‘My credit card company must hate me because it makes very little out of me’

Me & My Money: Rory Cowan, actor

Actor Rory Cowan: “I never got the attraction of gambling. People’s lives are ruined by it.”

Actor Rory Cowan: “I never got the attraction of gambling. People’s lives are ruined by it.”

 

Are you a saver or a spender?

A saver, I suppose. I have some savings policies and a post office account. When I was in my 20s, I was a spender. I spent every penny I earned and lived week to week, but that’s what young people do. They don’t, and shouldn’t really, think past the weekend. When you get older, you start to think about how you’re going to manage when you retire, so you save.  

Do you shop around for better value?

No! I buy what I need and don’t check the prices at all. I couldn’t tell you how much a litre of milk, or a loaf of bread costs.

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

It was a book signed by David Bowie. It was a limited edition and it cost over €400. It was bound in blue leather. I was a big Bowie fan. After he died, I auctioned off the book on the Eoghan McDermott Show on 2FM, and it sold for over €2,000. The money was donated to a charity that Danny O’Carroll (Buster in Mrs Brown’s Boys) was raising money for. 

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

My record player. I’ve started to buy vinyl again and I spend hours listening to the records I’ve bought. If you have a record player and a few cherished albums, you’ll have endless pleasure in your life.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

Local for food and clothes, but online for things like books, records and DVDs that aren’t carried by local shops anymore. One thing I don’t get is clothes shopping online. I’d want to see the garment and try it on before I buy it.  

Do you haggle over prices?

Never. The idea wouldn’t occur to me. I don’t shop in places where you’d haggle, like a market or a second-hand shop or an antique shop. I shop in places where the price is the price. 

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

When I was younger, I was out every night and I’d buy new clothes every week. I don’t do that anymore, but it’s not down to any recession. It’s just me getting older and not getting as excited about going to pubs and clubs like I used to. I spend money on different things now, like DVD box sets, which I can watch when I’m staying in instead of going out.

Do you invest in shares?

It’s not something I know about and I’d never invest in something I don’t know about. The value of shares is totally out of the shareholder’s control. Brexit affects share value. So does oil prices going up or down. War anywhere in the world drops the value of shares. Trump making an announcement about tariffs and putting America first can drop the value of shares. Shares are connected to the whole world now. They’re not local. I’d sooner take my chances in a casino – and I don’t go to casinos.  

Cash or card?

Card. That way I can keep track of what I’m spending. Mind you, my credit card company must hate me because it makes very little out of me. I always not only clear my bill before any interest is added on, but I pay in a bit more so that every month I start off in credit. 

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

A new car. It’s an Audi, and I love it. I normally just have a car to get me from A to B and don’t take pleasure out of driving, but this car is different. It’s my first automatic car and I just love driving now. It is definitely good value for money – well, as much as any car can be, insofar as it loses value the minute you drive it out of the garage.

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

No! If I can’t afford it, or my credit card limit doesn’t cover it, then I don’t buy it. And I can’t think of anything that I would want that would cost more than a couple of thousand, like a holiday or something like that. I don’t have to save to buy anything because there’s nothing so expensive that I want that I’d have to save for. I have a comfortable life. I have a nice house, mortgage cleared, a few bob in the bank, a fabulous TV and a good record collection. I can afford to pay my monthly bills. I’m lucky!  

Have you ever lost money?

I have a pension fund and apparently that lost value in the crash, but I just kept paying in every month. It seems that, without me knowing about it, this was the right thing to do. Many people closed their pension plans and took a hit. I did the opposite. I kept paying in every month and the value went up again. Sometimes the less you know the better. 

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

I never got the attraction of gambling. People’s lives are ruined by it. Gambling is destructive.

Is money important to you?

It is insofar as I need it to live my life comfortably. Anyone who says money isn’t important is someone who has so much of it that they’ll never live long enough to spend it. I get a kick out of these people with more money than God saying, “Money isn’t everything”, while they’re sitting at their pool in Malibu drinking Champagne. They’ll never know, and have never known, a poor day. 

How much money do you have on you now?

€494.65. I took out cash from the bank last week to cover incidentals around my mother’s funeral and that’s the amount that was left. I normally wouldn’t carry that much cash.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

Rory Cowan appears in the Christmas panto, Polly and the Magic Lamp, at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, from December 21st to January 6th.

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