I came from humble beginnings with my parents raising a large family of five kids. My dad was my school principal and always seemed to know what I was up too. I didn’t get away with much growing up though I certainly tried my hardest to rebel.
It was dad though who taught me a lot about the value of hard work and not taking anything for granted.
The best piece of financial advice I’ve ever received was from him when I was 16-years-old when we were in the car driving home from my first day at a new job at the local hardware store
My dad told me that before spending any earnings on myself, I should take out a portion and give it to charity.
I think dad thought I was going to blow my first pay check on something stupid and wanted to keep me in check! I remember at the time saying ‘yeah yeah yeah, whatever dad’, but thinking to myself ‘how on earth will giving my money away help me to save?’ It is a bit of backward thinking, but sometimes that’s the best kind!
Looking back now though I realise just how lucky I am to have such a wise and sensible dad, (not at all like me) and even though I would always roll my eyes at all his advice over the years, he has taught me a lot.
The advice that dad taught me years ago has stuck with me, to never take prosperity for granted and to live generously because that brings a much greater reward than money ever will.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the lifestyle I have today, largely due to the prize winnings of Big Brother in 2013, affording me the ability to chase my passions and dreams in an industry which is not known for its job security!
A lot of people don't know I actually gave some of my Big Brother prize winnings to my fellow contestants on the show, as a way of sharing it. I gave them each $1,000 to keep for themselves or nominate a charity to donate it to under their name. So in the end I kept 50% and gave 50% away. I did also buy myself a live crocodile off Terri Irwin, well it was a donation to ‘sponsor a crocodile' as part of conservation charity ‘Wildlife Warriors’ ongoing research project into crocodile protection. A charity I’m very passionate about.
This principle of giving is very important because I think it teaches people to respect money, and reminds them not to spend selfishly and fruitlessly. It’s actually based on an ancient Jewish principle of agricultural tithing, where a portion of each harvest was given back to the community to help those in need. I believe it’s still really important to help each other out, whether that’s donating your time or funds to a not-for-profit organisation or simple acts such as buying lunch for the homeless guy down the street.
Being someone with a public profile I’m aware that a lot of young people follow my actions, especially online with my social media accounts. I’m proud to inspire them to live beyond themselves, to work hard but to live generously.