Tony Ward: ‘I was brought up on the ethic that saving alone led to buying’

Me & My Money: Tony Ward, former Irish international rugby player and ambassador for Hidden Hearing

Are you a saver or a spender?

More of a saver, which definitely relates to the way and the times in which I was brought up. For our generation, borrowing on the “never never” was a no, no. You saved, then you spent.

Do you shop around for better value?

A little, but I would be very far from prudent when it comes to shopping.


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

My first house in Caherdavin in Limerick, back in the day – in the late 1970s, to be precise. It seemed like mission impossible, given a standard 17.25 per cent mortgage interest rate at the time. To procure the £19,500 asking price necessitated breaking the bank.

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

A much more recent purchase that rubber-stamps health as unquestioned wealth relates to Oticon More advanced hearing aids from Hidden Hearing. They are almost beyond valuation and certainly the best value for money for me.

How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?

Here again, I am old school: it’s local every time. And, strange to relate, I do actually enjoy shopping, provided it is outside of peak hours.

Do you haggle over prices?

I would love to boast in the affirmative, but I’d be lying. I couldn’t barter to save my life.

Has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?

No, other than reinforcing the pleasure of dining out. Again, eating out was something unheard of growing up, but now, particularly post-lockdown, it is most definitely one of the social pleasures in life to be treasured.

Do you invest in shares?

There was one attempt along the way when the rush for gold was to Eircom. It resulted in the Eircom share fiasco. Need I elaborate? Once bitten. . .

Cash or card?

Predominantly card.

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

A top of the range pair of air-cooled memory foam walking shoes, along with a new swim cap, to keep my Greystones regime of a walk and daily swim up to scratch. Now that’s what I call shrewd investment – also known as good value for money.

Have you ever successfully saved for a relatively big purchase?

When I was 17, going into sixth year, I spent that summer working in two jobs. It was PMPA in Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin, by day – alongside Eamon Coghlan in the file room – and Bord na gCon (the dogs) by night in Harold's Cross and Shelbourne Park. The goal was £50 to purchase my first ever motor bike from Duffy Motorcycles in Walkinstown. I succeeded in heading back to school on my Yammy (Yamaha) 50. Easy Rider had nothing on me!

Have you ever lost money?

As in mislaying cash? A few wallets have definitely gone missing over the years.

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

No, no, and definitively no. I wouldn’t know one end of a betting slip from the other. As for wins, not even a teeny-weeny-itsy-bitsy pin sticker of a success.

Is money important to you?

Only in terms of making ends meet. House mortgage apart, I was brought up on the ethic that saving alone led to buying. So the objective, even in the toughest of financial times and specifically the 1980s, was to cover all essential family outgoings. Family holidays didn’t enter the equation until 1994 and that was special.

How much money do you have on you now?

€155. Four notes – three €50s and one €5.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea