Suzanne Shaw went from obscurity to millionaire status when she was chosen to become a member of Hear’Say. The band, formed in February 2001 through ITV reality show Popstars, enjoyed huge success before announcing their split in October 2002.
The meteoric rise proved to be a big adjustment for Suzanne, who struggled to manage her new-found wealth. The Dancing On Ice star spent £1million in a year and a half, including £20,000 on clothes in just three months.
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“It was extremely dramatic,” she told the Telegraph of the financial change. “As a band we got a million-pound record deal. I had just turned 19 and over the next 18 months all five of us in the group made about a million pounds each.
“… I didn’t know how much I earned, and I remember saying to my accountant at one point, ‘I really need to get a computer and a camcorder, can I afford it’ And she just laughed at me and said, ‘Of course you can’.”
The 32-year-old admitted, “That was the worst moment for me, because then I just blew my money with no regard to tax nor regards to investing properly in property. I just thought, ‘This is going to last forever.’
“I had a credit card with around 40 grand on it, and at one point my accountant told me I’d bought £20,000-worth of clothes in the space of three months, and none of it was even designer.”
At the height of her profligacy, Suzanne went through three cars in six months, and even sold a brand new motor after just one day.
“… Once I bought this brand new Suzuki Vitara straight from the showroom, drove it for a day, decided I didn’t like it and the following day drove it to a BMW garage and said, ‘Can you buy this off me, and I want a BMW please’,” she revealed. “I was totally naive and had no idea that by driving a brand-new car out of a showroom I’d lost thousands of pounds already.”
When Hear’Say split after 18 months together, Suzanne had to confront debts of £200,000.
“I felt like a total failure. I remember my dad screaming at me, ‘Why did you not sit down and talk to us’ At that point I had literally nothing to show for my efforts.”
Happily, Suzanne has now managed to “pay every penny back”.
“There were stages where I was literally working to pay back with nothing to show for myself but I’ve built it back up gradually and I’ve been able to get back on the mortgage ladder,” she said.
“And this time I want to do it right so that my nine-year-old son, Corey, doesn’t follow in my footsteps, because the stress, and the depression that I got from being scared of picking up the phone to debt collectors and all of that, it really, really impacts your life.”