Me & My Money: ‘I’m a firm believer in saving before making the purchase’
Barbara McGrath, managing director, Brightwater Group
Brightwater Group managing director Barbara McGrath: “I try to save what I can when I can – that way I always know how much I have and don’t get nasty surprises if an investment takes a bad turn.”
Are you a saver or a spender?
I consider myself a very good mix of both – although my husband would probably disagree!
Do you shop around for better value?
No, not really. I don’t typically find myself chasing a bargain or better value unless it’s for larger, more expensive items. Having said that, if I happened to be abroad in a country where it’s part of the culture and bartering for better deals is the status quo, I would likely become a bargain-hunter.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
It would have to be my car – a Peugeot 206, which cost around €14,000 but has proven to be excellent value for money. It was actually purchased using SSIA (Special Saving Incentive Account) money which was another positive investment.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
I’ve gone on a few cruises where I’ve taken the “pay all up front” option, which I find helps curb the frivolous spending fever that often kicks in when enjoying holidays. By including drinks and tips beforehand, you know exactly where your money is going and what you’ve paid as opposed to looking a little dolefully at your credit card bill and bank statement afterward, thinking “there’s no way I spent all that”.
How do you prefer to shop – online or local?
Online – I find it quicker and more straightforward, given the fact that my working hours can vary massively.
Do you haggle over prices?
Not usually. I can’t be bothered unless it is a big purchase like a car – that would spark my interest in haggling, for sure. Having a lengthy career spanning across sales and recruitment, I know all the tricks of the sales trade and can usually gauge how much I can push salespeople for a better price.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
I think the recession was something that made everyone more conscious of spending, so I would say it did change the way I spend money. However, I was always conscious of the importance of saving up for things that I wanted, so that hasn’t changed.
Do you invest in shares?
No, I never have. For better or worse, I try to save what I can when I can – that way I always know how much I have and don’t get nasty surprises if an investment takes a bad turn.
Cash or card?
Card – convenience is key, and I just find it to be a much safer alternative to cash. Plus, I can keep on top of my spending by reviewing my account transactions.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
A washing machine 25 years ago. It has stood the test of time and is still going strong.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes, all the time – I consider myself “old school” in that regard. Holidays, cars, house refurbishment – for any significant investments I’m a firm believer in saving before making the purchase.
Have you ever lost money?
Thankfully, I’ve never had the misfortune of losing any money, except what might occasionally slip down the back of the couch. It’s something I’ve avoided, perhaps, because I try to use cards as much as possible and haven’t made any risky investments with my savings.
Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
No, but the one exception to the rule is the Golf Majors, which I place a bet on every year. I won €3,000 when Charles Schwartzel won the Masters in 2011 – an unexpected but much appreciated pot of winnings! I have had further wins since then but nothing of the same scale, unfortunately.
Is money important to you?
From a “security for the future” perspective, money is important to me. However, I wouldn’t say that I am obsessed or exclusively driven by it.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €60. Although I try to make most payments cashless – you never know when you might need a bit of cash for something.
In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea