‘Money is very important to me in terms of how in control I feel of my life’

Me & My Money: Charlene Flanagan, co-founder/owner of Ella and Jo cosmetics. www.ellaandjo.ie

Are you a saver or a spender?

I’m a bit of both but I would fall more into the spender category. I could definitely save more if I wanted to, but I also know you can’t take it with you, so why not enjoy it?

Do you shop around for better value?

No, I am terrible at it. I don’t have the time or the patience, and I won’t wait for discounts. If I want or need something, I just buy it there and then – no questions.


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

Aside from my car and my house, I bought a second wedding dress for the reception of our wedding day. It was bespoke – made by Shauna, a fabulous designer from Northern Ireland, and I think it cost me over €1,000. In general, I’m not someone who makes extravagant purchases as I would happily spend more on other people than I would on myself.

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

My car. I have a Kia Sportage, and I love that it has a seven-year warranty. I have had three of these cars over the past six years. They always hold their value, and I’m always happy to trade-in for a newer model every two years because of that.

How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?

I have been an online shopper even before Covid-19. I am a busy mum of two young children and I run two businesses, so I generally do all my purchasing at home between the hours of 9pm and 11pm. I love that more local businesses have ventured online, and I am a huge advocate for shopping Irish and shopping local the majority of the time.

Do you haggle over prices?

Never. If I want something I pay for it. I’d be mortified asking someone for a discount.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?

I am definitely more aware of shopping Irish and local.

Do you invest in shares?

Not yet.

Cash or card?

Card. I use my Google Pay app on my phone, mainly.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

A family day pass to a Halloween experience. I could have gotten better value had I signed up for yearly membership – which I probably will end up doing at some point – but it was a last minute decision to go.

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

Yes, it’s something I have started doing quite well only this past year. I have a Revolut saving vault for all my spending occasions coming up like Christmas, birthdays, holidays.

Have you ever lost money?

I have, but it’s something of a running joke with my husband. He always found money in the washing machine that came out of my jeans or coats. And he has often found money under the seats of my car.

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

No, I don’t get any buzz at all from gambling. I’ve never won money, but I think my sister has those genes.

Is money important to you?

Yes, my parents are both self-employed and always put heavy emphasis on having emergency money. Money is very important to me in terms of how in control I feel of my life, and not about how successful I am. You can’t take it with you, but I like to have enough to know there are safety nets should the worst-case scenario happen to me or my husband.

Not too long ago, I lived wage to wage, working seven days a week to try to make ends meet while paying for a wedding and building a house. We were in over our heads and I never want to go back there. It was a very stressful time.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €44 in my purse, and believe it or not, I found €40 in my jeans!

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea