Saturday 21 September 2019

'I'm proud that I bought my first house on my own'

My Money

Irish author Carmel Harrington
Irish author Carmel Harrington

The Irish author Carmel Harrington is from Wexford, where she lives with her husband Roger and two young children. In 2013, she won the Kindle Book of the Year and Romantic eBook of the Year awards.

She has published seven novels including her latest book, A Thousand Roads Home, which went on sale last October. For more details on her new book, visit

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

Aside from a few debut authors who hit the big time in a nano-second, it takes time to build a career as an author. For me, financial security only happened at book five. One thing I know for sure is that the only guaranteed income a writer has is the advance they receive. Royalties are not a given and vary depending on the book.

What's the most expensive thing about being a parent?

I think when our daughter Amelia was born it was a big outlay. We had to buy prams, cots, sterilisers, clothes, cribs, and so on. It was easier for our second, because we had a lot of the big stuff. Right now clothes and shoes are the issue. My two are growing like weeds.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

Spend less than you earn. I got that gem of advice from my grandmother Corinne.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

A trip to Paris years ago still stands out as one of the most expensive. I can still remember a round of drinks for four of us being double what it would be in Ireland.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

I still have an old one punt coin. I love the size and weight of it - plus the stag is very cool. When I was a kid, getting one of those meant you were very rich indeed.

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

My gold Renault Scenic car.

What was your worst job?

I was once a PR girl for a drinks company - giving out samples in pubs. I hated every second of it and it got tricky sometimes late into the evening when people were drunk.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Not investing in the SSIA scheme in 2001. Regret stung like hell when I watched family and friends spend their savings five years later.

What was your best financial killing?

I'm still proud that I bought my first house on my own and sold it two years later for a €40,000 profit.

Are you better off than your parents?

Like my parents, my husband and I have had both good and lean years with money. Right now we are all in a good place.

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

Pay off our mortgage, upgrade our cars, bring my family and friends on one big holiday, help out my favourite charities, go on a shopping spree.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A present for my husband - to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

Would you buy property now?

I'm happy where we live and have no plans to move. But if I had money to invest, I would buy something small in Dublin. Both my husband and I are up and down a lot for work so it would be nice to have somewhere to stay then.

Do you ever haggle?

I come from a long line of great hagglers. I learnt my skills from my dad, who is top of his game at haggling. I once got €500 knocked off a suite of furniture which was already in the sale. Top tip, don't be afraid to walk away and don't look back when you do.

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