Your MoneyMe & My Money

‘Having grown up in a working-class home, I appreciate how hard you have to work for what you have’

Me & My Money: Ciara Mageean, middle-distance runner

Middle-distance runner Ciara Mageean is a three-time European Athletics Championship medalist in the 1,500m event and winner of silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Ciara recently helped to launch a partnership between LIA and Sport Ireland Institute. The partnership will see LIA, the centre of excellence for the education and development of finance professionals, deliver Smart Money Habits, a financial wellbeing programme to Olympic and Paralympic athletes at all stages of their sporting careers.

Are you a saver or a spender?

A bit of both. My granny always said “you can’t take it with you”, so I don’t mind spending a bit of my money but I don’t live a very extravagant life. I feel I have a healthy approach to money as, having grown up in a working-class home, I appreciate how hard you have to work for what you have.

Do you shop around for better value?


Not for everything, but for the pricier items I do. When I moved into my rental house in Manchester, I used Which Best Buy magazine to find the best value for household appliances like a washing machine. I also do my weekly shopping at Lidl, which helps keep the grocery costs down.

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

I have two. I treated myself to a shark vacuum cleaner after the summer of racing – does that mean I’m getting old? I also recently purchased a Game Ready, a multi-modality recovery system. As a professional athlete going into my 30s, I hope this is a good investment.

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

When I was in uni, I saved up and purchased a Normatec, a recovery device that has been used by me and my team-mates for years. It’s flown all around the world with me and I’ve certainly got my money’s worth out of it.

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

Where I can, I really try to support local. That said, my Amazon account gets a good bit of use. For anyone that uses Amazon, I’d advise them to set up an Amazon Smile account, through which a charity of their choice benefits from every purchase they make. Thanks to this, the Children’s Cancer Unit Charity receives a donation every time I buy something.

Do you haggle over prices?

I am terrible at this, and I really wish I was better. I certainly have the gift of the gab, but, my goodness, I feel so awkward haggling.

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

Covid certainly made me more aware of the need to support local businesses. I definitely saw a trend towards buying online, but I really tried to do so with local companies. You realise what an impact that makes on a small company when you purchase from them.

Do you invest in shares?

I don’t, and this is another area I want to learn more about. I wouldn’t say I’m very money-savvy, so research into investing is certainly on the to-do list for 2023. The LIA-delivered Smart Money Habits programme for athletes, supported by the Sport Ireland Institute, will cover various aspects of financial planning, from investments to pension planning, contracts and retirement, as well as addressing other financial challenges that individuals working in their sports typically encounter.

Cash or card?

Card, as I very rarely ever have any cash on me.

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

I’m currently in training camp and I bought a few cheap protein shakers from Walmart. They’ve come in very handy.

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

Yes, my first car, and the insurance that cost more than the car itself! Now I’m currently saving for a house.

Have you ever lost money?

On a bet, no, but probably in cash.

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

I’ve never gambled. The closest I’ve come to a bet is picking a horse in the Grand National for my granny to put down for us. All the grandchildren got one. She probably only put a pound on them!

Is money important to you?

I would say no. I never dream of being rich, and as long as my loved ones are healthy and happy, then I am. It is tough, though. Money makes the world go around, so I do feel the need to start thinking of the future.

How much money do you have on you now?

One £5 note and one €50 note, in case I get stuck when travelling for races.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

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