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TV's Nicholas Owen talks to ME & MY MONEY

Lucrative: Nicholas Owen says an agent helped him maximize his income

Lucrative: Nicholas Owen says an agent helped him maximize his income

Lucrative: Nicholas Owen says an agent helped him maximize his income

Broadcaster Nicholas Owen finds it hard to spend money on himself except when it comes to sports cars.

The former ITN Royal correspondent tells Donna Ferguson he started buying them when he was appointed newscaster in 1990 and currently owns a red Toyota GT.

He thinks home ownership is expensive and overrated, and he would rather rent. Now 76, he lives in a three-bed house in Surrey, which he bought 39 years ago for £85,000, and is an ambassador for The Children’s Trust.

What did your parents teach you about money?

Save. My father worked for Rothschilds, the famous investment bank. He worked there in various professions and later became responsible for communication. When I was young, he was described as a “bank official”. Money was tight and my parents were cautious, because they had to be. I remember he was paid on a Friday and he gave my mother money for cleaning. She was a stay-at-home mom.

I started saving for a pension as soon as I went to work for the Financial Times in 1972. I have now reached the age where I draw on that pension and my ITN pension. I never wanted to borrow large sums of money either, and I think my dad gave me that.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Yes, as a young journalist. I started working for my local newspaper in the mid-1960s when I was 17. I was paid seven pounds and five shillings a week. At first, I lived at home. Then I managed to earn some money self-employed and moved to a studio apartment as soon as I could afford the £3 a week rent. A little later, I managed to buy myself an extremely well put-together automobile which cost £35.

Have you ever been paid stupid money?

Yes. Working in the crazy world of television, there have been occasions where I have been paid quite well. Sometimes I think, ‘I didn’t really deserve this’.

I think I got lucky sometimes. I remember a week when I was on two shows, the BBC quiz show Pointless and the ITV show The Chase. The BBC paid me a few hundred pounds – not a lot – and the filming took place in a freezing studio. Later that same week ITV sent a really big car, gave me a really good lunch and a much higher fee. And that was fine because, of course, the BBC show was funded by the licensee.

What was the best time of your financial life?

It would be in the early 2000s. I was working for ITN as a news anchor and correspondent. We were paid well, so I earned a good salary. I also did a lot of additional freelance work.

It was the best financial decision I have ever made – deciding to earn some extra money outside of my main job, with the help of an agent. I remember that my accountant said to me at the time – as he told me again quite recently to my great surprise – “the tax authorities will be happy”.

The most expensive things you buy for fun?

Sports cars. When I was made a newscaster I decided to indulge a bit and have been driving a sports car ever since. I get a lot of pleasure out of it. More recently, I bought a brand new red Toyota GT. I don’t remember how much I paid for it.

What is your biggest financial mistake?

I guess it’s not about investing in the housing market by buying a property to rent it out. I probably missed a way to make lots of extra money. But I’m one of those people who never liked owning real estate.

I live in a three bed house in Surrey which dates from the 1870s and have spent a fortune extending and maintaining it since I bought it 39 years ago for £85,000. For example, every roof tile had to be replaced. I love where I live and feel lucky to live there, but I don’t really like owning things other than cars. Since I find owning even one house a nuisance, why would I want to own more? I don’t think people ever add up all the sums.

Best foot forward: Nicholas appeared on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2006

Best foot forward: Nicholas appeared on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2006

Do you want to live in a rental property?

Personally – and my wife and I strongly disagree on this – I would really like to live in a rented property. If the roof leaks, the owner will have to repair it. And if they didn’t, I wouldn’t care because it wouldn’t be my roof.

Do you invest directly in the stock market?

No. I have investments in the stock market, but I invest through my bank. I’m a firm believer in letting my fund manager take care of my money. I would rate my portfolio as medium risk and am happy with how it has grown over the years.

Do you like spending money on yourself?

I like to be generous with my friends and family. But when it comes to spending money for myself, I find it very difficult – except for sports cars.

If you were Chancellor, what would you do?

I would not go ahead with plans to increase corporate tax in April. I think that’s a mistake and a huge disincentive, especially for foreign investment in this country. So I would stop that and actually look for ways to lower that rate.

Do you donate money to charity?

Yes, at The Children’s Trust ( It is based near my home, and I have been fundraising and volunteering for this charity for many years. They help children with neurological disabilities or brain damage, sometimes as a result of an accident or an operation that went wrong early in life. I still identify with parents, being a parent myself.

What is your number one financial priority?

To make sure that my wife, if she is alive after my death, will be in a good position to continue the kind of life we ​​had, without worrying about money. This is my priority.

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