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My money… Kate Hardcastle

The consumer champ is wary of so-called supermarket Bargains, prefers cash over contactless and splashes out on decent shoes

CONSUMER champion and marketing expert Kate Hardcastle, 41, who was recently awarded an MBE for her services to business and commerce, also gives advice on ITV’s Eat, Shop, Save.

What was your first job?

In a pizza shop when I was 13 for £1 an hour. It was hard graft and I’d come out every Saturday night stinking of onions. I spent the money on clothes at Mark One and save up to buy concert tickets or CDs, which were horrendously expensive at the time.

What’s been your best investment?

Property. Nothing palatial, but I’ve managed to do up a place and rent it out. And I’ve bought art by young artists, which has retained its value. I buy that for the enjoyment of it, rather than as an investment.

What would be your money no object purchase?

Travel. I travel a lot for work and it’s no fun by myself. I’d like to take my family across America or on a safari. I have an eight-year-old and two-year-old twins. It’s hardcore.

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What luxury wouldn’t you give up?

I’ve given up buying daily coffees. The mark-up is huge, and it soon mounts up. I’ve started doing my own at home and taking it with me, which only costs 10p per coffee capsule. I believe if you buy cheap you buy twice, so I like good quality footwear, and a decent bed, because you’re always in one or the other.

What’s been your biggest financial regret?

A few years ago I bought a very corporate Audi which was the bane of my life. It was constantly in the garage. It completely de-valued and I’d never buy off the forecourt again. Buy a second-hand car and spend the extra cash on a really good warranty package.

Are you a spender or a saver?

It’s hard to save right now as I spend a lot of money on childcare. Having twins is a financial challenge because it’s double the outlay at the same time. I like apps that enable you to round up on small purchases, so if you spend £2.20 on something it will round up to £3 and will save the difference. It shows if you save little and often it adds up over time.

Are you savvy with your personal finances?

I am now. I wasn’t when I was 20. I’d worked hard to get through business school and became a board director quite young. I had disposable income and would spend it on meals and travel. I wasn’t as cautious as I am today. You have to enjoy life but make sure you enjoy it all the way through and are financially healthy for all of it. When people give financial advice it can sound quite patronising. Like ‘don’t buy coffees and save up for a mortgage’. It’s hard and you don’t have to give everything up, just find a better way of doing it and keep track of where your money is going.

What was your last impulse purchase?

I don’t like buying plastic toys new at full price as there’s a huge mark up on them. Disney had a sale recently so I bought things for the kids and put them away for their birthdays.

Cash or card?

I don’t like using contactless. I always use cash at the supermarket. I take it with me and I don’t spend beyond that. Supermarkets have so many products these days I’d just end up buying stuff for the kids and the garden otherwise.

What are the best ways to avoid being ripped off as a consumer?

Remember, it isn’t a bargain unless you need it. It’s not just the three-for-twos supermarkets used to push down our necks, it’s more sophisticated than that. A lot of travel websites will say things are time limited, which makes you panic about making a decision. Lots of companies will try to sell-up at the moment as times are still tough. So if you get a phone and are offered a tablet to go along with it, don’t take it, unless you were going to get a tablet anyway, as you’ll be signed up to a 36-month contract.

Eat Shop Save is on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV