'Children are a bottomless pit of financial needs'

The Irish author Sinéad Gleeson is from Dublin.

At the An Post Irish Book Awards last month, she won the Bookselling Ireland Non-Fiction Book of the Year for her debut essay collection, Constellations.

She has previously worked as a journalist and broadcaster, presenting The Book Show on RTÉ for four years. For further information, visit sineadgleeson.com.

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

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To never take it for granted.

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

Children are a bottomless pit of financial needs – which is thankfully offset by them being kind and funny.

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

To save and to buy a house. I got this advice from my parents.

What’s your favourite note?

The Scottish £5.

What’s the most expensive place you ever visited?

On holiday in rural Italy, we went to Venice for a day and it was eye-wateringly expensive. My kids were charged €10 for an elaborate ice-cream cone.

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

I tend not to splurge. It’s the way of the self-employed – to always feel that if you throw a chunk of cash at something, you might need it to pay a bill next month.

What was your worst job?

I spent a J1 summer in the US working four jobs: in clothes shops, a coffee shop, babysitting and house-cleaning for affluent American stockbrokers. The first job I got when I arrived was in a supermarket, working on the deli counter. I’m a vegetarian, and 90pc of my job was hauling large chunks of meat to the meat slicer and chopping them. It was grim.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Like most freelancers in the arts, I don’t have a pension.

What was your best financial killing?

I’m still waiting on this to happen!

Are you better off than your parents?

No. My parents left school at 14 and have grafted for everything they have, which I hugely respect.

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

No one needs that much money, so I’d clear all debts. Given the current state of the Irish property and rental market, I’d buy my children a home. I’d also pay off the mortgages of loved ones.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Only on health insurance, as I’ve had a lot of illness in my life and quite a bit of surgery. One of the reasons I don’t have a pension is because I’ve always spent the equivalent on health insurance, as I got ill so young and knew I’d need to look after my health.

iTunes or Spotify?

Both. Music has always been a huge part of my life and you can’t beat the tactility of vinyl or reading the liner notes on a CD booklet.

But I have an Apple music account, which is great for my kids – who ask me to play Billie Eilish, Lizzo or Tame Impala.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Books. Usually from small presses or publishers outside of Ireland. We should all support local, independent bricks-and-mortar bookshops with rents and overheads – not give more money to billion-dollar online bookshops.

Would you buy Irish property now?

My husband and I are both freelancers and over 40 – so I don’t think any bank in the land would give us a mortgage, even if we could afford it.

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

I think I’d manage – I’m trying to not keep buying things we don’t need that will end up in landfill.

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