updated 28 Nov 2011, 16:45
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Wed, May 04, 2011
The New Paper
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Zoe gives star power to charity
by Kwok Kar Peng

THE sum of $50,000 is a lot of money.

But Queen of Caldecott Hill Zoe Tay can afford to give it away.

The 43-year-old recently donated $50,000 to charity.

The sum is half of her endorsement fee for becoming the spokesman for Sunpower Solar Water Heater. She told The New Paper that the money will be used to sponsor solar energy panels in nursing homes here.

With the panels installed, she hopes the homes will be able to save a substantial amount of money on electricity bills and divert the savings to other uses.

She said it wasn't hard to part with the money because she wants to do her part to create a green environment.

She paid $6,500 for the panels to be installed at her own home and expects to save around $150 a month.

The MediaCorp actress has been a magnet for endorsements, especially after her three sons were born.

Her name has been linked to beauty products, food, milk powder, post-natal slimming products and spa treatments, and even a baby hair brush.

Still, she said her collective fees don't add up to a million bucks.

And contrary to her glamorous image, it seems that she is a thrifty mum to her boys; Brayden, six, Ashton, three, and six-month-old Nathan.

Tay, whose expenses are around $3,000 a month, said she takes good care of their toys so that she can pass them on to the younger ones or to other mothers. Instead of buying them more toys, she lets the trio play in the garden.

Branded clothes

She doesn't buy them branded clothes because celebrity hairstylist and good pal David Gan does that.

"He doesn't buy clothes for me any more," she said with a sigh.

Tay will spend on quality food and education for her children.

But she admitted she's bad with money.

"My husband (air force pilot Philip Chionh) manages all the finances at home. I'm the kind that if I have money on my hands, I'll spend all of it. So it's best that I don't know how much money I have," Tay said with a laugh.

"I've learnt to save my money after meeting my husband, but I also feel it's necessary to pamper myself since I work so hard."

Tay, who takes on only two projects a year so that she can spend more time with her family, is in the new Channel 8 drama Devotion, which will air in June.

She plays an ill-fated woman who raises five adopted children and toils for them despite misunderstandings and their animosity towards her.

Tay is in no rush to become a tai tai, preferring to continue earning her own keep. She said she relishes having "pocket money" to give treats to friends and take her mother on holidays.

Like many women, Tay said she is tempted by bags, shoes and jewellery. Depending on whether she feels thrifty, she may lavish gifts on herself either twice a year or twice in a month.

When asked how much these cost, Tay would only flash a sly smile. But while she parted with $50,000 for charity, she won't spend the same amount on a luxury bag for herself.

"It's not that I can't afford it," she said. "I worry that if I allow myself to spend $50,000 on a bag, then there's no limit to how much I'll spend...

"At times when I'm tempted to buy something, I stop and ask myself if I really need it. "It's like there's a devil on one shoulder persuading me and an angel on the other dissuading me."

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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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