Belfast Telegraph

'I never regret spending on holidays'

Cash for Questions

Each week, we ask a businessperson about their finances. This week, it's Nicola McIlhagger, owner of independent advisers Bright Mortgages.

Q. Are you a plastic or cash person?

A. I'm all about convenience and usually pay for items with card. Paying with card leaves a great paper trail and when I get my statement each month I can see where I have actually spent my money.

Q. How much money do you carry around with you?

A. I usually keep £20 in my purse for emergencies.

Q. Do you see personal credit card/loans inevitable or best avoided?

A. Using a credit card is a great way to build up a good credit score. If you can get a card with a small credit limit and ensure that it is paid off each month, this will really help with your credit score if you're looking for a mortgage. I would definitely avoid building up a balance on a credit card which you can't afford to pay off, as the interest rates on cards can be extremely high.

Q. What's the most expensive item you've ever bought?

A. I don't really buy expensive items and would always look for an item in the sale. I did buy my dining table in France, which was expensive and then it cost me quite a big amount to get it shipped back to Ireland. However, it is a piece of furniture that I love and that I will always have. I can hopefully look back in my old age and remember all the good times spent around it.

Q. Are you a saver or a spender?

A. I like to keep a set amount in savings as a 'just in case' fund apart from what I spend.

Q. What are your best and worst spending habits?

A. I do spend quite a bit on holidays. For me it's all about making memories and therefore I never regret spending the money spent on a nice holiday.

Q. Did you get pocket money as a child?

A. My Granda Mac saved money for me each week in a money box, and he would then present it to me once a year. This was a great lesson - if he had given me the money each week I would have spent it on sweets, but by saving it up meant I could buy something really good.

Q. Did you have a part-time job as a youngster?

A. I had a paper round at age 11 and I received 1p for each paper delivered. The papers had to be delivered before school, and on cold, wet winter days it was hard getting out of bed. My dad more often than not went with me and carried the bag. I soon moved on to working part time in Mauds Ice Cream, which was definitely more enjoyable.

Q. If you had a huge fortune would you leave it to your children?

A. I have a five-year-old daughter and yes everything that I have I plan to leave to her.

Q. Where do you do your food shopping?

A. I change from Sainsbury's to Tesco. Whichever sends me the best money-off tokens usually.

Q. Did the recession teach you anything about personal finances that you are bringing with you into the recovery?

A. As a mortgage broker, I saw a huge amount of hardship when the recession hit. Many clients' assets literally halved overnight and many are just coming out of a negative equity situation now. My business was also hit hard as the banks were not lending as easily, making it very difficult for clients. The recession taught me that you just never know what is round the corner and I am definitely a lot more cautious in my approach now.

Belfast Telegraph