‘It is very important to make an effort to shop local, particularly in rural areas’

Me & My Money: Joe Bergin, director business development, Elkstone Partners

Are you a saver or a spender?
I like to think I get the balance right. When I was younger saving money wasn't important to me but I'm definitely a lot more conscious of it now that I have a young family. When the kids grow up, I want to have funds in place to meet their educational needs, so it's best to start preparing for that now.

Do you shop around for better value?
I value my time so if I'm in a clothes shop, for example, I'm generally buying rather than looking. When it comes to the likes of utility and insurance providers, I ring around to get the best deal, which pays off.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
Probably our honeymoon to Mexico and Canada. We made it a six-week trip and really splashed out, but it was an unforgettable experience.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
My wife would say her engagement ring! From a financial perspective, I would say my first house that I bought. I acquired it at the right time in the market and when I sold it, it provided me with enough equity to assist with a deposit for our family home.

How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
It is very important to make an effort to shop local, particularly in rural areas. Lockdown has made our family appreciate the local shops and the service they offer more. We are now consciously making an effort to use smaller family -run businesses.

Do you haggle over prices?
In the main, the only items I would haggle over would be with utility and insurance providers, and when I'm changing the car. There has to be value in it for both sides and I'm very conscious of that, too.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
Well, I'd never bought face masks before! There's no doubt our spending has dropped as a result, but that's a forced change. Obviously, with working from home, there has been a lot less spent on eating out. That said, I feel more confident now about the future and would be more inclined to consider a significant purchase again in comparison to a few months ago.

Do you invest in shares?
I have invested in various stocks over the years with mixed results. In recent years, I have focused more on a passive approach following the market index. This is a much safer bet provided you are willing to take a long-term approach. I'm a strong believer in diversification and spreading investment risk.

Cash or card?
I'd say 95 per cent of my purchasing is now done by card. Apple Pay is very handy, as there is no set limit to the transaction. Also, the analytics provide great feedback and insights on spending activity.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
I bought a new set of golf clubs recently. If they keep me on the right fairway, they will be very good value, but the jury is still out.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
Yes, through the SSIA scheme, which was brought in by the government about 20 years ago. I spent most of it when it matured on a car. Not the best return on my investment, but it prevented me requiring an expensive car loan.

Have you ever lost money?
Apart from some small losses in shares, I had one property investment in the financial crisis that didn't go according to plan. You learn from these mistakes and move on.

Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?
I have the odd flutter. My biggest win was probably a local horse named Bobbyjo which won the Irish Grand National in 1998 and followed it by winning the English Grand National in 1999. I was a student at the time and the winnings were very welcome. Everybody in the parish had the horse backed – apart from the local bookie!

Is money important to you?
Yes, money is important, but it has its place. It takes on a different significance when you have a family as you want to be able to provide for them, so you better appreciate the value of money. Like most, my ambition is to provide a comfortable situation for my family and provide them with the opportunity to reach their potential, while having some fun on the journey.

How much money do you have on you now?
There is €80 cash in the wallet, but it's purely for contingency. It's all tap and go now.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea