Money Diaries: A 35-year-old secondary school teacher living and saving in Spain (THE

The 7-Oct-2020

How much they earn, how much they save if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, how much they save if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week.

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.

If you’d like to document your spending, or lack thereof and any lifestyle changes during this Covid-19 period, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to and we’ll be in touch.

This time around we hear from an Irish secondary school teacher living in Spain.


I’m originally from Ireland, but I’ve been living in Madrid for the last eight years. I’ve been working as a secondary school teacher in a private school for the last three years. The salary for a teacher in Spain is generally quite low in comparison to Ireland, but the cost of living is significantly lower, especially for things like public transport, health care and food and drink.

The public healthcare is fantastic in Spain, and I don’t feel the need to pay for private health care. I live in the city centre, and my school provides a free bus from my house to the schools so I don’t have many travel expenses. Also, I get free breakfast and lunch in school, so I don’t need to spend much on groceries; this helps out a lot.

My base salary is €28,000 gross, but this is topped up by paid additional, optional duties, such as trips away with the school (usually two per academic year), a retreat in the mountains and a ski trip to the north of Spain. I receive an additional €500 (gross) per trip. Also, I stay after school for an hour and a half once a week to teach an extracurricular class, and for this, I get an additional €250 (gross) per month.

Some of the students choose to do a professional English exam from Cambridge University and the school offers a two-week preparation course for this (20 hours in total). I teach 2-3 of these per academic year and I get paid €700 for each one.

Additionally, I do some private tutoring on the side after school. Two classes of 1.5 hours per week brings me about €360 month. Taking all this into account my gross salary is about €36,000 per year. I generally save about €1,000 per month.

I am saving to buy an apartment in the city, but it’s expensive and you need a minimum of 30% of the purchase price, 20% deposit and 10% taxes and expenses. I only started seriously saving two years ago so it’s a slow and frustrating process.

Occupation: Secondary school teacher
Age: 35
Location: Madrid
Salary: €36,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,400

Monthly expenses

Rent: €850 (€425 my part)
Travel: Metro card €12.50 (10 journeys)
Lime scooter: €9.00
Electricity, gas, water: €120 (€60 my part)
Groceries: €60 (get breakfast and lunch in school)
Health insurance: €0
Various Subscriptions: €70
Gym: €28
Contact lenses: €10
Phone (paying back the cost of my iPhone, WiFi, TV): €110 (€70 my part)
Heating is controlled by the building and paid for by the landlord
Savings: €1,000 – €1,500 per depending on the month



7:00 am: I’ve been awake for what seems like an eternity, but I refuse to get up a second before my alarm is due to sound at 7. It’s a military operation in the morning, my other half doesn’t get up until 8, so I creep into the ensuite, jump in the shower, do the hair, brush teeth, and put on clothes that I’ve already laid out in the bathroom from the night before.

7:20 am: I sneak out and hurry to the kitchen. As the kettle boils I sort out my bag, put on my shoes, grab whatever is nearby to have with my tea, a banana, a slice of toast or a few biscuits.

7:30 am: I’m out the door to catch the school bus. It’s for the students but the teachers are allowed to use it, so it’s a good perk. It stops where a student lives and luckily for me one lives just down the street. It saves me a lot of money (€50 euro a month) and time. It’s 14km to the school and takes about 30 minutes because it’s so early the streets are dead, so it’s always nice and quiet. Perfect for me to catch up on some reading.

8.10 am: Usually arrive at school just after 8 am, classes don’t start until 8:30 so I have time to sort myself out, get my class set up and be ready for when the little monsters arrive. Monday starts with a double period. Each period is 50 minutes. The kids (first years) arrive alert and full of beans. I take all their temperatures and all is good. Some kids who have had direct Covid connections are quarantining at home so I use Google Meets to virtually connect them to the class (there are always 3-4 of these students in every class). Everyone is eager to know what’s in store for today and we get stuck into class. The double period ends and it’s straight on to another class of not so eager, testosterone-filled, mischief loving third years.

11:00 am: So hungry, I almost break my leg running down the stairs to the cafeteria, have a tea, some blended tomato on toast, some fruit and a slab of some dried out Spanish version of a Madeira cake. I have a couple of free classes, so I get stuck into emails to parents and lesson planning.

1:30 pm: Lunch today is leek and potato soup, followed by beef and vegetables. I sit around chatting to colleagues about our respective weekends until the bell rings, even though it’s hard to hear them through the new perspex glass that partitions us as we eat. I head off to my last class of the day. I spend the rest of the afternoon getting on with paperwork and planning. Because of, you know what, the teacher’s room is out of bounds, so we have to find an empty classroom/a hallway/a bench/the canteen/ or a seat outside to do our work.

4:30 pm: Back on the school bus, arrive home at 17:00. Get ready for my private class at 17:30- 19:00. The student used to come to my place but because of Covid we do it online now, it suits me better and I still charge the same price. After the class, I head out to the Retiro park for a run.

8:30 pm: Dinner awaits me on my return, some leftover homemade Thai curry and rice. I watch an episode of Anne with an E, on Netflix. We have a bank holiday in October, I decide for obvious reasons to stay local. We spend the weekend at the beach in Valencia. I do a search for car hire on, as usual, it’s very cheap (we always hire without the additional insurance, and contract our own yearly car insurance) I settle on Ford Focus for €10.96, (€5.50 my part) with free cancellation, petrol full to full and unlimited mileage for four days. (No, it isn’t a misprint, and there are no hidden charges).

11:15 pm: Read a few pages of my book – Travelling the Americas, by Levison Woods, fall asleep dreaming of trekking through South American rainforests.

         Today’s total: €5.50


7:00 am: Same as yesterday morning except I lose track of time and spend too long munching on a piece of toast. I end up having to run after the school bus. Luckily I catch it at the lights, “we couldn’t wait any longer” the bus lady tells me as she launches into her usual tirade of me having to be more on top of my timekeeping. Mañana, mañana I promise her. The first class is with the Spanish equivalent of the leaving certs, we do the usually safely measures, one of the students has removed his mask saying it’s irritating him, he refuses to put it back on so I take him to the principal’s office, his parents are called and despite his apologies and promises he is sent home for a week to continue his classes online. This takes up the entire class so no actual teaching is done.

2.30 pm: Lunch is a salad and a rice dish (paella). After I get off the bus at 17;00 I go into the local supermarket and pick up some things for dinner. I decide I’ll make some chicken noodles. I buy some chicken, noodles, broccoli, and mushrooms. I also see a box of 6 bottles of my favourite Rioja wine, it’s on offer, for €12.00, so of course, I buy it. All the shopping comes to €18.67 – (€9.00 my part). I get home, put the shopping away, I put the six bottles on the drinks trolley with the other four bottles. Being surrounded by so much wine makes me think we should go out onto a bar terrace and have a glass of wine to enjoy the last of the warm weather before Autumn takes a firm hold. The other half thinks it’s a great idea and out we go. After two glasses of wine and two free tapas each, (€8:00 – €4:00 my part) we take a stroll through the neighbourhood.

9:00 pm: Cook up the noodles and have a small portion each, watch some TV, do a little planning for the next day.

12:30 am: Despite being exhausted I have to drag myself to bed. I’ve always hated going to bed, there’s just always something more interesting to do. I try to read a few pages but I’m losing the battle, I finally give up and I’m out for the count instantly.

Today’s total: €13.00




7.00 am: Wake up exhausted, wishing I’d gone to bed earlier and promising myself I will tonight. I decide I am going to bake a tea loaf later in the evening, so I tip a bag of raisins and mixed peel into a pot of tea with sugar and a good chug of whiskey, and leave it for the day to steep. I don’t have time to have tea or anything to eat, I run out to catch the bus, only to wait 10 minutes for it to arrive. I reply to some parent’s emails on the bus. I have the first period free so I get on top of my paperwork and make sure I’m planned up for the week.

11:00 am: I’m in the middle of class with the first years, and one little boy breaks down, between the tears he tells me he hates wearing the mask, that he can’t express himself properly, he can’t hear other students because they’re all muffled. Then another boy starts to cry and a couple of girls, and it continues in a domino effect. It’s all getting too much for them, it’s still hot and they are all sweating but we aren’t allowed to turn on the aircon for risk of spreading infection. I know it’s tough on the kids, especially the younger ones, but seeing half the class getting upset really puts it into perspective and it gives me a lump in my throat. After a group talk and some heart to heart, they leave the class with a pep in their step and back to taking it in their stride.

1:30 pm: Chickpea soup, chicken and potatoes for lunch, back to back classes for the afternoon. I stay later in school to teach an extracurricular class to the 4th year students.

7:15 pm: I get home after stopping off in the supermarket for some essentials it comes to €14:40. (€7.00 my part) Following a recipe my mother sent me, I mix some flour, eggs and butter together and add the tea and fruit, I pop it in the oven for an hour and decide to make some hummus. We have a salad for dinner. Despite it being my first attempt at making a fruit cake, it was delicious.

12:15 am: Get myself worked up about how late I’m getting to bed, iron a shirt, hit the hay and read a few pages of my book.

           Today’s total: €7.00


7:00 am: Yep, you know the morning drill. Lots of classes today, no time to stop. Grabbed some fruit and coffee at work for breakfast. A normal day without any major drama. One of the 3rd year kids tells the class about his year abroad living in Roscommon (I know, that was was my reaction too) and mentions some of our idiosyncrasies – strangers waving to you as you pass by on a road, people saying sorry all the time, calling a cupboard a press, calling groceries messages, and, what they were all most intrigued by – shifting. It was a good class talking about the differences in various cultures. I get lunch in school as usual.

5:00 pm: Arrive home, make a tea, have some of my fruit cake and get ready for my private class.

7:15 pm: I have arranged to meet some friends for a few drinks. I am avoiding using public transport unless I have to, because of ‘you know what’. I don’t feel like walking so I hop on a lime scooter. It takes about 10 mins and costs €3.00. It’s expensive compared to taking the metro (€1.20). It’s very busy around despite the high cases of Covid, certain areas of the capital are now on lockdown, but not in the city centre. I try to avoid going indoors so we find an outdoor terrace with plenty of space between the tables. I have two gin tonics and a beer, this comes to €16.00. The bar gives us some free tapas so this does me fine for dinner. I walk and get home at 22:30.

Today’s total: €19.00


7:00 am: I wake up exhausted and feeling a little worse for wear.

9:30 am: I have a bit of a head on me so between classes I go to the supermarket near my school to get a bottle of coke. (€1.05). I have breakfast and lunch in school as normal.

5:00 pm: I arrive home and plant myself on the sofa. I stay here for the evening catching up on social media and TV.

8:00 pm: Force myself to do 30 minutes of work stuff so I don’t have to do it over the weekend. Thinking about what to have for dinner, I discover with joy a homemade pizza in the freezer. We devour this as we settle into a movie.

10:00 pm: I don’t feel tired at all and could easily stay up, busily doing nothing for another hour or two but I make myself go to bed.

           Today’s total: €1.05

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10:00 am: Set the alarm for 10:00 but stay in bed until 11:30 reading the news, watching youtube videos and browsing.

11:30: The other half makes eggs and mushrooms and we watch some true-crime episodes on Netflix.

1:00 pm: I shake a leg and clean the apartment, spend an hour on it, putting clothes away etc. At 8 pm we arrange to meet some friends at one of our favourite bars/restaurants. I take a lime scooter there (€4.05). It’s busy inside but we stay at a table outside. It’s an Asturian bar. It’s famous for its homemade cider, and amazingly delicious and free tapas. As long as we keep buying drinks they keep giving us delicious food for free, I think they give us more because we know them so well now. We eat like royalty and split the bill. I had four beers so I pay a total of €14.00. I walk home.

12:15 am: Arrive home, I’m actually really tired so I brush my teeth and head straight to bed.

  Today’s total: €18.05


9:30 am: Awake and feeling fresh. Lay in bed for a while, scrolling. We have a friend coming over for brunch at 12:00 so I get up and start planning for that. Go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of cava, orange juice, fruits, fresh bread and some cheeses (€15.95 –€8.00 each). My friend brings a Spanish omelette, a bottle of cava and some Spanish ham. We enjoy a nice spread and wash it down with plenty of bucks fizz.

I plan to get in a run in the park at some point but it starts to rain. We decide to play a game of monopoly and spend the afternoon on this, it makes for thirsty work so I run out for another bottle of cava to keep us hydrated (€5.00).

7: 00 pm: My friend leaves and we walk her to the metro station. We stroll around our leafy Madrilean neighbourhood, the rain has cleared, the streets have dried, we watch the leaves fall off the trees and the sun comes out, I’m glad I’ve worn a sweater (first time since May) as the sun dodges between the buildings. I contemplate life and my situation as I walk along. Despite never longing to be home in Ireland more, I know there are definitely worse places I could be. Madrid has been kind to me, it’s a safe place to live, the cost of living is relatively cheap and the way of life is amazing, Notwithstanding all of this I can’t wait to get home for a Tayto sandwich, and of course, to see my family.

9:00 pm: We snack on some of the leftover brunch and settle down with a film.

11:00 pm: I manage to get to bed at a reasonable hour and read for about half an hour. Start a new book, The Alchemist, it’s written in a very simplistic style but so far I like it.

       Today’s total: €1o.50

                                      Weekly subtotal: € 74.10

What I learned

  • I don’t usually spend a lot during the week, and my favourite hobbies – eating and drinking don’t cost a lot here in Madrid. I don’t drink a large amount but I drink quite often, most of my disposable money goes on socialising, but this has been curtailed somewhat now.
  • The main source of my spending and the reason I still can’t afford to buy an apartment is because I travel a lot. This is where most of my money goes. I usually have two big trips and 2-3 smaller shorter trips each year. Obviously this won’t be happening for a while, although I did have some amazing staycations here in Spain this summer. I think it’s a good opportunity for me to save some money and keep my feet on the ground for a while.
  • I’m conscious that maybe I’m going out more than I should at the moment but after going through one of the harshest lockdowns in Europe it’s tough now to spend too much time at home. This is especially true in a city like Madrid where being outside on the streets is part of the culture. Also living in an apartment in a big city means you have no garden or personal space, so being outside is important.
  • Also, I pay €28 for the gym per month and I don’t use it as often as I should.

Londres, 3 oct (EFE).- El primer ministro británico, Boris Johnson, dijo este sábado sentirse “optimista” de alcanzar un acuerdo comercial con la Unión Europea (UE), mientras prepara una conversación con la presidenta de la Comisión Europea (CE), Ursula von der Leyen, para abordar la marcha de las negociaciones.

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