‘We thought it was important to be as sustainable as we could be’

Are you a saver or a spender?
A bit of both. I think it’s important to save for the future – for my kids’ education and for a rainy day. I also think it’s important to save for retirement through my pension. Having taken up golf recently, it’s impacting my saving discipline, and I always seem to be spending money on clothes for my three boys.

Do you shop around for better value?
Absolutely. I rarely buy online without a discount code. I search for better value on items across multiple stockists to make sure I’m not overpaying; I love a special offer or sale and always look for discounts on big purchases. For financial aspects, such as car and home insurance, I will always compare quotes across providers and ensure I’m getting the best deal I can.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Last year we bought two electric cars – a fully electric and a plug-in hybrid. Living in the countryside, car travel is essential so we thought it was important to be as sustainable as we could be for our family. Electric cars are definitely more expensive compared to the petrol/diesel equivalent, but I’m a total convert. Charging is so easy and my range anxiety has finally gone away.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
We went on a family holiday to Greece before Covid-19. The kids had a ball, and we have such great memories from it. Two years later we are still talking about it and my three boys are asking to go back. It was worth the money we spent and I’m hoping that, post-Covid, a return to family holidays abroad will be possible again.

How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
A bit of both. Even before Covid I did most of my shopping online, but it would have been with big online stores. Now I’m also buying directly from small/medium-size local businesses that pivoted their business models online during the pandemic. Now that stores are opening up a bit more, I try to shop from local businesses more, also.

Do you haggle over prices?
Yes. My mum always taught me to ask for my “luck penny”. This has stuck with me so I look for discounts on larger items. It’s nice to feel like I’ve got a good deal, but a fair one for both me and the vendor.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
Covid has definitely changed my spending habits. I’ve bought more casual clothes and less for the office, for one thing. We live in the country, Co Meath, and we can’t get takeaway delivered, so we’ve been buying food boxes from local restaurants and meat for the barbecue from the local butcher, Hugh MacGuire, in Ashbourne.

Do you invest in shares?
My pension is mostly invested in a balance of shares across various sectors and regions. It has a long investment horizon so I can have a diverse portfolio that provides some return while managing the risk. My pension portfolio is in a range of index tracking funds, which provides broad access to market returns while being good value for money. For shorter-term savings, I tend to focus on more secure investment approaches so as not to be caught by short-term market volatility in shares.

Cash or card?
Card. I always use Apple Pay, Revolut, or my credit card for contactless or online payments.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
I haven’t been in the office much since Covid-19, but with things going back to normal, I needed to think about work clothes, so the last thing I bought was two pairs of shoes for work. I bought them both online and in a sale, so 50 per cent off full price. Saving by buying.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes, we saved for the two electric cars.

Have you ever lost money?
No. Thankfully, I’ve been careful with money. My investment horizon is quite long, so I’ve been lucky to be able to weather any market volatility over recent crises to allow investments to come good again before having to realise.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
I like to play a bit of poker. When my family get together, we always play a game. It’s never for much money but we do have a competitive spirit. The winner often puts the winnings into the EuroMillions tickets, although I’m not sure that counts as gambling.

Is money important to you?
It’s not the most important thing, but financial stability for my family is important. Saving for my children’s education, saving for retirement, and ensuring there is a rainy day fund gives me peace of mind.

How much money do you have on you now?
None. Since Covid-19, I pretty much solely use contactless card payments when I’m in a shop and don’t really carry cash any longer.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

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