Real Life Family Finance: A Medical Quality Manager and Administrative Officer

Sometimes we find ourselves in family life, struggling to maintain a budget, and think we are the only ones out there dealing with similar issues. I mean, it’s easy to look at the neighbor across the street with the new truck, your best friend who is excited to spend money for the entire bottle of wine EVERY time you go out with her, and even family members that seem to have it all together when it comes to their finances.

The truth is…things aren’t always as they appear…am I correct?

I’ve been really nosey lately, asking questions about people’s financial lives…even some of the uncomfortable ones…so that we can all better understand that we are not the only ones struggling (or succeeding) when it comes to making the right financial decisions for our families, or powering through when times get tough.

Tip: Want some help creating your own SUCCESSFUL budget? Grab my FREE Family Budget Workbook to get you started! Find it HERE.

Real Life Family Finance: A Medical Quality Manager and Administrative Officer

It’s my pleasure to feature Joanna today. Joanna lives with her husband of three years and six-month-old baby in Dublin, Ireland. Joanna’s husband is an Administrative Officer and Joanna is a Medical Quality Manager, although she is currently on maternity leave. Although Joanna works primarily in the medical field, she also just recently started a blog detailing her adventures as a new mom.


What’s the biggest struggle your family has when it comes to income?

Long work hours and long commutes to maintain income (would love to work closer to home but that would require an income drop)

What method do you use to keep track of your budget and why?

None, just view bank statements monthly. I tried tracking every expense on an app, but it was time-consuming and I kept forgetting to add things, especially ones paid by direct debit.

How do you budget for kids clothing, school supplies, shoes, activities, and everything else kid-related?

I get child benefit but usually spend more than that a month. My biggest expenses are clothes, nappies, food, and activities. The big expenses (new prams) come out of savings rather than monthly income.

What is the biggest struggle you are currently having related to your budget?

I am currently on unpaid leave from work so spending more than my income which is eating into savings. We are saving up a deposit to get a bigger house, so this will delay that.


What percentage of your income do you save each month?

Not sure exactly. Ten percent is transferred by standing order to a savings account, but I usually save a bit more and transfer it manually to the savings account every few months.

Do you have an emergency savings account?

Yes, but it’s not as big as I would like. My husband laughs at me for having separate savings accounts, but having a contingency one means I’m less likely to dip into it.

Would you consider your emergency savings to be able to cover one major emergency, or to be of long-term assistance if, for example, you were to lose your income?

I started the account to save enough to renovate a property I rent out in case it got trashed by tenants, so it would cover an emergency, but wouldn’t last long if we lost our income.

Do you have special savings or “funds” set aside for vacations and/or other big purchases your family plans to make in the future?

Currently saving a deposit for a bigger house – this is in an account linked to the current mortgage so instead of gaining interest it reduces interest accruing on the mortgage.


Do you have debt that you are actively working to pay off?


How soon do you anticipate being out of debt?

We have 15-20 years left on our mortgage.

Anything else you’d like to include about debt, as it relates to you and your family?

We are very cautious about getting into debt.


Have you made short and/or long-term goals that you and your family are working toward? If so, will you share one or two of those goals and the steps you are taking to reach them?

Yes, we are saving an additional amount each month to go towards a house deposit.

How did you come up with those specific goals?

We talked about what was important to us, and we felt if we upgrade houses in the next few years we will have time to pay off the mortgage by the time we retire, so we need to act reasonably fast. Right now that is a bigger priority than fancy holidays, etc.

Do you engage in a reward system for you and your family to celebrate the accomplishment of those goals?

We don’t use a reward, but I keep a chart on the fridge tracking progress to keep me motivated.


What is the biggest success you have had to-date when it comes to your finances?

I’ve had a few promotions in work so I’m lucky that I earn enough that the end of the month before payday isn’t too stressful.


What is the biggest struggle you have had related to your family finances over the past year?

Looking at houses to buy and being outbid by cash buyers with more funds than us

If you could pinpoint one major failure you’ve had in your finances over your adult life, what would it be?

Impulse buying things I don’t really need

Have you overcome that failure or is it something you are still working on? (Explain how.)

My husband is more prudent with spending than me, so now I talk to him about major purchases and he usually slows me down, so I can decide if I really need it or not.


If you could go back and tell your young adult self how to handle finances differently in the future, what is the one thing you would most like to share?

Budget and track more, and maybe invest some money when I was young instead of just relying on savings accounts where the interest doesn’t keep pace with inflation

Are you currently educating your children when it comes to finances?

My baby is still too young, but I hope to instill in her an appreciation of saving and cautiousness about debt.

What is one topic you wish you knew more about, related to budgeting or family finance?

Planning for retirement. It’s not something I’ve started thinking about yet, other than paying into a work pension scheme, but I don’t know if that will be sufficient.

If you could share one piece of financial advice with those reading today, what would that be?

Don’t be too impulsive. I bought an apartment in a property bubble and got stuck in negative equity. I rushed into it because it felt like everyone else was buying and I was missing out, so be your own person and don’t feel you need to follow everyone else.

I love the honesty that Joanna presents us with here. Many of can relate to her being a new mother on unpaid leave, and it’s important to recognize, as she has, that just because money is a bit tighter, doesn’t mean planning for the future is any less important. You can check out more from Joanna on her blog at or follow her on Twitter.

Tip: Want some help creating your own SUCCESSFUL budget? Grab my FREE Family Budget Workbook to get you started! Find it HERE.