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What our parents taught us about saving money: well-known Northern Ireland faces tell all


Parents often play a part in their children's money habits
Parents often play a part in their children's money habits
Aodhan Connolly
Andrew Webb
Ulster Bank's Henry Hippo
Pamela Ballantine
A childhood picture of Pamela Ballantine with her younger sister Susie and brother Peter
Terry Robb
Gareth and Lorna Murphy
Paula McIntyre
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

From the lasting memories of lessons gleaned from Henry Hippo, to using spending and planning spreadsheets, we ask some well-known people in Northern Ireland what they learnt from heir mums and dads about personal finance, and the good habits they’ve developed themselves.

‘An app helps me save without even thinking about it’ (Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium)

Aodhan Connolly

If I am being honest, personal finance was never a strong point for me growing up. I was always about the here and now, whereas my brother was Mr Prudent Planning. In fact, I think he may still have his First Holy Communion money.

My parents encouraged us from no age to save for the future, from our Henry Hippo accounts to our little red Credit Union books.

They also taught me that even a little put aside every week could make a difference. My dad used to put every 20p piece that he got into a box, and over the course of a year it was some decent spending money for our family holiday in the summer.

I do something similar with an app that rounds up every transaction I make to the nearest pound and puts the money in an investment account. It helps you save without having to think about it which for me is really useful.

If I was to give personal finance advice to my son I would tell him to start a pension on his first day of work - and also that his money and his time are finite so use them wisely.

‘I put away a small amount regularly for my children’ (Terry Robb, head of personal banking, Ulster Bank)

Terry Robb

Throughout my life, my parents had always instilled in me the value of budgeting and planning ahead to afford the things I wanted. But a point where this became very real for me was when I started having children of my own, when my parents stressed the value of putting away a small amount every month for their future.

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There was so much else to look forward to and going on, so it could have quite easily slipped to one side. But I'm really glad now that I heeded their advice.

While 18th birthdays might have seemed like quite a long way off, starting a savings habit when they were young meant that I was able to help and support my kids with things like driving lessons and starting university - something which I was really proud and happy to do and a lesson I'll happily pass on to them.

‘If I need a new washing machine I will save for it’ (Paula McIntyre, food consultant and writer, and TV and radio chef)

Paula McIntyre

I'm of a certain age where I have parents who don't really like credit. I remember my dad getting one of the first credit cards and he paid it off religiously.

If you want something, you save up and get it. I don't have personal finance for the car. I'm getting a new kitchen after moving into a new house two years ago and I've saved up for it for a few years.

I have a savings account and a fun account for holidays, meals, etc. Then I also have a house account into which I put at least £100 a month, so when you do need a kitchen it's there. Having said that, that's now wiped out. With some people, if you need any house repairs, you stick it onto a mortgage. But if I needed a new carpet or washing machine, instead of putting it on a credit card I will use my house account. I sound sensible but I'm not really. My mother wouldn't be careful with money but my dad would be.

Granny was a good investor, and invested money in stocks. She was a shrewd wee woman and that's maybe rubbed off a bit. But I would be completely risk averse so wouldn't take unnecessary risks or anything; I've had the same shares in Shell for a long time.

When it comes to food, when I'm in London for work I would eat out and I also like good wine so that doesn't come cheap. But that's nearly a hobby. I wouldn't spend money on shoes but I would spend it on Michelin-starred restaurants.

Pamela Ballantine, personality and TV presenter

Pamela Ballantine

Any parental financial advice would have very much come from my dad.

When mum and dad first got married, mum freely admitted she was clueless as she came from a fairly "well to do" family and didn't really have to worry about finances.

When she and dad opened their first bank statements my mum looked at hers and looked at dad's and said: "Isn't that clever the way they print the men's in black and the ladies' in red!"

As far as mum was concerned so long as she had cheques she had money. She did learn very quickly.

Dad had worked from the age of 14 or 15 to look after his mum and sister and he brought us up with the adage: "Never a borrower or a lender be." I must admit I did try to live to that, but not very successfully.

Dad had a very astute financial brain and he did bring us up to recognise the value of money. Another of his sayings would be: "Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves".

We were not brought up to expect things to be given to us. If we wanted something we had to earn it. My friends were bought cars by their parents but dad always pointed out the costs of running them and said what was the point in having one if you couldn't afford to run it. Therefore I have always tried to live within my means. He taught me how to do budgets and I always keep a spreadsheet of income and outgoings which makes life so much easier when it comes to sending off my financial details to my accountant each year.

A childhood picture of Pamela Ballantine with her younger sister Susie and brother Peter

Gareth Murphy, managing director, We Are Vertigo

Gareth and Lorna Murphy

My parents instilled a very strong work ethic in me from a very young age. My dad was a lorry driver and my mum worked in an office and they were both exceptionally hard-working people.

I never got any pocket money and they always encouraged me to save to buy the things I wanted. As a result, I started working at the tender young age of 13. My first job was at Knockbracken Golf Course; I started at 5am, collecting golf balls from around the course.

When Knockbracken opened a ski centre, I went on to become a ski instructor, so I guess I have my parents to thank for setting me on my career path, which led to me eventually setting up our leisure adventure company, We Are Vertigo.

This month we will complete a £1m investment in the development of a new Ninja Master Course at our Titanic Quarter site that already includes Ireland's first indoor skydiving centre, and we will transform our trampoline park in Newtownbreda into one of the world's largest indoor Inflata Parks.

My upbringing instilled a frugal mentality that has been helpful at times in my business, however, I feel that taking some financial risks - albeit based on solid research - has been very beneficial.

'I'm a deal-hopper, shopping around saves thousands' (Andrew Webb, economist and director at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore)

Andrew Webb

I have an appetite for financial risk that some might baulk at but so far it has served me well.

I'm not afraid to stretch myself financially in pursuit of opportunities but I've always worked through the options and have never taken a financial step without having planned it and worked out an exit plan.

I think I took three key lessons from my parents when it comes to finances - 'search for value', 'budget' and 'do you need it'.

For budgeting, I have a spreadsheet that holds information on every pound that comes in and out and a second sheet for 'scenario planning'. This has been invaluable as we are about to move house - plugging potential new costs in gives me an immediate sense of what we can realistically afford to do.

The search for value can be time-consuming but is worth it. I am a committed deal hopper, whether it is broadband, TV, car insurance or mortgage deals, I don't tend to stay with one provider for longer than their introductory offer.

Shopping around and changing providers has been worth thousands.

'Do you need it' could be the best lesson. How often have we bought something just because it was reduced in price? That's not money saved, that is money wasted on something you didn't really need.

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