Are you a saver or a spender?
I am both. We grew up in very tough economic circumstances and my mother taught me to respect what was, for our family, a very scarce resource. I was encouraged (that is, gently forced) not to spend money gifts I received for birthdays or Christmas, and so thanks to her I’m incapable of not saving some of my earnings. However, If I receive a bonus, I love to spend it – usually on experiences with friends or family and especially on travel. I love being able to use it to create memories and have adventures. I believe once your bills are covered and you’ve put money into savings, it’s important to enjoy it.
Do you shop around for better value?
One hundred per cent. I like quality and I’m happy to pay for it but I refuse to pay over the odds and I believe there is almost always a way of getting an item more cost-effectively, so I do lots of online research. My husband has been known to say he will keel over if ever I tell him I have paid full price for something.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Probably my silver Airstream, a 1960s aluminium caravan that I bought just before Covid and which I’m now in the process of refurbishing. It cost approximately €25,000 and approximately the same again to gut and redo it.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
I’d still say, and feel it even more keenly now given the housing crisis, that it was my first house, which I purchased in my home city of Limerick when I was 27. It cost £21,000 at a time when I was earning £6,000 per annum. Interest rates were about 12 per cent. I remember being unable to sleep for months with worry about repayments; I had to scrimp on food and so on, and it was years before I could repair and redo it. I am, however, eternally grateful I did it and I am so very conscious of how lucky my timing was.
[ ‘Never be afraid of debt - it’s working capital’ ]
What ways did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions, online or local?
It’s a mix. During lockdowns, it obviously had to be online primarily but I believe strongly in supporting local businesses and communities whenever possible and during Covid I deliberately sought out Irish businesses to support.
Do you haggle over prices?
Where appropriate. For example, in a market in a country where it is the cultural norm or expected, or if I believe a discount is justified, I am happy to work hard for my money. I don’t ever haggle regarding the arts as I know how hard it is for most artists and creators. I like to support theatre and music as much as possible and feel lucky to be able to do so.
How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits and is there something in particular that you have either stopped buying or started buying as a result?
It definitely has. I spent lockdowns in a small wooden house in the Wicklow Mountains and had to learn how to extend my use of online shopping from travel and clothes to groceries and household needs.
Do you invest in shares?
I have shares as Disney shares form part of my compensation package but following the disastrous loss the only time I ever purchased shares (in Eircom), I don’t have the confidence or knowledge to invest in shares. I am, however, thinking of doing a training session on Angel investing.
Cash or card?
Mainly card for travel, online purchases and flexibility, but I ensure I never pay a cent of interest as I clear it every month. I also like Revolut a lot and nowadays carry a tiny amount of cash.
[ ‘With three young children, I sometimes spend money to solve problems quickly’ ]
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
A Christmas gift for my husband of a yoga retreat abroad. I consider it excellent value as it also means I get to have a holiday.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
The deposit on my first house in Limerick.
Have you ever lost money?
Yes, various times. A bag was stolen and it contained holiday savings; I invested in Eircom shares; and I’ve supported theatrical ventures that haven’t paid off financially, but culturally that was not a loss.
Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
I’m not a gambler, per se, but I buy raffle tickets to support charities and organisations I admire and whose work makes a difference. The biggest thing I’ve ever won was a weekend break in a nice hotel in Ireland, which I still have to take.
Is money important to you?
Yes, it is, as I think it is especially for anyone who grew up without and knowing want. It is important to me not for itself, or accruing it for the sake of it, but because it enables autonomy of decision and some security, but also independence. It also enables me to occasionally give treats to the people I love, plus, very importantly, allows me to support some key charities.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €35, £40 (from a recent UK work trip) and 140 dirhams (leftover from a Moroccan trip pre-Covid and in my purse to make me smile as I think of my forthcoming trip).
Dublin International Film Festival takes place from February 23rd-March 4th