‘We bought a house in 2006 and I still cannot bring myself to mention the price’

Me & My Money: Karl Quinn, actor

Karl Quinn: ‘When I was starting out as an actor, it was almost a badge of honour to spend everything I earned.’

Karl Quinn: ‘When I was starting out as an actor, it was almost a badge of honour to spend everything I earned.’

 

Are you a saver or a spender?

These days I’m a total saver. When I was starting out as an actor, it was almost a badge of honour to spend everything I earned. Not having a fixed income means I have to be careful to have a rainy day fund. It rains a lot in Ireland!

Do you shop around for better value?

I am allergic to shopping. My greatest fear is Ikea on a busy Saturday. I almost always buy clothes and personal items on impulse, but when I am buying professionally, producing a show or something like that, I will shop around and try to get the best value in order to pay the artists as much as possible.

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

We bought a house in 2006 and I still cannot bring myself to mention the price. I have no desire for fancy stuff, but I love to travel and share experiences with family and friends. My brother got married in Singapore recently so we decided to make a big holiday out of it. Waterparks, jet skiing, Universal Studios, the whole tamale. Extravagant, but well worth it.

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

A bicycle – and it didn’t cost a lot. I love my bike. The fresh air, the freedom, the fitness, the way of beating traffic nastiness. Of all the things I own, it owes me the least.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

Food stuff has to be in the shop as I like to see and feel what I am buying, particularly fruit and veg. Sometimes, when I’m touring, I will do the house shop online, but mostly to alleviate the guilt of being away for long periods. I would generally buy technical stuff online, gadgets for work and that sort of thing.

Do you haggle over prices?

I enjoy the craic of haggling in a haggling culture. It is more for the craic, though, than the price. On a recent trip abroad, I had a great haggling session with a very animated woman who claimed that I was “breaking her heart”, “ruining her life”, “starving her children” and “putting her out of business”. All the big guns were pulled out in the most dramatic way, but when we agreed on a price and exchanged money, with a big cheeky grin on her face she said she would have sold it for half the price!

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Very much so, for a while anyway though, because it coincided with starting a family, it is a little harder to say. There was definitely a lot more meals out, theatre, film, going out and spending in general before the recession. That soon became nappies and crèche fees. But now they are older, money is needed for runners that cost more than my yearly clothing allowance and phones that cost more than my car.

Do you invest in shares?

Never.

Cash or card?

Card and mobile phone. I love tapping, especially with the mobile. Partly the convenience, but also the intrigue of what money is or has become. It is such an abstract thing now, a promise that relies on faith in ever-changing economies. I am eagerly awaiting a chip in my finger or simply paying with my fingerprint, although I would rather have my wallet nicked than my finger.

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

I brought my wife to Berlin for a weekend to celebrate a significant birthday. Like most things in my life it cannot be measured in monetary terms.

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

Almost for all, because I hate being in debt.

Have you ever lost money?

I had my wallet stolen on holidays years ago, and had no credit cards or travellers cheques or any way of accessing money, so that was scary. I generally don’t use credit cards but always have one now.

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

One of my great pleasures is playing poker with my mates. However, we found that the more money was at stake, the less we enjoyed the game. So we limited the amount that can be won or lost. Great fun.

Is money important to you?

Living a creative life is by far more important, but I have learnt the hard way that money needs to be taken seriously. After a theatre company that I was very passionate about failed, one of the best bits of advice I got was from a very experimental theatre maker. I presumed he would not be at all concerned with money, but he was very clear: if you do not find a way to financially support the work, it will inevitably fail.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €35. Like I said, I tap for everything. 

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