Sunday 17 December 2017

'Money has been an issue for me since childhood'

Writer Alice Carey
Writer Alice Carey

Alice Carey is a New-York born writer and West Cork resident with several plays, essays and articles to her credit. She is also the Cork County Ambassador for Culture Night 2017 which takes place on Friday, September 22.

What is the most important lesson about money that your career as a writer has taught you?

Non-blockbuster writers like myself make very little money. So my lesson is, marry well or be born rich.

Are you better off than your parents?

I am. My father worked his way up from janitor to foreman at La Guardia Airport, New York. My mother worked as a maid until the day she died. So money has been an issue for me since childhood.

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

The truth is, I don't buy things I don't need, like some fabulous dress in Brown Thomas' window that I'll wear only once. However, I happily spend money on air travel and hotels in places like the Middle East and Egypt.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Not ever having money to play with means I've never made a financial mistake.

What was your best financial killing?

A number of years ago, a friend left me money in a will and I played the stock market. My best killing was investing in Pfizer just before it began making Viagra (in Cork!).

What was your worst job?

I worked as a substitute teacher in New York City's treacherous all-boy high schools. They used me because I looked tough, wore pants, was afraid of nothing, and didn't take back-talk.

Do you use any money-saving apps?

I don't own a cell phone (I do very well with a landline and a Mac), so why would I need apps?

Do you know how much is in your current account?

Yes, down to the last cent.

Have you ever switched utility provider?

My husband and I have switched our phone service and cable TV provider many times.

iTunes or Spotify?

Here's another thing: I have no need of music playing in my ear while I walk around. I'd rather play music in-house from the radio and a sophisticated sound system for playing my CDs and LPs. Nothing tops listening to a scratchy LP on a good turntable.

What was the last thing you bought online?

I never buy online. I must see and feel what I buy.

What's the most expensive place you have travelled to?

Compared to luxury hotels in Egypt, Irish hotels fill the bill, like the Merrion in Dublin or the Park in Kenmare. Both very expensive, but in a what-the-hell way!

Would you buy Irish property now?

My husband and I would love to but we'd never get another bargain like we got in West Cork before the boom.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

My favourite coins are those of Yeats: The shilling with the bull, the threepence with the hare - all equally lovely and evocative of Ireland.

Cash or card?

I pay for everyday items like food in cash. I have a budget and stick to it. I use a card only for travel and theatre tickets.

Do you ever haggle?

Do I ever! I love haggling in souks and markets. I smile and say, "Is this your best price?" Then the seller and I go back and forth. I walk away, come back, ask again and I always get the best price. I've even been known to haggle for antiques at Bantry Fair Day. Older traders love it.

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