Fun money: Juliet Cowan just had the best year financially
Actress and comedian Juliet Cowan sold her home after panicking when her mortgage agreement ended and her home loan payments doubled overnight.
Cowan, who recently starred in the BBC’s hit shows All I Know About Love and Coming Back to Life, tells Donna Ferguson that the worst decision she ever made was to leave the staircase on the property. She now rents a three-bedroom house in west London with her two daughters, aged 22 and 15, two cats and a dog.
He will bring his stand-up show ‘F*** Off And Leave Me Alone’ to the Bush Theater in West London later this year.
What did your parents teach you about money?
That it is possible to live a full life and have children without knowing where next year’s income will come from. My dad found shipwrecks for a living, which is not a steady job. My mom used to do all the research for him, so she didn’t have a steady job either.
His job was a lot of fun, but his income went up and down. They were based on finding and selling items found in the wreck; they were allowed to keep a portion of the profits.
My dad used to say “I’m about to go bankrupt” all the time, but he never did and they found shipwrecks in the Isles of Scilly and Holland. There were times when our phones were cut off or we couldn’t go on school trips.
As an actor, my income fluctuates and, like my parents, I have lived through periods of partying and hunger. But my parents taught me that you can invent your own life and that has helped me cope.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes. About ten years ago, my mortgage payments doubled overnight because my fixed-rate agreement came to an end. I didn’t realize that all I had to do was call the mortgage company and say, ‘Can I go ahead with another deal?’ and then the payments would fall again. So I struggled for about six months, borrowing money, really freaking out.
It was horrible. She was so scared. For months, I had sleepless nights and anxious days. Then someone told me that I should call my lender and ask for a new mortgage. At that point, he had paid around £6,000 in additional interest payments. My lender probably messaged me about a new mortgage that I didn’t open. I think I’m very bad at managing my finances on a day-to-day basis.
Have you ever been paid dumb money?
Yes. In my line of work, you can go for months without earning anything and then do a voiceover for a commercial, which takes an hour and pays a few thousand pounds. It feels like wandering through a desert and seeing an oasis. I once got a lucrative one-year contract to do ads for Boots and they paid me enough for our entire family to live on for a year. Getting that contract was a huge relief.
What was the best year of your financial life?
Last year. In addition to my new stand-up comedy show about the similarities and differences between middle-aged women and teenage girls, I’ve been working on many exciting TV shows, including two BBC comedy shows, Am I Unreasonable? and Stuck, and a new drama for Amazon Prime called The Power. I’d rather not say how much I’ve earned, but it’s enough that I don’t have to worry about money for the year.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
A beautiful double-breasted black wool coat by Vivienne Westwood for £1,000, eight years ago. She wanted a coat that she could have forever and that, when she died, people would smell to remember me by.
What is your biggest money mistake?
I sell my house nine years ago. I got so scared that my mortgage payments doubled overnight that I decided to sell more and downsize. And then I was so manager-phobic that I just couldn’t face getting a mortgage elsewhere. I am now renting a three-bedroom house, which I think is a terrible move on my part.
Busy: Juliet has been working on many TV shows, including two BBC comedy shows, am I being unreasonable? and stuck (in the photo)
Best money decision you’ve ever made?
Have my three children. It has inspired me to work very hard and be ambitious. She turned me from a dreamy girl, wondering where her life would go, into someone who gets up quickly and gets things done.
Do you save for a pension or invest in the stock market?
I have a pension through Equity, the actors’ union. I only started saving when I was 38, so it’s probably not worth much. I don’t invest in the stock market. I’m not crazy about participating in that kind of lottery.
Do you own any property?
I have a coat Otherwise no. But I’m working out how much I can borrow on a mortgage and putting together a deposit. I’d like to buy where I rent, in West London, but I can’t afford it, so I’ll probably buy more in the West or North West.
What is the little luxury you give yourself?
Fragrance. I use Molecules, which is a perfume that smells different on each person who wears it. I like the idea that people smell it and think of me. A bottle costs £72 and lasts me over a year.
If you were chancellor, what would you do?
I would make sure everyone can pay their energy bills. Light and warmth is a basic human need. I can’t imagine that Liz Truss is doing enough and I don’t doubt people will die this winter.
What is your number one financial priority?
Collect the money to buy a house. I am working on that and I feel very excited about the future.
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