Business Personal Finance

Friday 14 December 2018

'Too much money would scare me'

My money

Author Peter Donnelly
Author Peter Donnelly newsdesk

Peter Donnelly is the author and illustrator of The President's Glasses, the recently published children's book. Donnelly has worked as an illustrator for more than 20 years.

He was born in Dublin, where he still lives and works, and has illustrated numerous children's books, posters and murals. To see some of his work, visit

What's the most important lesson about money which your career as an illustrator and children's book author has taught you?

Working as a freelance illustrator, you learn very quickly to separate VAT and tax from your income upfront. It's tempting to go spending when a big payment comes in, but as agonising as it is, you learn to put the taxman's percentage aside each time.

What's the most expensive country you have visited?

The UK. London put a dent in my wallet considering the few days I stayed there.

If you could design your own euro note, what face or image would you put on it?

If it were a person I'd obviously have to say Michael D! If it were an image, I'd love to put Newgrange on it. It's such an iconic place.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

I love the old punt coin with the relief of the stag. I love all that coinage: the fish on the 10p, the bull, the horse and so on. I like that we make a direct connection between the animals on those coins and our Irish landscape.

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

Probably holidays. In particular, a trip to California with my family a few years back.

What was your worst job?

I'm lucky in that I've always enjoyed the creative jobs I've had. However, I once had a summer job operating a floor-polishing machine in Blackrock shopping mall. It was shift work during the school holidays, but I could buy records with the money so I was happy doing the spending!

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Leaving the US a year too early. I had a very high-paying job in Arizona. If I'd stayed an extra year, I would have made a killing and had a much smaller mortgage when I returned.

What was your best financial killing?

Selling my first home in Dublin. It was just good timing when it sold.

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

Keep €3m, help some friends and donate the rest. Too much money would scare me - I don't need it to make me happy.

What's your favourite saying about money?

Health is better than wealth.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Yes - but only for a broken windscreen.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Two books by French illustrator Alain Grée.

Would you buy property now?

Yes - if I had the money and I needed a place to live. I wouldn't be interested in owning a second property though.

Do you ever haggle?

Always. It's great thinking you've had the final call on a deal, although you can never tell.

In my line of work, there's always haggling in some shape or form. Clients want artwork cheaper; I want a fair price. Selling creativity will always be difficult.

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

My mother taught me to save as a kid - using those little stamp books. I think you have to be taught to save. That's the best advice I got.

What three things could you not do without if you were belt tightening?

My Mac, my mobile and chocolate.

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