Me and My Money: Make-a-Wish ambassador Mary Byrne
‘I’m not materialistic or into buying flash things, but I do like my home comforts’
Make-a-Wish ambassador Mary Byrne: “I invest my money on holidays abroad with family and friends – making memories!”
Mary Byrne is an ambassador for Make-a-Wish, the charity that grants the wishes of children living with life-threatening illnesses, and Talent@Work, an initiative to help organisations reveal the hidden talents in their work place while raising funds for Make-a-Wish Ireland.
Are you a saver or a spender?
Both, though probably more of a spender, especially when it comes to friends and family. I can be stupidly overgenerous. Having said that, when I put my mind to it, I can really, really save.
Do you shop around for better value?
Yes, always. Since I lost five stone I can pick up tops in Penneys that are pretty and look well for next to nothing. I love that I can buy classy-looking trousers for what I think is good value. It is important to me to shop around and try to get the best value possible.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Two things really. After the X-Factor experience, I bought myself a DKNY watch for £100 and wore it on the Late Late Show. I’m still wearing it nine years later, so it was a good buy. Recently I got a new front door put in that cost €1,500. I’m not materialistic or into buying flash things, but I do like my home comforts.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
My new front and back doors.They cost me €3,000 in total, but they really keep the heat in, and as I said I love a cosy home.
How do you prefer to shop – online or local?
I only recently started shopping online from Oxendales and I started with that brand as it’s so well known. I felt safe shopping with them online as I am quite cautious about online shopping due to the threat of fraud. In Ballyfermot, where I live, I shop in Samie’s for good-value clothes.
Do you haggle over prices?
When I’m abroad, yes. I like to go to Puerto Rico in Spain and if I’m shopping in local markets for leather handbags or clothes I always haggle. If they don’t bring the price down I walk away – I reckon it just wasn’t meant to be.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
No, because I didn’t overspend before the recession hit. I never let myself hit rock bottom and never really spend big, anyway. I have always been cautious because I never know when work may dry up.
Do you invest in shares?
No, not any more, although maybe I should have. I invest my money on holidays abroad with family and friends – making memories!
Cash or card?
A card is great as it means you’re never stuck, but I prefer cash. I know how much I’m spending if it’s cash. I know the card can be safer, but I like to carry even a small amount of cash wherever I’m going.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
My new doors! As I said, I love a cosy home.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes, I saved each week to buy a new sofa I wanted.
Have you ever lost money?
No. I’ve never really invested in anything – apart from bank shares at one point but I didn’t lose anything, although I didn’t make anything either. But at least I got back what I put in.
Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
No, apart from the occasional scratch card and the Lotto, when I remember to do it. And I like a bit of bingo.
Is money important to you?
While I’m not materialistic at all and money is definitely not the most important thing in life, it is a necessity. Of course, I would love to be very comfortable, but really, if I can get out and work and pay the bills, I’m happy.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €50 in my purse. I like the comfort of knowing I have cash to hand, just in case.
In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea