Catherine Kurzawa: Do you have a motto about money?
: I try to balance spending and saving, but also to know how to give. In an ideal scenario, out of €10, I spend €5, save €4 and give €1. But I know that all this varies according to the periods of life.
How did it happen for you?
I came to Luxembourg in 1997 from Paris, where my only prospect was an unpaid internship. Here, I was offered a job in insurance with a salary of 90,000 Luxembourg francs [editor’s note: the equivalent of €2,200]. I must admit that I was delighted and that at the beginning I spent a lot of money, because I had the impression that I was ‘super rich’ compared to my situation in Paris.
So your relationship with money has changed over time?
Right. I grew up with little money. As a student, I worked in the cheese and sausage department of a supermarket and did evening and Saturday closures. I remember being on the edge. That’s why, when I came to Luxembourg, I treated myself to nice clothes and good restaurants.
Do you regret it?
No, not at all. I took great pleasure in treating myself to elegant work outfits and sometimes one or two beautiful gala dresses. I went to fancy places where I would never have gone before.
Even today, it doesn’t hurt to spend a lot of money on a good restaurant. I’ve learned to appreciate spending money and to treat myself: I don’t consider it an expense, but rather an investment in taste. On the other hand, I must admit that when I had no property repayments or children, I could give more than I do now.
What values or principles do you pass on to your children?
At the moment, they are 9 and 7 years old and do not ask for money. If they need something, I buy it for them, but it has to be useful, it has to make them happy and it has to be something that doesn’t clutter up my home--I hate clutter. I’m one of those people who has never received pocket money. On the one hand, this has the advantage that my sisters and I couldn’t do any old nonsense. But, on the other hand, I admit that we didn’t learn how to manage money from a young age.
Do you want to teach your children about money management?
Yes, I would like to teach them how to spend, save and give. But I think I would stress one very important point: as soon as you can, buy a property. And, more generally, don’t wait too long to invest when you are young. In the end, nothing is lost.
Are you interested in investments?
It wasn’t my priority at the beginning, but the one I don’t regret, definitely, is the purchase of my flat, in 2013. Every day its value increases, so it’s never money lost. Otherwise, I have just started to invest by buying shares in investment funds. Being cautious, I chose the ones advertised as the best performers, but that was when the market was on the upward curve [smiles]. It’s a bit stressful to think that, potentially, you can lose everything. Even if it’s not a lot of money in the end. But the current level of interest rates makes me dare to take the risk.
What can’t money buy?
Respect, kindness and love for your children.
Originally published in French by and translated for Delano