Television vet Dr Scott Miller paid £20,000 for a holiday in the Maldives last year, but was unable to go because he caught Covid.
Miller, who regularly appears on ITV show This Morning, said that the only upside of his holiday ‘nightmare’ was that for quite a while he was unable to smell anything unpleasant while carrying out his clinical duties as a vet.
Australian-born Miller, who lives near Woking in Surrey, is veterinary ambassador for Petsure, an insurer that provides cover to pets with pre-existing conditions.
Paradise lost: TV vet Dr Scott Miller, who regularly appears on ITV show This Morning, paid £20,000 for a holiday in the Maldives last year, but was unable to go because he caught Covid
What did your parents teach you about money?
That it doesn’t grow on trees. I grew up in a working-class family in Brisbane, Australia. My dad worked in insurance while my mum worked as a cleaner and then went into sales.
They were ‘Ten Pound Poms’, migrating to Australia in 1967. My parents were good at saving and despite having fairly ordinary jobs we still had a great life and were able to come back to the UK a couple of times.
That ingrained in me the fact that you can live a good life without spending loads of money.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, while I was studying to be a vet at university.
It took six years and I had to pay for rent, books and food by working in the evenings in pubs and during the holidays as a lifeguard at a water park. Like other vet students, I could only afford to buy one pair of shoes a year.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Yes. I took part in a dog festival where all I had to do was chat to people about my experiences and answer a few vet-related questions.
I was paid a good few thousand pounds for a day of my time.
Australian-born Miller, who lives near Woking in Surrey, is veterinary ambassador for Petsure, an insurer that provides cover to pets with pre-existing conditions
What was the best financial year of your life?
It was 2019. I was doing a podcast, several TV shows and carrying out ambassadorial roles, as well as all my clinical work as a vet.
My parents taught me not to talk about how much I earn, but it would be fair to say it was a six-figure sum.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
It was an all-expenses paid five-star family holiday to the Maldives for about £20,000 in October last year.
My wife and I have four kids and we hadn’t been on holiday since our youngest was born three years ago, primarily due to the pandemic.
Sadly, a week before the planned holiday, I got Covid and couldn’t travel. So, rather than being on a beautiful desert island, I felt rather rough sitting on the wrong side of a plastic wall that my wife had erected in our hallway at home.
The day I tested positive was a nightmare. I realised I had lost my sense of smell and took a lateral flow test. When I showed the result to my wife, she cried. We managed to postpone the trip and plan to go later this year.
Are you fully recovered now?
I’d say I’m at 90 per cent – I’m getting there. Unfortunately, I have definitely recovered my sense of smell which is no great thing when you’re a vet. I was actually enjoying it when I couldn’t smell anything.
What is your biggest money mistake?
When I first qualified as a vet, I bought a Nissan car on credit that cost more than my annual salary. I was incredibly naive. I was persuaded by the salesman who told me I could afford the monthly payments.
I came over to the UK a year and a half later and ended up selling the car at a near 60 per cent loss. So it wasn’t the best investment I ever made.
Wrong turn: Miller’s worst money decision was buying a Nissan car on credit which he sold after a year and a half at a 60% loss
The best money decision you have made?
Getting on the property ladder in 2005. I bought an amazing two-bedroom, dual aspect, penthouse apartment in Shoreditch, Central London – with lots of outside space.
Shoreditch was rather rough around the edges back then, compared to the way it is now, so I only paid £445,000 for it. It was an incredible bachelor pad.
I had saved a £95,000 deposit over the previous six years by living frugally and staying in a flat above the vet practice I worked at, so I didn’t have to pay rent. I also managed to borrow an incredible amount, considering what I was earning at that point as a vet.
This was before the 2008 credit crunch. Being self-employed, I could self-certify my income – and maybe I might have slightly stretched the truth.
I remember after making the first mortgage payment living on baked beans because I had little money left. I couldn’t even move in for a year – I rented it out until I could afford to live in it, and then I got a lodger.
It’s bonkers when you think about it. Anyway, when I sold the apartment six years later, it had nearly doubled in value.
Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?
Yes, I have a works pension that I pay into and I’ve got shares in a technology company that specialises in green energy.
I’ve always been a conservationist at heart and care about the Earth, so that green investment makes a lot of sense to me. I’m also a part owner in three veterinary practices. I see that as a kind of retirement plan.
Do you own any property?
Yes, my home near Woking. We bought a house three and a half years ago for just under a million pounds that was a little unloved.
We have transformed it into a lovely big house with more than enough room for all the kids. It’s got six bedrooms, a gym and a swimming pool. I definitely think it has gone up in value since we bought it.
If you were Chancellor what would you do?
I would make sure that multinationals such as Apple, Google and Amazon were taxed properly. It’s a disgrace that some huge companies pay virtually no tax.
As a modern-day Robin Hood, I would then use that money to fund government loans for struggling small businesses.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes, I donate to a number of charities. One that is really important to me is Street Paw, which provides free vet care to dogs owned by homeless people.
What work do you do with insurer Petsure?
There have been times in my career when I have seen animal patients develop a long-term medical condition. This means their owners cannot change pet insurer because other providers will not cover a pre-existing condition.
It can result in their insurer ramping up premiums year-on-year without any conscience. I see the owners struggle financially and it’s really upsetting. It’s dreadful for them and heartbreaking for me as a vet.
What Petsure is doing is allowing owners whose pets have pre-existing conditions to have a choice – stick with their insurer or move to it. This is a choice they deserve to have.
What is your number one financial priority?
Making sure my four kids, aged between three and 12, can do absolutely anything that they want to do and fulfil their potential.
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