Ex-TV host's new recipe for success

Super sub: Former TV host Mary Lambie is now an award-winning food franchise owner.
Super sub: Former TV host Mary Lambie is now an award-winning food franchise owner.

These days you're more likely to find Mary Lambie behind a sandwich counter than in your living room screens. The former Good Morning presenter is the franchisee of Subway Telecom Place on Auckland's Victoria Street - and last year won a customer service award from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

The busy 49-year-old mum of three says the sandwich business is going fantastically, but not all her financial decisions have been as sound.

How financially savvy are you?

Well, I wasn't a millionaire at 25, so not that savvy.

What was your first paid work?

Screwing lids on bottles of Ulan at Salmon Laboratories in Miramar. This was during the fifth-form school holidays. The site is now the home of Weta Workshop, and where I earned $4 an hour Sir Peter now earns $4 a nano-second.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude to money?

One parent was a bit more relaxed about money than the other. Observing that dynamic made me realise attitudes towards money can differ from person to person - the path you take is your choice.

What's the biggest lie about money that people routinely tell?

They say they earn more than they do, and they have to buy on credit to convince people of that. In other words they beggar themselves impressing people who don't care about them anyway.

If a child asked you the best way to make money, what would you say?

Live within your means. Take calculated risks. Be your own boss. Steer clear of unproductive debt.

Are you a collector?

I collect nothing. I have an anti-hoarding gene. "Less is more" is my motto. On saying that I notice a growing number of computer cords dangling from my office bookcase. I have no idea what they are for, but I'm too scared to throw them out.

Tell us your best investment decision ever?

I cashed up my fancy mixed investment portfolio (it was all sorts of odds and ends - some sharemarket investments) and gave my adviser the flick in 1996. I then bought a house in Grey Lynn with perfect timing - it doubled in value within five years.

What has been your biggest investment mistake?

TV3 shares in the mid 1980s, an inner-city Auckland apartment bought with promises of high rent and even better capital gain. LOL.

One of the stupidest financial things you've ever done?

I bought a near new car on tick in the late 1980s - 19 per cent interest from memory. Remarkably stupid and ultimately expensive. Lesson learned. Never again.

How do you sum up your feelings towards spending?

I don't particularly like shopping . . . in saying that I like to mosey around supermarkets but wouldn't thank you for a girls' weekend spending spree in Sydney. I spend what I want, when I want but it certainly isn't a hobby of mine.

Are you in KiwiSaver, and if so, which fund?

Yes, in a very small way. I signed up with Gareth Morgan and have stayed with whoever he sold it to. Last time I looked it was doing horribly .

Do you trust the money men?

No. At the end of the day they have no more insight than you or me and are probably of a dodgier disposition.

Gambling is something of a national pastime. Do you like a flutter? Come on, not even a Lotto ticket?

Twice a year maybe, and scratchies at Christmas time. Do school raffles count? Usually I'm the one trying to sell them.

Sunday Star Times