Actor Bradley Walsh of Law & Order UK on how his experience as a child gave him a lifelong aversion to debt.
= HOW DID YOUR CHILDHOOD INFLUENCE YOUR WORK ETHIC AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS MONEY? =
I'm from a working-class background. I was born in Watford, and grew up in a council house. My mother was a single parent, who had to struggle hard to make ends meet. At one point she was holding down three different jobs. It was a happy childhood but we certainly didn't have a great deal of money.
I started doing odd jobs when I was 14. I was a baker's boy, getting up at 4.30am to help the baker unload his van at 5am, and then going home to have an hour's sleep before going to school. I think I've inherited my mother's attitude, that hard work will pay off.
= YOU HAD A BRIEF CAREER AS A FOOTBALLER WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GET INTO ENTERTAINING and ACTING AS A CAREER? =
I left school at 16 and started working in a factory, but I was spotted by Brentford FC and started a professional career at the age of 18. Injury forced me to stop it was annoying as it was the only life I wanted at the time.
I saw football as showbusiness anyway. As a young child at family gatherings I'd stand up and tell jokes and I acted and sang in productions at school, so right from the start I had a natural aptitude to perform. I was always one of the guys in the factory football team when I worked at Rolls-Royce, so I saw it as a natural progression.
= HAVE YOU EVER FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO PAY THE BILLS? =
In my early twenties, yes. After the football career ended, and I was thinking about what to do next, I took a job as a bluecoat at Pontins in Morecambe for three months. While I was there, I got the bug to perform. I was paid £47 a week, £37 after a sum for board and lodgings was deducted. I wrote to about 25 bookers/agents while I was there yet only one replied, with a gig at the DOB Club, Kilburn. But I was paid £45 for a 40-minute slot, which was a fortune for me, as I was only paid £120 for a week's work at a factory.
I also became a father in my early twenties, and very much felt the responsibility to provide for my daughter. In the early days it was a struggle to juggle my day job with showbusiness ambitions and there were times when we were left with £5 at the end of the week for food. However, I turned professional in 1986 and haven't been out of work since.
= YOUR BIG BREAK was IN 1993 ON THE ROYAL VARIETY SHOW. WAS THIS THE START OF YOUR BETTER-EARNING YEARS? =
I would say so, yes. I was 33 when I did the Royal Variety Show . I was actually invited to perform as an ITV (Other OTC: ITVPF.PK - news) executive had seen me support Shirley Bassey in concert that was my lucky break. As I'd done my apprenticeship by working in the clubs for years, being booed offstage at Blackpool, having to win over audiences of 11,000 when I was a support act for Tom Jones at the NEC (Other OTC: NIPNF.PK - news) in the late Eighties, it was very welcome, and opened doors for me.
= WHAT WAS YOUR BEST BUSINESS DECISION OR BEST BUY? =
It was definitely buying my house. My wife Donna and I were out house hunting one day in Chigwell, Essex. She (SNP: ^SHEY - news) liked the look of a house that wasn't on the market, so we put a note through the door to ask if the owners were considering selling.
They later contacted us and said no, but they knew of a similar house that was for sale, so we saw it and bought it. I know it is a good investment and legacy for my family.
= AND WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST BUSINESS DECISION? =
A few years ago, when there was a great deal of press around the Kyoto agreement, I invested in a green technology business. Unfortunately, I am one of 400 investors now in dispute with that company, something that I cannot discuss as it is an ongoing process.
= DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF MORE OF A SAVER OR A SPENDER? =
I work hard and spend more on holidays than material possessions. Cars are nice, but I don't see the need to buy an expensive one. A couple of years ago my family and I went to the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. The resort, the food, the entertainment were all excellent, and I had paid for first-class tickets as well as it was my wife's birthday. Holiday memories last forever.
= ARE YOU NATURALLY GOOD WITH MONEY OR DO YOU HAVE TO WORK AT IT? =
I have to work at it. My mantra is "if you only have £10, don't spend £11", which I stick to religiously.
= WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT LESSON YOU'VE LEARNT ABOUT BUSINESS? =
Never go into business with friends.
= DO YOU PREFER TO PAY BY DEBIT CARD, CREDIT CARD OR CASH? =
Debit card. I bank with Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) and I find the debit card just keeps me focused on the idea of never spending more than you have. Credit cards frighten me. I'm 52 and I've never had one and never will. I normally carry about £50 cash, for small purchases.
= WHAT ARE YOUR FINANCIAL PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT FIVE TO 10 YEARS? =
To get as much behind me as possible and provide my family, particularly my youngest son, with the best education and opportunities that I can.
= ARE YOU A GOOD TIPPER? =
If the service is good I will tip, but if it isn't I won't. I'm British. I do think the British are quite odd in that we will tip for the sake of it. Even if the management come over and ask if everything is all right, we British often say yes when it isn't.
As I've worked as a barman before, I always leave 15pc in restaurants and taxis. My wife insists she says people will talk about me if I leave less. If the gratuity is included, say 12.5pc, then that is enough.
= DO YOU INVEST IN STOCKS AND SHARES? =
No. I might if I knew more about it, but I'm afraid I don't. If the banks were giving a great interest rate I'd just work hard and put all the money in the bank, but they aren't, so I've just invested in property instead.
= IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE FINANCIAL WORLD, WHAT WOULD it BE? =
The big payouts for failure in the banking industry. In any other industry you would be fired, not revered. Bankers should not be allowed to demand a £3m or £4m payout when a bank is on the brink of collapse and the saver is being hammered by the cost of running their own bank account. It is ridiculous. And unfair. And it should not happen.
= DO YOU BANK ONLINE? =
I have an online account, which I use to check my balance, but I just do not feel confident in transferring money at all. Emails get lost, so I am petrified money would too.
= DOES MONEY MAKE YOU HAPPY? =
Absolutely not. It just oils the wheels of the unhappy and can make life slightly easier. I think happiness really comes from within. Buying possessions like cars or clothes is a very short-term fix. Even if you win the lottery, you may be initially happy, but then think of all the jealousy you will encounter from friends and relatives. Health (Euronext: IXSHL.NX - news) and family bring happiness, not money on its own.
Bradley Walsh plays Detective Sergeant Ronnie Brooks in ITV1's 'Law & Order UK', which is now in its sixth series. Series one to five are available via all good bookshops and Amazon.co.uk . He is also presenter of ITV1's The Chase. For more information, see bradleywalsh.co.uk