Wednesday, December 6, 2023

‘I’m from a working-class background so I don’t feel that I need endless amounts of money to be happy’

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Jenny Johnston was recently appointed as chief executive of Azure Communications, a leader in the print and digital communications industry.

Are you a saver or a spender?

I do save regularly but I’m naturally more of a spender. I like to invest in nice experiences and holidays and buy things that are made to last.

Do you shop around for better value?

I’d like to say yes, but I don’t do enough of this. In work I seem to do it a lot, but in my personal life, time is always tight so I tend to just go with convenience or quality over value.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

My house has been the most expensive purchase and even after the expense of the purchase, it required extensive building works and upgrading. We’re still not entirely finished and have plans for additional work but that is a project for next year.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

My house. Whilst it is the most expensive purchase I’ve ever made, and will take some time to pay it off, this is where so many of our family memories are made. With the housing crisis in Ireland and so many people in need, I feel incredibly lucky to have a space that is ours, and one that myself, my husband and our two boys get to enjoy.

How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?

I am a big fan of shopping local, and I try to support local businesses as much as possible. I think there was huge consumer support to shop local during Covid-19, with initiatives like Champion Green reminding us of its importance.

Do you haggle over prices?

In my professional role, this is something I do regularly. It’s so important to ensure we remain competitive and that we consistently manage our cost base. However, in my personal life, it is something I rarely do.

How did the Covid-19 crisis change your spending habits?

I really started to value quality products created by talented makers and businesses in Ireland. I found a renewed love for craft but also for quality over quantity. I lived with a lot less, but I got great joy out of special purchases. I discovered gorgeous brands like Ground Wellbeing, Little Light Jewellery and La Bougie Candles. All fabulous Irish brands.

Do you invest in shares?

Not right now but it’s something I’m interested in doing in the future.

Cash or card?

Card every time.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

I bought a Ground Wellbeing Take it Softly product set for a friend. It’s a beautiful gift that’s suitable for people going through cancer treatment, and is a small gesture at a time when someone is having an incredibly tough time. I don’t think you can put a price on how valuable that is.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Outside of my house, wedding and car, I often save up for special splurge purchases if there’s something I really want. I get so much more joy out of buying special pieces that I will keep forever instead of buying casually. I’m a big believer in wardrobe staples and investment pieces so I spend cleverly and save up for things like handbags, shoes and coats that are made to last.

Have you ever lost money?

I have invested money in businesses that never realised a profit. However, I don’t really think of those as me having lost money, I see them as expensive hobbies that shaped how I now invest money and run a business.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

No, I’ve actually never placed a bet. The thought of placing a bet is so alien to me I wouldn’t know where to start.

Is money important to you?

It is in the sense that it provides me with comfort, knowing I can look after myself and my family. I’m from a working-class background so I don’t feel that I need endless amounts of money to be happy, but I do appreciate having enough money to be able to enjoy experiences and do nice things with my family.

How much money do you have on you now?

Nothing. I never carry cash any more. Instead, I’m never far from my phone, which I use to tap for purchases.

In conversation with Tony Clayton Lea

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