‘When I bought my Mercedes E Class car it cost me £72,900. I have never bought a car since, and now drive a Volvo V80’

Are you a saver or a spender? I tend to save more than I spend, but the savings have been decimated by the Celtic Tiger so I should have spent it!

Do you shop around for better value? Always. My restaurant supervisor was here the other day pricing a trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and I saved her over €450 a person and got a car included for the 14-day trip.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?When I bought my Mercedes E Class car it cost me £72,900. I have never bought a car since, and now drive a Volvo V80, which affords all the comforts I need.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?The Park Hotel Kenmare is the best purchase ever, as it has given me a terrific way of life. It’s hard work but I love it. The hotel has gone from strength to strength over the years and we are only one of two Deluxe Destination Spas as designated by Fáilte Ireland.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local? I do very little shopping, really. I got a lovely Louis Feraud black suit in Galway’s Louis Copeland, and I shop online for my 11 nieces and nephews.

Do you haggle over prices? I never like to haggle and actually get a bit embarrassed if in Morocco or such where it is a way of life. I prefer to get a price and pay.

Has the recession changed your spending habits? Yes. I changed electricity companies to avail of a 15 per cent discount for two years, and I would have never done this before. I also keep an eye out for petrol, as there is often a discrepancy of up to eight cents a litre. On a fill of the tank, that can be €3/€4, so it pays to keep your eyes open.

Do you invest in shares? Not likely since Eircom! In its nth reincarnation lately, I thought I was finally getting “rid” of the Eircom/Vodafone shares as they yet again morphed into Verizon. Alas, as I did not fill out my request to be rid of them on the correct form (I actually wrote a letter), I missed out and they still exist in my life!

Cash or card? Both, actually. All company expenses on a Visa or Amex and I carry cash as well. Often, I have to run to get soya or almond milk or some coeliac item, and I have to have cash on me for same.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money? Six silver ink pens, with which I sign my new book, It’s The Little Things, as the fly cover is black and the signature looks “bold” on it. It was John, my brother, who gave me them originally, as he had noticed the fly cover was black and the silver ink actually enhances the visual effect of my terrible writing.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase? Not recently, but when I was a teenager I saved really hard to get an Omega Chronograph watch in a pawnshop in Dublin. My father told me I was mad, as a man only needs one watch, but I still wear it.

Have you ever lost money? Yes, hugely so in the Celtic Tiger, as my entire pension was in property. I now have to work a second lifetime, but I am able and happy. Perhaps the Lord knew that I am better off working – an idle mind is not good, so He has orchestrated a second run at it for me!

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win? I have been to Las Vegas countless times, but I never gamble. When it comes to cards I get confused with Snap so I stay well clear.

Is money important to you? Yes, and I am lucky to have worked since my teens so have always had good cash flow – always through hard work.

How much money do you have on you now? €240 in notes and €€5 in coins in case I need to use meter for parking.

Francis Brennan is author of It’s The Little Things (published by Gill & Macmillan)

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

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