Rose of Tralee 2016: 'Money can't buy happiness - but it can buy ice cream, which is kind of the same thing'
Chicago native Maggie McEldowney was crowned the 2016 Rose of Tralee last August. She will hand back her crown to the winner of the 2017 Rose of Tralee festival this Tuesday.
McEldowney, 28, works as director of development at Marist High School in Chicago. Her grandmother, Brigid O'Neill, was born in Maghera, Co Derry.
The 2017 Rose of Tralee festival will be broadcast live on RTE One from 8pm on August 21 and August 22.
What's the most important lesson about money which your year as the Rose of Tralee has taught you?
The importance of budgeting was my biggest lesson. My budgeting skills have vastly improved since my year as Rose. I booked over 60 flights this year, attended countless events and bought outfits - all within my budget.
What's the most expensive city you visited?
Los Angeles. A salad that might be $10 or $11 in Chicago was $17 or $18 in LA. Everything we did that weekend seemed a bit inflated cost-wise.
What's your favourite coin?
I love finding quarters in my purse. They come in handy when I need to toss quarters in a parking meter or if I come up a little short when buying something.
What's your favourite saying about money?
"Money can't buy happiness - but it can buy ice cream, which is kind of the same thing."
Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
I was brought up in a house that didn't idolise material goods. So my biggest expenses are pretty boring - my car, house, and furniture.
What was your worst job?
I bartended during college and a little after. There was one spot I had to be a waitress in before they'd promote me to bartender. The customers there were so rude. I only lasted there a few months before quitting.
What was your best financial killing?
Buying my condo. I was fortunate enough to put a very low bid in at my current place, and they accepted it.
Are you better off than your parents?
No. My parents are two of the most generous people on the planet. It is because of their selflessness that I am doing as well as I am today.
What's the best thing financially about living in Chicago?
Public transport. Our city is lined with bus routes, L trains, Metra trains and bike-friendly streets. You could spend a fortune taking cabs from place to place, and pay-to-park can be just as bad. There's nothing better than hopping on the L for $2.25 for anywhere you want to go in the city.
Have you ever made an insurance claim?
Yes - after my dishwasher broke within a first few months of me moving in to my condo. It was a nightmare - the floors, cabinets, and much of my furniture were ankle deep in water.
If you won the Lottery, what would you do with the money?
I'd give everyone in my family a little piece of the pie, and then I'd replace some of my old, hand-me-downs with new things of my own. I'd maybe consider a lake house my family and friends could use. I'd save the majority of it though.
iTunes or Spotify?
Spotify. I love the playlists they create for you based on the music you like.
Would you buy property now?
No. Right now it's a seller's market in Chicago, so if I was going to buy, it'd be after I sold my place and hopefully got a decent price for it.
What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?
Air conditioning (the summers in Chicago can be pretty hot), my cell phone, and my car (I can't get to work without it).
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