■ The radio presenter invests in property, regrets not buying a flat now worth £1.9m and would never give up luxury candles
What was your first job?
Working at a radio station when I was 12. I started at Radio Aire in Leeds. After making tea for DJs, I progressed to playing pre-recorded programmes. I got paid £5 for each programme and I spent it on records.
How did you end up doing that at 12?
I persistently and annoyingly rang the radio station and eventually got to sit in on a show and never left. This was the late 1980s — things were very different. The DJs would swan in and expect everything to be done for them — so they had helpers. We’d do PRS, which pays musicians when their records are played, write down what was played and for how long, get things from the record library and then replace them after the show. I got on the air myself when I was 16.
What’s been your best investment?
Property. I bought my house in 2000. I bought my mum a house in 2005 and then a friend advised me to start purchasing buy-to-lets after the financial crash 2008 as the value of properties in my area was dropping. I built up a portfolio of several buy- to-lets. I hope it will make my retirement a comfortable one.
What’s being a landlord like?
It’s been OK. I use letting agents. There’s the odd thing that’s gone wrong. One tenant didn’t tell me there were problems but then these little issues mounted up until they became quite big problems and it cost me £20,000 to fix them. On the whole, things have gone well.
What would be your money no object purchase?
To visit every boutique hotel in the world and write a book about it. I’m really interested in interior design and I like to see how they’ve been decorated. There’s a gorgeous one in London called Threadneedles in Threadneedle Street.
What luxury wouldn’t you give up?
Jo Malone candles. I’d once had a very bad day and was walking past the Jo Malone shop and went in and bought one of the big £250 candles. It did last me two years though. And things like Molton Brown handwash. Supermarket handwash for 99p does the same job, but I do like little luxuries like that.
What was your last impulse purchase?
A car. I woke up one morning and thought ‘I want a new car,’ and bought one. But the only reason I bought it was because I got this new job on Radio Leeds. I’d put 140,000 miles on my previous car because I’d started doing public speaking events around the country.
Do you consider yourself savvy with personal finances?
I do, but I can be lazy. I haven’t changed energy suppliers. I have a look at money-saving websites where they tell you to do it but then I think I’m too busy. I’ve been meaning to cancel Sky Sport for ages. I never watch sport and they charge me £90 a month, and I haven’t got round to doing it. I can be my own worst enemy for wasting cash like that. But I’ll spend all day ringing round for car insurance.
What’s been your biggest financial regret?
Not buying the London flat I was renting when I was presenting the national chart show in the mid 2000s. I shared the flat with my friend Joel who worked at Radio One. It was a three-bed flat, with two ensuite in Belsize Park and came up for sale for £480,000. I thought: ‘I bought my four-bed detached house in Barnsley for £86,000. I’m not spending £480,000 on a flat.’ Two years ago I was in the area and looked in an estate agent’s window and saw it on sale for £1.9million.
Cash or card?
I like to carry cash but contactless is everywhere — that’s the way it’s going. But it can be dangerous. You end up making a lot of purchases without realising and when you finally look at your account you realise how much it’s mounted up — just from buying coffees.
■ The Stephanie Hirst Show is broadcast each week day from 9am to 12noon on Radio Leeds