Business Personal Finance

Wednesday 21 August 2019

'My first-timer insurance cost as much as the car'


Author Paul Lynch
Author Paul Lynch Business

The award-winning author Paul Lynch will be one of the judges in the Allingham Arts Festival, which runs in Donegal from November 9 until November 12. Lynch was born in Limerick in 1977, grew up in Co Donegal, and now lives in Dublin with his wife and daughter.

His latest novel, Grace, which is set in Famine-era Donegal, was published in Ireland and Britain in September. Other well-known books of his are The Black Snow, and Red Sky in the Morning. Lynch was also the chief film critic of Ireland's Sunday Tribune newspaper from 2007 to 2011, when the newspaper folded.

For more information on the Allingham Festival, visit


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

Live within your means. To be an artist is to accept financial irregularity. It can take years to write a literary novel. Sometimes you get cheques, sometimes you don't. In the meantime, the mortgage and childcare has to be paid. The artist, like the entrepreneur, lives in an earning environment where you can be poor one minute and rich the next. I'm hoping on the latter.

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

Keep your overheads low. It is a useful adage for all writers.

What's your favourite film about money?

Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves is a classic Italian neo-realist film set in post-World War II Rome. It's about a desperate family man who needs a bicycle to work. He gets his bicycle out of hock only for it to be stolen soon after. The film is a heartbreaker and a profound act of empathy - it will make you question any assumptions you have about poverty.

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

My second-hand Audi A3 and first-timer insurance. When we were expecting our first child, I had to learn to drive in a short time. I bought the car, got lessons and passed the test. The insurance alone cost as much as the car.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

My biggest financial mistake was also my best financial win. I bought a house just on the downward slope of the property peak in 2008. It was do or die - I knew the crash was coming and I might not get an opportunity to buy again. So I bought a three-bed house. Of course, the value collapsed in half - but over time it proved a solid investment. I got a tracker mortgage so the monthly repayments are affordable.

Are you better off than your parents?

Not likely. My father retired from the public service at the top of his pay grade. Ah, but they were the gilded generation.

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

For a writer, time to write and think is the most costly thing. But time goes to the dogs when you are a dad. What can you do but give in and enjoy it?

iTunes or Spotify?

I gave up on digital music about four years ago. I realized my relationship to music had changed for the worse - I had thousands of albums on my computer but I was no longer listening to any of it. So I started buying LPs again and over the years, pieced together an audiophile system with vintage gear. A well-pressed jazz record on true hi-fi sounds like a live band in your living room. I no longer play music in the background. Instead, I choose an LP, pour a whiskey and sit down and listen.

Do you ever haggle?

It's a well-known fact that the Irish cannot haggle, and if they try to do so, they are overcome with such embarrassment that they retreat at the first counter-offer. Unless you are my Dad. He can haggle like a Moroccan souk merchant.

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

Books. Wine. Coffee.

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