Tamara DiMattina on not keeping up with the Joneses


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Tamara DiMattina has been at the forefront of the sustainability movement in Australia.

As the founder of The New Joneses and Buy Nothing New Month, she's long been a supporter of reusing, recycling and making do with less.

Tamara is now ready to take her message around Australia through her new tv programme, The New Jones' road trip, where she will help people do better with what they have - becoming more energy-efficient, banking better, and reducing unnecessary packaging.

tamara demattina buy nothing new the new joneses

How did you get involved in the sustainability movement?

In 2010 I went to Antarctica to learn about climate change and that changed my world. I was going out with a British polar explorer, who was the first man in history to walk to north and south poles. He was an amazing, inspiring person and that's what changed the course of my career and life. When I returned from Antarctica I began a fellowship at the centre of sustainability leadership. We were taught about leadership and sustainability and given the skills to go out and 'green' our sector. That's where I found my tribe. And I still call on them every day. Prior to that, I had been in PR where I was responsible for the RUOK campaign. For 16 years, I worked in purpose-driven communications.

What is your new programme?

For eight years The New Joneses has been reframing the idea of keeping up with the Joneses to instead making choices of what's good for people and the planet. We've been promoting that vision with our touring house featuring high tech, low tech and all the options so we can make every day good for our house and our planet. Ethical banks and super companies, saving money on stuff you don't need so you have money for things you do need. [On the TV show] we will have some of Australia's biggest names to see what they're doing to make changes that have a great impact. The show will air in May.

What was your first job?

Unpaid and horrible. My dad was in the wholesale fruit and vegetable market, and every year they would send calendars of us children to clients. I was the youngest of five and all of us kids would have to roll the calendars, put them in a canister and send them off. I also did babysitting aged around 12 but my first real paid job was at Home and Garden in Camberwell.

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

I was always a massive saver. My grandma used to say a dollar saved is a dollar made, and that's something we carry through with Buy Nothing New Month. By not wasting money on stuff you don't need, you have money for things that you really do need.

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

Investing in knowledge and investing in my brain and knowing what's going on in the world - because information is really powerful to engage with in the world. Also consuming interesting educational stuff rather than binging for hours on Netflix (although I do that too), and upskilling myself so I can be independent with my career. My current home was another great decision. I wasn't in the market to buy a home and just came to see it out of interest. It was stressful but it was such a good buy. It took me five years for my first house but the second time I just saw something and bought it a day later over the phone. Sometimes you have to jump if you know it's a really solid opportunity. It has a magnificent garden and was underpriced. It's all about looking at things a bit differently to the way others are looking. For example, if people are looking for new and shiny, you can get a great deal on something older.

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

The first time I went overseas with my parents and I didn't understand how exchange rates worked, I went and changed money somewhere on the Champs Elysee and they gave me such a bad rate, my dad couldn't believe it and I felt so angry I went and changed it back (thus doubling the bad rates!) I probably learned quite a bit from that.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Plants - and French bulldogs.

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

I'd put it straight against my mortgage or into my super.

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

I think I would start looking on Seek and get a job to increase that.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

I hope that I'm independent and financially stable enough to leave something behind, but I would then have to choose very wisely to make sure I'm leaving my money somewhere that had the greatest positive impact, or an environmental organisation.

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

Definitely going out on my own. While it's very stressful and always comes down to you and you're always having to create it, it means that you can never get the sack. By choosing something I'm really passionate about, I'm always upskilling in the same area. Focusing on one thing means I keep consolidating.

Finish this sentence money makes...

... doing good easy.

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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.