‘They’re not making any more land, so it will be valuable’

Are you a saver or a spender?

I’m definitely more of a spender than a saver, but when it comes to spending, I get the most enjoyment from spending money on other people, especially when it comes to my family.

Do you shop around for better value?

It’s fair to say I don’t enjoy the shopping experience so I can be quite an impulsive spender. If I need something I will go and get it.

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

I have two holiday homes, one in Spain and one in the US which I bought a long time ago. They certainly took me out of my comfort zone, and they were a big stretch to buy. I’m not going to say how much they were, but they have gone up in value since I bought them.

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

It has to be the holiday homes. We bought our first holiday home 15 years ago and, when you consider that it is worth a lot than I paid for it, not to mention the many happy times we have spent there, it has certainly been good value for money.

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

Definitely local. If I have to venture to the shops, I want to pay for something and receive it immediately and not in a few days which happens when you shop online. I always try to support local businesses, especially during lockdown. It is important for me to give something back to the community.

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Do you haggle over prices?

I come from the construction industry where haggling takes place a lot and it is something I would often carry into my personal life. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and I always enjoy the craic and banter that normally goes along with haggling.

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

As a family, eating out in restaurants has obviously reduced dramatically during Covid-19. My wife and I have five children and during lockdown we were all together, which was lovely, but the grocery bill definitely went up.

Do you invest in shares?

My one and only investment in shares was a negative experience. I bought shares in an energy drink company in the US, but it didn’t take off in the way I expected and I lost some money. I don’t invest in shares now simply because it is something I don’t know a lot about. I prefer to invest in bricks and mortar and land. When talking about land, my father always said, “They’re not making any more of it, so it will be valuable”.

Cash or card?

I know during Covid-19 we are encouraged to use our cards more but, given the choice, I prefer to use cash. When you buy something with cash, it feels more real than when using a card. It’s harder to kid yourself when you have handed over cash as opposed to swiping a card.

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

Last week a friend came to me with the opportunity to buy a quarter share in a horse. It is too early to say if the purchase was good value for money.

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

The first major thing I saved up for was my wife’s engagement ring. We were not long out of college when we got engaged so it took quite a bit of effort. It was certainly worth it, though.

Have you ever lost money?

I have lost money investing in shares in the energy drink company, and I have lost money in land and property deals that didn’t fulfil their potential. I have no regrets, though. I always look upon these times as learning curves and events that can build character.

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

I am not a gambler in the sense of betting on horses or sport. I think in the last 10 years I have maybe put on two bets on the Grand National and that’s it. In life? It’s fair to say I can gamble on opportunities or new products or ideas.

Is money important to you?

Money is not important to me, and it is not how I gauge success. It certainly makes life easier but accumulating wealth is not what I want my legacy to be. Instead, I prefer to spend money on my family and within my community. To me, this is the best use of money.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €70, £120 and 230 Swiss francs. I always prefer having cash in my pocket than a card. I live in the North, but our business headquarters is in the South, so I generally carry both euro and sterling. I was in Switzerland for work recently, and that’s why I have the francs.

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In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea


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