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Me & My Money: ‘The last time I withdrew cash at an ATM in Ireland was in February 2020&#8

Are you a saver or a spender?

I’d like to think of myself as a saver but I’m not sure the evidence is there! I certainly wouldn’t think of myself as a big spender but having become a father in the last three years, I appreciate now that there isn’t as much flexibility to set money aside when there are little people to be taken care of.

Do you shop around for better value?

For groceries, not necessarily – although most of our shopping is done in Tesco or Lidl anyway so I don’t think there’s much to gain – but for other bigger purchases, I would definitely do some online browsing to check if it can be had for less.

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

Shortly after I accepted my current job, tickets went on sale for an evening with Eric Cantona at the Olympia Theatre. The regular tickets were about €50 but, as a congratulatory treat for myself, I paid several multiples of that amount for a VIP ticket, which included a small champagne meet-and-greet with the great man, where you got a signed framed photograph of the meeting, and you could bring mementoes to get signed. There’s a signed 1992-94 Manchester United jersey on the wall at home now; the signature cost several times more than the shirt!

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

A few years back our kitchen radio clapped out but instead of buying another radio to replace it, we got a Google Home Mini speaker – largely because you could simply ask it to play whatever station you wanted, but also get it to tell you the weather or play something on Spotify, too. It was €29 and such a cost-effective radio replacement, we ended up getting four more for other rooms around the house.

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

I preferred to do grocery shopping in person because it was a rare instance of something that we could do as a family outside of the house during peak restrictions. Also, professionally, I thought it was important to see how busy or quiet the shops were and what sort of risks the staff were facing in going to work. Otherwise, Covid arrived when our eldest was eight months old so we would do a lot of shopping for her bits and pieces online simply to save us having to make a journey for them.

Do you haggle over prices?

No. Where do people do this? Other than at flea markets? I would happily question a price if the amount being charged seems to differ from what was advertised, but if that’s what the advertised price is, I think you can expect to pay it.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?

I don’t think it has but because we had one child just before Covid, and another last year, it’s hard to tell what might have changed because of the pandemic and what was because of family circumstances.

Do you invest in shares?

Only on meme stocks, in small quantity, through Revolut, with negligible results. GameStop had already peaked and I did not HODL (hold on for dear life).

Cash or card?

Card. I think the last time I withdrew cash at an ATM in Ireland was in February 2020, specifically so that I’d have cash for the car park at the RDS at the General Election count. Since then, I’m more likely to be lodging cash at an ATM than withdrawing it. The last time I withdrew cash of any sort was in Washington when I was there for work in March of this year – they haven’t gone quite as cashless as we have.

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

It was the latest copy of Match! magazine, which I hadn’t bought since I was nine years old. I bought it because it came with a league ladder where you get little cardboard cut-outs of each team’s strip, and you insert each team into its corresponding slot in the table each week. It was €7 and I am highly unlikely to maintain it, but right now it’s basically a nostalgia time machine. It seems competitively priced.

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

Our house. We bought our house not long before the mortgage lending limits for first-time buyers kicked in, and I’ve genuinely no idea how people in our circumstances can aspire to live in Dublin. It’s crazy, frankly, that a successful record of meeting rent isn’t taken on board when you’re trying to scrape together your 10 per cent (or 20 per cent!) of a deposit.

Have you ever lost money?

Not so much that I can remember! I’ve only ever lost one wallet, but I had just finished my first year in UCD so it’s likely there wasn’t much cash in it, anyway.

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

I reckon €10 is probably the most I’ve ever bet on anything. My only semi-regular bet would be on a soccer accumulator on the occasional Saturday. I’ve only ever had one meaningful win. Ten years ago we left an iPad on a plane (I thought my wife had picked it up while disembarking, and vice versa) and I won the price of a replacement on a Champions League accumulator the next week – thanks to Valencia for claiming a late draw against Bayern Munich that week.

Is money important to you?

Only to the extent that it secures comfort for my family.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have $4, the leftovers from that trip to Washington. I use so little cash that I haven’t had the initiative to even get rid of them from my wallet!

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

The Group Chat airs Wednesdays at 11pm on Virgin Media Two and on the Virgin Media Player.

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