‘I prefer being able to eyeball those I am handing my money over to’

Me & My Money: Dónal Traynor, chief executive, Community Finance Ireland

Are you a saver or a spender?
I was encouraged to start a pension early in my working life, so I often find myself using that argument to justify the odd spending spree.

Do you shop around for better value?
Sometimes, but it's rarely strategic, and normally ends up in me procrastinating to the point of not making a purchase at all, despite spending a ridiculous amount of time (and sometimes money) in this "shopping around" exercise.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
I can't really say I do extravagance. I expect the last/only thing falling into that category would have to be the engagement ring.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
Setting aside the engagement ring, I picked up what was marketed as a disposable razor when in Munich on business in 2019. Hats off to German engineers: what cost in the region of €3.50 will have outlasted, at least 10 times over, the services of a pack of premium blades one would be accustomed to spending up to €20.


How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
Local, without a shadow of a doubt. I ordered hair clippers online (along with the rest of the world) and they took seven weeks to arrive. I used them only once. I'm a people person, and prefer being able to eyeball those I am handing my money over to.

Do you haggle over prices?
In certain circumstances, though not religiously. I managed to get some speakers at the markets in Spain for a third of the price, and €500 off the cost of a car. That elusive value is always the driver of price for me.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
The lack of travel has prevented the regular stop-offs at filling stations, with their tempting delicatessens, coffee machines and two-for-one chocolate bars. As a result, there's a greater focus on the fruit and veg component of the weekly shop, with dark chocolate being enjoyed in moderation.

Do you invest in shares?
I leave that to the professional pension fund manager. Like so many others in 2008, I learned a not inexpensive lesson – that what goes up must come down. I don't expect the "sure bet" bank shares to ever get somewhere close to the €14 level again anytime soon. From now on, the mantra is only bet what you can afford to lose.

Cash or card?
Card. I acknowledge and understand the arguments both for and against a cashless society. Covid-19 has obviously pressed the fast forward button on the role of the card, and with that one can easily lose sight of the amount of outgoings on a given day.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
With working from home over the winter firmly in mind, I bought a wool jumper at the local TKMaxx. Supposedly, it was at a reduced price. Like all clothes, the value is in the cost per wear, so I guess only time (and maybe the washing machine) will tell how much value there was.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Relatively big purchases in my life (eg car and house) will inevitably have involved some aspect of debt finance, complemented by savings. I would have to go back almost 30 years to purchasing a couple of bull calves completely from savings. That was a rewarding experience in many ways, and something all young people in a position to do so should explore.

Have you ever lost money?
As a child of 10 years, I remember bringing a £5 note on a tour for spending money, and managed to lose it somewhere along the shores of Lough MacNean in Cavan. I have been back several times looking for it, but expect it lies somewhere across the Border at this stage. Probably, I should write it off.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
You become accustomed to taking some level of calculated risk through the professional job, but the outright gambles would be few and far between.

Is money important to you?
Money has always been important to me, from a safety perspective. Given various things that have happened to family and friends over the past year in particular, the priority status of money has definitively dropped to below that of health. It's taken me a long time to really appreciate that being of sound mind and body will always trump one's financial position.

How much money do you have on you now?
€80.05, and £50 sterling. As anyone living or working on both sides of the Border will tell you, you need a wallet for both!

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea