TV Star: Nicole Sealey of The Real Housewives Of Cheshire
Nicole Sealey, star of the TV series The Real Housewives Of Cheshire, is happy to spend up to £50,000 on a week’s holiday and lives in a six-bedroom townhouse with a swimming pool, gym and cinema.
Sealey started her own business in the male-dominated railroad construction industry when she was a struggling single mother of three – and went on to make a fortune. The 48-year-old, who once went to the supermarket to buy food for her family for a week on just £21, tells Donna Ferguson that failure was not an option.
She now lives with 39-year-old husband Joe Sealey, son of former Manchester United goalkeeper Les Sealey, in Wilmslow, Cheshire. This week, she’s starring in a two-part TV special to raise awareness about menopause. The Real Housewives And The Menopause airs tomorrow and Tuesday at 9pm on ITVBe and ITV Hub.
What did your parents teach you about money?
Don’t spend what you don’t have and don’t live beyond your means. My father moved from Ireland to Cheshire and started his own scrap metal business. My mother was a cleaning lady. They were only together until I was one.
I lived with my mother until I was seven and money was incredibly tight. Then I lived with my father. By this time, he had a highway repair business. We lived in a nice house with horses and stables and he had three cars. The recession of the 1980s hit him hard and he lost his business and all his money when I was 15. That was a big life lesson that stayed with me.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
After my divorce in 2005, I had a very hard time. I had built a successful business in railroad construction. I ran away from everything and started a new company in the same industry.
Then the recession of 2008 hit. As a result, my income did not match my expenses. I had three children under the age of five – I had my first child when I was 23. So failure was not an option.
I can remember going to the supermarket with £21 in my pocket and thinking that’s not much for a week-long grocery store. But you adapt. You make cuts. I was very confident and my circumstances forced me to work harder.
Have you ever been given ridiculous money?
Yes. As a result of doing The Real Housewives Of Cheshire, I’ve done a few personal gigs where I’ve gotten a lot of money. For example, recently I was at an event for just 20 minutes and got £10,000.
What was the best year of your financial life?
It was 2010. A client called me after being let down about a minor aspect of a huge multimillion pound rail project in London.
They asked for my help at short notice. I agreed, but I remember jokingly that the profit on such a small job wasn’t even enough to buy me a pair of shoes.
Anyway, for whatever reason, the deal for the entire railway project with the other company fell through. So the client came to me and said, can you deliver this whole job on extremely short notice? And somehow I succeeded.
That was a big turning point for me, a life-changing moment in terms of the money I made from my business.
It was a multi-million pound contract, we made a very good profit and I took home a high six-figure salary that year.
The most expensive thing you bought for fun?
Probably my silver Ferrari Portofino. I bought it about a year ago for £230,000. As soon as I saw it I decided to treat myself.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Buying a five-bedroom house on ten acres of land for £1.7m in 2008 – just before the recession. By then I had met Joe and my business was starting to thrive. I pushed myself to the limit and we bought it together. We sold it a few years later for around £1 million.
So we lost £700,000 in a very short space of time. It was just bad timing.
What’s the best money decision you’ve made?
Taking that job in the rail project in 2010. It would have been easier to pass that work on to someone else who would be better placed than me to deliver it.
But I didn’t, even though I really had to push myself to take my business to the next level — and go for it. Financially that was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Big spender: Nicole Sealey bought a £230,000 silver Ferrari Portofino
Do you save for retirement or do you buy shares?
Yes. I started retiring when I was 33. I see it as my backup plan. I invest in cryptocurrencies a bit with my husband, but I’ve been too busy to invest directly in the stock market.
It’s something I think I’d find interesting and fun, so I could invest in the future.
Do you own real estate?
Yes, my house, which I built, project managed and designed seven years ago. It is a six bedroom house in Cheshire with approximately half an acre of garden.
It is quite modern and contemporary, with a pool, gym and cinema room.
I paid £900,000 for the plot and building that stood on it. I can’t remember exactly how much we spent on the build, and I’d rather not say how much it’s worth now, but it’s valued at more than we spent on it. We made money on this property. I also have a number of properties in Essex that I rent out.
What little luxury do you treat yourself to?
When I’m not filming The Real Housewives Of Cheshire, I try to escape to Spain or the Maldives once a month. Somewhere I can go where I don’t have to talk to anyone and where I can just be on the beach with a book. I’ve spent anything from £2,000 to £50,000 on a week’s holiday.
What would you do if you were chancellor?
I would raise the threshold at which you pay income tax from £12,570 to £20,000.
Then I would introduce one rate of income tax for everyone, no matter how much they earned, and set that at 27 percent. You should not be penalized for making more money.
What is your top financial priority?
To make sure my business is profitable. If it’s safe, that means everyone in my life is too.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we can earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and use it for free. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.