Why TV weatherman Sam Mac is putting money aside for a rainy day

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Channel 7 Sunrise weatherman Sam Mac never intended becoming a weatherman, but he has made the job his own.

In fact, this job was the reason he was able to tell the stories of so many of the people he met around Australia in his new book Accidental Weatherman which was published in April.

Mac has been nominated for a Gold Logie, recorded a song with The Wiggles, and stripped naked for The Real Full Monty show.

tv weatherman sam mac

What made you write a book?

I was approached by the publisher. She had watched me on Sunrise, followed me on social media and she said she thought I had a gift for connecting with people from all walks of life and all stages of life - from toddlers to retirees. Given I am constantly travelling around Australia and beyond, she said I must be collecting some great stories.

When she first contacted me I was too busy but we decided to chat about it a couple of years ago, just before COVID. During COVID I wasn't travelling and had more time to dedicate to it. I wrote it in about nine months and now it's available.

What's it about?

The stories are about inspirational people I've met on my travels - young kids like Aaron with cerebral palsy who has taken on the sport of race running and doesn't see himself as disabled because of the things he can do.

When I went to meet him at Rozelle Public School, he was reading a book about his hero by his hero Kurt Fearnley. I was able to introduce them and now Kurt has mentored Aaron, and it makes me so happy I can use my position to link and facilitate an amazing bond like that.

There are so many people in unexpected places with great stories to tell. I'm five years into the role but think it will be a lot longer because there's an endless supply of characters around Australia.

How did you become the accidental weatherman?

I never set out to be a weatherman, I love radio and TV and entertainment. And I love learning about people I've met. I love celebrating and shining a light on fascinating people in a short time space. It's a challenge but a fun challenge. I took the weatherman job as a leap of faith - I thought it's live TV, I'll travel, let's see where it lands.

I feel I've found my groove and niche in a role to shine my light on everyday Australians doing fascinating things. .

Leigh Sales gave me the title for the book, she said "accidental weatherman" and as soon as I saw the words next to each other I thought it had enough intrigue. I never planned to do this role but stumbled into a role that has changed my life in many ways.

What was your first job?

My first job was in a call centre in Adelaide while studying at university. I was a 19-year-old Adelaide boy surrounded by middle-aged women and I loved it. I would run trivia games, and quizzes - I was hosting my own TV show in a call centre but there was just no camera.

There was a contest at a radio station that came up while I was there called Who Wants to be a Co-Host and the prize was a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, to review acts for the Edinburgh Festival. You had to be voted for and my boss at the call centre put up a sign on the wall saying, when you are not on calls today call this number and vote for Sam.

I won and loved the experience, and when I got back I was offered a job with Black Thunders driving vehicles and telling listeners where I was. After a few months, ashamed of my driving, they wanted me out of the cars and onto the air and that's how I became a radio announcer.

What's the best money advice you've ever received?

Kochie often gives me money advice but I can occasionally tune out when he starts talking. It's simple and age-old, but my parents have always said make sure you have some money there for a rainy day. It's a classic but a good one because you never know when unexpected expenses will come out of nowhere - like having to take the cat to the vet for $1000.

And also a rainy day fits in with my weatherman job! And one I've heard lately, chatting with a friend, is you've got to spend money to make money. If you're starting your own business or have a passion, you have to spend that money to make money.

Even with property it's tough to get it but in five to 10 years you will probably make money on it. My place in Darlinghurst has doubled in price in the 10 years I've had it.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

There's a few ways to look at that., The immediate one that comes to mind is buying my house in Sydney which was a big thing for me, I'm an Adelaide boy and property is not cheap in the inner areas of the city. It was the best financial decision of my life.

Another way to look at an investment is learning - I paid for myself to do a radio course, and bought lots of books on people I admired in comedy, TV and radio industries.

I was not afraid to spend money on those things, it was investing in my career. It all played a part in the foundation, knowledge, ideas, and inspiration for my own career path, and if I didn't do those things I couldn't afford to buy a place in Sydney.

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

I bought a $600 mustard jacket, and mustard is not for everyone. It's not a staple for a reason. It looked so good in the store. I've never paid that amount of money on one item of clothing since. I took it home and it fit nicely. Then I wore it to meet friends at a pub and they thought it was the funniest thing ever, they laughed, took photos of me and it put me off the jacket. I eventually gave it to my dad - he'll wear anything.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

People that I love and care about, my family, my girlfriend. I'm very safe and careful with my money.

I don't splurge very often, I'm not a high roller, but I will spend a lot of money on people I love, and more so on experiences with them. I surprised my mum and dad with a trip back to Ireland. They hadn't been back since they'd left in their 20s.

I also surprised them with my sister there and I arrived back on a real high. It was the best thing I'd done in my life. It was expensive but it meant a lot to me that I could have that time with them because I miss a lot of family time as I'm interstate or overseas.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

Property - I'm not into cryptocurrencies, I don't have any interest in the stock market because I feel people who make money in those areas live and breathe it. I don't care enough about it, but property is something tangible.

I feel I have a good gauge on it; both properties I've bought in my life have doubled in value, I'm now thinking of the next five to 20 years and looking to make the big purchase to be my family home forever.

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

Panic, fire my financial adviser, and ask for a pay rise at Channel 7. They're the first three things, then what would I do with $50, buy a bottle of champagne and live it large until the end.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

Yeah, I do, absolutely. I haven't thought too far ahead but I do. I'd like to leave whatever I have to my loved ones.

What's been your best money-making career move?

Moving from radio to television. I hosted radio for many years and made some good money but TV in the last few years has taken it to another level. I work hard, wake at 3am and go away and miss out on a lot but I also gain a lot and connect with strangers. I've also been to bucket-list destinations, like Uluru four times.

Finish this sentence: money makes things possible, but it's not everything.

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Julia Newbould is the managing editor of Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.