Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable enjoyed the best financial year of his life in 2016, the year after he lost his seat as an MP.
Sir Vince, who was then re-elected in the 2017 snap election, stood down last week as party leader, but says he has no plans to retire.
Now 76, he lives in Twickenham, South West London, with his second wife Rachel.
Are you looking forward to your retirement?
Sir Vince will stay as an MP until the next General Election and will also continue writing books
I stepped down last week as leader of the Liberal Democrat party to make way for Jo Swinson, but I am not retiring as an MP until the General Election, whenever that is. Certainly I have no intention of retiring anyway.
I will keep busy writing books and doing other interesting things. Retirement is a banned word in my house. I am looking forward to having a bit more free time though.
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be prudent. They were not at all extravagant – we were always the last family to have a TV, car or washing machine. They always lived within their means and treated money with care.
I was born in 1943 and grew up with rationing. We lived in a small terrace house with an outside toilet, but eventually moved to a comfortable suburban house when my father’s career progressed. He became a lecturer at a technical college, teaching building trades, but both my parents started out as confectionery factory workers.
My father worked at Rowntree’s and my mother worked at Terry’s, before she got married and became a housewife. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of eating from little blue bags of chocolate waste brought home from the factory, just for me.
What was the first paid work you ever did?
Apart from a paper round, it was working as a milkman in the school holidays when I was 17. I cannot remember how much I earned, but it must have been something like £1 a week. I drove the milk float, collected the money and managed the accounts as well as delivering the milk. I enjoyed it despite the early mornings.
Sir Vince, who was re-elected in the 2017 snap election, stood down from the Liberal Democrats’ party leader last week. Jo Swinson, pictured, is the new party leader
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, after I got married at age 23. My parents and my late wife’s parents didn’t approve of our marriage – Olympia was Asian, from Kenya – and our parents had the traditional prejudices of their generation. They cut us off without a penny.
For several years we were very much on our own. We had a baby and so were dependent on my salary. But in those days, it was relatively easy to get work at a university if you had good academic qualifications. I got a job doing research and teaching economics at Glasgow University.
It was a reasonably paid, respectable job so we were never in real hardship, but we had no savings to fall back on. I got to know the bank manager quite well from running up large overdrafts.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Yes. I do not do a lot of after-dinner speeches but when I do, I can earn large sums just speaking for half an hour and entertaining people with anecdotes or some piece of wisdom about what is happening in the world. I can earn up to £10,000, although usually it is less.
What was the best year of your financial life?
It was 2016, the year after I lost my seat in Parliament. I was asked to do a lot of after-dinner speeches and I had a book published, so I received revenues from that. I was rather saddened, to put it mildly, when I lost my seat, but the income did comfort me.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
It was a valuable Bluthner grand piano that was more than a century old. I bought it in 1975 for my late wife who was a piano teacher and, at the time, it really stretched my finances.
It cost £700 which would be like spending £5,800 on a piano today. It was a wildly extravagant purchase, way beyond what we could afford and I bought it on an overdraft. But, of course, it made her happy and eventually we succeeded in paying off the debt.
She would play it for three or four hours a day. It made this beautiful, wonderful sound and I loved listening to her play. So it was a wonderful investment.
Sir Vince missed out on the housing boom when he moved to Glasgow in the early 1970s
What is your biggest money mistake?
I have not made any really egregious mistakes. We did miss out on the housing boom when we first moved to Glasgow in the early 1970s.
I took the decision that the boom was not going to last and it would have been a stretch to buy a house, so we rented instead. House prices virtually doubled in two years and that decision cost us dearly at the time.
The best money decision you have made?
Buying my home in Twickenham 45 years ago. It’s a three-bedroom semi-detached house and I bought it for £14,000.
We have extended it and it is now quite a big house which today is probably worth more than £1million.
Do you save into a pension?
Not any more, but I used to. I have built a good pension fund. I started saving into a pension when I was a lecturer in my early 20s because it was compulsory and saved throughout my life into a pension whenever I worked in the private sector. I have combined them all with my MPs’ final-salary pension scheme which I will receive when I retire.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
Yes, I have some savings invested, not a vast sum though. I pick the categories of the funds I invest in such as emerging markets and British start-up companies. In my job, I think it is important to have some direct involvement in the economy you are part of.
Do you own any property?
Just my home. I bought it primarily as a place to live in, not as an investment, but it has certainly proved to be a better investment than almost anything else.
I think it is bad for society that we have this system where young people find it extremely difficult to get housing. But, of course, it has worked out well for property owners like myself. I paid off my mortgage long ago and I am now sitting on a little gold mine.
What is the one little luxury you treat yourself to?
I grew up a cheapskate so when I go on holiday or have a break, I like to do it in style. Sometimes I am rather extravagant.
I like to stay in a little luxury country hotel and have decent transport. So, for example, I’ll try to fly business class. I will typically spend around £3,000 on each holiday, more when I go skiing. I learned to ski in my 60s and now go every year with friends to Courchevel in France.
If you were Chancellor what is the first thing you would do?
I would ease some of the financial pressure on key services such as schools and colleges.
You would need to put in several billion pounds to get them back to a reasonable standard of spending so that is the first thing I would do.
When I was in government, we had to combine financial discipline with maintaining good quality services and I think that in the last three to four years there have been severe cuts.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes I do, but probably not as much as I should. I donate to a couple of small local charities, one for children with autism and another for children with mental illness. Very often, if I get a fee from a talk or an article, I will make it over to one of those charities.
What is your number one financial priority?
Making sure my family and I are comfortable.