‘I don’t think my generation have the luxury of much extravagance’

Me & My Money: Rónán Ó Dálaigh, chief executive of Thriftify.ie

Rónán Ó Dálaigh

Are you a saver or a spender?

I save as much as I can at the start of the month and then spend on anything that takes my fancy. Unless I save at the start of the month, my magpie nature would leave me broke.

Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, all the time, especially for bigger purchase items such as technology. I’ll spend a lot of time researching different items and how they compare. I’ll also spend time trying to find what I want either used or refurbished. Typically, used items are a fraction of the price, and it’s more sustainable.


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

I’ve bought and sold a lot of cars over the years, more for fun than for money. I don’t think my generation have the luxury of much extravagance. The housing crisis made it impossible to be extravagant while saving for a house, but I also think things are changing and extravagance for the sake of it is being replaced by a more sustainable and mindful approach to purchasing.

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

I get serious value for money out of everything I buy! However, by far the best product I’ve ever purchased is a Philips electric razor. I bought it over 10 years ago and it still works like new.

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

A mixture of both. Food and experiences I almost always buy locally, looking for what’s in season, supporting co-ops and social enterprises. Being able to browse locally has been a nice way of getting offline.

Do you haggle over prices?

I always ask for a discount and play the “three nos” rule. If you ask for a price reduction once, the automatic answer is usually no, the second time they might actually consider it and find a genuine reason to say no, but if after the third ask they still say no, then you can be almost sure they’re not going to budge. More times than not, however, they might go and ask a manager or try and find a way of giving you something off.

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

I’ve bought a lot more takeaways. I’m not much of a cook as it is, but a takeaway has been a much bigger part of my life with restaurants closed.

I’ve also reconfigured my working space and tried to make it more comfortable and productive, so I invested in a great office chair and other bits that have really helped with working from home.

Do you invest in shares?

Yes, although as a 30-year-old Dubliner, I don’t particularly have a lot of money I can afford to lose. I try to invest around 10 per cent of my income in things that will bring a return. Typically those investments will also be green, social, co-operative and/or impactful, so at least if I lose my money, it will have been supporting a good cause.

Cash or card?

What’s cash? Honestly, with my cards connected to my phone, Fitbit etc, I almost never have cash any more.

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

I’ve just upgraded my phone. I got great value out of my last one, a Galaxy Note 8, which I had for four or five years. However, I’m based in London now, and needing a dual-sim phone meant it was time to upgrade.

I did my research and traded in my old phone for a refurbished new Samsung Galaxy, which is as good as new but about 30 per cent less than the new price. Welcome to the life of a millennial penny saver!

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

All the time. It started as a 15-year-old saving up for my first car, which I bought a few months before my 17th birthday.

Have you ever lost money?

Yes, on lots of cars, although the money I’ve made on others has hopefully balanced out my losses.

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

No, not really, not in the classic sense at least. The fact that the house always wins turns me off gambling as an extractive, unproductive industry that should be reined in. It’s quite dystopian that we have massive gambling companies actively advertising their services to people they know are gambling addicts. I don’t understand how that’s healthy or positive, but their glossy, sexy marketing seems to have convinced a lot of people that it’s okay.

Is money important to you?

Hugely. I think our hyper-consumeristic, capitalist society has made money the new deity, and recognising that is important for everybody interested in achieving change. Money is important to all of us, where we store our money matters and how we spend it matters. Unfortunately, up until now, we’ve allowed money/capitalism to do whatever it wants – it’s now time to regulate and change money.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have a single €20 note, and the only reason I have it is because it went through the washing machine, and I haven’t found anyone who’ll take it! Cash isn’t a thing I engage with any more. The rest of my money is safe and sound in the credit union.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea