‘I like to buy top quality but only at reduced sale prices’
Me & My Money: Kieran McCarthy, co-presenter of RTÉ1’s Cheap Irish Homes, and founder of KMC Homes
Kieran McCarthy: ‘I shop for clothes twice a year, in January and the summer sales. Otherwise, I only buy things I need.’
Are you a saver or a spender?
Without a doubt I’m a saver. When I got my first paying job, I overspent. It really didn’t sit well with me and kept me up at night a bit. I prefer to know that my savings are growing rather than my wardrobe.
Do you shop around for better value?
I shop for clothes twice a year, in January and the summer sales. Otherwise, I only buy things I need.
What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Like most people it’s a house and, like most houses, you end up paying way more than you bargained for. I am now glad to see that neighbouring houses have indeed gone up in value, so I’m in the black!
What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
I recently said goodbye to an old friend, my old Apple MacBook. I bought it in 2013 for about €1,200 having read the biography of Steve Jobs, and I loved it. Unfortunately, I spilled a cup of coffee into it over Christmas so that was the end of it. It was by far one of the best investments I ever made.
How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
I haven’t really done much of either. I don’t really love the online experience; I always seem to buy the wrong size. I much prefer the tactile experience of buying in a shop and I’m happy to invest the extra time to do it.
Do you haggle over prices?
Not really, I’m more of a bargain hunter. I like to buy top quality but only at reduced sale prices. That said, unless I was buying a second-hand car, which I always do, then there is some haggling, for sure!
How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
I buy less takeaway coffee and eat out even less than usual. We definitely buy more take-out food than we ever used to in the past, but that’s more to create a night-out experience at home than out of necessity, as my wife is a great cook.
Do you invest in shares?
In small, measured doses. For something to do, I read up on the subject in some detail during the first lockdown, so I have a very basic working knowledge now.
Cash or card?
Cash. I find it’s too easy to buy something on a card, particularly the new “tap” card system. A little payment friction does no harm and causes me to really consider if the purchase is necessary or indeed good value.
What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
I bought some wetsuit boots and gloves online for surfing in the winter. They are great quality. Surfing is free and surfing in the winter is cold so I’m definitely happy with my purchase.
Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
I can remember the first time I really saved for something important – an electric guitar in my early teens. It cost about €135 and I saved up for about six months. I wanted to get it on hire purchase but my father, wisely, wouldn’t let me. It was a huge day for me when I finally got it.
Have you ever lost money?
My first time buying shares was a disaster. I lost €1,000 in a matter of weeks in the dotcom bubble. I suppose, compared to others, it was a small amount, but it was a big lesson to me at the time. To be honest, I had no real idea what I was doing.
Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
One hundred percent no. I don’t even do the Lotto. I think it’s sad looking at people in a betting office. I always hope they aren’t gambling away their family’s savings.
Is money important to you?
Aside from day-to-day expenses and long-term security, no.
How much money do you have on you now?
About €350. I was supposed to be spending it in the sales!
In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea