“How to budget was the best lesson I ever had in my life”

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Are you a saver or a spender?
I am a bit of both. As I got older, I became more careful with money. When I started in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was playing five nights a week in a pub band while keeping a day job. If I couldn’t have days or free time for an important audition or concert, I would leave. In hindsight, it was completely irresponsible and somewhat reckless. However, I always saw the day job as a means to an end – it paid the rent and the bills.

Do you shop around for better value?
I’m lazy when it comes to shopping, especially online. I have the silly idea that the first item to appear is the higher quality one, and yet I’m going to drive five extra miles to save five cents on diesel. I also wait for the sales to buy clothes, and that’s something I’ve always done. When I was hired by a manager in the mid-90s, I found myself broke every month after working day and night, so I had to learn how to budget. How to budget was the best lesson I ever had in my life. That and never working with a useless manager.

What was your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?
After firing the aforementioned manager, my career took a turn in the early 2000s and we had a very successful tour. I bought a brand new Jeep Rexton for £50,000 even though I didn’t have a pee pot and had no idea what to expect for future work. It was crazy, but we never looked back after that.

What purchase have you made that you consider to be the best value?
A black Dolce & Gabbana suit went from €2,700 to €500. I still wear it five years later.

How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?
Shop local. I shopped locally before the pandemic if the item is in a local store. I always try to give the business to local retailers.

Do you negotiate prices?
I never haggle. The price is the price and, to be honest, I don’t have the heart or the patience. When you’re on vacation, you always end up buying stuff on the beach from street vendors. I always end up feeling guilty and then buying trash.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your consumption habits?
Our spending habits were halted in many ways at the start of the pandemic. As there were only two of us, we shopped according to our needs. Beware, the dinners have become more adventurous over the weeks!

Do you invest in stocks?
The only investment I make is in my retirement fund. I’m not financial savvy enough to go the equities route.

Cash or card?
Card. I discovered Revolut before my last Australian tour, and it changed my life. No more panicking about finding receipts because they were all on the app. When it comes to money, I’m hopeless. I lose money all the time or find it in the pockets weeks later or find parts all over the Jeep so the cards are much more organized and tidy.

What’s the last thing you bought and was it good value?
Jackets for the dogs, Ted and Jody. I still consider anything for the terrible twos a good buy. I’m crazy about dogs and would have lost my mind at the start of the pandemic without them.

Have you ever managed to save for a relatively large purchase?
A holiday in Lanzarote years ago. We put all the spare change in a water cooler bottle for a year and saved €1800. It was the best surprise ever and we had a crazy vacation. Good time.

Have you ever lost money?
Yeah, about bad managers and agents. In the early years, I trusted agents and managers way too much, and after several months of touring, I was the only one not getting paid. I worked for everyone and was a busy jerk in many ways.

Are you a gambler and if so, have you ever won a jackpot?
I have never bet on a horse. The only card game I’m good at is snap. I play lotto once in a while, and once I won €2,000 so, in reality, I’m not a gambler. I personally bet on playing a role in a play or a musical, on promoting foreign tours with great success, so I won big in those cases.

Is money important to you?
It’s important because it’s necessary to live, but money doesn’t motivate me. I like knowing there’s money when you need it, but that’s it.

How much money do you have on you now?
I have €25, but not for long: my niece is meeting me for lunch.

Tommy Fleming performs at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, 13 March. tommyfleming.com

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