Elton John tribute act who spent £10k on costumes and £40k a month on boozy holidays

Elton John tribute act who spent £10k on costumes and £40k a month on boozy holidays

In our How I Manage My Money series, we aim to find out how people in the UK are spending, saving and investing money to meet their costs and achieve their goals.

This week we speak to Tom Cridland, 32, who is an Elton John tribute act, entrepreneur and podcast host. When not travelling and staying in hotels with his fiancée, Deborah, Tom lives at his family home in Northamptonshire, or at Deborah’s family home. Tom used to be an alcoholic and found himself in £500,000 worth of debt before getting sober back in 2017. When Tom’s drinking was at its worst, he would spend up to £40,000 a month on dinners, pubs, parties and boozy holidays.

While he’s quit drinking, he’s still a spender at heart and recently splashed out £20,000 on two custom-made rocket jackets for his Elton John tribute act work. Tom’s ideal income would be £50m a year and he has ambitions of becoming a billionaire.

Monthly budget

Income: On average I earn around £50,000 a month from all my different work and business streams. About £25,000 a month comes from my marketing and PR agency. Around £10,000 comes from my Elton John tribute act work. Roughly £5,000 comes from my Greatest Music of All Time podcast via sponsorship deals and I make about £10,000 a month from my clothing line. All these sums vary month-to-month.

Outgoings: I don’t have any traditional outgoings. I am at my family home with my parents for a few weeks every year, but, other than that, I am on the road living in hotels in the UK and around the world. I spend between £5,000 to £10,000 on hotels, and about £5,000 per month eating out in restaurants. I also spend around £1,000 a month on a number of subscriptions, namely Zoom, my mobile phone bill, Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox, Adobe and Xero. To justify this extravagance, other than when I am at the dinner table or spending quality time with family and friends, I am constantly working.

I went to Eton between 2004 and 2009, at a cost of about £25,000 a year. To be honest, I don’t think it was worth the money, but I’m always grateful to my father for funding my time there. I often found the environment at boarding school pretty tough, but I realise how lucky I am to have gone there.

After finishing school, I studied at Bristol University, where I met Deborah and many of my best friends. I didn’t do much work but had an incredible time. My attitude to money was terrible. I spent every penny I could while at university, and even used to take out Wonga loans to fund boozy holidays.

I had a brief six-week stint as a trainee accountant in the autumn of 2014. I am very sorry to the firm for even having accepted this job offer, which would have given me an annual salary of £25,000 a year. I was a confused young man and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

More on How I Manage My Money

Before and during my trainee accountant role, I was drinking very heavily. My binge drinking spiralled totally out of control to the point where it put me in about £500,000 worth of debt. I wouldn’t stop drinking until I’d had about ten pints of lager and multiple jaeger bombs. I think it happened because of a lack of self-discipline, an addictive personality and because I am shy, as I loved the temporary release alcohol gave me.

I would spend thousands and thousands of pounds hosting extravagant dinners and parties, paying for rounds of drinks when it wasn’t my turn, getting Uber all the time and drunkenly buying concert tickets or holidays for large groups of friends. During my worst spells, I would spend between £30,000 and £40,000 a month on dinners, pubs, parties and boozy holidays. I loved and still love to be generous and host people, but in my drinking days I took it way too far.

On 14 October, 2017, I decided I needed to stop drinking. I didn’t become sober by going to Alcoholics Anonymous or seeing a therapist. I’ve had Deborah’s emotional support and have worked really hard to develop greater willpower and mental strength. It has not been easy, but my problems are mine and I take full responsibility for them. I’ve now managed to clear all my debts.

Tom, with his partner, Deborah. He also runs a marketing and PR agency, which brings in about £25,000 a month (Photo: Tom Cridland)

I soon replaced my addiction to alcohol with an addiction to music. When I got sober I taught myself the drums, because my number one hero is my good friend, Nigel Olsson, who is Elton John’s drummer. I then started writing my own songs and was eventually invited on tour with The Stylistics, opening for them at 19 UK gigs. When Covid-19 hit, I was struck with a desire to do something life-changing, so I started playing the piano. I really took to it. Fast-forward to 2022 and I have played 100 Tom’s Elton Tribute shows. I currently make around £10,000 a month from my Elton John tribute act work, but this varies depending on what gigs crop up.

I also run a marketing and PR agency, which brings in about £25,000 a month. On top of that I have a clothing line, which was the first business I set up. This brings in about £10,000 a month. The clothing line is best known for its sweatshirts and T-shirts, which come with a 30-year guarantee. Since 2020, I have also been running a podcast called Greatest Music of All Time. Guests have included Smokey Robinson, Annie Lennox and I conducted the last ever interview Chick Correa did before he died. I make about £5,000 a month from the podcast via sponsorship deals.

While being teetotal has helped my relationship with money improve, I am still a spender rather than a saver. My most extravagant purchases were two rhinestone encrusted and hand embroidered Tom’s Elton Tribute rocket jackets that were custom made for me in Austin, Texas, earlier this year and cost £10,000 each. I have also recently spent a large amount on an engagement ring at Bentley & Skinned. While I will not disclose the amount I spent on the ring, it was certainly more than deserved after all Deborah has had to put up with over the years.

Tom makes around £10,000 a month from his Elton John tribute act work, but this varies depending on what gigs crop up (Photo: Tom Cridland)

I can’t pretend that I haven’t fantasised about being a billionaire. I am motivated by money in so far as I love to spend it to live life to the fullest with Deborah and my family and friends, and to be generous to them. Ideally, I’d like to be making at least £50m a year from all my enterprises.

That said, all you need to do is look at the clear unhappiness of some of the super-rich to realise that the people you love are more important than money.

I don’t have any investments in things like stocks and shares or cryptocurrency, as most of the money I earn is spent on hotels and eating out.

I also haven’t started saving into a pension yet. In the next five years I would like to purchase property in the UK near my parents, in Lisbon where my mother is from and in the US, where most of my touring work is. I am more comfortable with bricks-and-mortar than the idea of buying volatile stocks or inherently worthless digital assets. I imagine I’ll have to buy the properties in cash as it will probably be difficult for me to get a mortgage. In terms of how I hope to grow my business, I’d like to get my Elton John tribute act on the road in theatres, casinos and bigger outdoor venues in the US in 2024. I’d also love to open a “Greatest Music of All Time” studio and museum.

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