Teamwork: Clare Nasir with DJ husband Chris Hawkins
The best money decision the meteorologist and TV presenter Clare Nasir ever made was marrying the BBC radio DJ Chris Hawkins.
The 52-year-old tells Donna Ferguson that her husband, who is 46, is so good at handling the household finances, he is like the BBC Radio 6 Music equivalent of money-saving expert Martin Lewis.
The couple live in Cheshire with their daughter Sienna, and Clare is a patron of the environmental charity Word Forest Organisation.
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be generous to a fault. They taught me that there is more to life than money. When I was very young, my dad was a car mechanic and my mother was a nurse. My father went on to run a business and my mother became an HR director for an NHS hospital.
They had humble beginnings, but both did incredibly well. When I was growing up, money was tight. I don’t really want to go into the details, but we were significantly affected by the recession of the early 1990s when interest rates went through the roof, and companies failed and went bankrupt.
I remember asking for free school meals at some points. Today, a lot of people are hovering around the poverty line and that’s something I can really relate to. It was a long time ago, though, and I never went hungry. I don’t think it was something which badly impacted me. My family is very tight. We don’t really need much to be happy.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
I don’t think so. But when I joined the Met Office after finishing my master’s degree, I went into my overdraft regularly. I earned a fairly basic wage and was renting in London. I wanted to drive a decent car, buy nice clothes and live a fun, brilliant life. So I always wanted an extra tenner in my pocket.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Working in TV, you can get paid a lot for public appearances and you can get amazing freebies, too, for example being flown first class to Los Angeles or New York for photoshoots.
The silliest money I ever earned was for a piece to camera about environmental issues for a big energy company. It took me an hour and they paid the equivalent of a month’s wages.
What was the best year of your financial life?
It was last year. I’ve developed a portfolio career so I’m not beholden to one organisation. My main job is my work for the Met Office and Channel 5, but I pick up corporate work all the time. I’ve got a green screen at home and we’ve built a TV studio.
The most expensive thing you bought for fun?
When my daughter was nine months old, I spent £25,000 in cash on a three-bed, second-hand caravan. It was next to the seaside, near Whitstable in Kent. Kate Garraway [the TV presenter] would bring her kids down, too, and it was wonderful.
We sold it two and a half years later when my husband’s job at the BBC moved North and we relocated to Cheshire. By then its value had deteriorated so we got half of what we’d paid.
When I asked my husband afterwards whether we should get another caravan, he said absolutely not. In effect, we spent £12,000 on those caravan holidays over two years – we might as well have rented every time. It was heaven, but very costly.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Not opting into the pension scheme when I joined GMTV. I thought it wasn’t worth it as I didn’t think I was good enough to last a year. There were so many talented people coming through the ranks and television is a fickle industry.
It was a stupid mistake. In the end, I was there for 11 years. All that time, I saved into a private pension and didn’t get any employer contributions.
The best money decision that you have made?
Marrying my husband, the DJ Chris Hawkins, because he is brilliant with money. He’s the BBC 6 Music equivalent of Martin Lewis and manages our household bills incredibly well.
We got married in 2005 and the first thing he did was to pay off my credit cards. He hated the fact that I was only paying the minimum amount each month.
I had so many different types of insurance policies, and Chris streamlined all of them and saved me a lot of money.
Do you save in a pension or invest in shares?
I invest a lot of money in pensions. I want to have security and a good lifestyle when I’m older.
I don’t invest in the stock market outside my pension. I’ve never looked into it. I realise many people find it interesting and make money out of it but it has passed me by. Maybe I’ve been looking at the clouds for too long.
Bright outlook: Clare, who joined the Met Office after finishing her master’s degree, gives a weather forecast on ITV1
Do you own any property?
Yes. We own two houses in Cheshire. We rent out one and live in the other.
The house we live in is a large four-bedroom property in central Wilmslow, which we bought a year ago. We have renovated it so we have increased the floor plan by a third and it’s definitely gone up in value.
The one little luxury you treat yourself to?
A nice bottle of red wine. I will happily spend over £30 on a decent bottle of Barolo every couple of months, but I do it sneakily so my husband doesn’t know how much I paid. I’ll just not tell him.
But at the same time, I would be very upset if he drinks more than half the bottle, thinking I’d only spent a tenner, so I normally only drink it when he goes away!
If you were Chancellor what would you do?
I would nationalise all the railway network and invest into it so that no one had to spend more than a tenner on any journey, and I would ensure it was all fuelled by renewable energy. I would also increase wages for railway workers.
The biggest frustration for me, trying to conduct business in London, is the train service. Trains keep getting cancelled and the prices are ridiculous.
We need a decent service so that people don’t have to jump in their car and use huge amounts of petrol getting around the country, when we’re trying to get to net zero carbon emissions.
The solution is a nationalised system where profits are not being made and every citizen has a right to a seat.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes, I am a patron of the Word Forest Organisation, an environmental and education charity that works to combat climate change and global warming.
They are based in Britain but do great work in Kenya, planting forests and building schools. I donate to this charity and try to do my bit for them, too.
What is your number one financial priority?
To ensure my family is safe – and that when I’m not around, my daughter has the financial freedom to make choices that mean her life is amazing.
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