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Money Talks: 'My ideal life would be forever on the road with no more than a suitcase'


Jess Kidd

Jess Kidd

Jess Kidd

Author Jess Kidd won the Costa Short Story Award for her story Dirty Little Fishes last month. Kidd, whose family is originally from Mayo, was brought up in London. She is living in London with her daughter but hopes to move to the west of Ireland in the next few years.

Her first novel Himself, which is out in hardback, will be available in paperback in June. Her second novel, Hoarder, will be published in early 2018. She is working on her third novel as well as her first collection of short stories - many with Irish settings and characters.

What is the most important lesson about money which your career has taught you?

Throughout my career, I've taken positions that could fit in with taking care of my daughter, writing, and studying. These jobs were usually part-time and not always the best paid but they allowed the real work of writing to start at the end of the day. I've always chosen time over money. I made the decision early on that having the time and energy to write was more valuable to me than wealth or possessions. The downside of this is having no real financial security. To counteract this, I've always been very careful with my money. With very little savings, and having been brought up with a distrust of credit, I've always lived within my means.

What's the best phrase you've ever heard about money?

My favourite quote is (allegedly) from Pablo Picasso: "I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money." For me, this would mean living simply but with the security money brings. I find this appealing as I have an odd aversion to too many material possessions. In some ways my ideal life would be forever on the road with no more than a suitcase.

What's the most expensive place you've visited?

Venice. I remember paying about €15 for a pot of tea in a cafe in St Mark's Square years ago when I was backpacking. It was a moment of reckless expenditure and most of the budget for the day. I sat at the table for at least two hours and got some value out of it.

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

Most of my daughter's things were bought second-hand or given as hand-me-downs when she was a baby. I had very little income at that time so I made do. Thankfully, my daughter isn't materialistic and has a healthy mistrust of labels and advertising. She is also determined to make her own money. Which is a relief.

Are you better off than your parents?

No. My parents were able to buy property and my father had a stable career - which funded the family and some time off to enjoy his art and music. However, I'm significantly better off than my grandparents - they who raised 11 children on no money.

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

My Volkswagen Golf, which was, of course, second hand.

What was your worst job?

I was a dental nurse for three days. The sound of the drill sent me demented. I'm not at all squeamish so peering into people's mouths didn't worry me - but dealing with nervous patients was sometimes taxing.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

My Golf. It broke down outside Sheffield earlier this year with a catastrophic gearbox failure. It also picked up a parking ticket while being towed back to London. I think it's cursed.

What was your best financial killing?

I've yet to have one, but I'm hopeful.

Do you use any money-saving apps?

I don't, but it's definitely something that appeals to my frugal side.

Android or iPhone?

I like iPhone.

Do you know how much is in your account?

To the penny - I watch outgoings like a hawk.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Only once. On hitting a bollard in low sun - after pulling out of the path of an aggressive driver. This was a real shame as I'd had an unscathed record in all my years of driving.

Have you ever switched utility provider?

I would very much like to do this but the soul-crushing hassle that might be involved has always prevented me.

Itunes or Spotify?

Spotify, definitely. I love making lists to play on my road trips. Driving while listening to music is one of my pleasures in life.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A lead and harness for my dog, Maud.

Do you have a mortgage?

No mortgage. At the moment I only rent.

Would you buy Irish property now?

I would if I had the money. I have no great understanding of the market but I have recently found myself agreeing with my mother that I'm not getting any younger and I ought to have my own corner. I also feel ready to put down roots.

Sunday Indo Business