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'I'm much better with money in my business than my personal life'


Paul Stewart, the boss of student shipping company Unibaggage.com

Paul Stewart, the boss of student shipping company Unibaggage.com

Paul Stewart, the boss of student shipping company Unibaggage.com

Every week, we ask a businessperson to tell us all about their personal finances. This week it is Paul Stewart, the managing director of the student shipping company, UniBaggage.com.

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

A Very much plastic - debit cards - and I carry very little cash. I am in love with the new Apple Pay  but do feel a bit daft at times holding my phone to a card machine. I think cash is getting used less and less nowadays.

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

A Maybe £20 at the best of times, unless I am going somewhere outside a big city where I know access to a cash machine may be an issue.

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

A I firmly believe there are only three situations where you should ever need personal debt - a house, a car and capital to start a business. Everything else is a luxury, which if you want, you should save up for. There will always be exceptions to this, such as family emergencies.

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

A One of my biggest expenses would probably involve motorsport. I am currently racing in the Fiesta Cup down at Kirkistown, which has cost me £10,000 so far this year - a relatively small amount for a race season, so it is good value motorsport. I know it involves a car, but the cars are not road-legal and it is a hobby more than anything. I certainly don't drive that car to work.

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

A In business, I think I am pretty good with money. Personally, I am a bit more lax. I like to save a good bit for a rainy day, however I also like to have enough to be able to enjoy myself. Holidays and cars are probably where my spending is not great.

Q Did you get pocket money as a child and, if so, what was the first sum that you were given?

A It took me a long time to convince my parents to give me pocket money. It was 50p a week, which wasn't too bad. I had to do jobs around the house for it, such as cutting the grass.

Q Did you have a part-time job as a youngster? If so, what was it and what were you paid?

A When I was 14, I worked for my uncle in his hotel during the summer months. I got just under £1 an hour to help stack and clean the empty bottles in the bar. I worked only in the mornings and then had the rest of the day to enjoy. I was able to save a fair bit across a summer.

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

A I believe in working hard to get what you want in life - it's what was instilled in me by my parents. Now I truly appreciate everything I have so much more because I know I have worked hard and earned it. I hope to teach my children to have a good work ethic, and sometimes being given money without earning it can be a negative, not a positive.

Q Where do you do your food shopping?

A M&S, right at the bottom of my street. Very handy.

Q Did the recession teach you anything about personal finances that you are bringing into the (slow) recovery?

A Having some form of savings and not spreading your finances too thin is important. When using any form of finance, like mortgages, make sure you consider the worse case scenario. If it that happened would it be resolvable? I have also noticed that finance, once again, is becoming relatively easy to get hold of. Just because it is there doesn't mean you have to use it. That is a slippery slope. To manage my personal finances, I use basic forms of budgeting with spreadsheets to make sure I know where everything goes each month and can easily see where I am over-spending.

Belfast Telegraph