‘I used to earn £150,000 but had a disrespect for money’

Tim Mercer

Tim Mercer says launching his own company has given him a healthier regard for money. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Northedge Photography

Name: Tim Mercer
Age: 49
Income: Circa £80,000 plus bonuses
Occupation: Chief executive of a technology business in Halifax

My relationship with money has changed dramatically over the years. I was brought up on a council estate and joined the army when I was 16. I felt quite rich as all I needed was beer money. After six years in the forces I moved into sales, selling telecoms and data network services and taking home about £150,000 including commission.

My wife and I had a lavish life. I splashed out on flash cars, expensive suits and going out. We spent a lot on a barn that was far too big for us. I had a disrespect for money.

Then in 2013 I put everything on the line when I decided to launch my own telecoms company. We sold the house and the cars and raised £200,000 to cover the shortfall in wages for the first four years. Those were scary times but I had a strong gut feeling it would work.

For years it was a struggle, especially as the cash was running out. Thankfully the risk paid off: my company, Vapour Cloud, now employs 20 people in Halifax, and turnover is set to exceed £4m this year. That whole journey led me to have a healthier regard for money.

A decade ago, our joint income totalled about £200,000. But after starting the business, we had to learn to rely on about £80,000. Our first daughter was an IVF baby and it took three chances for her to be conceived. After that struggle, the pair of us made a conscious decision for my wife to stay at home and support the family.

Now I’m earning good money again, so things are more comfortable. I take £80,000 out of the business plus a bonus. The salespeople earn more than me but they are the guys who make the money for the business. I feel it’s important that the boss isn’t taking all the money out.

We rent a four-bedroom house as we don’t have enough money to buy a property. However, in the next 12 to 24 months we’re looking to take cash out of the business to buy a house. I doubt it will be as big as the five-bedroom barn we used to live in. Our rent is about £1,500 a month. I’m not sure how much bills come to – maybe £600 a month. But I don’t know for sure; I stay away from that. When it comes to food shopping, we like to eat well. Our food bill is about £250 to £300 a month.

I plan to upgrade our cars in the next 18 months – we have an Audi A6 and a 10-year-old Lexus 4×4. We’ll probably buy a Land Rover as the family car, then I might treat myself to an electric Porsche, which would cost in the region of £100,000.

Once a year we visit Miami for two weeks as my sister-in-law lives there, so we don’t have to pay for accommodation. Saying that, it’s not cheap when we’re there, but the children love it.

When you’re a salesperson you think you’re the bee’s knees, so I was always buying expensive clothes such as handmade suits. I still love fashion and I like to dress smartly for work but, back in the day, I’d splash out on labels such as Armani and Versace. But those days are gone. Although I did just buy a new velvet Boss tuxedo for £800, I won’t spend £2,000 on a jacket any more. I now only buy clothes when I need something.

It’s my 50th birthday this year and I’m planning to book an adventure trip through my cousin’s company, the Extreme Leaders. It offers trips such as trekking to the north pole. That’ll cost me £5,000-£10,000. I hope to raise money for a charity such as the Fertility Foundation.

I’ve developed a healthier relationship with money. Before I’d spend without thinking; now I’ve calmed down and think about the future. I have life insurance, which costs £225 a month, and a pension. My dad died of a heart attack when I was 13, and it’s made me conscious about being fit. I want to see my kids grow up. When my dad left, we were goosed. We lived in a council house and mum worked part time. It was a struggle. I want to build a substantial pot to ensure everyone is looked after.

[“source=theguardian”]