Eighties music star Joyce Sims talks to ME & MY MONEY

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Sound investor: Joyce Sims has a stocks and shares portfolio

Sound investor: Joyce Sims has a stocks and shares portfolio

The most expensive gift that American singer Joyce Sims has ever received was a ‘priceless’ diamond ring. 

Sims, who shot to fame in the late 1980s with hit Come Into My Life – a top ten single in the UK – says she would work to eliminate homelessness, hunger and poverty if she were Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

Her new album, Change, will be released early this year. She speaks to Donna Ferguson. 

What did your parents teach you about money? 

To respect and earn it. I grew up in Rochester, New York State. I was the eldest of five. My mother was head chef at a family-owned restaurant and my father was a machinist for Kodak. 

Money was tight. As a child, I remember hearing my parents often discussing the bills that needed to be paid and in what order. Everything was budgeted and they worked hard for the money they earned. But we had everything we needed, and some of the things we wanted. We were a close-knit family. 

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet? 

Yes. The worst time was in the mid-1980s when I first left home and went to New York to pursue my recording career and try to get a record deal. I was 23. 

I moved in with a friend in Manhattan and in order to pay the rent got a job in an office filing paperwork. In the evening I worked in a recording studio, singing vocals on tracks in return for free studio time to record my own music. 

My rent was so expensive that all I could afford for lunch every day was a slice of pizza and soda. At one point I had to ask my parents for money to help me make it to the next pay cheque. 

The worst thing was that I took my car to New York. Parking is crazy in that city. You have to move your car from one side of the street to the other, depending on the day and the time. I racked up so many parking tickets – more than $700 in fines. Since the car was in my parents’ name, all the fines were going home to my parents. They called one day and asked me what on earth I was doing. They then told me: ‘Bring our car back home.’

Have you ever been paid silly money? 

In the late 1980s, nightclubs would sometimes pay me thousands of dollars to sing All In All, my biggest hit in America. It would take me six minutes and 31 seconds and I could earn up to $3,000 (equivalent to £4,700 today).

What was the best financial year of your life? 

It was 1987, when the album Come Into My Life came out. It was a great year financially and in every other area of my life. I was excited to release my first album. Just to hold that album in my hand meant so much. A lot of the dreams and aspirations I had came true when the album was released. I’d say I made more than $100,000 that year from touring and close to $100,000 from album sales. 

What is your biggest money mistake? 

Not buying a property as soon as I could afford to in 1987. Instead, I rented in different places for three years before I eventually got on the property ladder in my 30s. At the beginning of my career, I was so busy touring and recording in the studio I didn’t save a lot. I helped family and friends, and also wasted a lot of money just living. 

The best money decision you have made? 

Spending $20,000 turning one of my bedrooms into a home studio in the early 1990s. That decision has saved me many thousands of dollars over the years. 

The most expensive gift you’ve ever received? 

It was a pear-shaped diamond ring with several carats in yellow gold. My husband gave it to me at Christmas. It is beautiful and holds a special place in my heart. I don’t know how much it cost, but to me it’s priceless and I love it. I was speechless when I received it, which doesn’t happen often. 

Do you save into a pension or buy shares? 

Yes. I started saving into a pension when I was in my mid-30s because my accountant advised me to. I wasn’t really thinking about my retirement back then, but I’m glad I listened to him. 

I have many thousands of dollars invested in the stock market and have been investing for about 20 years. I have a diverse portfolio, but I lean more towards shares than bonds.

I take a medium risk, long term approach and let someone else manage my portfolio. To date, I’m happy with the performance of my investments.

Do you own any property? 

Yes, my husband and I own our home. It’s a three bedroom townhouse in New Jersey. We bought it ten years ago. I’d rather not say how much I paid for it, but I definitely think it has increased in value since we got it. 

The one little luxury you treat yourself to? 

Going to a hotel by the New Jersey shoreline and spending a couple of days at the beach. I love just sitting, relaxing and listening to the waves. 

I find it inspiring – it’s good for my soul. I’ve actually recorded the sound of the ocean to use in my songs. A trip like that typically costs me around $500.

If you were Chancellor what would you do? 

I would eliminate hunger and homelessness. I would increase funding for organisations that support the poorest families in the UK. I would try to put an end to poverty and make sure that everyone had enough to live on. In my opinion, no one in the UK – or the United States – should be hungry or homeless. If everyone were able to have a home and not worry about food, I believe they would live a more productive life – and the world would be a better place. 

Do you donate money to charity? 

Yes, I give to charities that feed children and look after the poor. I also give to my church. 

What is your number one financial priority? 

To leave a legacy for my two children with the hope they will do the same for their children. I want to die knowing my children are taken care of financially. 

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