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'We lost €100,000 in equity on first home'

 

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Tony Keogh

Tony Keogh

Tony Keogh

Tony Keogh is head chef with the well-known vegetarian restaurant Cornucopia. He lives in Donaghmede, Dublin.

He is co-author of Cornucopia: The Green Cookbook, which was published recently. For more information on the book, which is a collection of vegan recipes from Cornucopia, visit gillbooks.ie.

What's the most important lesson about money which your career as a chef has taught you?

The industry is precarious so you need to keep a close eye on your finances and always save for a rainy day.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

My dad was always cautious with money and he always told me to save. I did not take him up on it until I was about 25 - but I am glad I did.

What's the most expensive meal you've ever bought?

A meal in Vanilla Black restaurant in London - it was so worth it though.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

The €2 - it feels substantial and reminds me of the pound coin as it is the closest in size.

The most expensive country you ever visited?

My wife and I visited Manhattan and in certain areas, I found the prices were bordering on the obscene. We went for a meal one night and we stopped in for a glass of wine each on the way home. Including the tip, we paid almost €40.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

I guess property improvements - including a new kitchen in a previous house and, most recently, a new bathroom in our present house. We pulled out all the stops and went for something very lavish. I am cautious with money though, so have always been reasonably careful.

What was your worst job?

About 20 years ago, my wife and I moved to the Netherlands and before I found a chef job, I took a job in a frozen chip factory - sitting on a chair over a conveyor belt in sub-zero temperatures sifting through chips. It was the most mundane work imaginable. Apart from frozen fingers, questionable colleagues and pittance wages, time crawled by.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I have always been overly cautious in parting with large amounts of money. So, luckily, I have got this far without any major hiccups.

What was your best financial killing?

Not being a risk-taker, I think I have missed the boat on a few ideas I have had.

Are you better off than your parents?

I think so. Apart from losing a lot of equity on our previous property, I think my generation have it better financially. Although we do not have as much security and we are living in very precarious times.

If you won the Lottery, what would you do with the money?

I would pay for our house, look after family and friends, invest some money into Cornucopia in return for shares, and look at ways of making my life a little simpler by working fewer hours.

Would you buy Irish property now?

Not at the moment - having been badly stung and losing €100,000 in equity on our first home, I would be cautious. I am happy where we are now.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I am a bit of both. Sometimes I am foolish with money and might intermittently spend a few hundred on things that I don't need. I do like to spend money on holidays, courses and the occasional good night out. As for savings, I have a weekly direct debit to the credit union.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

I love to have something to look forward to. I am very much a carrot-and-stick man, so short breaks away and monthly nights out are non-negotiable. The third item would have to be my phone - I have become totally dependent on it for music, maps, storage, the camera and recipes.

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