Finance? Itís no mystery, says Toyah

Singer and actress Toyah Willcox is so mean her husband says that her purse screams if she opens it.

Toyah Willcox shot to fame during the punk rock era. Her appearances in Derek Jarmanís 1977 film Jubilee and the cult classic Quadrophenia launched her as an antiestablishment figure.

In the 1980s, she sang hits such as I Want To Be Free and Itís A Mystery. In 1983, she was voted Best Female Singer at the British Rock and Pop Awards. She has also starred in many West End plays, including Taming of the Shrew and Cabaret, and has recently started filming a drama for ITV2, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper. 

Willcox, 49, lives with her husband, the former King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, in Worcester. 

How much money do you have in your wallet? I have £100 which is about normal. I very rarely use cash, though Ė itís purely for emergencies. 

Do you have any credit cards? Iíve got three but I only really use one. I use the other two when Iím abroad Ė an Amex card for emergencies, and a Lloyds TSB Visa card which I use in France. 

My main card is a Marks & Spencer Mastercard which earns me points, which I use to renew my underwear drawer. It doesnít take long to collect points as I get through thousands each month on that card. 

Are you a saver or a spender? Iím a saver. My husband says my purse screams when I open it. I go through every bill Ė itís amazing to find so many things that shouldnít be there, like bank charges. I claimed back my bank charges even though it was only about £200. Itís the principle of it Ė Iíve been known to reclaim 1p. 

I have a savings account, a current account and a Lloyds TSB tracker savings account. 

How much did you earn last year? Iím earning more now than Iíve ever done. In terms of acting, singing and writing, I made around £400,000. I have just over £2m in investments if you include all my properties, but the income from that is about £75,000 a year Ė shockingly low. I think Iíll need an investment portfolio worth more like £8m to retire with the kind of lifestyle Iím used to now. 

Have you ever been really hard up? When I first moved to London at 18, I was living on £5 a week. I remember sharing an apartment with two drama students and pinching two brussels sprouts out of the freezer. The longest I went without food was three days. 

What is the most lucrative work you have ever done? Did you use the fee for something special? I did a Mum deodorant advert in 1986 that paid £40,000 a year Ė I think it ran for two or three years. It involved one dayís work with Griff Rhys Jones directing. I made two albums from that money. 

Do you own a property? I have two properties on the Côte díAzur which I rent out, and three properties in England. I also have three other properties with my husband. 

One of the French houses is a new-build. I rent it out to an IT firm. It cost me £200,000 but itís worth twice that now. 

I recently completed on the second. It was something that comes on the market so rarely, I pulled out every stop. 

I have two riverfront properties in the Midlands, which I bought in 1999 and 2000. I bought the first one for £147,000 then the one next door for £170,000. Theyíve tripled in value. My parents live in one and the family uses the other for holidays. 

I also have a one-bedroom house in Chiswick, which I will never get rid of because I canít envisage buying into London again. I bought it in 1994 and I use it as a work studio. 

My main residence is in Worcester with my husband. It is a six-bedroom Georgian house we bought in 2001. 

Do you invest in shares? I bought a £20,000 bond from Standard Life in 2000. I cashed in recently to buy the house in France. It was worth £1,000 more than my original investment, a poor return for six years. I also have premium bonds, but I cashed in £30,000 for the house in France, as well as about £10,000 from savings. I have a self-invested personal pension with Selestia into which I put £64,000 last year. Itís made £13,000 this year. 

Do you have any Isas? I have a cash Isa with Nationwide into which I put the maximum each year. 

Do you have a pension or other retirement plan? I have four but the highest performing one is with Legal & General. I havenít put anything into that since 1989, but itís grown beautifully every year Ė double digits, I would say. 

Do you believe pensions are a good thing? I think I could have made my money go 10 times further by investing in property. 

What has been your worst investment? The Standard Life bond was a complete waste of money. I could have bought a place in Sheffield for a little bit more. 

And your best? The place Iíve just bought. Itís already gone up by 100,000 Euro (£68,000) since February. 

Do you manage your own financial affairs? I have an accountant and advisers, but I choose where things are placed. 

What aspect of our taxation system would you change? I get very angry that hard working people get taxed as much as the billionaires. I would add another tax bracket for the ridiculously wealthy. 

Also, Iím a carer for my parents and I think carers in general should be helped out with tax breaks. 

What is your financial priority? To feel safe, especially when weíre living in such an unstable society. I worry that something awful may happen and then any wealth I have may not be worth much at all. Iím also worried about what Gordon Brown will do. 

Do you have a money weakness? I probably travel too much. I often just go off to places like Brazil or Ecuador to have a look at the property market. I like the idea of buying a house where nobody knows who I am. 

What is the most extravagant thing you have ever bought? I once bought a £2,000 emerald necklace after doing 74 performances of Peter Pan in Canterbury in 1994. 

Do you play the lottery? Yep. I think itís a fantastic charity. On opening nights, I put a lottery ticket in the good luck cards I send round to the rest of the actors. 

What would you do if you won? Probably give it away. 

What is the most important lesson you have learnt about money? I think you need to treat money like itís an alien from another planet. You have to learn its language. 
 

The Sunday Times,
12th August 2007