MY MONEY

Lizzy Hoo on comedy, cash and wasting money on 90s clothes

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Lizzy Hoo started doing stand-up comedy as a way to build confidence and help her win pitches at her office job.

Her current show Lizzy Hoo - Hoo Dis? incorporates much of her Chinese Malaysian/Irish Australian heritage, particularly her one-of-a-kind father (Brisbane's premier ukulele player).

A self-described writer, noodle enthusiast, designer, actor, rugby lover and rescue greyhound owner, Hoo is often featured on SBS Voices, ABC Life and Whimn websites. She is performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 25 to April 11.

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Lizzy Hoo says she knew how to make money from an early age, but not how to invest. Photo: Monica Pronk.

Do you find anything funny about money?

Yes, I've got a bit about it in my current show about how I was a money-obsessed child. Having an immigrant hustler dad, I've been working since I was eight. I used to iron my neighbour's shirts for 50c a piece, and wash and vacuum his car for $10. Although mum comes from that school of thought that you've got to earn your keep, she thought my neighbour was paying me too much for the car washing. She was like my consumer watchdog. So, he would pay me in two $5 notes so he could say he only paid me $5 when he paid me $10.

My parents used to find me in my room, just counting my coins. My brother, who is 11 years older, taught me what interest was when aged eight. He would borrow coins to get on the bus in the morning, but because he'd taught me the concept of interest, I'd charge interest. I was sprung because I told my friend, and she told her mum who told my mum. Mum told me I couldn't do that to my brother (even though he was 18 and I was nine).

What was your first job?

My first proper job aside from side hustles was working at the Cookie Man when I was 14 years and nine months old (the legal age for work) and I was getting a job to get my own money. I handed out all my resumes in Brisbane City Mall and as soon as I got home I got a call from my boss-to-be Roy who asked me in for a trial.

I worked there for three years all through high school.  I got $5.42 an hour. As soon as I left uni I went to London and got a job in a design studio, and got into writing. I was also temping a lot in advertising agencies.

Do you think kids know enough about money?

I knew how to make money but I didn't know how to invest money. I didn't know what I should be spending my money on. I remember girls at school putting $1000 into shares. What? I put my $1000 into my trip to schoolies!

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

Don't have a credit card. Or if you do have one - don't keep it in your wallet, just keep it in your top drawer at home so it's not top of mind - just use it as a backup when travelling.

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

This might be a bit ridiculous but my reclining couch. Every time I sit on it I think it's the best thing I've bought. It's very comfortable and I can sleep on it, watch TV, and have even done some writing on it. I mainly relax on it, I put the recliner out and the dog jumps up for a cuddle.

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

All the money from part-time jobs from high school, spending it on 90s era clothing was some of the worst decisions I've ever made. Jeans were so expensive - I'd buy the latest jeans that were wide-legged and sat on your hips. I was obsessed with Royals Elastics shoes. I can't believe I bought so many of them. My mum still has some of the 90s gear. I was up there a few weeks ago, and I went through some boxes she's still got, and now 90s fashion is back in and I've bequeathed a lot of my clothing to my niece.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Going out for a nice meal.

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

I'd put it in my super - and get the tax concession.

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

I'd probably put it on my transport card so at least I could get places.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

Maybe. At this point, I have no one to leave it to except my niece and nephews. I haven't thought much about it. I'd definitely give someone my reclining couch. That's about the only thing of value I'd pass on.

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

I've never felt richer than when I waited tables during ski seasons. I used to do ski seasons in Colorado in the US and Banff in Canada. I'd make so much money because it would be in tips. The pay was abysmal - about $300 a month - but tips might be $400-500 a night. I never felt richer than when I had the big cookie jars filled with cash.

Finish this sentence: money makes...

... me really happy. Is that sad?

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Julia Newbould is the managing editor of Money magazine. 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.
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