Sunday, 15 March 2009

The best piece of financial advice ever

The best piece of financial advice I was ever given came from Maya Rozner's mum. Twenty-plus years ago, Maya and I used to sing together and, after a carol concert, I cornered her mother and admiringly demanded to know the secret of her success. (Hopefully, I was more polite than that - I honestly don't remember.)

What I knew about Mrs R was that she was a successful businesswoman; a self-made millionaire who refused to give her children an easy ride (she owned the flat Maya lived in and made her pay market rent). She owned a business, multiple rental properties on the side, a farm and a large house in a wealthy suburb of Melbourne. I knew she had divorced Maya's dad a decade or so earlier, so all this wealth was her own work.

Mrs R told me she left school at 15 or 16 and worked as a shop assistant. She realised early on that if she wanted a better job she needed better skills, so she did a secretarial/business studies course at night school. It got her into the back office of the shop and she rapidly learned the business.

However, the big secret of Mrs R's success, she told me, was simple. From the day she started work, she saved one-third of her take-home pay. That gave her the capital she needed to buy shop when the opportunity arose - her big break, she told me. But she didn't stop there. Continuing to save a third of what she earned funded her investment properties, her farm and paid off her house.

It's the best piece of financial advice I've ever been given.

- Pam

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