A pair of sisters from Birmingham have moved from struggling to make ends meet to building a property and business empire.
Stephanie and Nicky Taylor, from Great Barr, renovate houses and are also published authors.
But Stephanie admits it was not all plain sailing as there was a time she had to get by on just £49.80 per week in benefits while younger sister Nicky was weighed down by credit card debt before moving to London in a bid to find a career and sort out her finances.
Their business Rent 2 Rent rents HMO properties (houses in multiple occupation) from landlords, decorates them and lets them out to tenants – something they have only done for five years.
Stephanie, 49, said: “I would collect £48.90 in benefits and then I would need to budget it out to what to spend. Just going to the supermarket was traumatic because I had to have it exactly, otherwise I wouldn’t have enough money.
“I would find it so humiliating. I just did the best I could, I wasn’t always good at it.
“I would get up at around 6am with my son and we used to go to the nursery and walk on foot in the dark and cold. Then I would catch the bus to work and we would be back home from 6pm.
“I would go to the Post Office and collect money in cash, it wasn’t electronic bank accounts in those days. To pay the bills you would have to go to places, you couldn’t stay at home like you do now and let it come out of your bank account.
“I just look back at that girl with compassion because she didn’t know all the things she was doing and did the best she could. But now I know so much more.”
They used to live together as teenagers but it was then that Nicky, now 47, began racking up debts with credit cards.
Looking for a way out and a career, she moved to London and ended up in a role in financial service for almost two decades.
Stephanie stayed in Birmingham and found herself studying an Open University course before eventually taking up a string of low-paid jobs.
She then started attending events to learn more about the property sector.
“There are all these strategies but I was excited to see all normal people getting into property,” she told BirminghamLive.
“I was looking at them thinking: ‘If they can do it, maybe I can do it’. That’s when I first came up with the idea for Rent 2 Rent.”
In 2016, the sisters combined their finances to invest in property and began renting to budding tenants and are now millionaires who own multiple homes and are based in Newport, South Wales.
Stephanie said: “We rent the property from someone else, do it up and rent it out again. It’s a beautiful affordable home for the tenants, there’s guaranteed rent and peace of mind for the landlords and, for us, we get the cash flow.
“It’s profitable quickly and you don’t need a lot of money to start – anyone who wants to do this can. You only need three or five properties to replace the average UK salary which is £25,000.”
They also donate money to charity and have helped good causes in places such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana, and Kenya.
Nicky concluded: “You almost have to pinch yourself sometimes, especially because it’s only been five years.
“I’ve spent 42 years not being in this position and it makes you think, if only I had started this earlier.”