Me and My Money: Karen Burns, Next Generation Programme

‘Living in the City of London has many perks but the cost isn’t one of them’

Are you a saver or a spender?

With travelling back and forth from my home county of Tyrone to London on a near monthly basis, I have to be a saver although I must admit that some months my bank account can be a lot lower than others. Living and working in the City of London has many perks, and I love it, but let's say the cost isn't one of them.

Do you shop around for better value?

In my personal life I would definitely shop around for better value! I quickly learned the value of a pound when I moved to London. I have transferred these skills to my work, as well, I am sure my boss will be glad to hear.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

I don't really make huge physical purchases that often, I much prefer spending my money on socialising and going out with friends. My most expensive purchase I would have to say are my Karen Millen boots. They cost £150 on sale.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

I bought a blender for my house, it cost me £5 and it has to be one of the best £5 I have ever spent. It’s perfect for soups, smoothies and sauces, so I don’t buy lunch out all that often.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

Local. I hardly ever buy online. I am an impulse buyer and I hate waiting for online purchases to be delivered. It also comes down to being able to feel the textures and materials of my purchases and you just don’t get that online.

Do you haggle over prices?

This is where my personal and professional life differ massively. In my personal life I can’t haggle for anything. I think it comes down to the Irish tendency of not wanting to be “a fuss”. In work, however, I will always ensure I am getting the best price.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

I moved three years ago, so I can’t say it was the best timing – I definitely struggled for the first few months. What I can say is it gave me a new lease on my money control, which helps me in my present life and career. Now I know what is really important when it comes to my spending, and I learned how long a month can really be.

Do you invest in shares?

No, but it is definitely something I have been interested in. I quite like how much of a fast-paced and challenging industry it is. I think I need to learn a few more things about the stock market first, though.

Cash or card?

Card – I never have cash in London. When I come home, I always have cash in my purse because there are still some places that don’t have chip and pin – my local and favourite Chinese takeaway being two of them.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

I recently just paid for my hotel for Bruce Springsteen, who I am sure everyone knows is playing Croke Park at the end of May. My hotel only cost me €90 for the night and, considering the competition, that is very reasonable.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

After university I worked for a year in my local butchers, Newell Stores, to save enough money for the big move. I can thankfully say my hard work paid off.

Have you ever lost money?

Fortunately, I have never lost money – not that I can recall. I hope that it stays that way, as well.

Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?

Not at all. The most I have ever bet was €10 when I went to Leopardstown Races two years ago. I lost.

Is money important to you?

Not in the traditional sense, in that I wouldn’t be worried about having no money in my bank account. But I am a worrier when it comes to my rent and bills, so I like to make sure there are no nasty surprises around the corner.

How much money do you have on you now?

Nothing! I’m in London right now, so I don’t even have any change in my purse. Everything is done with cards.

In conversation with Tony Clayotn Lea

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