'Growing organically and re-investing profits is the way I operate'

Me & My Money: James McCormack, owner, Dublin Barista School

Are you a saver or a spender?

At home, I’m now more inclined to save. The Celtic Tiger era of easy money was a learning curve. Since starting in business I have learned to be strategic in doing both. Saving to spend.

Do you shop around for better value?

Most definitely. In business, I shop around at least twice per year to ensure we are getting the best prices across the board. At home, it’s an annual occurrence. There is so much competition everywhere across all markets and there are new deals to be had, especially coming out of contracts.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

Mercedes CLS a few years ago. A beautiful car, expensive to fix.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

Our family home, without doubt. We bought in 2008 when house prices were outrageous, but it was relatively easy to get a mortgage. If we had to buy today it would be a very different story.


How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I'm beginning to shop online more and more; the way things are moving, it's becoming easier to order from your phone. I will still always be a supporter of Irish business, however, so I will always start local. It is really about the convenience rather than anything. Starting e-commerce businesses with Dublin Barista School and 9th Degree has opened my eyes a lot, so it's becoming second nature for me. Although for some reason, I still always ring the takeaway!

Do you haggle over prices?

When I was younger, yes, but I find as I grow older, I haggle less. If I feel I’m getting value for money then I’m happy to pay. If the opposite happens then I just won’t use the product or service again.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Yes, it’s completely changed my way of thinking. Being made redundant in 2008 and starting in business has made me much more frugal. I don’t use credit cards or use overdraft facilities since that time, either personally or in business.

Do you invest in shares?

Not at this time. I invest everything I have into my own business.

Cash or card?

I have always felt more comfortable having cash in my pocket, but since starting in business the card gets most use mainly for accounting reasons. Wow, I have become boring!

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

I just bought the Ridge Wallet online for $100 (€94). It’s a compact titanium card/cash holder. I find it great, as before I had my cards and cash in different pockets/jackets, especially for my driver’s licence, as I drive a lot. I find regular wallets cumbersome, but this is great.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Yes, our wedding was our first big purchase that took a lot of scrimping and saving. In business, saving to spend on bigger capital investments is part and parcel of what I do now. I have never borrowed any money in our business, so growing organically and re-investing profits is the way I operate.

Have you ever lost money?

Las Vegas, 2002.

Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?

I’m not a gambler in my personal life; having two young children makes my decision making more cautious. In business, I find I take calculated risks. I will gamble small and if things don’t pay off then it’s put down as a learning curve.

Is money important to you?

Money is not the first thing on my mind. Like everyone, you want financial stability to help give your family a good home, education and a family holiday. However, money is not at the core of my motivation. In business, money is important for obvious reasons but again it’s not what gets me up every morning.

How much money do you have on you now?

€2.50. Enough for a cup of coffee in Dublin Barista School.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea