with finding store-brand products – can help you make huge savings and allow you to keep extra money in your own pocket for better things! 

When it comes to fresh fruit & veg, the bigger supermarkets will have weekly offers where they typically pick 6 or so items that are all priced from 49c to 99c. If you can keep an eye on these weekly offers, you can either make meal plan choices based on what’s on offer, or visit a few stores based on what’s on your shopping list each week. 

Even though I had previously been spending far too much on my grocery bills, I have always enjoyed keeping an eye out for bargains and would regularly check in with all of the different supermarkets to see what they had on offer each week.  

In order to make things a bit easier, I’m going to include the relevant links to each store’s special offers sections below. My recommendation would be to save this page in your favourites, and refer to it each week as you do your meal planning and write those shopping lists. 



Super Valu: 


Dunnes Stores: 








And it’s not only the bigger supermarkets, very often the smaller shops can have offers. It might be money off your favourite wine, or a good deal on toilet rolls – but keeping an eye on as many shops as possible, is going to save you money. 









Lastly, and though it might not be an obvious choice, the influx of discount stores in Ireland can offer a variety of savings when it comes to grocery shopping. Sometimes you will see kitchen staples, in larger sizes, at a fantastic price. Worth checking out if you have one nearby. 



Mr Price: 


It’s all about being aware of the offers that are out there. It might not suit you to have to visit multiple shops each and every week, but when having extra money in your pocket is a priority, it really does pay to shop around. Be wise about the items you can stock up on, take some time to plan your weekly grocery needs, be aware of what’s in your pantry/freezer and don’t waste anything. 

Making Moves

In Ireland, we previously shared a common and bizarre behaviour of loyalty to our service providers. Largely down to being creatures of habit, lack of knowledge and a slight touch of laziness; we were staying with the same companies for our electricity, tv, phone etc – even though we could likely be making great savings if we shopped around and made some moves. 

Thankfully, recent studies show that the idea of loyalty to institutions continues to decline in Ireland, with more and more of us availing of better deals on a range of services, including our phone, broadband and tv. However, there still continues to be a perceived barrier for a lot us – some believing that the service won’t be the same, or that switching is a large hassle. Let me tell you – it’s no hassle and there has been no difference in quality of services. Another common behaviour is that we may change providers one year, but then forget to look around and move the next year.  Simple tip here is to add a reminder to your phone for 11 months after you enter into any new contract. 

In our household, we have made huge savings by switching providers across a number of services, and though we may not make the same savings each year, we sure as hell are going to look around and try! 

Here are the savings we made by reviewing & comparing and then switching or changing: 

  • €180 a year saved by switching Electricity Providers (from Airtricity to Bord Gais) 
  • €192 a year saved by dropping packages that we weren’t using (HD & Box Sets) from our Sky TV Subscription 
  • €354 a year saved on Vodafone Broadband, simply by calling up and asking why the online only/new user offers weren’t available to existing loyal customers (6 months free, and lower monthly rate) 
  • €276 a year saved by switching to a more suitable Mobile Phone plan for one of us (switched to SIM Only plan) 
  • €186 a year saved by switching Waste Collection Providers, and also opting for a smaller Waste Bin as we recycle and compost more than we waste (from Oxigen to AES) 
  • €192 a year saved by setting the cover on a Life Insurance policy to a more suitable value 

Altogether, this is a total of €1380 a year! Not one of these changes has had any sort of negative impact on our lives, we have not had to go without and the quality of services remains the same. To put this in perspective, this would be (at least) a €3000 Salary increase by the time the taxman gets his hands on it. This is simply by reviewing current policies, and seeing if there are better offers out there.  

You can do it too!! 

Take a look at the below list of services, and ask yourself 3 things: 

  • Have I looked at switching my provider for this service in the last year? 
  • Could I make savings if I switched? 
  • Do I know how to go about switching? 
🚗Car Insurance 💡Electricity Supply Service 
📱Mobile Phone Provider 🛒Grocery Shop 
📺TV Service Provider 🌍Broadband/Internet Access Provider 
💪Gym Membership 📞Fixed Line Telephone Provider 
🏠Home Insurance Provider 😷Health Insurance Provider 
🔥Gas Supply Service 🏦Bank/Financial Institution 
👫Life Insurance 🚛Waste Provider 
💳Credit Card Provider 💸Savings/Investment Provider 
🏡Mortgage Provider 💶Credit/Loan Provider 

You could even go a step further and really think about whether you need all of the services that you are paying for. Do you really avail of the gym membership, or could you look at alternative and cheaper ways of exercising? Is your Health Insurance plan relevant to your needs, or could a cheaper plan suffice? Are you using the max data/minutes/text allowance of your monthly mobile phone plan or could a cheaper plan work for you? 

Of course, along with switching providers, you can also see if loyalty is rewarded by your current company at renewal time. Very often if your contract is up for renewal, they will offer a discount to keep you as a customer.  

The below sites offer a wealth of information for comparing and switching providers, allowing you find the best deal: 





ComReg also offer additional impartial advice for switching providers for Internet, Home & Mobile Phone, in their Consumer Information section: 


Check out your monthly bills, see if you can make savings! Let me know how you get on, or let me know if you’ve switched something else that’s given you a great saving! 

Our Survey Says…

Good news for anyone who has the time to scroll through social media…you can make money!! They say that time is money, and if you can manage to find some free time for yourself, why not use to it make some extra money?  

Online Surveys have become hugely popular over the last few years. They give companies a wide range of opinions from a large cross-section of the population, for a fraction of the cost of the previously common ‘in-person’ focus groups. And on the other side of the coin, the ease of answering a few questions in exchange for money, is appealing to those of us who fancy getting rewarded for the time we spend scrolling on our phones. 

Now, there is absolutely no way that doing online surveys could replace an income, but it’s a simple way to supplement it and bring in some extra cash. Since I’ve started out on my savings journey, I’ve been researching all sorts of ways to not only budget and be wiser with what I already have, but also ways to increase what comes in each month. Online Surveys seemed to be a quick-win to start off with and in a short space of time, I’ve already reaped some great rewards! 

There are many different companies out there doing online surveys, and though there are a lot more in the US, there are still plenty of choices for us here in Ireland. You sign up with an online company, provide some basic details about yourself (never anything personal or confidential), and you then have the opportunity to start taking surveys. Depending on the site, you either rack up points or cash, which can then be redeemed for gift cards for places like Amazon, Argos and Tesco, or you can use PayPal to simply have the money transferred into your account. Surveys can vary from questions relating to your grocery shopping habits or your preferred utilities providers, to sharing your views on advertisements and media campaigns.  

Below are some of the sites that I have been using. I do recommend setting up an email address for surveys, as the many mails from each site do tend to clog up the mailbox. Not every survey will be a match for your profile, but I’ve found I’ve been eligible for at least 1 or 2 a day (sometimes more) on each of the below. I recommend saving each site to your browser favourites, or adding to your home screen if on your phone – makes it that bit easier to check for surveys regularly. 

Opinion World 

Here you earn points for taking surveys, which you can then redeem for a wide variety of gift cards – choosing from physical cards or online e-cards. Points vary per survey, typically depending on the length of time each is predicted to take; and my rewards have been between 50 points and 250 points per survey. There are plenty more ways to redeem, but here’s an idea of the points needed to redeem rewards with Opinion World: 

Opinion World Argos €5 500 points 
 Argos €10 1000 points 
 Argos €25 2500 points 
 One4All €15 1500 points 
 One4All €50 5000 points 
 Amazon £5 585 points 



Not only do Swagbucks have surveys, but you can also earn points by answering daily polls or watching videos. You earn SB (their points system) and can trade them in for not just gift cards, but actual real life money using PayPal. Surveys I have taken have rewarded from 20 to 100 points, with additional points even given when you don’t qualify for a particular survey. They also have a handy mobile app. Here’s a sample of the redemption rewards with Swagbucks: 

Swagbucks PayPal €5 899SB 
 PayPal €10 1500SB 
 PayPal €25 4499SB 
 PayPal €50 8999SB 
 Amazon £3 480SB (currently on sale) 
 Amazon £5 700SB (currently on sale) 
 Amazon £10 1440SB (currently on sale) 
 Amazon £15 2160SB (currently on sale) 
 Amazon £25 3250SB (currently on sale) 
 Amazon £50 6500SB (currently on sale) 
 Amazon £100 14400SB (currently on sale) 


Irish Opinions 

This is one of the few sites available in Ireland that I have come across that actually give you a monetary value for each survey. Though I have noticed a small few glitches with their site (needed to clear cache on more than one occasion just to get available surveys), the rewards are good. They do say that each survey can earn you up to €5, with most I have seen so far being a €1 reward each.  The appeal for me here is that you can redeem gift cards for Tesco, which is a great way to boost the grocery budget. Here’s an idea of the rewards on offer with Irish Opinions: 

Irish Opinions Tesco €10 €10 
 Amazon £10 €12 
 Penneys/Primark €10 €10 



LifePoints is nice, in that along with surveys, they post some general lifestyle and motivational articles on a weekly basis. The surveys I have taken so far have provided rewards of between 60 and 90 points, also with an additional few bonus points if you don’t qualify for the available survey. They too offer a selection of online or physical gift cards, along with the PayPal option to transfer cash to your bank account. Here are some of the redemption rewards from LifePoints that looked good to me: 

LifePoints PayPal €5 625 points 
 PayPal €10 1250 points 
 Amazon £5 730 points 
 Amazon £10 1460 points 
 Amazon £25 3649 points 


Why don’t you join up with some of these online survey companies and start earning some extra cash for your budget, or perhaps some off-budget treats! 

Bargain at Boots

I literally feel giddy with excitement with the savings I have just made at Boots Ireland!! 

Now, I know that my journey is all about cutting back on spending, focusing on saving more and reducing waste – but I’m 35 (soon to be 36 yikes!) and there are some skincare items that I just can’t be without. They’ll all be worked into my budget, and though some are moderately expensive at the time of purchase, they all last a long time and do what they promise! 

One of these products is the No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum. Having tried countless others, I find it really works for my skin and a 50ml tube lasts me at least 2 months. I usually buy the serum when Boots have a special offer, and being on my last tube, had a look today to see if there were any offers on…there were! 

So the 50ml Serum costs €46 and they currently have a 3 for 2 offer on all No7 products. While browsing, I noticed that my usual Dove Body Wash was on half price, and the hair dye I’ve started to use (ditching the hair salon is another change to my budget) was on special at 2 for €18. So take a look at what I spent and what I saved… 

50ml Serum is €46 each 

…but 3 for 2 so 3 Serums for €92, instead of €138  

…but €20 off when you spend over €60 bringing it to €72  

…that’s now making each 50ml Serum only €24 

…Body Wash was less than half price, saving €3.05 

…Hair Dye 2 for €18, saving €10.68 

…THEN 15% off when you spend €80 

…on top of Free Delivery when you spend over €50, saving €5 

…along with 400 Advantage Card Points for spending over €20 

…as well as 700 Advantage Card Points for buying 2 No7 products 

My Grand Total was €78.74, making a saving of €98.63!! The Advantage Points I earned give me €13.32 to spend with Boots when I next need it. 

Just GOTTA love a bargain like this!!! 

Serious Savings!!!

Supermarket Sweep

I don’t know if I’m alone, but I absolutely love grocery shopping! I love checking out the new products, spending my time browsing each and every aisle and searching out the latest bargains. When I am in the US, I will spend hours in Walmart, creatively trying to think of ways to bring home the many products that we can’t get back home without (too much) excess baggage costs! My first time in Sydney, I spent more time in Coles than at the Opera House! I don’t know what it is – I just love browsing in supermarkets. 

So as you can imagine, and as we saw from my analysis into my spending, my grocery bills are far too high. I am spending almost the same amount of money in Tesco/Lidl/SuperValu as I am on my mortgage. For a 2 person household this is simply not required and not sustainable. As much as I enjoy grocery shopping and cooking, it doesn’t have to be taking up so much of my disposable income. So what can I do…. 

As I have said all along, this is my journey – I’m not there yet and I’m learning as I go along and breaking a few years of bad habits. So with that in mind, the below are the steps I am going to take in order to make a huge effort to cut down on the amount of money I spend on grocery shopping. 

1 – Checking what I already have 

Firstly I am going to go through the freezer, fridge, pantry and cupboard to see what I actually have at home. I know that I have the makings of many meals already in the kitchen – I know that for sure because using my freezer is like a game of Tetris!  

2 – Meal Planning 

Using the ingredients I already have at home, I will start to prepare meal plans. Monday to Sunday – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. This will be the initial push to actually use up what I already have. I’ll then continue the meal planning each week when it comes to planning my grocery shopping. 

3 – Making a Shopping List 

I’ll use my meal plans to create a list of what’s needed at the supermarket. There will be some items that I’ll always have on there; such as milk and fruit. The rest of the items will come from what’s needed to make the meals on the meal planner.  

4 – Shopping ONCE a week 

This is my biggest problem – some weeks I am at the shops every day; spending both time and money. I have food at home, but need something; pop to the shop for that “one thing” and end up with a full basket. When I am properly using what I have at home, planning my meals, keeping a shopping list, I should have no need to be at the supermarket more than once a week. I am going to pick a shopping day and stick to it.  

5 – Setting a Budget 

Of course, all the above are good changes (compared to how I have been), but could all prove pointless if I am still overspending. I am going to work out and set myself a monthly grocery budget. My plan is that on the day I get paid, I withdraw that amount and put it in a separate ‘grocery shopping only’ purse. These days I rarely have cash, always opting for the ease of the debit card – but I have a feeling that using cash, at least at the start, will help me out in sticking to the budget. 

So there’s my plan and I’m going to give it my best go. I think better planning and setting a budget will help out hugely in my journey to save money and cut down on waste. I’ll let you know how I get on! 

My lovely Meal Planner, with a perforated Shopping List 

Small Leaks Sink Great Ships

If there was an award for frivolous, pointless spending – I would have been the lucky recipient ten times over. It would shock you (and me!) if I was to know the total of money I have simply wasted. Everything from buying food and letting it go to waste to making extravagant purchases while on nights out (flights, concert tickets to name a couple)– I would be a very rich woman right now if I had been wiser with money over the years. But alas, I was not and I am where I am.  

Benjamin Franklin once said – “A small leak will sink a great ship”, and that’s as relevant to us all today, as it was in the 1700’s. Small purchases can add up quickly. Just think about that trip to Penneys to “have a quick look” – €100 later and you’ve a bag full of socks, candles and clothes that you might wear. Or the scroll through Amazon while you’re watching tv in the evening – before you know it the postman is arriving with little brown packages that you really didn’t need. And it’s not just shopping trips or online browsing – even popping to the shop for milk or bread; you see crisps on offer, chocolate reduced and oh look – there’s a fiver off that wine you like! The trip for bread and milk suddenly costs you €20.  

So how can we stop this type of spending and ensure our small leaks don’t sink our savings ship? We plan. We organise. We spend consciously. We use what we have. I thought I’d share some examples of real-life scenarios, showing the choices I previously would have made, compared with the choices I will make going forward.  

Scenario 1 – On the way home after a long day 

🙁 Zero feet in the save:  “I know I have food at home that I could make a lovely dinner with, but I’m hungry now so I’ll just grab a takeaway on the way home” 

😊 One Foot in the Save: “It has been a long day – I’m so glad I have my dinner prepped for when I get home” 

Outcome: I won’t be wasting the food I have and I’ll have that €10/€20 to spend on something else. 

Scenario 2 – Doing the grocery shopping 

🙁 Zero feet in the save: “These new chocolate bars look so good – I don’t know what flavour to try, so will go with all three”  

😊 One Foot in the Save: “They are the new bars I saw advertised, but I have plenty of chocolate at home. When that’s gone, I’ll give these new bars a try” 

Outcome: Again, I won’t be wasting what I already have at home and I have a few extra euro when I leave the shop. 

Scenario 3 – Buying make-up online 

🙁 Zero feet in the save: “I only need to buy mascara, but if I spend €75 I get a free surprise skincare treat so I’ll add in a  few more things” 

😊 One Foot in the Save: “I just need to buy mascara, the free skincare goodies will likely be sample sizes and I have enough skincare as it is – I simply don’t need it” 

Outcome: I’m not ending up with junk I won’t use and I just buy what I actually need. 

Scenario 4 – Starting a new fitness class 

🙁 Zero feet in the save: “I better buy new trainers, a few new bottoms and some nice new tops so I feel really psyched for my new class” 

😊 One Foot in the Save: “I have plenty of good trainers and fitness gear, and what I wear won’t make a difference to how I get on with the class” 

Outcome: I’m wearing what I already own, I’m not wasting money and I’m not contributing to the overflowing wardrobes. 

Scenario 5 – Browsing on Amazon 

🙁 Zero feet in the save: “Oh there’s a new Food Blender at a good price. I do have a food blender, but this one comes with loads of attachments that I could use for so much” 

😊 One Foot in the Save: “It does look like a good blender, but I really do have one that’s been working just fine. Realistically I’ll never use the attachments. I’ll add it to my Wish List and if I find that I need it down the road, I’ll know it’s there” 

Outcome: I use what I have, I don’t waste money, I get out of the habit of constantly always having to have the newest items. 

So though these are examples of small purchases, that really don’t seem to matter at the time of spending – they really quickly and easily add up. It’s not the takeaway, chocolate bar or new trainers that’s the problem – it’s the bad habits developed from years of not thinking/not planning. I have not had a good thought process with my spending habits. Like Chris and Gwyneth, I’m going to consciously uncouple from my bad spending habits! It’s a new way of thinking; a more conscious approach to money.  

From now on, I’ll use these three questions to understand if I truly need something: 

  1. Do I have one/similar at home? 
  2. Am I going to waste something else by buying this? 
  3. Have I planned for this purchase? 

How about you, are you wasting money on small purchases? Could you too benefit from a more conscious approach to spending?  

Subscribe to Saving!

Let’s do a quick recap on some of the things that I learned by analysing one month of my spending: 

  • I have multiple monthly subscriptions, some of which I could likely live without 
  • The miscellaneous/once-off and fast food spend can quickly add up and are not required 
  • I am spending far too much on grocery shopping 
  • I don’t have any sort of ’emergency’ fund 
  • I am not contributing anything worthwhile to Savings for future-me 

In this post, I’d like to talk about my review of my Subscriptions, and the changes (and savings!) I have made in a short space of time, without even leaving the house! 

The 5 monthly subscriptions that I have are: 

  • Netflix 
  • Audible 
  • Kindle 
  • Dropbox 
  • Spotify 

First thoughts – what is that Kindle subscription for and when was the last time I used Dropbox for anything… There’s two that should be able to go immediately. Though I do regularly use the other 3, I’ll also have a look into those. 

On checking my Amazon account, it looks like the Kindle subscription has been ongoing since July 2018, and likely something I signed up for prior to (or during) a lot of business travel last year. At £7.99 (€9.34) a month, as frustrating as it is to discover I have already spent over €120 on something that I have never used, I can fix that going forward. So with an extra eager click of the mouse, I have chosen the ‘Cancel Membership’ button. And while €9.34 a month might not sound like much, that’s €112.08 a year that was going down the drain and will now be mine again. And you know what – it feels good! 

Staying put in Amazon, I took a look at the Audible subscription. Now, I absolutely love Audible – I think it’s a great app – listening to the latest books, narrated by some wonderful authors and actors. Living in the midlands, with frequent long drives, I find the time flies when listening to a good book. I have a subscription that costs £7.99 (€9.34) a month and gives me 1 credit each month: 1 credit = 1 book. With some of the books priced at €20+, this is not too bad, considering I actually use it. However, on review of my account, I currently have 5 credits to use up, along with some previous books that I’ve bought, but haven’t yet read. As I really am committed to heading towards a lifestyle where I save more and waste less, this is another subscription that can go. I’ll choose 5 good books to use up my current credits, then cancel that membership. I won’t lose the books I’ve already purchased and I can always buy a book as a once-off treat without the need for the subscription. So there we go – another €9.34 a month, adding up to €112.08 a year. There’s that lovely “saving money” feeling again! 

Again staying in Amazon (seems I really like to give these guys my hard earned cash!), I take a look at my Prime Membership. This is an annual payment of £79, and amongst some other benefits; gives access to Prime Video (streaming service), Amazon Music and Faster/Cheaper Delivery. Now I’ve had Prime for a few years now, and really I don’t know why I haven’t cancelled it until now. I really don’t find it that beneficial for people in Ireland as we can’t use the Pantry for grocery items and we can’t avail of the next day delivery, though we can save money on delivery fees for most Prime eligible items. Personally, I don’t rate the offering of TV shows and movies available on Video and I don’t have a need for Amazon Music. So while I’m logged in to Amazon and on a money-saving roll, I’m going to go ahead and cancel this. It’ll also help me stop the frivolous purchases from late-night Amazon browsing. I’m paid up until the end of the year, and won’t lose the benefits until then, but at least it’s another step in the right direction for financing future-me. It’s £79 a year, and last year this worked out at €90.57. There’s another prime saving, excuse the pun! 

Spotify was next on the list, and this is one I use almost daily and at this time, don’t see the need to get rid of it. I pay €12.49 a month for the Premium Duo plan and this means both my partner and I can listen ad-free at the same time – can create and manage our own playlists, while also being able to share playlists with eachother. We both use Spotify a lot for music and podcasts – in the car, on the phone and on the speakers in the house. We don’t stream or buy music elsewhere and I feel it’s worth the monthly cost. Don’t get me wrong, if, God forbid, I was ever in a situation where I needed an extra few quid – this is not a life-essential and I would gladly pause the subscription until I was back on my feet again. But thankfully for now, I am happy with keeping this one and enjoying the great benefits. 

Next up is Netflix. We are definitely fond of an ol’ Netflix n chill in this house, and have so many box-sets and movies that we haven’t yet seen. I find the content is great, they’re consistently adding new series and movies and (once we both reach agreement!) will always find something to watch. We use it on so many devices – on the kitchen tv while making dinner, on the iPad while running on the treadmill, living room for movie nights and bedroom for a quick Ozarks/Black Mirror/Peaky Blinders fix before bed. I also find the Download feature really handy while travelling. So I know that Netflix isn’t something that I’d easily want to get rid of, but nevertheless it’s worth taking a look at my subscription. I am on the premium plan; this allows watching on up to 4 screens at a time, along with Ultra HD and is €13.99 a month. The next plan down is Standard; allows watching on up to 2 screens, and is €11.99 a month. The basic plan allows watching on 1 screen at a time and is €7.99 a month. Now, I know that this is a blog about saving money and I do want to (and need to) cut back where I can. However…we often watch at the same time (me cooking dinner, him on the treadmill!), and I stay signed in at my parents’ house to allow the grandchildren to watch when they’re over. So at this time, I’m not going to make any changes to my Netflix subscription. Though it is good to know the information on the different plans, and again, if I need to make changes in the future I know what my options are. 

Last on the list to review is Dropbox – the cloud storage service. I have had Dropbox for approx 3 years now and I signed up when I was making the move from iPhone to Samsung and wanted somewhere to store my photos rather than transfer them all across to the new phone. So over 3 years later and I haven’t yet taken the time to do anything with the photos, and I also haven’t found the need to use Dropbox for anything else. I am paying €11.99 a month for this. It pains me to realise that I have spent over €450 on something that I really could have done without. But this is all about learning from my mistakes, and now I can do something about it. The plan I have gives me 2TB of storage and I found that I was only using 15GB – and all photos. For now, I deleted a good few photos and copied the rest over to my laptop. Someday when I have some time, I’ll go through the photos in more detail and organise them better. But right now, I have cancelled the plan and will get a refund for this month. €11.99 a month adds up to €143.88 a year so this is another great saving – in just a few clicks! 

So there we have it – I was paying for services that I simply wasn’t utilising, some I didn’t even know I had. I haven’t dropped everything and the changes I have made here won’t dramatically change my life – yet I have just saved €458.61. This is simply by reviewing what I am spending, and comparing that with what I am actually using. This is a really positive start for me, and I’m so glad I’ve started on this journey! 

Why don’t you have a review of your own? Are you paying for monthly or yearly subscriptions that you don’t use or don’t need? Maybe you too can save over €450 in just a few minutes! Let me know how you get on, would love to hear. 

I did my Homework!

So as promised, and unlike when I was in school all those many moons ago, I did my homework. I reviewed every single debit over a one month period. And boy, did I learn a lot…  

Firstly, if you are going to do this – don’t worry about the timeline you choose to examine. I looked back over the past few months and saw large “once-off” transactions in every month. Originally I was thinking ‘no, this won’t be a “typical” month, but realised that’s just it – there will always be something. House Insurance one month, car tax, car service the next, dental treatment etc. So there’s my first lesson from this review – I need a money reserve for these once off/annual/ad-hoc payments. What if there comes a month where I need to pay the dentist, get the car looked at, buy birthday presents etc – all from the one paycheck along with the usual bills. I would be up the proverbial creek, without being able to afford a paddle!  

So I chose the period from June 25th to July 24th as I am paid on the 25th of each month. I logged into my online banking and listed out every single transaction for that period. I then split these into appropriate categories. The categories that were relevant to me are below. You may have other categories such as childcare, sport or education expenses, travel expenses, medical needs etc. Hopefully the categories I have used may be a good start for you too. 

  • Credits (Salary and any other credits to your account) 
  • Loans & Insurance 
  • Mortgage 
  • Grocery Shopping 
  • Annual Payments (House Insurance, Car Tax etc) 
  • Travel & Entertainment 
  • Eating Out 
  • Misc/Once Off 
  • Health & Beauty 
  • Savings 
  • Utility Bills 
  • Subscriptions 

I simply put all of these expenses into an Excel spreadsheet and totted up the figures. I compared all of the outgoings against the incomings. As shared in my previous post, apart from a very small amount going to an online savings account, there was a grand total of 60c remaining before the lovely payroll people at my company came along with my monthly salary for July. This is dangerous territory and not at all sustainable at this stage of my life. 

I then created a graph to better display the spending pattern for comparison, and I suppose – shock factor! Using the total for each category as a percentage of my overall monthly salary, I was able to see exactly where my money was going. And it’s safe to say it’s not going towards an early retirement… 

Here are some of the cold hard facts of the initial observations: 

  • I am spending almost the same amount of money on groceries as I am on my mortgage <insert shocked face here peeps> Quick reminder that there are 2 people in this house! 
  • The Annual and Once-Off payments I needed to pay over this period were 15% of my entire monthly salary. 
  • While Eating Out does not appear to be a large percentage of my salary, I can assure you there was no fine dining or Michelin stars to be had… So there’s 4% of my salary going on bags of chips or grabbing a quick sandwich. 
  • Savings is right down there at the bottom, with only 3% of my monthly salary going towards future-me. Confession time here too – this goes to an online saving account and is very easy to quickly transfer as needed. So you can imagine where that ends up in the few days before payday… 

So though I haven’t yet made any changes, I am now better acquainted with where my hard earned money is going each month. This will allow me to focus on a few key areas and identify where I could be making savings. 

Try it too guys – list out all your spending over the last month. I’m sure there’ll be some surprises and hopefully even help you to also identify where the quick savings could be made. 

I’ll be back to you all soon with updates on how I get on with my deeper analysis on my spending.  

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

…It’s a very good place to start! So, here I am – I’ve made the decision to take ownership of my finances and reduce waste – step 1 done. However, now it’s a matter of putting that into action and I’m learning it’s easier than it sounds. It’s rather easy to simply say “stop spending money and save it instead” – but when you’ve a lifetime of bad habits to change, starting off with a solid plan is going to be key to my success. Sure, I’ll make some mistakes along the way – but hey, nobody’s perfect… 

So first things first – where is my money going? I know for sure that I am spending far too much at the supermarket, we are a 2 person household and could easily host a banquet at any given moment. One thing I recognise is that this is simply not necessary and I don’t need to keep an Armageddon-style stock of fresh food in the kitchen. This will be a huge area of focus for me in my journey. One that I hope we will all take some tips from. But where does the rest of the money go to and why do I struggle to make it safely to payday every month…? 

Taking a brief look at the breakout of my spending on my banking app for last month (AIB’s app has a great way of breaking down your spending behaviour over various periods of time) – I am initially amused, then very quickly annoyed. There is only a 60 cent remainder when comparing the Money In with the Money Out. So, with the exception of a very small amount going to an online savings account, a grand total of 60 cent was saved last month!!! If I keep this trend up, I’ll be just about able to afford a cheap tent from Lidl to enjoy my retirement. If that’s not the wake up call I needed to see, then I don’t know what else could do it! 

So, though it may not seem like I am making great progress, I am now a lot more aware of how dire my saving habits have become and even more determined to make some serious changes. My immediate next tasks I am setting out for myself now are: 

  • Review every single debit from my bank account to actually see where it’s all going 
  • Using the knowledge gained from above, identify where I can make cutbacks 

This is obviously the start of a huge journey for me and I’m hoping to learn some really great tips and tricks to help me, and all of you too, along the way. In some ways, deep down, I know those tips and tricks already – it will be more about putting them into practice, setting my savings goals and cutting out waste. 

Stay tuned to hear how I get on with my tasks! I really hope to keep you all on this journey with me!