Me & My Money: ‘I lost my life savings and more’

Hugh Wallace, architect and judge on RTÉ’s ‘Home of the Year’

Are you a saver or a spender?

I’m a bit of both. Ten years ago, I was a spender. Losing my job and the reality of life changed me, so now I save €50 a week in the Credit Union, and that pays for my holidays.

Do you shop around for better value?

I do. We all lost the plot a few years ago. Today, I buy five shirts for €120. If I go into a department store, I haggle on the price if I don’t think the goods are worth it.


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

Apart from property, my 1998 Mercedes, which I purchased four years ago at €12,500.

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

My dinner last night. It was a €7.59 dinner for two in a well-known discount store.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I prefer to shop local. I love to see a product in reality and see if it’s fresh or of good quality. You can never tell if you shop online.

Do you haggle over prices?

Yes, I always haggle over prices. You have to be able to justify what you’re buying. I always find it amazing that Irish people seem to find it awkward to ask for a discount.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Totally. I once weighed a tomato and someone wanted to charge me €1 for it, so I put it back!

Do you invest in shares?


Cash or card?

Cash is king, although it’s now hard to spend it. In the UK, sometimes if you make a purchase under £10, they won’t accept cash. This will be the same in Ireland soon. Credit cards are just a lie. It’s not your money, but by God are they happy you have it.

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

It was a salmon pink blazer, a crisp white shirt and dark chinos so I look hot for the summer! And yes, I haggled, so it was great value.

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

Yes, I have – to buy and sell property. In the 1990s-2000s period, I bought an apartment on George’s Street for €80,000 and sold it 14 months later for €340,000. It’s mad, but we’re back in those times again.

Have you ever lost money?

I lost my life savings and more as we all fell off the cliff in January 2009.

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

No. My biggest win was €100 at the Galway Races a long time ago. I bought four drinks for friends afterwards and was carrying them all back to them when the €100 was nicked from my back pocket. That taught me a lesson!

Is money important to you?

Having had the experience of the recession and everything that went with it, there’s much more important things like experiences and being able to reinvent yourself. I’ve had the experience of getting into television. Money doesn’t preoccupy me, but it used to.

How much money do you have on you now?

Two €5 notes.