The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Amanda Mealing says always live within your means3 min read

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The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Amanda Mealing says always live within your means

  • Amanda Mealing, 52, from Cardiff, is best known for starring in TV’s Casualty 
  • She recalls being roughly in £10,000 worth of debt after she got married
  • She has since learned to live within her means and be frugal with money

Actor Amanda Mealing, 52, is best known for her role as Casualty’s Connie Beauchamp. She lives in Cardiff with her writer husband Richard Sainsbury, and their sons Milo, 20, and Otis, 17. 

I’ve been acting all my life — from the age of six. At 23 I was in Alan Bleasdale’s TV series Jake’s Progress, earning the same weekly wage I am now. But when I got married seven years later, I was roughly £10,000 in debt. I’d made the mistake of thinking the huge sums I’d been paid would never end.

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Growing up, money was always tight — my mother worked three jobs to get me through stage school — but legally my parents had to put away three-quarters of what I earned on programmes such as Grange Hill, so, at 18, I suddenly had access to a lot of money. That wrong-footed me, and I didn’t listen to my parents, who told me to be careful with it. I treated people to holidays, I bought designer clothes, I lived the high life. I didn’t invest in property or anything like that.

Then the roles dried up, but I was still spending in the same way.

When I met my husband Richard, he couldn’t understand how I could have earned that much money but still be in debt. But as well as an accountant who gave me bad advice, I was dreadful at managing my finances — spending money instead of putting it aside for tax.

Richard kindly paid off my debts and, because of this, we started our married life with absolutely nothing.

I learned to live within my means and even now I’m frugal; £100 is still a lot to me. But that’s no bad thing as in my industry, there are no guarantees: I may be working now, but I may never work again. Working with WaterAid I’ve seen first hand how a small amount of money can definitely change someone’s life.

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I’ve bought my children up to understand the value of money. My eldest always loved Lego but I’d make him do jobs to pay for the next piece he wanted. He’s at university now and managing his money well.

I think it’s an invaluable life lesson. If you’re lucky enough to be working, don’t assume money is neverending.

Amanda is supporting WaterAid’s Access Denied campaign as part of her role as ambassador for the international charity (wateraid.org).

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