Me & My Money

Graham J, songwriter/performer


Are you a saver or a spender?

Yes and no. I grew up in a house full of accountants so I know the value of money. I like to consider myself as having an M&S lifestyle on a Lidl budget.

Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, I do. I buy cleaning and household products in certain shops and food in others. I tend to buy locally to support local business. I always buy meat and vegetables from my local butcher and greengrocer. I was brought up to believe you couldn’t put a price on the food you eat.

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

I had an “I’ll have one in every colour” moment. I went into M&S and I bought several velvet style blazers. I have a thing about looking glamorous on stage. The total for the blazers came to just short of €1,500.

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

My Casio AP-65R digital piano. I bought it nearly 15 years ago when I moved to London to study. I was tired of having to continually call out the piano tuner. The digital piano has a transpose function that not only allowed me to automatically transpose the key of a piece but also allowed me to tune the keyboard to baroque pitch.

  How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

It depends on what I’m buying. I always buy my food locally, but I buy books and music and a lot of limited edition T-shirts online. I have a thing for T-shirts with bears in all shapes and sizes on them. It started as a joke with my fans. Now I have companies in the UK and the US that make them and send them to me. I’ve all sorts of things from reimagined Care Bears to Superheroes recast as teddies.

Do you haggle over prices?

No, it’s not in my nature. Like most Irish people, I seethe silently and begrudgingly hand over the cash.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Not really, no. It’s certainly made me more aware of making sure I don’t pay over the odds for things, but you’ve still got to live.

Do you invest in shares?

My eldest and youngest brothers are both chartered accountants. They advise me on all financial matters. They’ve invested some small sums for me.

Cash or card?

Increasingly card. I hate carrying pockets of change. I find contactless payment is great for that.   What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

A black, V-neck T-shirt with hand-sewn rhinestones spelling out the word Bear. You can never have enough sparkle. So yes, it was very good value.

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

I’ve only been driving for the past 2½ years. I saved up and bought my first car, which is a brown Nissan Micra called Gizmo. I’m currently saving for an upgrade.

Have you ever lost money?

I lost €50 one night when I was out with friends. I could have sworn it was in my wallet but it must have fallen out.

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

I play the Lotto every week, but that’s the extent of my gambling. Sadly, despite the many, many candles, offerings and novenas to St Expeditus and St Jude, I’m still waiting on the big one.

Is money important to you?

I see money as an energy. It’s there to be spent but also to provide for material things. I also feel that when there are good times to be had, you should share the love. After all, there are no pockets in a shroud.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €50 on me. My mother always had it drilled into my brothers and I that we should always have the fare for a taxi on us. We should never find ourselves stuck in an emergency.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea. Graham J’s monthly residency at Dublin’s Grand Social starts Thursday, September 28th.