Me my money
Neil O'Brien, owner, KeepFit.ie
Are you a saver or a spender?
I believe life is for living and that usually means spending some money! When it comes to business, I spend as I need to, as you have to keep investing in your own product. I have also learned to save money for the business, as I believe it’s important to invest in future growth.
Do you shop around for better value?
When it comes to business purchases, I would tend to shop around, but in my personal life I would have to say less so. I am not a huge shopper so when it comes to buying clothes or other items, I don’t mind paying a little extra so long as it is exactly what I want. I am particularly likely to avoid sales, as that frenzy is all a little too much. I find that a lot of retailers tend to put out the items they are trying to get rid of.
What has been your most extravagant purchase ever and how much did it cost?
Probably the VW Touareg I bought for the business this year. It is the second Touareg I bought and I wanted a higher spec, more powerful model (I am a bit of a petrol head!). It was second-hand and cost €22,000. Great car, though – I have had some fun off-road days in it.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
I recently visited my brother in San Francisco for Thanksgiving and got a return flight for just over €500, which I thought was a steal. We bought that one through American Holidays and flew with Aer Lingus/Virgin Atlantic.
Have you ever crossed the Border to shop?
I have purchased some signage for the business from Northern Ireland, but I didn’t physically cross the Border as I bought it from the website and phone calls. My reason for doing it was that they were cheaper than anyone I spoke to in the Republic and they were easier to deal with.
Do you haggle over prices?
It depends on the situation. On a big purchase like a car I always will, particularly in this market. On smaller purchases, I am less likely to do so.
As someone who is self-employed, margins are constantly being eroded so I am aware of that when dealing with suppliers. If I feel I am getting value, I won’t haggle for the sake of it.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
It most definitely has. During the boom times, I was very unlikely to save or consider items for the future. In this economy, you work hard for every euro you earn, so it is important to have something to fall back on should you require it.
Do you invest in shares?
Not massively, although I do keep an eye on the markets in case there is something that looks like a worthwhile investment. I personally prefer to invest in my own business, which I control and I know more about.
Cash or card?
Card for business expenses as it makes tax return time far easier at the end of the year. For my personal life, I would use both.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
When visiting my brother in San Fran, I bought some clothes and sports goods and I have to say, compared to Dublin, the items were unbelievable value for money. Several were less than half of what you would pay in Dublin, which was a bit of an eye-opener.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes. I am effective at managing money so if there is something I really want, I can adjust my spending patterns to accumulate money when necessary. In 2002, I bought my home and managed to pull together my deposit despite being on a relatively low salary at the time.
Have you ever lost money?
Only in the same way that everyone did in the recession, but I don’t focus on that. I can only control what I am dealt with on a daily basis – hence I continue to work hard to grow the business.
Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
Not in the traditional sense – as in I don’t go betting on horses. However, I am not afraid to take a risk, and every time I expand my business there is a gamble involved. Thankfully, so far they have paid off.
Is money important to you?
It is not the most important thing to me – family, health and happiness would fill that space. However, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t important. I am a highly driven and competitive individual, and having money gives me options that I otherwise wouldn’t have. It also allows me to build and grow my business.
How much money do you have on you now?
I have €74. If I had more, I would spend it.