Belfast Telegraph

'I still hope my World Cup stickers will make a fortune'

By Staff Reporter

Every week, we ask a businessperson about their finances. This week, it's the turn of James Lewsley, forensic accountant at BDO and member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

Q: Are you a plastic or are you a cash person?

A: Mostly plastic - I only withdraw cash when I'm going out for dinner or having drinks with friends as it's much easier to settle the bill.

Q: How much money would you usually carry around with you?

A: Around £20 in case I get caught somewhere that doesn't take debit cards or credit cards.

Q: Do you see personal debt (ie credit cards, personal loans) as inevitable or something best avoided?

A: Credit is inevitable, but I try to avoid paying interest where possible. Setting up a direct debit to pay your credit card bill in full every month is good practice.

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

A: My wife's engagement ring.

Q: Are you a saver or a spender?

A: I am a little of both. As soon as I get paid, I put some of my wages into a savings account for the future but leave enough so that I get to enjoy the present also.

Q: What are your best - and worst - spending habits?

A: Best: keeping a monthly budget and regularly reconciling my bank account so I can see where my money is actually going. Worst: collecting World Cup sticker albums. At my age I should have grown out of it, but nothing beats the buzz of opening up a new packet and finding one elusive player that you need to complete the team.

Q: Did you get pocket money as a child and, if so, what was the first sum you received in pocket money?

A: Yes, £5 every Saturday, but only after helping with household chores. It was usually spent in Joyland Amusements in Newcastle trying to master Street Fighter II.

Q: Did you have a part-time job as a youngster? And, if so, what was it?

A: My first part-time job was collecting glasses in my father's pub, then I progressed to pulling pints when I was tall enough to see over the counter.

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

A Yes, that would be the aim, and if my World Cup sticker collection is still valuable in 50 years, then I hope they will benefit from that too.

Q Where do you do your food shopping?

A: Fortunately, I work in the city centre so I have a range of shops at my doorstep, which is very handy.

Q: Did the recession teach you anything about personal finances that you're bringing with you into the recovery?

A: As an accountant who started training with ACCA in 2007, watching the financial crisis unfold has been a real education, particularly in the area of credit risk for lenders as well as borrowers. It's great to finally see some light at the end of the tunnel with confidence and growth returning to the local market. However, I really can't envisage any situation in the future where I would pledge my family home as security in order to get involved in property investment.

Belfast Telegraph