Me & My Money: ‘I’m a spender when it comes to experiences like skydiving’
Norma Sheahan, actor
Norma Sheahan: “I just trust in tomorrow and it always provides.”
Are you a saver or a spender?
I’m definitely more of a saver than a spender. When you’re self-employed, you function on a no-spend basis because you’re always waiting for returns figures. I pay bills immediately in case I spend what I don’t have. Possessions stress me out, anyway. I just like to have the basic requirements for life.
Do you shop around for better value?
The “shopping around” craic isn’t worth the few quid you’ll save. I’d prefer to borrow a dress off a friend, and give them a gift for the loan, rather than traipse through scary stores.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
I’m a spender when it comes to experiences. Like a skydive, a bungee jump, a helicopter to snowy mountains, a boat to Niagara Falls, a campervan to Uluru, etc. A big one for my 40th was throwing €5,000 at two weeks in the Bahamas to connect with the energy of the universe. And to get a healthy break from the kids.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
My “out and about” double buggy was a life saver. The twins lived in it, literally. I couldn’t synchronise their naps unless they were moving in it. Then I’d park them somewhere neatly and recline them once they were asleep. I always drive an eco seven-seater car that I buy outright, not on finance, and it brings such convenience to my bonkers days that it’s probably a joint first for value with the buggy. Many synchronised naps were had in it, also.
How do you prefer to shop – online or local?
I like human interaction, so I’ll phone a hotel, insurance company, and so on. I’ll go to a supermarket or store rather than shop online. I may do a teeny bit of research online, but I’ll follow up with calls where possible.
Do you haggle over prices?
Not really. I’m usually very grateful for someone’s services. I like to overpay a bit because I tend to be touched if someone does something or gives me something that makes my day better. I need to toughen up.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
We certainly reined it in when our house halved in value. But we had three kids aged two and under, so once we had nappies, wipes and a playground, all was cool. I did learn that you should be careful about buying a “stepping stone” home because the economic climate might leave you stranded on it. Luckily, I like my stepping stone.
Do you invest in shares?
No, I’m not interested in shares. It’s a first cousin to gambling. I guess it’s something I don’t fully understand so I don’t invest. I believe you should only ever invest what you’re willing to lose. So, then, why bother?
Cash or card?
Visa debit card is my preference. I don’t use a wallet or handbag usually, so I just carry my card and a teeny bit of cash in my pocket. I don’t use a credit card anymore because I like to be in the positive.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
A 2-litre CMP full-fat carton of cow’s milk for my dad in his local shop. It was expensive compared to my local supermarkets. And he said, “Size of that! I won’t get through that in a month. Waste!”
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
I’m very proud that I made it through three years at Rada (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London) back in the day when there were large fees of £10,000 a year. I gathered sponsorship from various Irish businesses who supported half my fees, and then the drama school topped me up with a half scholarship because of my efforts.
Have you ever lost money?
I was 20, it was pre-mobile phone days, I was in London on a day-trip doing a Rada audition, and I lost my wallet, money and passport. I was screwed, and too embarrassed to go back to Rada. Police said to go retrace my steps. As I was crying and kicking a phone-booth that I had used earlier, I saw a post-it note saying, “Call me if you lost your wallet.” Someone gave me a coin to call the number, and a kind Asian man returned all my stuff. People are good.
Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
I was brought up on a horse-racing farm, so bookies and the Tote were the norm. No one close to me was an excessive gambler but I saw glimpses of the addiction and turned my back. I’m not a gambler at all. I’d prefer to donate to something than to do a raffle, even. If someone gives me a scratch card and I win €2 I’ll cash it in.
Is money important to you?
Obviously, health and happiness are more important, but money can make the misery of life easier to bear. I just trust in tomorrow and it always provides. That might sound soppy, but I focus on the inflow of money and not the outflow. I earn a living doing a job that doesn’t feel like a job. I’m very grateful to be blessed with that gift.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €37.09. I try to have a little bit of cash in my pocket for minders, kiddie school costs, trolleys. Otherwise, I’m card all the way.
In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea