instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

My money… Fiona Phillips

The TV presenter ran a newsagents at 14, has been lucky with property and values her caffeine fix

What was your first job?

Doing a paper round when I was 11. I got paid 75p a week and I spent it on clothes so I didn’t have to ask my mum. By the time I was 14, I was running the newsagents at weekends.

What has been your best investment?

Buying a flat in Clapham when I was 28 and I’d just got a job at Sky News. The area was quite grotty at the time. I then got a job in Los Angeles, rented the flat out, and by the time I came back the value had tripled. I bought a detached house in south-west London with my husband and that tripled in price again. And the prices in London are still going up. It’s crazy.

What would your money-no-object purchase be?

Holidays. I want to go to all the best hotels in the world, and not worry about the cost.

What luxury wouldn’t you give up?

Coffee. I drink four cups a day, and I can’t start the morning without one. But what they charge is ridiculous. The mark-up is massive.

What’s been your biggest financial regret?

When I was younger I had a county court judgement against me. I did work experience at a radio station. I wasn’t being paid and I ran out of money. I worked up some debt. When you’re down, the banks stamp on you. They clobber you and charge you £40 for each letter they send you. There were bailiffs at my parents’ house. They were in Wales and I was in London. My mum phoned and said: ‘There’s a bailiff here and they’ll take my furniture away unless you pay your debts. Is it true?’ She said: ‘He’s very nice. I’ve made him a coffee.’ I said: ‘No he isn’t. Get him out.’

What happened next?

I spoke to him and said: ‘I’m 25. How dare you harass my parents? It’s got nothing to do with them.’ But he said they were the guarantors for the bank account I opened when I was 18. I’d rather keep my money under the floorboards. My bank charges me £25 a month just for being a customer because it’s a business account, but they don’t do anything for it.

Are you a spender or a saver?

Neither really. I don’t get a kick out of spending money, and the interest rates are terrible now for saving. Property is the best investment, but that’s available to fewer people now. I don’t know how my kids are going to get on the housing ladder.

Are you savvy with your personal finances?

I’m across everything, especially with the banks. I’ve just changed my home insurance and I change my utilities. It’s really easy. You don’t get anything for loyalty anymore. If you’re loyal they treat you like a mug. I was loyal to British Gas for years and when I left they charged me for leaving. How much do their shareholders need to earn when most people can’t afford sky-high bills? But they’ll still rip people off and take every single penny they can get out of them.

What was your last impulse purchase?

A pair of white leather ankle boots. I’ve got clothes and shoes I’ve had for decades, so I get use out of them.

Cash or card?

Card. At least you can see where you’ve spent the money. With cash I get it out and can’t remember what I’ve spent it on. I will not use Apple Pay. I don’t like this whole pervasive thing of everyone knowing everything about you.

Fiona presents the consumer programme Shop Smart: Save Money tomorrow, at 8pm on Channel 5