“Borrowing to invest is like lighting a bonfire with your money in the garden” – The Irish Times
Are you a saver or a spender?
I get figurines for buying things, like gardening stuff earlier this summer. I couldn’t go anywhere to sell plants without going in to see what bedding plants they had. That said, I always make sure I have enough money for my sons’ education and bills. I have always been very worried about money. I didn’t grow up with money and as a freelancer if I can’t work I don’t get paid.
Do you shop around for better value?
In years past I wasn’t much of a shopper, but I’m much better at checking prices now. The concept of changing supplier is new to me and I have adopted it with pleasure.
What was your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
It’s been years since I bought anything extravagant. My first big purchase when I got my first paid book deal was a pair of designer shoes. The champagne had been taken and, thrilled at the prospect of having real money after two years of writing, I bought these silly pointy shoes. They were around £200 and I still have them. They represent both a moment of happiness and a moment of buying ahead of the money to come, which is always a mistake!
What purchase have you made that you consider to be the best value?
About three years ago I converted to the over the shoulder type of carry case for your phone. My current model is a German brand but I’ve had XouXou ones that cost around €40 for a basic version. You never lose your phone and you never drop it either. I’m a big phone dropper so this is a fabulous purchase.
How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
I live in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, and love supporting local shops, and certainly did during Covid. I also tried to support local bookstores. I’m also a fan of supporting Irish.
Do you negotiate prices?
I couldn’t bargain to save my life. I work with Unicef and once at a market in Mozambique a lovely person from Unicef came with me because I’m so useless to buy anything where haggling is part of the deal. ‘affair. I will give people double the money if I think they need it.
How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your consumption habits?
I was never a fashionista, but Covid meant I could give in to my inner ripped jeans and aging wool sweater look. Meetings were done online or over the phone and I realized I had a lot of clothes I never wanted to wear again. I made a huge donation to charity and also buy a lot of stuff from charity shops. The pure happiness of buying something original for five cents! I come home waving the new purchase like it’s an Oscar.
Do you invest in stocks?
I have a pension, which is obviously linked to shares, but personally, no.
Cash or card?
I mainly use cards but like to have cash. I make a huge effort now to have money so I can tip people if I have coffee, especially at my local cafe. Nobody has any more money, so people who work in services lose their tips. I hate that.
What’s the last thing you bought and was it good value?
I’m going to a nice event where I’ll be in the sun and needed a new sun hat. I had skin cancer many years ago so a hat is part of the diet. This new straw looks great.
Have you ever managed to save for a relatively large purchase?
Like most people, my first big savings experience was for my first home, and in the end I was successful. Saving up meant I was better able to cope with the total lack of money that came with owning that first home.
Have you ever lost money?
Yes. If I had to tell you more, I’d have to kill you, but all I’ll say is that borrowing to invest is like lighting a bonfire in the backyard and setting your money on fire.
Are you a gambler and if so, have you ever won a jackpot?
I have no interest in playing. I have been to a bookmaker twice in my life. I once won an office pool on the Grand National, but that meant we all went to the pub and I bought everyone a drink, so I think it was an overall loss.
Is money important to you?
Anyone who doesn’t think money is important has never seen people living in a mud-floored hut in Africa or living in a camp near the Syrian border. Money doesn’t make you happy, but it can keep you fed, housed, safe, healthy – within reason. Millions of parents watch their children die of severe acute malnutrition in countries like Yemen, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa region. Irish people are homeless, sitting on the streets trying to get money to get into shelter for the night. Here people can’t pay their bills and fear winter because they won’t be able to turn on the heating. As long as I can work and take care of my sons and dependents, I’m much better than most. I don’t need fancy handbags for that.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €35 and that includes a lot of parts. I have a small clear purse from Penneys that is actually used to hold a face mask, but this is the best purse because you can see what you have.
In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea
Cathy Kelly’s latest novel, The Wedding Party, is published by Orion Fiction. www.cathykelly.co.uk