‘You don’t need to be a millionaire, but having money lets you make choices’
Me & My Money: Vicky Brown, CEO of Cool Planet Experience
Vicky Brown: ‘I’ve a really difficult relationship with gambling. I find it pretty disgraceful the way betting companies are able to advertise on sporting channels at all hours of the day.’
Are you a saver or a spender?
Bit of both, really. I never used to save until I had kids. Since then, I’m always trying to squirrel away money for school fees and that kind of thing. When you’ve three kids, you’re always spending, and now that two of them are teenagers I want to spend my money on time with the family as spending time together is really important to me.
Do you shop around for better value?
Only if shopping online – then I will always will try and find a better value option. Not so much when it comes to food, as certain things I’d pay more for such as better quality or higher welfare.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Buying our house, definitely. We bought our house having only seen it once and never together. I saw it on a wet dark November afternoon with two babies in tow, and my husband went to see it a couple of days later. The first time we saw the house together was the following March when we got the keys. I remember both of us had really mixed feelings when we walked through the house for the first time, but now, 14 years later, we love it.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
Decent, but cool looking trainers. I wear trainers most of the time to work, and also at the weekends. The same goes for a pair of jeans.
How do you prefer to shop – online or local?
Both. I work full-time, so I tend to shop for clothes online, but food tends to be a combination of local shops and supermarkets. I’m trying to get better about food shopping and not to buy loads in one go, as I’m always finding a rogue rotten lettuce squashed in the back of the fridge. I now buy food when we need it. It means you end up going to the shops more often, but the nice side of that is you get to know your local greengrocer, butcher and wine shop!
Do you haggle over prices?
Rarely, unless I’m abroad where haggling is part of the culture. However, when it’s work related I definitely do haggle to get a better price. As Cool Planet Experience is a new climate action NGO, our funds have to be managed tightly.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
I wouldn’t say the recession changed my spending habits massively. What has had a bigger influence is probably how much I’m earning at the time against where my money needs to go.
Do you invest in shares?
No. I did a bit a few years ago, before I had a family. I did start a pension about 15 years ago, and every now and then I review where that money is at, but I have to say I don’t look at it very often. I probably should.
Cash or card?
Card nearly always. It’s just easier to carry around, although there has been many a morning trying to remember which jacket it was left in.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
I bought the family on a trip for mid-term. I’d rather spend money on an experience like that then saving for a new car. In terms of value, I booked everything directly so, for what it was, I think I got good value.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Outside of our house, no, I don’t think so. However, the next big purchase I’d love to make is to switch to an EV car or solar panels for heating the house. The former is just too expensive for us at the moment.
Have you ever lost money?
Other than the odd note falling out of my pocket, no, not that I can remember. On reflection, though, when I lived in New York with two friends, our landlord stole our chequebooks and cashed big cheques. Eventually the bank honoured the money, as he stupidly paid his phone bill with one of them.
Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
No, not at all. I’ve a really difficult relationship with gambling. I find it pretty disgraceful the way betting companies are able to advertise on sporting channels at all hours of the day. There is a lot of discussion about alcohol advertising, but nothing much about gambling advertising.
Is money important to you?
I’d be a liar to say it isn’t. Money gives you options. You don’t need to be a millionaire, but having money lets you make choices, enables you to pursue education, travel and more. I worked for several years in Barnardos and saw the real impact of cyclical poverty on people’s lives.
How much money do you have on you now?
In cash, €45, but no coins at all. My kids must have liberated them from me!
in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea