Chef: Sophie Faldo was the winner of TV show, the Great British Bake Off, in 2017
Sophie Faldo, winner of Great British Bake Off in 2017, expects that she will never earn enough to be able to buy her own home.
The 35-year-old former soldier, who served in Afghanistan in her 20s, currently rents a home in Surrey with boyfriend David and cats Loki and Odin.
So far, winning the TV competition has not transformed her finances. Indeed, she says she actually earned more before she won the competition. She recently took part in another TV show, Travel With A Goat, where she accompanied a goat for three days from farm to slaughterhouse.
The episode is available to download from www.insight.tv.
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be careful. My mother is crazily frugal. She would look out for bargains in the sale and never buy premium brands. So from an early age, I learned about the value of money. She was a secretary while my father was an architect with his own practice.
When the recession hit in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it hit him quite hard and he had to close down his business. So our family went through some hard times, but I was quite young so I do not really remember being aware of it at the time.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, especially when I left the Army in 2012 and I was rowing full-time – doing an elite, high performance training programme. I was probably only earning between £100 and £200 a month from babysitting and teaching military boot-camps in my spare time. But I adapted.
I moved into a house-share in Surrey and had meals at the boathouse, which reduced my living costs. After seven months, I injured my back so had to stop.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Yes, since I did Bake Off I have earned thousands of pounds for short public appearances. Having said that, my best year financially was 2015 when I worked for a civilian defence company as a consultant and earned a comfortable five-figure salary.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Not investing in property when I could have. I should have bought in 2008 when I joined the Army but I did not.
The best money decision you have made?
Sophie says since she did Bake Off she’s earned thousands for public appearances
You would think Bake Off, but it has not yet turned out to be a particularly good money decision. I did not prepare myself to win and I was a little bit slow to think about how I could make the most of all the attention.
I am only now getting into a position where I could potentially reap the benefits of winning. I am hoping one day to set up a food-related business. I know that I have more chance for succeeding at that than usual because of the platform Bake Off has given me.
So my best money decision is probably investing in an education start-up via a crowdfunding website when I came back from Afghanistan. I have not really got anything back yet, but the company is starting to become profitable.
Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?
I used to invest directly in the stock market. But these days I save into a pension, because I think it is a sensible thing to do. I also have my Army pension.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
My Liv bike. It is worth more than my car. It cost £4,500 and has got electronic transmission gears, which makes gear changing a lot easier.
Do you own any property?
No. I am renting at the moment. The property in Surrey is crazy and overpriced. I would have to be earning ridiculous amounts of money to get a foot on the ladder where I live.
Luckily, my parents own their home, so one day I may inherit it. In my opinion, property is not worth the amount it currently sells for. As a result, I think it will become more normal to rent for your whole life in the future.
Do you think property prices will crash?
Inevitably, prices will come down, but I do not believe they will crash. A lot of people would be in negative equity if prices fell so I think the Government might decide to do something to prop up prices in that situation.
What is the one little luxury you treat yourself to?
Luxury handmade chocolate from Borough Market in London. I also recently spent a fortune on bespoke handmade chocolate in Belgium.
If you were Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the first thing that you would do?
I would probably increase funding for the National Health Service by closing corporate tax loopholes so that companies which make billions of pounds in profit do not get away with paying so little tax.
When I see the mess that a lot of people in the United States are in because they do not have state-funded healthcare, you realise how lucky we are to have it. People who work for the NHS are over-burdened.
What is your number one financial priority?
Paying my rent. That is what takes up the biggest chunk of my wage packet.
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