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I’m 38 and swapped my City salary for £68k to live in Finland

How I spend my money in Finland
How I spend my money in Finland

To take part in How I Spend It, please email money@telegraph.co.uk. All our subjects are genuine but anonymous.

I grew up with a very strong focus on making as much money as I could.

Originally, I studied to be a civil engineer, working numerous jobs during the summer holidays to fund my undergraduate degree in Kingston, Canada. After graduating, I moved to Britain and started a job in Liverpool as a trainee engineer earning £25,000 per year, but I wanted to push myself further.

I retrained and threw myself into investment banking. Getting a job in London, I was quickly earning £120,000 per year and was able to pay back my £40,000 loan for my Master’s degree within two years with my first two bonuses.

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Still wanting to push myself further, I went back to America and started my own software company in Denver, Colorado.

At the age of 30, I sold the business and made approximately $750,000 (£591,750).

Although it wasn’t that much money, the windfall was life-changing for me.

I no longer worried about day-to-day finances, and was able to put money out of my head. Not only did I not need material status symbols any more, I didn’t want them.

It’s been that way ever since. Today, I’m the head of market and acquisitions for a Swiss software investment company. I’m raising my young family in Finland and, although my salary is just over half what it was at my peak, my wife and I feel comfortable. I’m able to start my mornings with a cold plunge in the Baltic Sea, before returning to our flat to warm up in the sauna.

Vital statistics:

  • Age: 38

  • Annual income: €80,000 (£68,659), although this understates total compensation as I am also earning equity in the company each year

  • Post-tax monthly income: €3,600 (£3,089)

  • Rent: €2,000 (£1,716) split with my wife

Day 1

I always start my morning before work with a small black coffee from Kaffa Roastery (€1.50), which is an excellent local Helsinki roastery that recently made global headlines for an AI-created blend. Sceptical, I’ll stick with dark roast.

I bought a small ham and cheese sandwich from the supermarket near my office as I had a busy afternoon and had to eat “al desko” (€3.99).

We’re going to a wedding in Majorca in a few weeks and the second of two Airbnb payments came out of my account today (€940). We’re staying for a week and, although it’s expensive, we’re splitting the cost with my parents who are also coming along.

Our local supermarket does a fantastic smoked salmon in-house, so I picked one up, along with basmati rice and broccoli after work (€35).

In the evening I was able to head out and play my first round of golf for the year – we had 10cm of snow as late as April 22 here in Helsinki. I’m playing with a member, so €25 for nine holes is a great deal for one of the best links courses in the area.

Having teed off at 7pm, the last few holes were pretty chilly when it dipped down to 5 degrees so I radioed back to my wife to heat up the sauna in the flat for when I got back.

Total: €1,005.49 (£862.87)

Day 2

After a black coffee on the way to work (€1.50), I have a pork cutlet katsu curry for lunch (€15). I like to try local Asian lunch restaurants around three times a week, but try to keep it under €15 – you can normally get great quality for that price.

I picked up some steaks and frozen chips for dinner, which cost €35. Rib eyes for me and the kids (we like our steaks rare) and a sirloin for my wife (medium). We tend to eat quite well early on in the week to keep spirits up.

I dropped off my Dutch-style single speed bike to change the chain. I had it oiled a month ago instead of getting a replacement to sweat the asset, and at the time the repairman said it would buy me a couple of weeks.

Sure enough, it seized up and couldn’t be ridden – €27 later for the repair and I needed to take the metro into work today as a result (€5.90 for two single tickets).

After going to the gym in our apartment complex, I had to pop out to get my daughters each a pack of nappies. Our youngest is only three weeks old and the other one is two. My wife reminded me to get them on the way home. Forgot anyway. It cost €36 – I’m always surprised how expensive they are, but I don’t mind because they are only a temporary expense.

Total: €120.40 (£103.32)

Day 3

I had an expensive coffee (€3.90) but I got a free refill, which is the custom in Finland. I drank these while replying to some emails before going for a morning swim, sauna and cold plunge. I do three minutes in the Baltic Sea and feel fantastic for the rest of the day.

No charge today as I am a member at the sauna and can go any time (I pay €70 for a monthly subscription). In the winter, I’ll go three times a week and find it works wonders for my immune system.

I went to a Vietnamese restaurant at lunch where I had a bun cha for €15. The dish, sometimes called Vietnamese meatballs, is served on a bed of vermicelli noodles with vegetables.

I also stopped by H&M ahead of the holiday to Majorca. I bought three white V-neck T-shirts for €5.99 each and a pair of shorts for €14.99, which I thought was a great bargain and made for an easy and inexpensive way to freshen up my summer wardrobe.

I got the metro for the last time this week (€5.90) – I’ll pick up my bike on Friday morning.

Total: €57.76 (£49.57)

Day 4

Finns have some weird public holidays in the middle of the week. This one falls on a Thursday, but totally feels like a Saturday.

In the morning, we went out as a family to the beach and visited a few playgrounds. We stopped in a Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch and got a few sharing platters of chicken, fries, salad and mezze. A good deal, €38 to feed the whole family and luckily ketchup was not charged as an extra.

We had a few ice creams at the beach (€6.50) and then picked up some pork chops and mangetout to make for dinner on the way back (€15).

We also visited a bakery for a loaf of hearty, but pricey, sourdough and some bottled water (both guilty pleasures) which cost €10. We took a combination of the metro and tram around town today – but in Finland if you have a pushchair, you ride for free which is a great benefit.

Total: €69.50 (£59.64)

Day 5

Started with a large coffee today (€2), which was definitely needed as my newborn was up all night.

It was a bit cooler today and the miserable weather put me in the mood for a hearty lunch. I had bulgogi bibimbap in a stone bowl at the local Korean restaurant (€15.90). A dish that gets hotter as you eat it, genius!

I did pick up my bike this morning, so no public transport cost. On the way home, I bought a whole cooked chicken (€8.99) to make buffalo chicken with pasta and salad for dinner – always a crowd pleaser.

Total: €26.89 (£23.08)

Day 6

We live on an island close to Helsinki city centre, and today was the island sports day with all the local football, basketball and sailing clubs having open days for the children.

We went to the football one as my son is a football nut already at three. A couple of hot dogs, popcorn and coffee (€12) was an excellent start to the weekend and went to a good cause.

They had a second-hand sale where I bought my son a mini football for €3. I do love giving old sports equipment a new lease of life.

I took my two-year-old daughter to the supermarket in the afternoon as she loves to push around the mini trolleys. We picked up fruit, yoghurt, smoked salmon, rye bread and eggs for tomorrow’s Mother’s Day brunch, along with some burgers and buns for dinner (€28.80).

Total: €43.80 (£37.59)

Day 7

I was up early at 5am with my two-year-old. I put a big pot of coffee on and gave my wife an extra hour in bed for Mother’s Day, much appreciated. I managed to get out into the sun at our local beach before 8am which was excellent – some great vitamin D after a long winter.

I had to wait until 9am when the local shops opened up for some croissants and strawberries (and of course coffee) for brunch (€8.75).

In the afternoon, I took my son to the pub to watch the football with another dad and his son. He absolutely loves going to the pub for the first 40 minutes. Once he’s finished his juice and plate of fries, he’s a liability. It means I need to be snappy about my pint if I want to squeeze in a second. Didn’t manage it today, but I bought the round (€19).

I grabbed some pancetta, pecorino, eggs and spaghetti for a carbonara dinner on the way home (€14). We could probably save some time by doing a weekly shop with some planning, but my wife and I quite enjoy being spontaneous and don’t mind popping to the local shops a few times a day. They are locally owned, well-stocked and we don’t have a car anyway to carry a week’s worth of groceries.

Total: €41.75 (£35.83)

Overall total spend: €1,365.59 (£1,171.90)

As told to Pieter Snepvangers.