Paralympian Will Bayley was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that affects all four limbs, and was diagnosed with cancer when he was seven.
He started playing table tennis during his recovery and then represented Great Britain at the Paralympics, made the world rankings in 2012 and won a silver medal in London that year.
The athlete, 32, took part in the TV show Strictly Come Dancing last year. He is a great supporter of Great Ormond Street Hospital for children and the NHS heroes fighting the corona virus.
Profile: Table tennis player Will Bayley had his best financial year after appearing on Strictly TVs
What do you think of the postponement of the Paralympics?
From a personal perspective, I tore my knee band Strictly and it takes a year to recover from it, so I’m in rehab. An extra year will be great for me, but I know it’s shocking for a lot of athletes.
What have your parents taught you about money?
Frankly not much. They broke up when I was one year old and I grew up with Mom.
She’s not very good with money and is the kind of person who, if she has money, spends it. Her attitude is: if it is there, it must be spent.
I’m more of a saver than she is – I try to live within my means, but I splash every now and then when I really want something.
I wouldn’t say I’m from a wealthy family. My mom is a beautician and my stepfather, whom I call my dad, was a photo booth engineer.
We were a normal working-class family and I had a good childhood, but I was aware that my parents often had money worries. I grew up with the idea that I don’t want to struggle as much as they do.
I suppose that taught me to respect the value of money. I know how hard it is to get.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, between 16 and 23 years old. I played table tennis professionally, but made no money. I lost it.
All I had to live on was a £ 5,000 annual grant from the Talented Athletes Sponsorship program. Happy,
I didn’t have to pay a lot of rent because I lived with my manager. To keep costs down, I sometimes only ate pasta.
I usually just had it with a little cheese. Several weeks I had it for both lunch and dinner. Those were difficult times.
But if you train from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm, it makes you happy and it is so busy that you don’t even think about not having any money.
Have you ever been foolishly paid money?
Yes. During the 2012 London Olympics, I did a number of well-paid jobs. One was a commercial for a hotel chain. They paid £ 15,000 for two days of work.
What was the best year of your financial life?
Probably in the past 12 months because I was strictly on it. I didn’t make a lot of money compared to what everyone made, but it was a lot for me.
The show itself didn’t pay as well, but I got more than usual for sponsorships and business speeches afterwards as a result of raising my profile. I really enjoyed the show.
I learned a lot about myself. Having to work with someone on a tight-knit team and performing under that pressure if you’re not good at something was hard, but it was fun too. However, I thought it was all a bit surreal.
What’s the most expensive you bought for fun?
My phone. It is the latest iPhone. It cost more than I spent on any other item in my life – I think about £ 1,000.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Not taking out travel insurance for the most expensive vacation I’ve ever booked in my life, which would happen next month. I spent £ 3,500 to fly to Spain and stay in the best hotel I have ever booked. I don’t know if I will lose everything or get some money back, but I’m definitely not going.
The best money decision you have made?
Come up the property ladder seven years ago.
I bought a two bedroom terraced house in Sheffield, near my training center. I wasn’t sure I could afford it, but I thought if I mortgaged my income I wouldn’t be able to spend it and then I would have a house.
When I sold it over a year ago it had increased in value by around £ 15,000.
Do you save in a pension?
No. Retirement seems a long way off and right now I’m just trying to take it every day as it comes.
In addition, based on my family’s medical history, I am not sure I will live that long. So I think I might as well enjoy life and spend money as long as I can. I don’t want to turn 65 and have £ 200,000 in the bank – I can’t enjoy it anyway, right?
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
Absolutely not. I have no knowledge of the stock market and I would probably lose all my money. You must know what you are doing and I would have no idea.
Do you own a property?
Yes, my current home: a three bedroom bungalow in Brighton. Especially in the summer I like to live by the sea. I have no idea if it’s worth more than I paid for it.
Who knows what coronavirus will do to house prices.
If you were chancellor, what would you do first?
I would put even more money into the NHS.
I have used and abused that service a lot. The main priority should be to continue to fund the NHS – and to support the nurses, doctors and other personnel protecting us from Covid-19.
Do you donate money to a good cause?
Yes. I had cancer when I was seven years old and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London kept me alive.
So I try to do as much for them as possible – donate money every month. I owe them a lot.
What is your number one financial priority?
My two year old daughter. I want to take care of her and make sure she has a very nice life.
I want to make as much money as possible so that she never has to struggle again as she gets older.
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