Me & My Money: How betting on golf paid for a family holiday

JP Hughes, chief commercial officer at Friends First

JP Hughes: “I am not sure whether it was the recession or the addition of three extra mouths to feed since 2009, but I have to admit that my impulse purchases have reduced considerably over the past number of years.”

Are you a saver or a spender?

I am quite conservative and definitely a saver. However, possibly due to the business I am in, I am a firm believer that a robust financial plan is about more than just saving and that some spending is required to ensure that my overall financial goals are met.

Do you shop around for better value?

Not always, as the convenience of purchase is of much greater importance in my spending behaviour. However, I do have to feel that I have received some value, monetary or otherwise, in the transaction.

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

The most extravagant purchases I have ever made were golfing holidays to the US, one including attending the Masters in Augusta. I still wince when thinking about how much they must have cost. I never totted them up to preserve my sanity. Two great weeks, though!

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

When we bought my wife’s car over eight years ago for €15,000, we thought that it was only for a few years. Now, 240,000km later, the Volvo S60 is still going!


How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I try, where I can, to shop local, as I am a believer in the circle of money. Supporting Irish industry helps create and sustain Irish economic activity, which in turn stimulates employment and by inference a greater propensity in our target market to save, invest and generally engage with the financial services industry.

Do you haggle over prices?

I am the easiest person in the world to sell to. Make it convenient and then offer any, no matter how small, reduction in price or other added value, and I feel I am being looked after.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

I am not sure whether it was the recession or the addition of three extra mouths to feed since 2009, but I have to admit that my impulse purchases have reduced considerably over the past number of years.

Do you invest in shares?

I used to invest directly in shares but found it very time-consuming and not hugely rewarding for the time invested. In the last number of years, I have started practising what I preach and invested in well-diversified portfolios of funds.

Cash or card?

I have transformed my behaviour in the last 12 months from cash to almost all card now. I find the card tapping in shops so easy, and it speaks to my predisposition of convenience.

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

I was going to buy a new set of golf clubs earlier in the summer until my pro in Douglas, Stephen Hayes, suggested simply changing the grips. This cost a fraction of the cost of new clubs and has kept me going through this season. The golf wasn’t great, so I am going to blame the tools – it simply can’t be my game.

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

I did save up a pretty sizeable deposit for my first house purchase some 15 years ago, which was surprisingly satisfying.

Have you ever lost money?

Like many in the country, I did make some “trend-led’” investments prior to the recession. The losses from some of these have made me value and appreciate money more.

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

I am quite conservative by nature but have been known to have the odd flutter. Being an avid golfer, I did have Jimmy Walker at 125-1 last year in the USPGA, and that helped pay for this year’s family holiday. The good thing is that I hate losing money more than the thrill of winning it, so I keep the gambling to a minimum.

Is money important to you?

Money is important to me in that it allows me to provide a good standard of living for my family. I am a firm believer in hard work being rewarded, and I like to think that I act on this basis.

How much money do you have on you now?

€85, which is less than I used to carry, but I now have an extra-worn debit card.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea