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‘Never be afraid of debt - it’s working capital’

Me & My Money: Humphrey Murphy, owner of Tinnakeenly Leathers

Tinnakeenly Leathers was founded in 1970 by the Murphy family. Humphrey Murphy studied leather work in Cordwainers College London and has been working in the business since 2001.

Are you a saver or a spender?

I’m cognisant about spending my own money. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, we were always stony broke, so any money was saved and spent only on very necessary things.

Do you shop around for better value?

Sometimes, but often I just see it, buy it and move on. Time wasted looking for a few quid off is just not worth it. If it’s good quality and not crazy dear, then yes, it makes sense in the long run to buy good stuff that will last. Saying that, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a brand new “big thing”. Used cars, boats, trailers – they all work just grand.

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

My horse Jeff cost me €4,000 about four years ago. He’s a massive huge Irish Draught lump of a yoke, but he’s never lame, always hungry and I’d never part with him. Going for a hack around the roads in the morning keeps me sane and is my lazy way of keeping fit.


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

A Sage fishing rod I bought in a shop in New York 20 years ago for about $250. It came with a lifetime warranty that I used once after breaking it three years ago. They sent me a replacement free of charge. Amazing!

Do you haggle over prices?

Yes, of course, but only when it is right to do so. You can always get a better rate in hotels, insurance or when buying something directly from the source.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?

I think there will be great deals to be had in six months. I predict there will be a glut of products in the markets, so I’ll be holding off buying too much stock now and seeing which way it goes.

Do you invest in shares?

No. I bought some Smurfit shares years ago with a small inheritance but sold them shortly after and bought a young thoroughbred gelding at the Derby sales for €3,000. After bringing him on, and following a few good runs on the track, I got offers from leading trainers and sold him on for €20,000. That was a better bet than shares any day.

Cash or card?

Both. Cards are essential for business travel and cash for personal bits and bobs. I’m wary of the new phone payment apps as I feel they’re very vulnerable to malware or some other ghastly fraud.

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

A pair of gold earrings for my partner. Hopefully, I’ll get some bonus points out of it!

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

No. If you can get an overdraft, term loan or credit card, it makes more sense to use the banks’ finance to free you up with working cash flow. I like structured repayments as you can plan your budgets way ahead. Never be afraid of debt – it’s working capital.

Have you ever lost money?

Not in any foolish or unlucky way. You can lose some money on the horses, playing cards or in a Las Vegas casino, but on the plus side, you come away with an experience and a story or two.

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

Yes, I love a small punt when the racing is on. I had some success in 2022 following the Godolphin horses trained by Charlie Appleby. They lost their form midseason but picked up again at the Breeders cup in the US.

Is money important to you?

Yes. I think it is extremely important to everyone. It gets us motivated to get up and keep trying, and whether it’s getting that wage, or getting that new client, it’s all to make money. We need it for everything.

How much money do you have on you now?

Not enough!

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture