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'My pocket money was just 10p and it went on sweets'

By Staff Reporter

Published 11/08/2015

Thriving business: Lou Mathers at Newforge Country House Hotel
Thriving business: Lou Mathers at Newforge Country House Hotel
Newforge Country House Hotel in Magheralin

In our Cash for Questions series, a Northern Ireland businessperson is asked about their finances. This week it's the turn of Lou Mathers, who is the co-owner of Newforge Country House Hotel in Magheralin.

Q: Are you a plastic or cash person?

A: Plastic, as it is just so convenient.

Q: How much money do you usually carry around with you?

A:Usually only about £20 - I get a bit nervous with too much cash in my wallet.

Q: Do you see personal debt (ie credit card, personal loans) as inevitable or best avoided?

A: I'm a bit cautious with loans and try to avoid personal debt beyond our mortgage. I'm pretty good at living within my means and only have one credit card which is an emergency back-up.

Q:Apart from a house or car, what's the most expensive thing you've ever bought?

A: My Falcon range cooker.

Q: Are you a saver or a spender?

A: I am definitely more of a spender, but really enjoy hunting out a bargain and window shopping, so am able to keep within my means.

Q:What are your best and worst spending habits?

A: I have to confess to being swayed by a promotion - I love discounts, multi-buys and freebies. I am, however, good at resisting designer labels and pick up cheaper items that I think look the part.

Q: Did you get pocket money as a child? If so, what was the first sum you received?

A:This shows my age - my first weekly pocket money was 10 pence. In those days half-penny sweets still existed, so I used to blow the whole lot every Saturday on 20 sweets.

Q: Did you have a part time job as a youngster?

A: I was 15 when I had my first Saturday job as a shop assistant in a pet shop.

Q: Would you leave a huge fortune to your children?

A: I would leave some of it to Theo and Mia and share the rest around other family, friends and charity. I don't think it does anybody good to have too much wealth without working for it. But I would love to have enough money to support our two children in finding and following their passions.

Q: Where do you do your food shopping?

A: We have lots of great local suppliers such as Hannan Meats in Moira, which we use at home too. We also grow a lot of our own vegetables and keep chickens for eggs. We are lucky to have many great bakeries and greengrocers in nearby Moira and Lurgan that I use for top-up shopping.

Q: Did the recession teach you anything about personal finances you are bringing into the recovery?

A: I think establishing and running a small business with my husband John, and building our own home, have taught me more than the recession. We opened Newforge three years before the recession hit, so I already had a good grounding in financial planning and budgeting with a tight budget.

Newforge House won The Good Hotel Guide César Award for Irish Guest House of the Year in 2015. It is a member of Ireland's Blue Book and Historic Hotels of Europe. The house was opened by John and Lou Mathers in 2005.

Belfast Telegraph

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