Celebrity personality Kerry Katona no longer gives away supercars but she still can't buy a house.
How did your childhood experience influence your attitude to money?
When I was growing up with my mum we didn't have two pennies to rub together. I used to get my money from doing the ironing with my foster parents. When I got put into a semi-independent home when I was 15 I started dancing in clubs. It was like £50 or £25 a pop, but it never lasted. We had this big African parrot called Alfie but we had to sell him so I could buy toiletries.
When I started making money I started giving my mum money here and there and then it started getting more and more, like five grand here, 10 grand there, and it got ridiculous. In a way I was glad I got made bankrupt because it got my mum off my back.
Throughout my life I think because I felt unloved and unwanted as a child I used money to buy people. I've done it quite a lot with my mum, through the Atomic Kitten days and when I moved back to England from Ireland after splitting up with my first husband, Brian [McFadden, of boy band Westlife]. I've bought people's friendships; hence the whole scenario with my second husband, Mark Croft. I thought: "He won't leave me if I buy him a car." I've had a lot of therapy so I'm not like that any more, but I haven't got any money to give away anyway now. I'm skint.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I've never spent on myself, really. Now I'm so cautious with money. I've got to be I've got four kids. I'm not a spender but I'm not tight.
What lessons are you passing on to your children about money?
I'm very open with my eldest two girls about the money situation. Don't get me wrong, I'm out of bankruptcy, but I've still got bills to pay school fees, rent, a nanny, you know, typical stuff. And obviously because of my tax bracket it's 50pc, so half of what I earn just goes anyway. But we're a team. They've got to help me for me to help them. We've got to work together. The other day I made Molly do the dishes and I made Lilly dry them. It's not just about money. It's about values as well, and helping round the home rather than just waiting for me or the nanny to do it all for them.
The one thing I've never done is spoil my kids. Ever. If they want something, they have to wait for it. It's either birthdays or Christmas. And when I was getting made bankrupt I actually took Molly and Lilly to a refuge to show them that although mummy was having a few money problems, we still had a nice house and a nice car and they were going to a nice school and we had food on the table. I took them to show them how lucky they are and to make them appreciate what they do have, because you never know how long it might last in this industry. It could all collapse next week and I'd be back on the dole or working at Iceland as a checkout girl.
Did you make millions from singing with Atomic Kitten?
We got £350 a week, which doesn't sound like a huge amount, but to me, at the age of 18, it was. And all our accommodation was paid for so it was just spending money. I'd gone from earning nothing to being in a pop group and travelling the world. I was only in the band for a year but I used the money I got when I left to buy my mum's house outright. I think it was £35,000. I just paid cash for it. I thought it would be a great investment for the kids, not realising that eight years later I was going to be made bankrupt and have it all taken off me.
Did your earnings skyrocket when you won I ' m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! in 2004?
No. I'm a Celebrity wasn't great money and it wasn't that directly that brought the Iceland deal. It was after Brian left me. I started doing Iceland in 2006 and I was in rehab when I got the call for that. The biggest deal I got was my first autobiography. It was huge. It was absolutely ridiculous, over half a million pounds.
And all the magazines were paying phenomenal money back then. I did a photo shoot and interview for £100,000 when Brian and I split. They wanted me to talk about all the gory details, even though I said, "there's nothing much to say". The Iceland ads were a big deal but it's only money at the end of the day, and if it's gone, it's gone. I really wish I'd been a lot more sensible with my money and invested it, but it's the past and I had a good time spending it.
How galling is it to acknowledge that much of that fortune was squandered on cars and drugs?
It is my fault because I was too weak. Money's an issue for me. I'm really weird around money. I feel like I have to pay and bought my husband whatever he wanted: he had a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, an Aston Martin, a Porsche. He kept changing them but we always had a few cars at one time.
If I'd been psychologically stronger it might have been different, but back then I was off my face quite a bit on drugs. You just kind of think "it'll never end, this" and "I'll never get caught", but you always get caught.
I've come from living with foster parents in refuges, council houses to being a millionaire to losing it, but I am now working again. I've got through it, I'm still here and alive and I've got four amazing kids and I still earn great money. I've just not got half as much as what I used to.
How did you go from earning millions to bankruptcy so quickly?
When I was with Mark we had this accountant called David McHugh who was a fraud. They had me investing in these schemes in the Orkney Islands. I was giving them hundreds of grand for that and he then diverted all my post from my house to his office. He had information hidden in the panels in the ceiling of his office when he got raided, and stuff in boxes, credit cards and chequebooks in my name, and he never got done for what he did to me.
My trustee was convinced I was hiding my money under some mattress and I was like, "listen love; Mark and David have took over everything. I just go and earn the money". I don't even know when I've got a debt or when my tax is due or anything.
I asked David, have I got enough money for my tax? He said yes; the next thing you know I got a phone call saying I might be made bankrupt. But it was my own fault for letting it happen. I think it was a tax bill for 86 grand, which was nothing for me with the money I'd earned from the Iceland ads. I was like, "I don't understand this", but at the same time I was taking a lot of coke and a lot of that period is a blur.
Today I watch what I spend and I don't really spend anything on me. If I told you what was in my bank account considering who I was you'd be shocked. I've got just under four grand.
Are you no longer legally bankrupt?
I'm out of bankruptcy now but the thing is after you've been made bankrupt you can't get a mortgage for so many years, so I've got to rent. It's dead money. And it's painful.
Do you use cards, cash or cheques?
I've only got a cash card. I've not got a credit card. Back in the day I had everything. We paid it off every month, though. It just came out by direct debit.
What is your biggest current financial drain?
School fees all four children are in private school. And my rent and my nanny. She's on more money a year than what most people are.
Do you use online banking?
My housekeeper does all the books at home now and I've got an accountant.
Do you have a pension?
I think we all had one set up when I was in the Kittens but I don't know what happened to that. It's probably there somewhere.
Do you have a financial adviser?
No. I've got no money for anyone to advise me on. I've been earning and paying my bills off but I haven't got any savings.
When you get made bankrupt they take everything off you. It's all gone. They took both houses, my cars. They came in the house and they tried to take the telly and the toys but we got all that stopped.
What are your financial plans for the future?
I don't have a plan at the minute. I'm just earning and paying and living. It's day to day, and that's how it's got to be in this industry.
What do you like least about dealing with money?
Not having any. Knowing that there isn't any there.
'Still Standing: the Autobiography' by Kerry Katona is out now