Me & My Money

Ciaran Bermingham, actor currently starring in ‘Red Riding Hood’

Ciaran Bermingham. Photograph: Miki Barlok

Ciaran Bermingham. Photograph: Miki Barlok


Are you a saver or a spender?

Given my job, it’s a bit of both. As an actor, you’re never guaranteed a weekly wage and, if you’re waiting for the next gig, you have to put a bit away for the rainy day. I keep planning to be better at it and save on the next gig, but I do like to spend.

That said, it’s amazing how you learn to cut back on certain spending habits. I used to spend a small fortune on magazines, books, CDs, some I’d never read or listen to. Now I only buy when I really want it.

Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, most definitely. I go where the offers are. When I was younger, sales were real sales. I remember seeing pictures in the Evening Echo of people sleeping outside Cash’s for the night to get a sofa for a penny – now every few weeks there’s a 20 per cent/30 per cent special somewhere.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

I bought a painting that I fell in love with, and it was more than I could afford. It cost €3,000. Some will say that is nothing, but to me at the time it was a small fortune, considering we bought our first home around the same time – 1991 – and that cost £27,000. I still love that painting today.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

It was a record player. I paid €75 for it. I got it last Christmas and I am having a blast reliving my youth through vinyl. Everything from Yazoo to Haircut 100 to Deacon Blue gets blasted out around the house on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I try to keep it as local as possible . . . we have so much at our doorstep today and we do need to support local industries and shops. Simple fact: local industries more often than not provide local jobs.

Do you haggle over prices?

Yes. I always haggle, especially if I’m buying in quantity! Everyone has a bottom line and you just have to chat long enough to find it. You have to weigh up each situation and play the game.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

I left a regular job over 15 years ago, so I went from having a wage to none. It taught me a lot – mostly how much money I wasted. I had my recession about four or five years before the rest of the country. If the Minister for Finance was an out of work actor, we might be able to spread the euros a bit further.

Do you invest in shares?

Yes. Not a huge investment, but some safe stocks. It’s not going to make me rich but it’s a way of saving.

Cash or card?

Card – regular [debit] card not a credit one. I had way too much fun in my youth with those. I learnt you always have to pay the money back.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

I bought a Beatles vinyl album in a charity shop last week for €15. Happy days!

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

I’m currently in the process of doing it. I need a new laptop, so I’m trying to save for it now. It’s difficult to do with the time of year, however, and then there’s the argument with myself over whether to purchase Apple or not.

Have you ever lost money?

No, thank the stars. In 1985, when I was a student, I found money. I was walking down South Mall, feeling very sorry for myself, when I found £50 – it was like winning the Lotto! I had a blast of a weekend with my mates. £50 back then was a fortune. I think it’s too late for anyone to claim it, isn’t it?

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I do the Lotto regularly, and I won €1,000 the evening before I went on a holiday to New York. I had planned to save it, but there was no chance of that in New York.

Is money important to you?

I know the politically correct answer is no, but it is, as it gives us the freedom to make choices. I’ve been really broke before and never want to be again. As long as I can pay bills and feed the family, I’m happy: anything extra is a bonus. I know they say “money can’t buy happiness”, but it sure helps.

How much money do you have on you now?

Let’s see – I have €7.65.

Red Riding Hood, Everyman Theatre, Cork, runs from December 10th to January 8th.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea