Your MoneyMe & My Money

‘I take risks and they don’t always pay off’

Me & My Money – Rachel Forbes, founder/MD, House of EQ

Dublin-born Rachel Forbes has a masters in risk management from Queen’s University Belfast. She is the founder and managing director of House of EQ, an Irish company that encourages consumers to press the pause button, get creative and elevate their sense of wellbeing.

Are you a saver or a spender?

I would consider myself a saver, for sure. However, when it comes to travel and life experiences, I tend to indulge a bit more as these are the things that provide the most enjoyment for me.

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Do you shop around for better value?

I really enjoy hunting out bargains. If I see something that I regularly use with some great offer or discount, I will stock up. Value means more than the cost to me. I enjoy informed shopping, so I love to shop local, meet the maker and understand the product journey and sustainability efforts of retailers and suppliers.

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

I’m not a materialistic splurge person. However, I did get a limited edition Mont Blanc pen in my first role after my studies. Ten years later, I still use it every day. I specialised in ornate calligraphy as part of my Leaving Cert art project, so the art of writing is something that brings me joy on a daily basis. Call me old school, but I start and end every day with a pen and paper list.

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

A membership to the Entrepreneur Experiment Community. Entrepreneurship can be a daunting and lonely journey at times, so this community, and the monthly roundtables in Dublin, have become the ‘board I can’t afford’ for my creative start-up business.

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

Both. A lot of my favourite Irish brands only operate online – my own business included. However, during lockdowns, the smallest outings and interactions became the highlights of each day, so it was actually a special time in the world to connect with local communities again.

Do you haggle over prices?

I prefer the word ‘negotiate’ but yes, I do and I get a real thrill out of it. Working in global M&A as part of my financial career, I honestly get the same thrill out of saving 50 cent that I get in saving $5 million for a client. If you don’t ask in life, you’ll never know.

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

A pandemic shopping trend that I have kept with me is local market shopping, whether this be for fruit and veg or local craft produce. I love the stories behind things, whether it’s a vase made in a small pottery studio in Sligo or sea salt from Achill Island. The influences of these stories at local markets and fairs inspire everything from what I’ll cook for a dinner party to my Christmas gifting.

Do you invest in shares?

Yes, and I have done for years. I’m a firm believer in learning by doing. I think it’s the only way to really understand the power of compound interest.

Cash or card?

Card. Digital Revolut, to be specific.

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

A subscription to the language learning app Duo Lingo. I’m trying to learn French as we have sourced some really amazing fragrance ingredient suppliers in France. I love to do business in the local language so I’m trying to practise daily.

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

Yes, the start-up capital for my business. Being self-employed and a recently-returned Irish emigrant, conversations around debt financing tend to be pretty short.

Have you ever lost money?

Of course. I take risks and they don’t always pay off. But in every loss, there is a lesson and I make it my business to learn and do better next time.

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

This year I have tried some angel investing after learning about an Irish crowdfunding campaign. It’s very high risk so you could consider it a gamble but it’s a great way to follow companies and learn from their growth journeys. It’s too soon to say if I’ll win big, but here’s hoping.

Is money important to you?

Yes. Having studied and worked in finance, it forms a large metric for success for me. I am very cognisant that money does not buy happiness, but striving for wealth accumulation is nothing to shy away from.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €50 at the back of my phone. My grandmother always insisted on me having cash for emergencies.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture