Hilary Devey: "I'd never buy my own jet"

Hilary Devey:

The multi-millionaire Hilary Devey, a former Dragon on Dragon's Den, spends up to £13,000 on dresses for special occasions but still remembers what it means to be broke and says she would rather give money to charity than buy herself a private jet.

Here, the Dragon talks about her most extravagant purposes, how she chose which businesses to invest in while on Dragon's Den and the difference that money has made to her life.

What did you blow your first proper pay cheque on?

A pair of brown suede four-inch knee-high platform boots, that cost £30. I was 16 and only earning £7 a week, as a secretary, so that was four weeks' money. I'd had my eye on them and I thought: Sod it. I'm having them.

What was the first big extravagant purchase you made?

A half a million pound house in Nottingham I bought in 1998. I remember walking in and thinking every brick is mine, because I'd paid cash for it. I also bought a villa in Spain. I paid £200,000 for it in 1996 and sold it four years ago for £450,000.

How do you choose which businesses to invest in on Dragon's Den?

I tend to buy into people. If there's a need for the product, and the people are right, then the ingredients for success are already there. I invest millions back into my businesses - everything I have every year goes back into either business or property.

How much did you earn last year?

I haven't a clue. But it was extensive - and I paid a lot of tax.

What's the worst thing about being broke?

The insecurity - not knowing what tomorrow may bring. I was self-employed when I was broke and I remember having dreadful sciatica and taking 20 Nurofen tablets a day to keep me going. The doctor kept saying: You've got to rest. But I [was a single mother and] had a child. Who was going to put food on the table and keep a roof over his head if I didn't? I had to work.

What kind of difference has money made to your life?

Being able to treat my family and treat my friends. If they can't afford something, I'm now in a position where I can afford it for them.

I also do a lot for charity. I give my time and I donate hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. I believe I should, and I believe it's right. I think anybody who's got a social conscience would do the same. That's why I'd never buy my own jet - because I look at adverts on TV and the poverty all over the world and I think it's just so unnecessary to buy a plane or a helicopter when I could help these people. I'm a born philanthropist, I'm very compassionate and kind to people - I always treat people as I'd like to be treated myself.

Has there been a time in your life when you've truly appreciated having money?

Yes, when I had my stroke, because I could afford somebody to help me. I couldn't even shower or dress. Who would have cared for me? If I was reliant on the NHS, who knows what would have happened to me. My son, whose problems have been well-documented, couldn't help his mum in that way. The fact that I could afford to pay for help myself made me truly appreciate money and want to give more back to the world. That's why I support the Carer's Trust charity in particular.

What's your biggest money regret?

I haven't got one. I've got time regrets - that I focused too much on my business when my son was growing up and so I didn't spend enough time with him. I should have spent more quality time with him.

What's the best financial advice you've ever been given?

Take the compassion out of a business decision - but put it back in subsequently. So if you have to say something to someone that you know will put them in financial hardship, say: I can't go forward with this business decision because of X, Y or Z. But having said that, how can I now help you?

Do you ever buy anything expensive for yourself?

I believe that people will treat you as you look and I love clothes and fashion, so if it's a special event, I'll have a dress made by a couturier. I do spend quite a bit of money then - anything from £3,000 to £13,000.

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Hilary Devey: "I'd never buy my own jet"

Adele came first again in 2013 with earnings of £30m.

DJ Calvin is a new entry to the list this year.

Cheryl is down one spot this year. She came second in last year's list with estimated earnings of £14m. 

The five members of One Direction take joint fourth place with an estimated £14 million each.

The five members came in at joint seventeenth place in last year's list with estimated earnings of £5m each.

Leona Lewis shares the ninth spot on the list. Lewis came third last year with earnings of £12m.

Mumford And Sons frontman Marcus Mumford and his wife Carey Mulligan are together worth £13 million and share the ninth position with Leona Lewis.


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Hilary Devey: "I'd never buy my own jet"

“I am a spender,” the former Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordon told The Telegraph. “I've always been like that. Have I got worse as I've got older? Probably, though I'd like to think I'm not irresponsible, but if there's something I see and want, then I'll get it. My mum has a great expression: "There's no hem in that garment." What she meant was that you can't put money in the hem of the garment as it was the place that little old Irish ladies would hide their money. Whatever money I've made, I want to use, while not dying in a poor house. I don't want to leave money littering the place when I go, where people have rows with each other.”

Advice from Jo Gornitzki, a spokesperson for MoneySavingExpert.com:

“Eddie is right when he says that leaving cash behind when you pop your clogs can cause family feuds - but only if you don't plan who you want to leave your money too. A bit of forward thinking - gifting money away before you die and drawing up a solid will - and the former motor racing boss can make sure his wife and kids won't come last in the money race.”

“I’m definitely a spender,” the footballer Robbie Savage told The Telegraph recently. “For me if I’ve got it, I spend it. If I’m broke in five years, I’ll have had a great time. It’s the most difficult lesson I’ve had to learn about money: you can’t take it with you. I like spending on cars, clothes, food and wine – the nice things in life. Even though I’m a spender, I’m also a grafter and I work exceptionally hard to keep it coming in. I’ve had people have a go at me for this, but I’ve had some unforgettable experiences because of my work ethic.

Advice from Kirsty MacDonald, spokesperson for accountancy practice Jackson Stephen LLP:

“There is no doubt that Robbie is one of the hardest working sports professionals in the UK. He is rarely out of the media spotlight what with his punditry work, newspaper columns and lycra clad manoeuvres following his SCD appearances. But relying on always being able to work to maintain a lifestyle is dangerous. Robbie should know that it only takes one false move in the media and he may never work again. Such a risky strategy should be balanced with a contingency plan to cover some income for a period of time in the event of catastrophe.”

“I’m a definitely a spender,” the former Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt told The Telegraph in January. “ I’ve never been one to save. I live for the moment and I’m fairly extravagant when it comes to people around me. In the past, I could not resist buying cars. I had a stable full of them – American cars, sport cars, limousines, everything. I spent hundreds of thousands on them. I had about eight or nine at any one time. The cars were just strewn all over the drive. I’d come out every morning, look at the weather and think, what car should I drive today?

Advice from Jasmine Birtles, founder of moneymagpie.com:

“Rick and other ageing rockers wouldn’t need to keep touring if they cut back on their spending and put the money instead into solid investments that grow over time and give them a regular income. It’s nice to be in a position to spend on the things you love but it’s a bit pointless spending so much that you have to keep working just to feed your spending habit. I always tell people to think about what they love and spend on that but save on things that don’t matter so much so that you can put money into savings and investments to work for you.”

“I am an unashamed spender,” former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis told The Telegraph. “I love shopping and I love the idea of a bargain and will shop online or in stores. We have a good lifestyle and don’t deprive ourselves of good holidays. I have in the past maxed out on credit cards and store cards, which I wouldn’t advise anyone doing. It was fun at the time, but in terms of how much you have to repay, it is ludicrous how much they charge.”

Advice from Jo Gornitzki, a spokesperson for MoneySavingExpert.com:

“As any girl knows there's nothing better than a bit of retail therapy every now and then. But the former Blue Peter presenter should be wary of maxing out on her cards. Credit cards are great - used in the right way. Used wrongly and they can end up costing you a fortune and in a mess that sticky back plastic just can't fix.”

“I’m definitely a spender, although I’m not an impulsive spender,” the James Bond actor Roger Moore revealed to The Sunday Times. “If I go shopping, I usually know what I want before I go out. I’m not a very good saver because the lessons my father tried to instil in me about taking care of money had the opposite effect. I carry cash in my pocket as I always like to have it to hand, which means it also disappears easily as I spend it more quickly.”

Advice from Kirsty MacDonald, spokesperson for accountancy practice Jackson Stephen LLP:

“As James Bond, Roger Moore became iconic as a smooth operator. But there is nothing smooth about the way he is handling his cash here. There seems to be no control over it at all. Whilst it’s hard to be sympathetic with multimillionaire film stars, Roger’s cash leakages are probably losing him a lot more than he realises.“

“I've got some savings for a rainy day, but I don't bother looking to see if I might get a better interest rate elsewhere,” the comedian Justin Lee Collins revealed in an interview with The Telegraph. “I don't have the time or the inclination to shop around at the moment.”

Advice from Jasmine Birtles, founder of moneymagpie.com:

“The sad thing is that Justin is at an age where even relatively small amounts of money put into a good investment like stocks and shares will grow into something really impressive in later life. The younger you are, the more time your investments have to grow and so the bigger they will be when you retire.

“The earning-power of a comedian can be volatile so it’s helpful to have a serious cash cushion to dip into in the bad times and help invest in your career to push it one when it seems to be faltering. It’s true that shopping around for a better savings rate right now can seem pointless but if you’re willing to tie your money up for a few years there are some good deals to be had, particularly in the peer-to-peer companies like Zopa, Ratesetter and Funding Circle. You can get, on average, between 4.5 and 5.5% with those at the moment, which is significantly better than ordinary savings accounts.”

“I’m definitely a spender,” the international playboy Howard Marks recently told The Telegraph. “When I was growing up I wondered what it would be like to win the pools. The prize money was something like £75,000. Later I had much more than that, with cardboard boxes of cash under my bed. I was very, very flash with my spending. I would fly first class, stay in five-star hotels, buy fast cars, big cars. I don't regret investing more wisely - I enjoyed it all.

Advice from Jo Gornitzki, a spokesperson for MoneySavingExpert.com:

“While I don't blame Howard for splashing his cash, the former drug smuggler and author should make sure his fortune won't go up in smoke. Yes, you should enjoy your money, but also make sure you have enough to last in old age.”


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