A Doncaster woman who went from living on benefits to being a multi-millionaire has spoken of how she turned her life around.
Belinda Grashion has revealed that she went from being a part-time massage therapist on benefits to becoming a wealthy property mogul living in luxury.
She told the Daily Mail how she struggled to make ends meet and broke down in tears in the living room of her small rented house as she realised that every penny of her income support would go towards paying her mounting bills - leaving her unable to have enough cash to eat.
"I cried because I so desperately wanted to give my daughters a good life but didn’t even have enough money to pay for them to go on their school trips,’ said Belinda.
"I’d cook everything from scratch to keep costs down, but I was so determined the girls should eat well I’d often go without meals myself."
However, instead of sinking into a depression, that afternoon proved a turning point. ‘I decided that, come what may, I was going to do everything I could to ensure my daughters and I had enough money to be free of financial worries.
And nearly two decades later, Belinda is a multi-millionaire who owns a huge farmhouse in Yorkshire and a villa in Barbados.
Her first goal was to earn the extra £200 a month she needed to make up her shortfall. So when she saw an advert for a workshop on making money from property, she begged and borrowed from family and friends to raise the £1,000 she needed to get on it.
After leaving school aged 16, without any qualifications, and being a housewife for 18 years with no involvement in family finances — part of the reason she left her husband is she felt he never wanted her to work — Belinda admits she understood little of what was said during the two-day event.
However, she took away from it one strategy she felt confident that, despite having no money to invest, she could make work.
Belinda was given the task of sourcing houses that the vendor was willing to sell for just 75 per cent of their market value, usually because they were in a serious state of disrepair, and add value by redecorating and putting in a decent bathroom and kitchen.
She would then take out a mortgage for the new higher value of the property and rent it out to tenants.
Belinda then used some of the mortgage money from the bank to renovate the next house she took on. She sold some and kept others as buy-to-lets, gradually building up a portfolio of properties and savings worth more than £8 million.
‘It was so nerve-racking,’ she says. ‘I’d never spoken to a bank manager or solicitor before and it took me nine months after the first property to have the courage to buy my second. But that desire to create a great life for my daughters kept the fire burning in my belly.
Belinda, 55, crammed her work into school hours to make sure she still saw her daughters as much as possible
‘Within four years the profits from my business had turned me into a millionaire. It’s incredible how much our lives changed: we went from having to pay our bills in instalments to living in a beautiful home with cars and a couple of holidays abroad every year.’
‘Four years to become a millionaire may not sound a long time but it certainly felt like it at the time.’
Belinda is now 56 and, together with her loyal team of staff at Belgray Properties, concentrates on million-pound housing developments and runs courses teaching women how to become wealthy by investing in property.
Her Doncaster home is a 100-year-old, three-storey, eight-bedroom farmhouse, while in the Caribbean Belinda has an idyllic villa on the beach, complete with a 60ft stilted balcony overlooking the ocean.
At home she drives a BMW convertible and is about to buy a Porsche. In Barbados she has a BMW X5.
Both of her girls, who are in their 30s, have also made their fortunes through property and were able to buy their own homes and cars outright while still in their 20s. ‘The other day my daughter said to me: “I’m so privileged, Mum, because I don’t have to watch the pennies and worry about money, like a lot of my friends do,” ’ says Belinda.
‘I don’t often stop to reflect on how far we’ve come — I’m too busy making the most of every moment — but hearing that made me feel so proud, and a little tearful.’