A Lesson from Martine McCutcheon

Actress Martine McCutcheon was declared bankrupt yesterday and thanked her Twitter fans for their support.  In a way I feel sorry for her, but largely I don’t.

According to the news article I read (and let’s face it, you have to take a lot of news with a pinch of salt) her debt amounts to £187,000, with her largest creditor being Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.  They are owed a reported £149,000 in tax.

So how much has Ms McCutcheon managed to earn, and enjoy spending, in order to owe that much in tax?  You do the math.

If that didn’t enrage people enough, further news reports suggest that, hours after declaring herself bankrupt, she was able to cheer herself up by getting some £550 hair extensions.

In a previous interview, the actress said: “I love nice things – I consider Ralph Lauren sheets to be a necessity, not a luxury – but I’ve known what it’s like to be poor”.

Hopefully she will again.  We pay tax for the good of this country and its inhabitants and I don’t believe it’s right that someone who’s already earned more money at the age of 36 than many people see in a lifetime, and has chosen to squander it, should have any of it written off.

She should have been well aware that £149,000 of the money she earned was never hers to spend in the first place.

I can see why the bankruptcy system is set up to allow certain debts to be written off.  There are people who genuinely fall on hard times, go broke through no fault of their own and literally have nothing to pay off debts with.  I know little about bankruptcy, but I hope that each case is judged on its own merits.

If I had my way Ms McCutcheon would be forced to downsize her accommodation and have any frivolous items sold in order to pay off all the money she owes, with nothing being written off.

In addition, she needs to get educated in basic financial planning.  Had she sensibly invested a portion of of what she’d earned over the years, she would still have been able to live the high life and could now have been able to live a very comfortable life funded entirely from the income from her investments.  She would never have had to work again.

So I feel sorry for her that she didn’t learn this lesson before now.  I hope for her sake she can sensibly recover from this situation, resurrect her career and, as an older woman, realise what a stupid mistake she made.

But if she can’t resurrect her career, looking back in her old age on her years of living the high life beyond her own means may be the only island of pleasure she can find in a sea of regrets.

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