‘I’ve so many outgoings with family life . . . it puts manners on you’

Me & My Money: John Crowe, founder and chief executive of Voucher Connect

Are you a saver or a spender?
Growing up, I was a spender. Now, I've so many outgoings with family life that it puts manners on you. In business, though, you have to find that line between spending money to keep fuelling your business and stockpiling it for rainy days. Which is more important now in this Covid-19 climate?

Do you shop around for better value?
I think it is all about a fair price. If it sits with me that it is a reasonable price for something I value, then I will pay it. I think everyone has a gauge within them when it comes to feeling out price, value and worth. My dad always taught me to leave something for the next guy.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
My Tesla. It's now two years old, and I still get that new-car buzz when I get behind the wheel. I don't like to think about how much it cost. It was extravagant, but I got it early when there were lots of government incentives for electric vehicles, so that is how I justify it to myself.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
Our Sage coffee machine. I bought it last year. Before that I was forever buying the latest coffee paraphernalia – I have presses full of them at home and in the office. This machine has put an end to all that and finally stopped that takeaway coffee habit. It has definitely paid for itself at this stage, although maybe I'm a little too buzzed on coffee at times!


How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
Online for anonymous purchases, but I love the relationships you can create with local retailers. The lockdown has made our family appreciate the value of community – the local shop, the butcher and the bookseller (with three children this has been a lifesaver), who deliver to our doorstep. These guys should not be forgotten when this is all over, and I hope this is one good thing that comes out of all of this.

Do you haggle over prices?
I love to haggle, but only when appropriate. Everybody is hustling and, if you don't ask, the answer is always no. It's more the buzz of haggling, though, rather than the actual price.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
Yes, this is really my first big economic shock as a business owner, and it can be scary. You have the responsibility of all your employees, bills, etc. You have to adjust to make sure that the business will be there at the end of it and, of course, all of that then trickles down to how and what you spend in your personal life.

Do you invest in shares?
No. It is such a different world to mine I wouldn't even know where to start. I like to understand the intricacies of something before I involve myself in them, so this is best left to those who know what they are doing.

Cash or card?
Card always. I enjoy the analytics I can get back from knowing what I spent my money on.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
Given that it will likely be our HQ over the next few months, a big batch order from Amazon for the house and garden. Value for money? Probably – and definitely cheaper than the big box stores, anyway.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Two spring to mind – house deposit and an engagement ring.

Have you ever lost money?
Yes, I invested a bonus from my first proper job in a telecom business. Never ever heard or got anything back.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
No, I just don't get the buzz from it!

Is money important to you?
Yes. I have always been ambitious, but balance is more important to me now. I'm happy to trade a buck or two to spend time with family and friends and, as I get older, I realise the importance of staying healthy. These are the things that matter before the light is switched off at night.

How much money do you have on you now?
I tap with the card for everything, even a packet of gum. That said, I have €100 in my pocket, but it's been the same €100 for months!

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea