Belfast Telegraph

'Debt can be useful if you live within your means'

Each week, we ask a businessperson about personal finances. This week, it's Gareth Chambers, managing director of Around Noon Sandwiches in Newry.

Q. Are you a plastic or cash person?

A. Plastic fantastic, always… I never have cash - I like that the spending on a card is recorded on online banking. Plus, cash burns a hole in my pocket.

Q. How much money do you usually carry around with you?

A. I always use a debit card and never would have a sum of cash on me.

Q. Do you see personal debt (ie credit card, personal loans) as inevitable or best avoided?

A. Inevitable - though I think there is a fine balance to be struck between reckless borrowing and relentlessly worrying about borrowing money. So long as we live within our means, I feel that personal debt can be a useful thing.

Q. Apart from a house or car, what's the most expensive thing you've ever bought?

A. I don't really buy expensive things… probably my wife's engagement ring - which I got quite a good deal on, actually. We bought it in Hatton Garden in London as a loose stone and then got a jeweller to make the ring. The relentless haggling with the dealer did kind of spoil Laura's romantic notions, but it was great fun.

Q. Are you a saver or a spender?

A. A spender - I need to get more disciplined around savings.

Q. What are your best and worst spending habits?

A. My best and my worst are the same. I am a season ticket holder at Old Trafford. Manchester United drains my bank balance. Between flights, hotels, beer and burgers, it's a complete drain. But I love it and wouldn't change it for the world.

Q. Did you get pocket money as a child? If so, what was the first sum you received in pocket money?

A. Yes I did, I used to get £5 a week. However, it was more like wages as I earned it from a very young age working in the family sandwich business.

Q. Did you have a part-time job as a youngster?

A. I was chief labeller when the family business was in its infancy.

Q. If you had a huge fortune, would you leave it to your children.

A. I don't have children - can you leave money to dogs? If so, I hereby declare my entire fortunes (or debts) be transferred upon my death to my miniature dachshund Bobby.

Q. Where do you do your food shopping?

A. I like M&S stuff, however there is a massive Tesco right beside my house which is super convenient.

Q. Did the recession teach you anything about personal finances that you are bringing with you into the recovery?

A. Yes, it taught me that there are never certainties in anything. The property crash I found fascinating. Everyone thought bricks and mortar were a sure bet and people were quitting their jobs to become "property investors". I feel it's important to keep our feet on the ground, our head out of the clouds and where possible our money (or debit card) firmly in our pockets.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.