Me & My Money: ‘I have become a reformed spender’

Simon Henry, CFO of Three


Are you a saver or a spender?

If you ask my wife Fiona, she would definitely say I’m more of a spender than a saver. I would like to think that, over the last couple of years, I have become a reformed spender and more of a saver (with a rating of “could do better”!)

Do you shop around for better value?

I would tend to shop around, especially as it is so easy to check prices online quickly.

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

One of my most extravagant purchases over the last few years has been a home cinema, although it has definitely taken a back seat, given our son Matthew’s attraction to remote controls. In my very first job as an accountant, I treated myself to a laserdisc player that played LP-sized DVDs which cost me a significant chunk of my salary. The Virgin Megastore in Belfast was kept in business through my film purchases from their laserdisc stock!

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

Our coffee machine. Without tempting fate, it is probably the most consistently used item in the house without ever failing us.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

A mixture of both. There is a level of variety you can get online that sometimes is harder to achieve in local stores, but luckily we have a pretty good selection of shops where we live.

Do you haggle over prices?

Of course! Generally, I find if you tend to be loyal with your shopping habits there is usually a level of discount you can achieve, although my wife tends to walk away when I start asking for discounts.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

I don’t think the recession changed my habits too much, although with a one-year-old son, priorities for spending do tend to change somewhat.

Do you invest in shares?

For relatively long-term investment, I would have a level of shares, but for balance I would have a mixture of cash and other investments. I think tying up capital in just one place doesn’t give the rainy day flexibility should I need to move quickly to access cash at short notice.

Cash or card?

Card as much as possible, mainly for control.

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

My Microsoft Surface Pro. It has replaced all our laptops and desktop PCs in the house.

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

Most recently, we saved for a house extension, and I am not planning on repeating that anytime soon, thankfully.

Have you ever lost money?

Looking back over the years, spending as much as I have on a home cinema would probably not be counted as the best investment I could have made.

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

I would class myself as a very low-risk gambler. I haven’t moved on much from the annual £1 my dad would put on the Grand National for my sister and I, many years ago.

Is money important to you?

It is important in the sense of the security it brings if circumstances change. With my wife and our young son, I want to ensure I can both provide for them today, what with the ever increasing cost of education, and – should anything ever happen to me – that they are financially secure.

How much money do you have on you now?

About €40.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea