‘I have three children and a dog, so I feel like a bit of a human ATM’

Me & My Money: Ross Conlon, chief executive of carsireland.ie

Are you a saver or a spender?
Under Covid-19, I'm definitely a saver, but normally a bit of both. I have three children and a dog, so at times I feel like a bit of a human ATM. I usually try and trick my mind by getting a thing I want for a discount, thus saving and spending at the same time.

Do you shop around for better value?
Absolutely. Like most people these days, I do a lot of shopping online. Price comparison sites and marketplace platforms are handy as an indication of value, but you can't beat calling and asking for their best price. The best price is never the online price, no matter what they say.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
When I was in 26, I bought an Alfa Romeo 156. I think it cost €15,000. Relative to my earnings, it was a big investment. However, if you like cars, you have to own an Alfa at least once. And as it happens, it never broke down.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
Every six months or so I buy a new pair of Asics Kayano runners. They come in somewhere between €120-€180, depending on offers. They enable me to run 5km every day without injury, as they support runners who overpronate, like me.


How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
Online, mostly. I feel bad about it, but it's easier and usually cheaper. With Covid-19, I haven't been to Dublin city centre for months, but I have spent in my local village. Suburbia will be the big winner when the dust settles.

Do you haggle over prices?
It depends. In many retail shops you can't negotiate as it's fixed prices – and at times it can be a bit uncomfortable. On the other hand, when my car insurance or broadband is being renewed, I always ask for a discount. It's just part of the game.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
I haven't been buying lunch from a shop on a daily basis. We have just been having lunch at home together. It's a little unnerving how this simple change has made a big difference to the quality of my diet and my health in general. I know lots of people who feel the same. I'm not sure we'll all go back to how it was before.

Do you invest in shares?
No, but I have benefited from share schemes a few times in my career. With so much volatility in the public markets these days, buying shares is a little like betting on horses.

Cash or card?
Card all the way. Contactless is great, easy and trackable (by myself). I think we will be a cashless society pretty soon.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
A labradoodle dog. In the early days, he started chewing my runners, and let's not mention the mess he makes or the smell. He explodes with energy and has completely stressed me out, but my daughters adore him. Good value, I reckon.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
I suppose the biggest thing I saved up for was a deposit on my first home. Back then, property prices were rising fast and there was a feeling if you didn't buy quick, you would miss out. It was like a race, which was tough.

Have you ever lost money?
If you mean have I ever had an asset that lost value, then yes. There is an inevitability to losing in some cases and winning in others, and if you are pragmatic enough, you can still learn from losses. Over time, the trick is to win more than you lose.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
No. The house wins in all but exceptional cases. I work too hard to just give my money away.

Is money important to you?
Yes. Money is important as a tool to improve my family's quality of life and also to protect them in case anything happens to me. Having a buffer is also important, as you never know what the future holds.

How much money do you have on you now?
Zero. Just a few cards and Apple Pay via my iPhone.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea