Fiona Uyema is a cookbook author, guest chef on Virgin Media One’s Ireland AM show and founder of Fused by Fiona, a range of Asian-inspired cooking products. She runs the company with her husband Gilmar, whom she met while working and living in Japan.
Upon returning to Ireland, she worked as a tax consultant, assisting Japanese companies with a presence in Europe in managing their tax affairs, before moving into the food industry. The 43-year-old lives in Kildare with Gilmar and their two children.
How do Irish and Japanese attitudes towards money differ?
The main difference I noticed is that the Japanese tend to save and pay for things upfront. The Japanese traditionally follow the concept of kakeibo, which translates to “household account book.”
It’s a practical way of saving money, based on very careful and purposeful spending. With Kakeibo, you record all your financial habits in one budget book so you can better analyze your own spending and saving habits.
What has the Covid-19 crisis taught you about money?
Always try to plan for the future and have an emergency fund as you never know what’s coming around the corner.
Has your family been affected by the cost of living crisis?
Like all families across Ireland, we are impacted by higher daily costs. However, we are trying to be more conscious about how we use our heating and electricity at home.
Since Covid we try to walk or bike and as we both work from home we are fortunate to have low fuel costs.
We recently installed solar panels to take advantage of the GoGreen mortgage rate with AIB. This allowed us to reduce our monthly mortgage and we also received a partial grant from the SEAI for the solar panels.
We estimate that we will have paid for the panels within 18 months based on the savings we make each month.
What was the most expensive place you have ever visited?
Rome! I only remember that it was very hot and I paid €5 for a small bottle of water on the street.
Do you use one of the digital banks?
I recently started using Revolut. I was a little late, but my family and friends, who scolded me, forced me to take the plunge.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
I’m pretty conservative to be honest, so apart from overspending on clothes I don’t have anything big to report.
Would you buy Irish property now?
Not now. Prices are too high and interest rates are high. I would like to buy a holiday home abroad.
Do you have a pension?
Yes. When I first started working in the corporate world as a graduate, I remember my boss telling me that he was close to retirement and he never thought it would be so quick. He encouraged me to start right away because then I would never run out of money. Also, my company also contributed, so it was a win-win situation.
Are you better off than your parents?
My parents are small sheep farmers, so probably!
If you won the Euromillions what would you do with the money?
I would try to keep some normalcy in my life and still work. I love my job – for me it’s not about the salary. It keeps me motivated and happy. I would of course give a share of this to all my family and friends. I would definitely buy a holiday home in Portugal. I’m currently learning Portuguese so I can live like a local.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/we-are-trying-to-be-more-aware-of-how-we-use-our-heating-and-electricity-in-the-home-42068306.html “We are trying to be more conscious about how we use our heating and electricity at home”