‘It wasn’t difficult to prioritise needs over wants in the recession’

Me & My Money: Deirdre Fee, co-founder of Mobility Genie

Deirdre Fee: ‘My house was broken into and that was traumatic. It shattered my sense of security and enjoyment in having an open-door policy’

Deirdre Fee: ‘My house was broken into and that was traumatic. It shattered my sense of security and enjoyment in having an open-door policy’

 

Are you a saver or a spender? 
I’m at the stage where I’m being advised to plan towards retirement, so I try to put spare cash towards paying off loans, and I’ve limited the use of my credit card.

Do you shop around for better value? 
I work long hours, so don’t have much time to browse shops. When I need something, it tends to be a last-minute purchase, so no bargains there. I am conscious of price and value when grocery shopping, and I hate waste, but I will spend on good-quality, fresh, local food.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?   
In my younger years, I used to exhibit a product at beauty shows and needed to look my best. I fell in love with the most beautiful black suit in Brown Thomas. It took four hours of agonising, and several phone calls to my sister, before I gave myself permission to buy it. It cost £495 in 1994. I felt a million dollars and wore it so much, so it was worth every penny.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money? 
A decent charcoal BBQ. It’s our way of chilling out, despite the unpredictable weather, and surprisingly relaxing.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?
I shop locally. I like to see and feel the product, and I appreciate when the shop assistant is helpful and honest. During the recession, when so many local businesses closed, I redoubled my efforts to shop locally. I occasionally shop online.

Do you haggle over prices?
I never haggle. I don’t like confrontation and I wouldn’t like to put someone in an awkward position. I was advised to haggle when on holidays abroad one time and was mortified at the name the “lady” called me. Unrepeatable.

Has the recession changed your spending habits? 
Personally, I was never conscious of a Celtic Tiger calling at our door, but the recession impacted how I looked at what was really needed, and what was a luxury. I was around for the previous recession, too, so it was not so difficult to prioritise needs over wants.

Do you invest in shares?
A little in the past – Eircom, Tullow Oil, Fyffes. We didn’t lose overall, but never made a fortune, either. My priority now is investing in the business.

Cash or card?
I prefer cash, as I find it easier to keep track of. Otherwise, I use a debit card, but I never tap the card because I like a physical receipt.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?   
Timeless Prodigy Face Cream by Skeyndor. A treat at about €80, but I use it once a day and it lasts about six months, so I would call that good value.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase? 
During my first year of nursing school in London, I scrimped and saved enough for a moped. I was thrilled, but before I splashed out, a few of us Irish girls were discussing how homesick we were. That was the end of the moped, as I used the cash to visit home instead.

Have you ever lost money? 
Luckily I haven’t. However, my house was broken into and that was traumatic. It shattered my sense of security and enjoyment in having an open-door policy at home. I resent that.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win? 
I am not a gambler, but I do have the odd flutter on the big horse races. I also contribute to a local GAA lotto. As my mother used to say, I may not have any good luck, but I don’t have any bad luck either.

Is money important to you?  
Money is not the most important thing to me, but I sleep better when I can pay my bills. I have always needed to know what is coming in and what is going out, to try and live within that. But the happiness of loved ones is far more important to me than any monetary gain.

How much money do you have on you now?  
A debit card and €125. I withdraw cash from an ATM, rather than depend solely on the card.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

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