Gráinne O’Farrelly, managing director, Kroll, financial services compliance & regulation kroll.com
Are you a saver or a spender?
I would say both, but perhaps I am more inclined towards saving. That said, I enjoy my social life and I am happy to spend money on things like holidays, days and evenings out with family and friends. And when it comes to my house or garden, I’m always happy to pay for the right person to do a great job.
Do you shop around for better value?
I usually leave that to my husband, but when it comes to booking holidays, I will always try to secure the best deal.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Fifteen years ago, I was in New York on a trip with one of my sisters and, in a moment of madness, I bought a very expensive coat. My sisters are very good at advising me about investment pieces! To be fair, the coat is still perfect, and I love it.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
After much discussion and negotiation, we purchased an electric car two years ago. Running costs are negligible. Of course, an added benefit is it is good for the planet, which is a big focus in our house. Living in the country makes driving an electric car interesting as wildlife, cats, dogs and people can’t hear you, so it’s a good incentive to slow down.
How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
I always prefer to shop local, although at times during lockdown, this wasn’t possible. I was ecstatic – quite literally – when my local artisan coffee shop, Partridges, in Gorey, reopened after the full lockdown. I live in a wonderful town full of boutiques, eateries and markets, so it is easy to shop local.
Do you haggle over prices?
Generally, no. However, where the culture expects it, I would. I recall haggling in Thailand over the price of an overnight stay in a beach hut. I think we haggled over the price of one night – €1 per night or €2 per night. Crazy, but true.
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?
Yes, it has. I am not much of an online shopper, so my spending habits have changed. For a long number of months, there was no opportunity to physically shop, and I had gotten out of the habit. I no longer impulse buy and now try to think about whether I really need something.
Do you invest in shares?
Not directly. Given my area of work, I’m pretty risk-averse. However, I am quite focused on my pension and ensuring I have a diverse portfolio of shares with the appropriate spread of risk.
Cash or card?
Mostly card, although I try to have some cash on my person to give my three children when they ask for money. We have two boys and a girl, aged 11, 12 and 14 – so financial requests are a frequent occurrence. The move to a cashless society means we will have to educate children even more about the value of money.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
I recently paid a large instalment for my children’s orthodontic work. Hopefully, in time to come, it will be clear to me and them that it has been good value for money!
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
We saved towards renovating our current family home. The renovation was completed in 2019 ahead of the pandemic, so the timing was fortunate as the revised layout made home life easier when everyone was in-situ during the lockdowns.
Have you ever lost money?
No, but once I accidentally threw out an envelope with €500 in it. Two weeks’ worth of recycling had to be rummaged through to locate it.
Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
By nature, I am not a gambler. I am a planner, as all those who know me personally and professionally will testify to.
Is money important to you?
Yes, it is. It makes me feel secure, gives me purchasing power and the ability to plan for the future. My parents taught me the value of money and that working hard to the best of your ability pays dividends.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €32 – children’s lunch money and the parking meter. And I buy the odd coffee with cash.
in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea