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'If I haggle, the price tends to go in the wrong direction'

My Money


Alan McMonagle

Alan McMonagle

Alan McMonagle

Award-winning writer Alan McMonagle was born in Sligo and grew up in Longford. His first novel, Ithaca, was published in March 2017 and he has just published his second novel, Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame, which is available from all good bookshops (given the current crisis, online may be the best option). McMonagle, who lives in Galway, also writes short stories and radio plays. For more details, visit alanmcmonagle.com.

What's the most important lesson about money which your career in writing has taught you?

'Poverty is not a goad' - from the evocatively titled Canadian writer Mavis Gallant's short story 'When We Were Nearly Young'.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

I liked the decimal halfpenny - probably because no one else had much time for it and they tended to discard it.

What's the best thing financially about living in Galway?

It's cheaper than Dublin.

Has the coronavirus crisis taught you anything about money?

As a writer, I'm by myself for substantial spells of time, getting by on next to nothing. As far as the crisis goes, it's the more vulnerable I am concerned for.

The most expensive country you ever visited?

I thought Switzerland was expensive - though my generous hosts covered everything.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

A flight to Australia.

What was your worst job?

My worst job wasn't one job, it was two jobs. Young and with a heap of debt, I had a nine-to-five stint as an office slave which paid pittance; then a few hours off before my 10-until-three night shift as security in an amusement complex.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

In my early 20s, drifting through sporadic employment, inside a Salthill sweet shop, I let fall out of my pocket the two months' rent owing to my landlord. I didn't realise it until I had left the shop and upon my return, the shop assistant told me that the cash had been spotted on the floor but that an old woman had said it was hers. The girl closed the shop and we scoured every Salthill amusement arcade and bingo hall in search of the larcenous opportunist. Alas, she was nowhere to be found.

What was your best financial killing?

About 20 years ago, in a Melbourne casino, an irate gambler flung his chips all over the place. One of these chips landed at my feet. At the roulette table, I placed it on number 23. With the winnings, I bought my photography-loving girlfriend a AU$500 (€277) camera.

Are you better off than your parents?

I doubt it. My income is sporadic and irregular.

If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?

My dad has motor neurone disease. I would spend a decent chunk ensuring he is comfortable for what time he has left.

The best advice you ever got about money?

'A guitar and a six-pack - that's all you need.' I got that advice from a security guard-come-musician.

iTunes or Spotify?

I have an iPod for favourite podcasts, but am still fond of CDs.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A book.

Do you ever haggle?

My head is in the clouds most of the time. If I haggle, the price has a tendency to go in the wrong direction.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

I have been tightening my belt since I can remember. But I need money to buy books, Pilot gel ink pens, notebooks - and Spanish wine.

Sunday Indo Business