‘I feel really lucky to have bought my house before things went crazy’

Me & My Money: Tina O’Reilly, producer of Other Voices

Are you a saver or a spender? 
I guess I would have to say a saver as I only spend what's left after I siphon off my savings! I was pretty strict about it for years and kept account books so I knew how much I needed to keep towards bills from my salary, and the rest I could spend as I wanted. Time is more valuable now, though, with the kids, so my financial planning is a bit more ad hoc and less detailed.

Do you shop around for better value? 
No, and I've never been a browse shopper. If I like something, I tend to buy it and not worry about whether there might be something better in another shop. I probably work a bit like that, too, as schedules can be tight, so I tend to work with people and products I already know.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost? 
Probably a pair of Prada sandals with a matching bag in Italy. I'd admired them all week and we were just about to leave for the airport and I went back to buy them. About €400 for both if I remember correctly, so nothing outrageous but definitely surplus to requirements. I really do tend to debate a lot before making any large purchase, so this was unusual.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money? 
My house. We were lucky enough to buy in early 2002 just before things went crazy. We couldn't really afford it at the time, so we rented out rooms to help pay the mortgage in the early years. However, when I see the cost of renting now, the difficulties in buying a house and the huge number of homeless, including many families, I just feel really lucky.


How do you prefer to shop – online or local? 
Definitely local. I like to be able to pop into a nearby shop and physically get what I need. Plus, I'm such a bad online shopper that more often than not whatever I buy gets returned for various reasons. I think if you have to walk or drive to a shop to get what you need you only get necessary things.

Do you haggle over prices? 
No I'm terrible at that. I do often have to push people to do a deal with me at work if budgets are tight, but I always try and be fair. I think both sides have to be happy with the end price or it's not worth it.

Has the recession changed your spending habits? 
I wouldn't have had a lot of income during the recession, anyway, and now with the kids, while my income might be slightly higher, there seems to be less of it to go around. Like many families in Ireland, in order to work I have childcare costs, so that eats up a lot of income.

Do you invest in shares? 
I don't know enough to feel confident in investing in shares. I have a pension that is partially share-based, but it's a mid-range product that doesn't offer too much risk. I am not a risk-taker when it comes to money and prefer a safe bet even if it's lower returns. The thought of losing a lot of money scares me.

Cash or card? 
Always card. It's easier to keep track, as there is a record of all transactions, whereas with cash it seems to disappear out of my wallet, sometimes with no recollection of what I spent it on.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money? 
A pair of black ankle boots in TK Maxx, and I believe the purchase was good value for money. Immediately before that, though, I bought shoes and toys for the kids, which is usually how my money is spent these days.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase? 
Not that I can remember, but I'm hoping to save up for a family holiday to Florida over the next few years, and have set up a savings account for that. I manage the company cashflow so I guess it makes me a bit more reluctant to be too focused on budgeting at home.

Have you ever lost money? 
Not to my knowledge. I remember being on holidays in Tenerife once and I thought I'd lost all the money in my wallet. It was a sizeable amount as I'd just been to the bank to take out spending money for my last week. However, it turned out someone had taken it from me but then returned it, so all ended well.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win? 
I'm definitely not a gambler. I'm quite happy to take part in the usual gambling games like poker, roulette or 21 but only for fun – and with chips not real money. Gambling with the risk of losing money just isn't fun for me and the possibility of winning doesn't change that. I did gamble once with a very low amount of €50. After losing some of it, once I won back my €50, I stopped playing.

Is money important to you? 
Yes, in that I like to know I have enough to cover living costs and still have a bit to enjoy living. Not having money for basic costs is very stressful. If I'm honest, I'd like to have enough money not to have to worry, but I'd prefer to be healthy and have a happy family.

How much money do you have on you now? 
About €2. Like I say, I live on card spending!

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea