How I became a millionaire
A candle loses nothing if it is used to light another
By Mirela Sula
Gill felt completely in the flow when she started to motivate people to take action about money. After her life experience and a variety of courses, she knew it was coming. It was the moment when she drew a picture of what life is about and it was a picture of herself throwing open the gates and everyone was able to come through. She believed it and decided to concentrate on this. “The life purpose, if you have one, it doesn’t come at the first go” she says. Gill was able to formulate it when she started to light the spark… she started lighting a candle for herself and then realised that she was able light other candles as well.
Gill has worked hard for 10 years to find the tune of her mission and focus on this tune. “It gets condensed into the inner soul, in your genetic make-up – the clearer you get in your mission the easier it is”. Gill and her father came into this world exactly in the same house and the same circumstances, but the difference between them is that she decided to follow her own path and not the one that others told her to go down.
At a time of the world still recovering from the financial crisis, Gill believes that it is people’s job to start thinking about and taking responsibility for their future. If they don’t do that with their money then they will face penury, because very soon the state will not be able to support them. So her mission is to get everybody self-sufficient and looking after their financial situation.
Gill believes that everyone has the ability to save money and her formula is very accurate for people who want to learn and unlock their mental block – to understand the future value of money. “I always assumed everybody knew how to make money – they just chose NOT to” says Gill, therefore in this interview she shares her wisdom and knowledge with us, as an invitation to learn, earn and save more in 2016 and beyond.
How much do you think that you have been in control of your destiny and success and where has it been more by chance or luck?
We all think that luck plays a part – until we realise that it doesn’t! Luck is what happens when you prepare yourself, open your mind and make yourself aware of opportunities and then get in front of them – THEN by ‘luck’; something good happens. It’s like the front door of number 10 Downing Street – it doesn’t open until you step right up to the front door. If you hold back it stays shut – so bravery, commitment and positivity all contribute to produce luck. Opportunities are everywhere but most people don’t see them because they are blinkered to possibilities – it takes time to train yourself to see those opportunities for what they are. You then have to grab them – that’s when it looks like you’ve been lucky. I’ve been in control of my own destiny all my life. ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me!
I’ve been in control of my own destiny all my life. ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me!
How do you remember your childhood and what were the biggest lessons you learned?
I don’t really remember much of my childhood – and I suspect that I’ve blotted out much – I remember the amazing devotion of two relatives – my Auntie Emm (Mum’s sister) and then Uncle Denis (Dad’s brother). Neither of them was married and they both took on the role of ‘guardian angel’ to me and taught me love and value and total abundance. Neither of them had very much but they gave freely of what they had – truly abundant people.
A lot of people find excuses and blame others for not achieving things they want in life – how did you manage to not fall into this trap?
I’m not sure it ever occurred to me – I’ve always known that I am responsible for what I have – and even early on I would save a sixpence for the ‘future’ in a very un-childlike way. I think I was terrified I’d never see one again so I hid it just in case – it never occurred to me to spend it. So I learned very early on that if I wanted anything I had to get it myself. I was painfully aware that I was capable of much more than most people around me – so I always had the proverbial ‘old head on young shoulders’. For instance, I used to be left looking after my handicapped brother (who was 5 years older) from a very young age (4 or 5 myself) and I remember getting a coin out of his mouth/throat when he was choking once – I must have been about 6 .He could have died and I was the only one ‘in charge’. When you have that kind of upbringing you just get on with it. I spent most of my young life frightened of my circumstances – but it made me very independent and self-reliant.
Do you think that we are born with the ability to acquire and maintain financial wealth, (whether the family is rich or poor) or is it a skill that we can develop in life? How much is nature and how much is it nurture?
My view is that everyone is born with a love of money and an ability to handle it and ‘play’ with it but our society holds wealth in such a low regard that much of our cultural references (from Dickens to the Spice Girls) are about how bad and dirty money is. When we constantly tell young children not to touch money because its ‘dirty’ we are giving them the message to hate it. So most people are born with an open mind and for that they can always learn how to handle it, grow it, flow it, whatever but sadly as soon as you start instilling negativity the mind closes and it becomes too ‘difficult’. My mother was very proud of the fact that she didn’t like or want money – to her THAT was the virtue and she found my prattling about money embarrassing. As soon as you change your belief and mind-set about money – THEN you can be rich. And anyone can do it.
Do you remember any time in your life as an adult of being broke and can you tell us about that experience? If not, how do you think you would manage if you had a financial crash?
I’m very happy in a financial crisis – like the enforced situation in the Secret Millionaire – as I know exactly how to build wealth from the bottom up – with a penny. I relish any opportunity to be broke again as I love that early challenge more than some of the later ones. There are many challenges to having money just as there are challenges to having none – and I personally prefer the having none variety!
I’ve been ‘broke’ in terms of not having much money many times but I’ve never been ‘broke’ in my belief in my ability to create wealth from nothing and my ability to achieve if I want to.
I understand to my core that I have choices in what happens to my money – I can choose when to be rich and when to be poor – it’s in my control – and my ability is to deflect money to where I want it to go when I want it to go.
Many people find it difficult to succeed financially, or even be comfortable, or able to afford to buy a property, with prices so high. What would you advice would you give to these people?
People struggle and I accept that but every generation has this same struggle – and it’s just a matter of priority as to how they prioritise out of it. When I was starting I worked 5 jobs to get the deposit for my first house. I never spent any money and lived off scraps at the pubs where I worked. It was my priority to get myself started and I knew that every effort I made then would pay off – and I think most people today lack that vision as we’re not taught about the future value of what happens to money. If we start saving at day one – we need to save very little for eventual financial freedom- but if you don’t start until you’re 70 it’s too late. So making that superhuman effort very early on is worthwhile.
Not all people, but some people, won’t sacrifice the immediate gratification for future financial freedom. People won’t do without the latest gadget or shoes or booze or holiday – all these things are transient and are gone in a heartbeat and soon forgotten.
My advice is to set a big picture – a long term horizon and work towards that – and be prepared to make different choices for the long term gain. If people understood and believed that if they gave up £2 per day over a working life and saved/invested it they would be financially free and a millionaire by the time they retired – I think many more would do it but the necessary knowledge and belief isn’t there.
I guess you are approached by a lot of people who need your help – how do you respond to their needs?
At first I would give them money! But I have learned the hard way that money doesn’t solve money problems and I have given money repeatedly to some people – and they never learn because all I’m doing there is teaching them to get in to a mess which I then rescue them from again. The best thing I can give is knowledge – ‘Riches’, ‘Money Mum’ and any of the courses we run is a better gift than money ever could be.
I help with ideas and knowledge and information. Money isn’t what makes people wealthy – its knowledge that makes them wealthy. I can recreate my wealth at the drop of a hat – because I KNOW how to do it. So the money is transient – but the knowledge is key.
Money isn’t what makes people wealthy – its knowledge that makes them wealthy.
What were your best highlights and successes from your time of being a Secret Millionaire for the Channel 4 programme? What was the toughest part for you?
The toughest part for me was meeting the sort of people that I could have turned into if I hadn’t left the east end of London and turned my life around. I genuinely sobbed for some of the people that were ‘me’.
The highlight by far was proving to myself that even if all my money is taken away I would still be wealthy as I started the whole wealth creation ball rolling again during the two weeks filming – it was incredibly liberating! I realised then that wealth creation was a ‘knowledge’ I had acquired and understood – and nothing more. The programme also enabled me to understand how purposeful my life has to be. I realised making the programme that I had about 30 years to live and that every day that remains HAS to be a day on purpose or it’s wasted.
The programme made me realise how far I had gone from the humble beginnings and made me very grateful for my life. I also met some great people who I will stay friends with for ever. It was a humbling, life affirming and wonderful experience for me.
Can you tell us a little about your lifestyle – how is a normal day for you?
I rise very early – normally by 6.30 or 5. I drink loads of tea and sit at my computer and write and work all day – unless I’m going out. I have a very simple life – I forget to eat and forget to stop, particularly if I’m alone. I ‘drive’ myself hard every day and then go to bed early! A very simplistic existence – there are no ‘frills or thrills’ to my life! How dull is that!
Your experience has been that school was not necessarily important for your success. What is your advice to young people and parents anxious to achieve good grades and go to university?
Any education is a good thing as long as it teaches you to think and question and understand – because the more education we have the more our brain is engaged and we can learn more. The more we learn the quicker we pick up new things.
Be yourself – believe in yourself and think your own thoughts. People always listen when you talk sense and have ideas (because most people don’t) so it’s quite easy to distinguish yourself. Go the extra mile – smile once more, do one more task and be fast, focused, flexible and friendly!
Many business people don’t have time for their private life – how do you manage to balance both?
It’s all about focus and prioritisation. My mantra is:
“I ONLY do ONLY the things that ONLY I can do”
I get someone else to do everything else and I certainly don’t do things like cleaning and ironing and I haven’t done for many years. I focus only on spending my time on what’s important and who is important to me – nobody will ever remember that you did the washing but people will remember that you changed the world – or at least tried to.
Most people die wishing that they had spent more time with the people they loved – nobody every dies and says ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’ – so get focused on that big picture – and if you’re struggling to manage your time imagine yourself on your deathbed and remember what will be important to you then.
I don’t want to die thinking that I kept my house clean and I wore beige – I want to die at full pace knowing that life had been one hell of a ride!
Nobody will ever remember that you did the washing but people will remember that you changed the world
What have you not yet achieved in life that you still aspire to?
To change the worlds’ view of what money is – it’s purely a facilitation of life choice and personal freedoms. My mission is about freedom, not about money per se. Our lives are short – far too short to be chasing money – but money gives us the freedom to get on with the important things – being the best we can be – living our life purpose, loving, leaving a legacy, saving the planet etc.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Working on that mission still – getting ‘Money Mum’ into schools – making a difference and continuing always to ‘light the spark of financial possibility for as many people as I can get to in my lifetime.
About Gill Fielding
“Gill Fielding is a self-made millionaire with a no-nonsense, positive approach to finance and a personal mission to educate the nation in managing and improving their own financial position. She is best known for her appearance on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire when she gave away nearly £250,000 to good causes.
Gill is a naturally gifted presenter and a dynamic, humorous and motivational speaker who appears regularly on television and radio programmes and in the national newspapers. She has spoken in all five continents on macro-economic affairs, wealth creation, financial education and investing skills as well as on personal finance and motivational and inspirational topics. Gill is outspoken on the current state of the UK property market and is actively involved in the debate regarding the future of housing in the country.”