Michelle Gayle: My Financial Life

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Michelle Gayle is famous not only for playing Hattie in Eastenders but for that summer smash we never get tired of – who doesn’t remember ‘Sweetness’? Now, she tells Pride all about her financial life.

Humble beginnings 

When I was growing up, I learnt how to save quite well. I went to a stage school, but my parents had to really struggle to pay the fees, so the money that I earned doing TV jobs was basically used to pay my school fees. So I suppose I learned growing up to pay my own way. My mum used to always spend money on us, but then say she didn’t have any money, if we really needed something. My mum was really generous, spreading money around because she had it but then when we really needed it she would say, “Oh no, I’ve just spent it now on stuff for you.” But I realised it was on stuff we didn’t really need. I guess I learned from my dad to think ahead and to plan for times when you aren’t going to have money – he was a lot more cautious.

Blow the budget

I think the most silly and extravagant thing I purchased was when I knew I was pregnant but I bought this really expensive leather coat from Gucci – it was really sickening. I thought in my head, “Well come on, it’s not going to fit you for very, long.” But at the same time I really loved the coat and it is truly the most stupid thing I have ever bought. It was something like £4000; it was really a lot of money, a ridiculous amount of money. I remember someone saying to me, “Don’t buy it, don’t, don’t, you’re mad,” and me thinking, “I know I’m mad, why am I buying this?” But I bought it anyway. That coat was singularly the worst thing I’ve bought. It was too expensive and absolutely useless. It didn’t fit me after about eight weeks. It was really stupid. I still really cannot believe I was stupid enough to buy it.

My first job

I was 14, I had a boyfriend and I wanted to buy him a Valentine’s present. Because my money went to my school fees I had to earn money on the side so I got a job – it was a waitress job in a restaurant – and I absolutely hated it. I can’t remember how much I earned, but I know it was enough to buy him a watch and then that was it – I quit straight away. It was such hard work and I hated every minute of it but I got what I needed out of it.

 Investing in the future 

I was inspired to write my book Pride and Premiership: From Wags To Riches because I was doing a TV festival panel about celebrities, and I was told that at that time almost two thirds of girls said to their career advisors that they wanted to be a Wag and I just thought that was so shocking. I can see why they want to be a WAG because they think it’s a shortcut to the great life of shopping and buying what you want, and of course everyone wants nice things, but I wanted girls to know that there are ways for them to make their own money. It’s about two sisters; one is 24, the other is 19. They both work in a beauty salon and the 24-year-old feels that as she’s so great looking, she should marry a footballer, she kind of convinces her little sister that this is a great plan so they get a glimpse ofthat world. It’s much more about real life and real choices. They realise that they are probably going to have to work for anything they want, and they figure out that maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

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