What Michael Tomalaris has learnt from 24 Tours de France


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Michael Tomalaris, SBS newsreader, veteran sports reporter and long-time advocate of the Tour de France is spending his first July in Sydney for many years. Normally he would be in France covering the Tour which he's done for the past 24 years, starting in 1996 when he provided daily highlights of the growing number of Australian competitors. When the first stage of the Tour kicks off on August 29, the SBS crew will be covering it from their studios for the first time.

What was your first job?

My first job was as a 16-year-old at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) in the dispensary, making deliveries to various wards in RPA. I did it during the summer holidays at school. After that my first full time job was at the RPA in the accounts department processing invoices for payment.

hot seat michael tomalaris tour de france 2020

I knew what I wanted to do from a young age - be in broadcasting - from age seven or eight. I used to share a bedroom with younger brother and sister and, at that age, I'd wake at 6am, position my transistor radio near the pillow and listen to broadcasts and DJs to learn how they'd present their shows with music, traffic reports, and the different techniques they would use when hosting their shows. I wanted to be in radio so when I worked at the hospital waiting for the right job, I was doing radio school and paying for it with my hospital money.

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

The best money advice is probably from my father who said, whatever income you receive put 50% away in a bank deposit. It was great and sound advice. When I got married and had kids I had enough to pay for a deposit on a home unit at Randwick [in Sydney] and it made a hell of a difference.

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

Buying a house and paying it off quickly. Boring, simple but very effective.

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

Buying a property at the height of interest rates at their peak in the late 80s and getting a loan from bank when rates were 18%.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

I like to go to restaurants, I love food and wine. I think that fine dining restaurants in Australia are very expensive compared to other countries and that's why I consider it a splurge to dine in a fine restaurant here. In France and Italy the cost is 40% cheaper than in Australia. I also like to ride my bicycle and go on road trips, staying in nice accommodation.

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

I'd firstly get some sound advice and then probably invest it in the stock market.

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

I wouldn't touch it. I'd leave it in there and find other ways to find ways to make ends meet. I'd leave the $50 for a rainy day.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

I wouldn't leave one intentionally. I feel I've earned the finances that have accumulated over the years and should enjoy them by travelling. If there's anything left over, my kids and grandson can enjoy it.

What has been the best money making career move for you?

I think accepting the offer to cover my first Tour de France. In the mid-90s the tour was basically an unknown television event for many Australian viewers, and by latching onto it as a reporter, presenter and producer and seeing it grow to what it is today has provided a career and financial benefit for me because a lot of people want to hear my stories. I've invested a lot in the tours over the years - time and energy.

What are some of the lessons that you have learned from athletes?

To always make yourself available, do not be obnoxious or pretentious. Just because you might be a household name in many people's eyes you're not a superstar, you're a human being so it's important to always make yourself available. I work for a public broadcaster, I provide a service and it's my responsibility to make myself available to those who have supported our product over the years by supporting us.

Finish this sentence: money makes...

... me comfortable.

Watch the latest SBS coverage of the 2020 Tour de France

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. 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.