Me & My Money
Bob Johnston, owner of the Gutter Bookshop
Are you a saver or a spender?
I’m a saver, always have been. I’ll allow myself little treats like a cup of coffee and a bun for good behaviour, but I put off larger purchases for as long as I can.
Do you shop around for better value?
Yes, but value for me isn’t about who’s cheapest. I support local independent businesses as much as possible as they give so much back to our communities.
What has been your most extravagant purchase ever and how much did it cost?
I finally bought my first house this summer, so that weighs pretty heavy on the mind. But if we’re talking “extravagant” there’s a certain pair of brown brogues from designer Jo Ghost that I fell in love with and cost me £150.
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
My first cheap Ryanair ticket to Dublin 12 years ago. For £30, I found a city to call home and everything else followed on.
Have you ever crossed the Border to shop?
No, I think it does the Irish economy more harm in the long run and our Government just raises taxes to cover the lost revenue, anyway, so no one wins.
Do you haggle over prices?
Rarely. If I think something’s overpriced, I just don’t buy it! I never seem to want anything so much that I’ll be willing to argue over it.
Has the recession changed your spending habits?
Yes, I set up the Gutter Bookshop three years ago during the recession as I could never have afforded to do it during the boom years, so my spending has had to be seriously reduced as I work to build a viable, long-term business.
Do you invest in shares?
No, it always feels a bit too much like gambling to me. However, I did turn 40 this year and my father bought me a small amount of gold, so I’m trying to keep an eye on the gold market at the moment.
Cash or card?
I mix it up – cash, debit card and credit card – but I do have a direct debit set up to pay off any credit card purchases at the end of the month, so that I don’t pay any interest.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
I’m just about to get a dog from an animal shelter, so I went shopping for a dog bed, collar, lead, toys and food. Out of three stores I checked, my local independent pet shop was both cheapest and gave me the best advice – a lesson learned!
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
I try to put a little bit of money aside every month, no matter how small, and only allow myself to make a big purchase when I have enough savings.
Have you ever lost money?
I always remember buying my first car, spending lots of money maintaining it over the years and then discovering it was worth nothing at the end of it. I’ve never owned a car since!
Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
No, I’m actually very anti-gambling, I think it’s bad for our heads to believe that acquiring wealth is all about luck.
Is money important to you?
Yes and no. I believe money doesn’t bring you happiness, but a lack of it can certainly stand in the way of you achieving it.
How much money do you have on you now?
Zero. I just went for coffee and had to scrape together my last few cents to pay for it.