Me & My Money

Gina London, director of strategic communications for Fuzion and former CNN correspondent and anchor

 Gina London: “The independence and opportunity to travel and enjoy life with family and friends that money can provide is important to me.” Photograph: Darragh Kane

Gina London: “The independence and opportunity to travel and enjoy life with family and friends that money can provide is important to me.” Photograph: Darragh Kane

 

Are you a saver or a spender? I keep a safety net of savings and investments. I only spend from one account and pay my credit card off monthly.

Do you shop around for better value? Depends. The most valuable thing to me (besides health) is my time. For instance, my mom back in the States will drive to two different stores to save 50 cents on a gallon of milk and a dime for a carton of eggs – an extra hour to save a total of 60 cents. You’ll never see me doing that. I try to do be an informed shopper. Do research beforehand on an item, then grab and go.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost? I have bought and sold three homes. The first was a bungalow in the Washington DC area when I started with CNN. The second was a sleek little condo in Atlanta when they moved me to CNN’s “Mother Ship” headquarters. And the third was a historic Victorian home in Denver, Colorado, when CNN opened a bureau out there.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money? Travel. Because the value is in the memories and experiences – and those are priceless.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local? I love the ease of online shopping when it’s a gift for someone that requires shipping. So that means almost all Christmas and birthday presents for folks back in the States. But there are a lot of great local retailers who are online, so it doesn’t mean I’m not shopping locally.

When it comes to clothing or shoes for myself or my daughter, it must be in person to try them on.

Do you haggle over prices? If I’m in a place where it’s allowed – the souks in Cairo when I lived there, for instance – absolutely yes. I certainly will also ask if an upgrade is possible on a flight or at a hotel. It depends on where I am.

Has the recession changed your spending habits? Which recession? I think I’ve been through a few in various places. My earning levels affect my spending more than the local economies. Sometimes they’re connected, sometimes they have not been.

Do you invest in shares? I’m a conservative investor. Fewer stocks and more mutual funds and bonds.

Cash or card? Cash or debit card – which makes it just like cash. About a decade ago, I took a loan to get out from under revolving credit card debt. I paid off the loan and have never looked back. Paying interest on rolling debt is no good for me.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money? The last pretty decent purchase I made was my razor-thin, touch-screen laptop. I use it constantly for work, and it’s been worth every penny.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase? For the past five years or so, my extended family (parents, brother, sister, spouses and assorted kids) have planned to spend 2016 Christmas and New Year together in Hawaii. So I bit the bullet for air fare and hotels and everything, and soon my nine-year-old daughter and I will be off. Lifetime experiences are worth it. And, yes, expect me to come back to Ireland in January boasting and showing off my tan.

Have you ever lost money? I made a little profit selling the DC house. But when CNN relocated me to Denver, I kept my Atlanta condo thinking it would be a good rental property, and bought the Victorian. By the time I left CNN and was departing Denver for France in 2007, the housing market had tanked. I took a nearly six-figure bath unloading the two properties.

Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win? Not really. I played the nickel slots on a cruise ship once, but I’ve never even been to Vegas to see a show. I can happily say, however, that my gamble on moving here to Ireland is more than paying off so far in terms of meeting great clients, opportunities and friends.

Is money important to you? The independence and opportunity to travel and enjoy life with family and friends that money can provide is important to me.

How much money do you have on you now? I’m on the train to Dublin now, and I always take out cash for the taxis, so I seem more flush than usual: €105.79.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea