Hazel Chu was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin last June. She grew up in the Dublin suburb of Firhouse and now lives in Ranelagh with her partner Patrick and their daughter, Alex. She first became involved in politics in 2014, when she ran her partner’s local election campaign. In 2019, she became the first Green Party councillor to be elected in the local elections for the ward of Pembroke. She was also elected chair of the Green Party in 2019.
What’s the most important lesson about money which your career as a policitican has taught you?
To save. Running campaigns can be expensive — though you can do it cheaply. As my partner and I have a young child and a mortgage, we need to save so we can pay the mortgage and the creche bills.
What’s the best advice you ever got about money?
To keep working. I got that advice from my mother. She came from a background where she constantly worked.
What’s the most expensive country you ever visited?
Japan. I’ve lived in New York and some things in New York were quite pricey — but a lot of the day-to-day stuff was quite cheap and there’s a lot of free stuff over there too. But in Japan, everything is so expensive. If you go out for a drink in Japan , one drink at a bar could cost a tenner.
What has the coronavirus crisis taught you about money?
That it’s so transient. I know so many people who have lost their income and who are going through a hard time. The crisis has taught us how easy it is to lose a job — but it has also showed us how willing people are to look after others within their community. The crisis has highlighted the wealth divide in society — as the poor have got poorer and the rich have got richer.
What’s your favourite Irish note?
The old Lady Lavery notes — like the £50 or £10 Lady Lavery notes. She’s beautiful and also I think her image on the note symbolised that women keep money well.
Apart from property, what’s the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
My electric car — a Renault Zoe.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
Not future planning enough for savings and pensions.
What was your best financial killing?
Putting my money where my mouth is and running for election.
Are you better off than your parents?
Thanks to my parents, I am much better off than them — as they had nothing when they first came to Ireland.
If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?
If it was winnings of €150m plus, I would like to set up a series of women’s clinics that provided free mental and physical healthcare — and that predominently benefited mothers and children, especially the youth. I’d buy my mum a house. I’d pay off the mortgages of my mum and my friends. And I’d work with the council to open a creche that offered free childcare.
What’s the most expensive thing about being a parent?
iTunes or Spotify?
Spotify — as I don’t have an iPhone.
What was the last thing you bought online?
Boxing gloves — to go with my punch bag. I’ve taken up boxing to relieve stress.
Would you buy Irish property now?
If I was looking for a home I would — though I don’t think there’s much property to buy due to the shortage of supply.
Do you ever haggle?
Yes — it comes from my mother! One of the best haggling deals I got was getting an extra €2,000 for the trade-in value of a car. So instead of getting €4,000 for my trade-in, I got €6,000.
What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?
Netflix. Decaf teabags. Wifi.