Tuesday 6 December 2016

Mary Kenny: counting the change

Why it's become fashionable to be a cheapskate

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

My motto for life is now written on a tattoo on my left arm - "To live is to change" - and one of the ways I've changed in recent years is, I notice, a creeping carefulness with money.

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Avarice is said to be the vice of old age, a theme repeatedly illuminated in the novels of Balzac, where the grasping old miser counting his dough is the very epitome of senescence. Daniel Corkery made a similar observation about the dying Irish peasant of old, whose last thoughts were often about land values. Now, I'm beginning to understand their point of view. Debt is frightening.

In the prime of life, I thought nothing of running up debts. Spending like a sailor on shore leave was the way to be, and for large periods of my life, my bank account was perpetually on overdraft. I thought it was very kind of the bank manager to lend me money this way - I paid no attention whatsoever to the concept of "interest".

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