Best value for money? A dog, which has brought great fun to our home

Me & My Money: Tom O’Gorman of Legal & General Investment Management, Ireland

Are you a saver or a spender?
I'm a bit of both, really, but more so the spender. I have often got hooked by a good sale and have a collection of fashion mistakes and ill-fitting golf clubs just because of the bargain I thought I got. On the more sensible side, I have become better at saving for the likes of holidays, and house repairs.

Do you shop around for better value?
I shop around, but I'm also loyal to good service and good product. I've moved to online, direct debit, etc, but still talk to providers to work out the best deals with electricity and gas. I believe there has to be a fair value for the supplier as well as the buyer for business to work.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
In 2002 – before kids took over! – I went on a fantastic six-week holiday to Australia with my wife. We had saved for it for a few years, so we tried to enjoy the best of the sights while staying in nice hotels and doing loads of tours. I can't recall the exact cost. It could have been cheaper and, similarly, it could have cost a lot more, but it was before Australian prices shot up.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
From a finance perspective, I'm trusting that my pension is low-cost and tax-efficient, and will lead to a decent investment return in the long term.


From the non-financial perspective, about nine years ago we got a dog, which has brought great fun to our house. We’ve just reinvested in a second puppy, as the kids will have plenty of time to teach it better habits over the long summer out of school.

How did you prefer to shop during the coronavirus restrictions – online or local?
The lockdown changed some of my habits in that I'm now signed on to the likes of Amazon and waiting for the courier to deliver. But it has also brought the value of small and local shops to the fore, and they need our support, too.

Many of the local restaurants and small hardware stores near me are already showing their resilience with clever takeaway and delivery options that will survive past the crisis.

Do you haggle over prices?
Yes, I will haggle when I am making a significant purchase – changing the car or renewing the house utility bills. I check to see I'm on a fair rate or fee in long-term arrangements. I look for better value in what I'm buying, while hoping I don't buy into too many unnecessary bulk discount or two-for-one offers.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
Most of my spending has been on the groceries, food and drink, which thankfully were in good supply. I haven't booked a family holiday as I would have expected to have done by now or I haven't had to buy a new shirt or suit as work and meetings are all from home via online.

Do you invest in shares?
I have made many investments in shares over the years – some successful and some not so much. As you might expect, some of the less researched share tips didn't always work out. In my pension, I prefer to invest my savings in shares for the long term on a market index basis in pooled funds alongside bonds and other diversified assets.

Cash or card?
Card at the moment as it's safer for all in lockdown. It's all about staying safe.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
Covid-19 has curbed my spending so my answer is relatively mundane – loads of exterior white paint. Anything that doesn't move outside the house is getting a coat of white paint. It has been very therapeutic for me in terms of taking some breaks from the laptop and the hard daily news, while also getting some exercise and enjoying the great weather.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes, I'm reasonably disciplined to set up a direct debit or savings plan if I have an objective like a car, holiday or house repair. I find that the direct debit monthly savings can be habit forming and after the first month or two of repayments, you get used to the plan.

Have you ever lost money?
As well as some losses on shares, I'm sure I'm like many Irish who had losses from the last financial crisis in property and other investments.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
Yes, I like the odd bet on horses or golf. My most memorable win was from Cheltenham 1996, when Imperial Call won the Gold Cup. I put a massive £3 across four horses that day, which all won. I won £887.45, which was a big win back then.

I bought an unfashionable leather coat and a stereo that I only recently threw away with some of the winnings, as well as having some great nights out with the remaining cash.

Is money important to you?
Yes, in terms that money can help get you things that help you and family – it's easier with than without. But I also look to remember the value of money and am trying to pass that through to my kids by making them earn extra pocket money through chores – painting a garden wall in lockdown teaches some lessons. Covid-19 is also reminding me of charities, and so I support many of the great fundraisers going on at the moment.

How much money do you have on you now?
I think I have most of the same €150 in my wallet since lockdown. It's not that I'm tight, it's just that everything is paid by card either online or tap-and-go at the moment.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea