The Moneymaker: Laura Fygi

Even after 25 years in the music business, jazz singer LAURA FYGI still keeps cash in boxes in a cupboard at home


The Moneymaker: Laura Fygi, 59. If you missed the Dutch-Egyptian jazz songstress’ gig here two years ago, or her performance in the local production of Broadway musical Victor/Victoria in 2009, you’ll have another chance to catch her when she performs here in September to celebrate 25 years in the business.

HER HOME IS: She has lived in “an old house in Holland that’s almost 100 years old” with her husband and three children, aged 18, 21 and 23 for the past 14 years. “Our home is in the middle of the woods and very quiet. We lived in Amsterdam when the children were small, but we thought it's best to move them to a peaceful environment with fresh air.”

HER RIDE IS: A BMW 320. “It’s not the biggest car ’cos parking in Holland is very difficult. My husband has a bigger car, so he puts our Border Collie in the back and drives around.”

WHAT’S IN HER WALLET? “I have my credit card and store discount cards for drugstores and perfumeries. I carry about €100 (S$150) with me at all times, but I don’t use cash much ’cos in Holland we pay for almost everything by card. My children’s photos are kept in my [pocketbook], ’cos I don’t own a smartphone. I like to carry photos around in an old-fashioned album although it’s heavy!”

8 DAYS: Welcome back to Singapore, Laura! What was the last CD you bought?
LAURA FYGI: That was quite a long time ago! I think it was a [2004] Westlife album of jazz songs, Allow Us to Be Frank. I’m not a Westlife fan at all, but I like it when young artistes do totally different things like pick up jazz. Lady Gaga did that too, and she has a great voice.

How much would you insure your voice for?
I don’t think any insurers would want to insure me ’cos I smoke! I’ve been smoking for 45 years now.

What’s the first thing you’d buy if you won a million dollars?
I’d renovate my home. I already have enough dresses and a car. My house and family are very important to me, so the environment I live in should be perfect. I have a huge garden that’s 5,000 sqm! I’m not a spender and I don’t spend on ridiculous things. It’s very important to me that my financial affairs are in order. I manage the money at home and make sure my children have enough money for their education. (Laughs) My money is divided into little piles. In my cupboard at home I have old Q-tip boxes containing currency from different countries. When I’m travelling to, say, Bangkok, I empty the box with Thai baht into my wallet. When I return, what’s left of my money goes back into the box for the next trip.

What sort of financial advice did you give your children?
I get them to work for money so they know they’ve to work for something they want. I don’t spoil my children. I would love to give them money, but I don’t. It’s too easy. My children all had part-time jobs when they were studying. Their mum and dad are not going to fund them!

What was the last thing you bought for €25?
I helped my children buy a Father’s Day gift for their father. They have to pay me back ’cos he’s not my father! I bought him a €26.99 ($40.50) leaf sweeper for the garden ’cos stray leaves get stuck in the rain gutter of our house. My husband and I both like working in the garden. It’s so relaxing. But as of now, the children still haven’t paid me back (guffaws).

What’s one chore you hate that you’ll pay someone else to do?
I hate cleaning beds, especially changing the bedsheets. Pffft! I get my cleaning lady to do that. But if I have to I will ’cos I’m a very clean person. I don’t mind vacuuming or tidying up. I like ironing and I think I’m pretty good at it!

When was the last time you splurged on something?
I like buying clothes from a Dutch designer called Sheila De Vries. She used to dress our queen. When I have special events, I go to her. Her ballroom gowns are expensive — as much as €12,000 ($18,000) each — but she gets beautiful materials like silk from Asia. I like designs that are timeless and ladylike. I don’t get rid of my clothes; I own dresses that are 15 years old and I still wear them out. I’d always buy a dress first and think of where to wear it later. I sometimes get invited to gala nights, so I wear those dresses again and again. It’s a good bargain (laughs). But I’m not particularly into designer brands and don’t follow fashion trends just as long as I look good.

What was the last great bargain you scored?
A tunic blouse! It was only €20 ($30), and I wore it on The 5 Show. I got it from my manicurist [in Holland] who also sells some clothes in her salon. I love a bargain that looks great and costs so little.

You travel frequently. What kind of souvenirs do you usually buy?
I don’t buy souvenirs at all. When the children were small, I would buy them things from local markets. But I don’t do that anymore ’cos the souvenir is here (points to her heart). It’s not a little thing you put on a shelf.

What’s one thing you always buy at airport duty free shops?
Cigarettes (laughs)! They’re expensive in Holland but cheaper in airports, so I get them there.

Catch Laura in the Laura Fygi 25th Anniversary Concert, Sept 9, The Star Theatre. Tix from Sistic. Laura Fygi 25th Anniversary Collection is available in stores, on iTunes and Spotify.

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