The hot seat
What was your first job?
I was 14 years old and it was picking strawberries at the local farm. I was paid per weight. Even then I used to use it as a competition to see if I could pick the fastest and the heaviest.
What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?
Look after the pennies and the dollars look after themselves. This helped me understand that you have to watch every dollar, not just the big ones, as the little spending adds up. I always self-managed the budget and still do to this day. Watch all your expenses and work hard at keeping them at a minimum. Make sure that you are always negotiating for the best price.
What’s the best investment decision you’ve ever made?
I am the happiest when I have sand between my toes, so a dream of ours was to buy a beach house. We looked for over a year and we finally found the perfect house. The problem was that we could not really afford it unless we rented it out. We really extended ourselves and we rented it over Christmas for the first five years until we could afford not to. Now I have sand between my toes as much as I want. The increase in value has been significant. Sometimes it’s good to stretch yourself and be creative.
What is the worst investment decision you’ve ever made?
Trusting friends who said, “These ‘must-have’ shares will triple in six months if you buy them!” If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Keep to simple business and try to avoid doing business with friends if you want to keep them as friends.
What is your favourite thing to splurge on?
Business/first-class travel. As a young traveller, I never could afford to fly up the front. There were many nights when I slept in airports to save money when I was travelling, so now I like to travel well. It is probably the only luxury item that I have. (That and my Tesla.)
If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?
If I only had $10,000, I would be using it as a deposit on my own home, as it is the only tax-free investment. I have found that real estate is a solid investment if you are looking at the long term. Get into your own home as soon as you can.
What would you do if you only had $50 left in your bank account?
I have actually been in this situation. There was a time when I only had $40 to my name. I chose what I purchased at the supermarket carefully and I then did everything I could to get a job. Luckily, it was working on David Bowie’s boat that saved me. I had been travelling for two years and completely ran out of money. Because I was on the boat, my financial issues were over as I did not have to pay for rent or food. It was an amazing time, travelling up and down the Mediterranean coast, going to the Monaco Grand Prix, the Cannes Film Festival and also playing Frisbee with Mick Jagger in the Caribbean. Do you intend to leave an inheritance? It’s not a priority as I believe my children need to make their own way in life. It is important that they do not rely on their parents and will forge their own future.
What do you think needs to happen to help start-ups grow in Australia?
Financial education. The amount of start-up businesses that do not know their numbers or know what the numbers should look like is frightening. They get so caught up in the creation and put the really important stuff to the side, as it is not interesting. But trust me, your numbers are really the only thing that is interesting. Get to love your numbers as they will tell you many stories.
Finish this sentence: money makes …
... financial freedom, but it does not create happiness. That comes from you.