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Pairing: Neil Jones with actress Nina Wadia
Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones says the best decision he ever made was investing in cryptocurrencies.
The professional dancer – who has been paired with EastEnders actress Nina Wadia in this year’s series – also tells Donna Ferguson how she fell asleep when she unexpectedly became homeless while dancing in Finland.
A few years later, after winning the World Latin Dance Championship, he could earn five points for a 15-minute performance.
After splitting from fellow Strictly dancer Katya Jones after six years of marriage, the 39-year-old now rents a flat in Wembley, north London.
What did your parents teach you about money?
My dad wasn’t much for me, but my mom taught me to work hard for it. She was always telling me to get any job I could – basically not to sit on my back. She also believed a lot in savings. When I was four years old my parents divorced. My father was in a tank regiment in the army. She didn’t contribute much, so my mother raised me and my three siblings alone.
She worked three jobs at once: she was a caregiver, manager of a snooker club, and a cleaner. She used to work a lot all night sometimes. Money was definitely tight. We were always looking at the money and knew how much money we had. But my mom did everything we needed to make sure it was there. She was a great cook and didn’t waste anything. She was often frugal, but she was also a positive person who taught me that anything is possible if I work hard enough.
Have you ever struggled to meet your needs?
Yes. The worst time in my career was when I was about 18 years old.
I followed my dancing coach to Finland so that I could continue my training. I worked part-time in catering and on construction sites taking on any job I could find to meet my needs. I was sleeping on a friend’s couch and one day I became homeless. I had nowhere to go, so I slept in a sleeping bag for a week.
It was winter, but I wasn’t too cold because the studio I trained in was inside an old warehouse. I managed to go inside and sleep there. I got food from a shelter during the week. I was too embarrassed to tell my mom, but shortly after I realized it wasn’t working with my coach and returned to the UK.
Have you ever been given silly money?
Yes. When I was 29, I toured Asia as a world dance champion and earned five points for each show. It was unbelievable. To earn the equivalent of my annual salary, I had to do only a few of those shows every week, only dancing for 15 minutes each time. My mother was very proud of me. But at the same time, she used to say: ‘When are you going to get yourself a real job and go on a show like Strictly?’ This was happening when I was competing.
Best year of your financial life?
That was 2013. He was at the peak of my competition. I had become world champion many times by then and everyone wanted me and my partner to come and do a show. We would travel from one country to another to earn all these insane sums of money for our shows. But it was not about money. I dance because I enjoy it.
The most expensive thing you’ve bought for fun?
It was a white Toyota GT86 in 2013 for £35,000. I liked it because it reminded me of something from the action movie series Fast and Furious.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Buying things I don’t need. During the lockdown last year, I came to know that there are so many items in my flat which I hardly use. I started thinking, ‘Why do I have two TVs? Why do I have clothes that I rarely wear?’ I realized that I was buying things because I had money instead of investing it for the future.
Do you save in pension?
No I don’t. I lived in Hong Kong where saving in a pension is mandatory, but I stopped when I left my residence a year ago. The returns were not great and I decided to invest in cryptocurrencies instead. I put five digit totals in three currencies: bitcoin, ethereum and dogecoin. I want to invest in others as well. I just think that’s where we’re headed. Many people are now using very little cash. Overall, the value of my investments in cryptocurrencies has grown by a respectable four percent over the past year.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
Not at this time. I think when you invest in a company, you need to understand the people behind it. For example, if you invest in Tesla, you need to understand Elon Musk and watch his interviews. I don’t have time to do this at the moment.
Do you have any property?
No. I am renting in Wembley, North London and am happy to do so. I’m considering buying a buy-to-let property outside London, perhaps rural somewhere in the north or in Wales – somewhere I can get good rental income as well as capital appreciation.
Personally, I look at property as an investment. Home to me doesn’t mean putting pictures on the wall or being my own space. Wherever I am there is only one home. One day I plan to settle down in the village and buy a house – near a lake, a river or the sea. But I am in no hurry to find that place.
What is that luxury that you adore yourself?
When I travel, I always fly business class. It makes a plane trip a really relaxing time.
What would you do if you were chancellor?
I will put money in cinemas. I have watched so many shows and theaters closely because of Kovid. I will give more money to cinemas to make sure that doesn’t happen. it’s important…