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My money… Lee Stafford

What was your first job?

My mum had a shoe shop. When I was 17 and first learned to drive I’d take her shoes to a market in East London and I’d sell them there. I’d hire a pitch and sell the shoes myself, so there was no set wage. The first thing I bought with the money was an orange and blue Armani jumper. I got the use out of it so I suppose it was good value. The first proper job was working as an assistant in a hair salon in Chelsea quite soon after that. I left after six months and set up shop in my mum’s dining room and cut hair there for the next six years.

What’s been your best investment?

Spending money on ongoing education. I’ve always gone on courses about hair and business. When I started in my mum’s dining room I couldn’t cut hair for s**t so I thought I better get myself educated and started doing hair courses. Before I opened my own salon I’d gone on hundreds of hair courses and I still do today, even though I run my own courses and have 13 academies. I also go on business courses and invest time and money on educating myself on an ongoing basis. I left school with no qualifications and didn’t go to college. All of these courses I’d do in my spare time every week.

What would be your money no object purchase?

A house in Ibiza. I was there for two months, two years ago. It’s a beautiful island. It’s got a real cool vibe to it and there are a lot of interesting people.

What luxury wouldn’t you give up?

My trainer at the gym. I saw him twice a day every day, seven days a week, for six weeks in the lead up to my wedding, five years ago. I got super fit for that. Now I see him three days a week. Seeing a trainer keeps you focussed and motivated. It makes you go to the gym and it keeps it interesting. You don’t end up doing the same old thing when you get there. And when you’re paying for a trainer you watch what you eat. You think ‘I’m paying for a trainer — I don’t want to waste money.’

What’s been your biggest financial regret?

I bought a studio apartment in Piccadilly 13 years ago. It cost £250,000. Things got a bit tight a couple of years later and I sold it, but I could have got through that blip without selling it. Now it’s worth over £1million. It would have been a great rental income if I’d kept it.

Are you savvy with your personal finances?

These days I’d say yes. When I was younger I depended on other people to deal with my finances and I got burned. People take advantage if you don’t have your eye on your finances. You will get your bum smacked. I don’t rely on anyone else now, I have financial advisers, but I go through contracts myself half a dozen times and make sure I know what it all involves. I didn’t in the past. If you think you can leave your finances to someone else and you won’t get stung you’re being very naïve.

What was your last impulse purchase?

Our new house. We were looking to buy somewhere in Essex but one of my friends suggested I have a look near where he lives in Primrose Hill. We saw a house and made an offer on the spot. I’ve lived in Soho for 13 years but now I’m married and we have three young children it wasn’t conducive to family life. There’s no outside space, so we bought a family house.

Cash or card?

Card, because everything is accountable, you know where all your money has gone and it’s helpful for when you do your taxes. But at the same time I still like having some cash on me.

Lee is backing Macmillan Cancer Support’s Brave The Shave campaign. Supporters will shave their heads to raise money for people living with cancer, bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk