Famous Names: Carrie Grant is married to former pop star David Grant
Singing coach and singer Carrie Grant would divert money from energy companies to give more money to children with special educational needs if she became Treasury Secretary.
Grant is married to former pop star and fellow vocal coach David Grant and they became household names on the BBC reality show Fame Academy in 2004.
The couple has four children with special educational needs and their book, A Very Modern Family, discusses the mental health challenges they have faced.
Carrie, 57, tells Donna Ferguson that her greatest luxury is having an entire fridge stocked with fruits and vegetables and that she would rather spend money on a salad than a manicure.
What did your parents teach you about money?
Save. My parents separated when I was seven, so I spent most of my childhood alone with my mother. She was a secretary, but also did weekend work as a waitress and piece work that companies had to do at home. My older brother and I glued crochet hooks to the fronts of magazines while Mom was at work.
My father, who was a factory stock inspector, paid Mum £2.50 a week in child support. Money was tight until Mom remarried when I was 13. She literally made us walk two miles because there was three pence from a can of beans in a certain supermarket. At Christmas you unwrapped a present and she wrapped it and rewrapped it for someone else. My brother and I are laughing about it now.
Have you ever had trouble making ends meet?
Yes, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when interest rates skyrocketed. David and I were both self-employed artists, so we didn’t have a normal mortgage. We had to pay what was then an insane amount every month – £1,100. All the houses around us in Alexandra Palace, North London, went into negative equity, so we couldn’t even sell.
David or I would go to work singing backing vocals in the West End and we’d look for change in the back of the sofa for tube tickets so we could do that session and earn £125. Friends brought us groceries because we lived on pasta. Those were very stressful days.
Although David had about 15 hit records in the 1980s, he was not selling any records at the time. If you’ve been a pop star, people assume you don’t want to sing on other people’s records. You are too successful to get work, but not successful enough to have hits. You end up in a no man’s land and have to reinvent yourself.
Have you ever been paid stupid money?
Yes – for a PC World ad in the mid-90s. We sang ‘Where in the world? PC World’ and were paid £150 each for an hour’s work.
But the royalties paid our three-year mortgage: £6,000 each, per annum.
What was the best year of your financial life?
We were both judges on the BBC reality show Fame Academy in 2004 and we also released a vocal coaching DVD and book, which is still the best selling vocal coaching book in the world.
I’m not sure how much we made, but it was definitely more than six figures. It was a wonderful period of seven or eight years.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought for fun?
Our two turquoise sofas from Heal’s costing £2,500 each in 2003.
What’s your biggest money mistake?
Not keeping up with my kids’ interests.
All four have special educational needs, such as ADHD and autism. When you have children who are neurodivergent, they often have very intense special interests, which always have a limited shelf life.
I’ve spent £200 on Pokemon figures so they can decide they hate Pokemon a week before their birthday.
The best money decision you’ve made?
Bought our seven bedroom house in North London in 2002 for £525,000. It has a pool and is now probably worth five times what we paid for it.
Harmony: Carrie Grant became a household name when she appeared on the BBC’s Fame Academy with David above
Do you have other properties?
We own two rental properties in North London: a four bedroom house and a two bedroom apartment. Every time I see the accountants they ask if I run a charity because we don’t charge nearly enough rent. We are not money oriented, we are people oriented.
Are you saving for a pension?
No, because we have real estate and I don’t want to live in a seven bedroom house when I’m alone with David. That would be an absolute crime. So we hope to have the capital of our house and other property to cover us in old age.
That one little luxury you treat yourself to?
A refrigerator that is just full of fruit and vegetables. Our kids grew up with us and never say no to that fridge and have brilliant diets as a result.
If I can eat mango or lychee, I feel spoiled. Growing up, we had a moldy apple in the fruit bowl and that was it.
Do you ever spend money on yourself?
I’m absolutely horrible about that – I haven’t been to a hairdresser since January. I cut and dye my own hair and do my own nails – I’m not interested in manicures. That feels wasteful. I’d rather spend my money on a cos lettuce.
If you were chancellor, what would you do first?
I would provide more resources to our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) communities, by taxing the windfall that gas and electric companies have received.
Our kids go to public schools and some of them have been really abandoned in the past. Local authorities will fight you tooth and nail not to take care of your children. I run a support group for over 200 families, so I know the services aren’t there for SEND kids. It breaks my heart.
What is your first financial priority?
Our children. Only 20 percent of autistic people are employed, so what happens to our children after we’re gone is a major financial concern for their parents. We are already thinking about what to post.
- A Very Modern Family: Stories and Guidelines for Nurturing Your Relationships is published by Little Brown.
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