Are you a saver or a spender?
I’m a bit of both, I always try to put some money away every week so when I want to spend money I don’t need to worry or think about it.

Do you shop around for better value?
If it’s a big or one-off purchase, I try to find the best deal and value for money, but, at the same time, I won’t generally compromise on quality. If a local or independent retailer has the product I’m looking for, even if it’s slightly more expensive than another retailer, I’ll try to support local where possible.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
My racing bikes, racing wheels and general sporting equipment are expensive but essential purchases for me. They’re not extravagant because triathlon and sport play such a huge part of my life.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?
In the past 10 months I have embraced sea swimming on a daily basis, I held out for as long as possible without buying a Dryrobe, but I bought one last October for €160 from a local retailer. From the outside looking in, it might seem overrated and expensive as a product, but it has become an essential piece of kit and well worth the price, as I have worn it every single day since I bought it.

How do you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
I do a mix of both. Groceries are bought in person, once a week now as opposed to popping to the shop three or four times a week pre-Covid. For anything else, I try to shop locally and, if I can’t get it locally, I will spread the net a little wider online. Covid has definitely taken some of the joy for me out of shopping, as I much prefer to buy in person than online.

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Do you haggle over prices?
Yes, my mother taught me well. As a small business owner, I appreciate the difference every euro can make to the bottom line. This has probably changed my attitude to spending and haggling in recent years. I still shop around but don’t haggle as much as I did in the past.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?
I am not shopping as much as I used to pre-Covid. I used to love going into town to buy dresses and outfits for events I was hosting or working at, picking up a new pair of shoes or a handbag on a whim, just because I could. Now I spend my time in my tracksuit and runners, or my luxury loungewear as I like to call it!

Do you invest in shares?
No, it’s not something I have ever considered doing, but maybe it’s something new to try for 2021.

Cash or card?
Card. Tap and go is so good. Especially when I was travelling a lot for work, it was much easier to manage my accounts having it all online, but I do like to have some cash on me for emergencies.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?
The last thing I bought was a magic ring light just last week, for hosting my Facebook Live shows and webinars. At €24.99 it was on sale but I would happily have paid three times the price as it’s invaluable in its use for presenting to a virtual audience from my kitchen.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?
As I try to put away a bit of money every week, I’ve never really had to save up for anything I’ve wanted to buy. I like to have a bit of a buffer in my account so that if I want something I can buy it.

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Have you ever lost money?
Thankfully, no.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?
I’m not a gambler for 51 weeks of the year, but I love putting a few bets on the horses at the Galway Races each year. I’ve never had a big win, but have won the price of a taxi back into town from Ballybrit on Ladies Day. The fun is in the winning rather than the value of the win, isn’t it?

Is money important to you?
Yes, money is important to me to allow me to do what I want when I want without worrying about whether or not I can afford something. I think over the years money has become less important to me and has been far outweighed by the importance of health and happiness. You can have all the money in the world and be unwell or be unhappy. Having money, enough money to thrive not simply survive is the key.

How much money do you have on you now?
I have €65 in cash in a mix of notes in my purse, and there is probably another €20 in coins at the bottom of my swimming bag for the emergency coffees to warm up post-swim.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea



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