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‘In my 20s, I saw a credit card limit as a target to be reached’

Me & My Money: Flo McSweeney, singer and voiceover artist

Singer and voiceover artist Flo McSweeney’s most recent album is Picture in a Frame. She is a special guest at the Nelson Riddle Orchestra concert in Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, Sunday, April 28th.

Are you a saver or a spender?

In my 20s, I saw a credit card limit as a target to be reached. I like the notion of saving because rainy days are inevitable. I’d like to spend when I have and save when I don’t, but then I remember the line in Hamlet “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” and I get confused. Ultimately, I’m a spender.

Do you shop around for better value?

Within reason. If I really need it, I’ll buy it. If I don’t really need it I will shop around for a while, look for a better value equivalent, but invariably just go back and get it. Similarly, I won’t buy the broccoli at the front of the display. I will always take a pack with a better sell-buy date from the back and probably leave it to go off in the fridge.

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

Is a house considered extravagant these days? The most unnecessary, whimsical purchase was a James Quinn painting of a jazz band that was hanging on the railings in Merrion Square one Sunday. It cost €600 but was worth every penny.


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

I grew my hair during lockdown and never went back to the short style I had for years. Having to invest in all the paraphernalia that comes with maintaining a hair style, I was horrified at the cost of straighteners, hot brushes, and so on. Eventually, I found a miniature rechargeable hot brush on Amazon – I was delighted with myself. In my advancing years, these are the things that excite me.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I will buy make-up online that I can’t get here but most of my clothes are bought in shops. I no longer have the physique that would allow me to buy a “clothes haul” (as my daughter calls it) and have everything fit me.

Do you haggle over prices?

I’m useless at haggling. I might even end up paying more.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

I do weekly accounts so I usually know where I stand. When I come into money, it can go quickly but I can be very careful at quiet times. Lockdown was a bit of a reality check for many of us.

Do you invest in shares?

I was fortunate to get in early on bitcoin and within six months made an 800 per cent return, which I reinvested in Union Pacific, orange juice, silk flowers and ... No, I do not invest. I can just about use Revolut, and don’t talk to me about shares.

Cash or card?

Both. I like cash to know where I am and what I’ve spent over a period of time. Card is just so handy but I’ve no idea what we’re being charged for the convenience of using it. I don’t like how it has become the norm to be shown the machine to tap, especially in bars, without knowing how much you are spending. I reckon it has become too easy to spend.

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

A Max Benjamin air freshener for my car – the scent is bergamot. I will have to let you know in about a week whether it was value for money. If the scent reverts to dog, then no.

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

My car was probably the biggest one-off purchase. Last year, I put some money aside to buy a fancy microphone, but I’m delighted I did as I sound like Barbra Streisand when I use it. Then again, for me, I achieve the same effect with a Boots hair brush bought for a fiver.

Have you ever lost money?

I have never lost money outside of the poor investment that was every purchase made back in the day in the Pink Elephant after 11pm.

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

I’m not a sports fan and I don’t understand the concept of gambling. My career was a gamble, I suppose, but I have had the odd result.

Is money important to you?

I have a healthy respect for its elusiveness. If you have pinned your colours to the mast of the entertainment business, money kind of takes a back seat.

How much money do you have on you now?

Enough for a cup of coffee, a sandwich and a surprise. The surprise isn’t necessarily for me.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

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