AT 33 Lacey Filipich has already retired a couple of times and is set to fit in another before the end of next year.
The entrepreneurial mother of two says good financial management — fostered by her parents — means she’s secure enough to enjoy “mini-retirements” across her lifetime, rather than squeezing in a bit of travel when she’s older and not as active.
It was during a sojourn overseas that the East Fremantle resident came up with the idea for her current venture, Money School. Launched in 2014, the business is aimed at teaching parents how to manage finances, with a section devoted to telling them how to pass knowledge onto their own kids.
“The idea formed six years ago as part of a mini-retirement, when I was thinking about how mum had taught me so much, and how we don’t get taught financial management in school.”
She reckons some aspects of finance could spice up maths classes but it’s still something that needs to be taught at home.
“There’s a lot of morals and ethics involved.”
It’s also important, she says, for children to see good financial management at home which they can later incorporate into their own life.
This year Ms Filipich is celebrating International Women’s Day by launching her courses online, which she says will help keep costs down, and make them more accessible.
Going online has meant sacrifices at home because she’s been working 16 to 18 hours a day for the past month, while managing to get up three times a night to breastfeed her seven-month-old son.
Good family support, she says, is pivotal to her success: mum Fran moved across from Brisbane to help when Ms Filipich set up Money School, and her husband’s parents are also happy to pitch in.
Ms Filipich says the advantage of her school is it’s independent of financial products.
“You go to your bank for financial advice … well, they make their money from debt, so that’s what you’ll probably end up with.”
She’s dismissive of the ease with which financial institutions offer credit cards.
“I mean, even the name — they’re debt cards.”
Ms Filipich says her advice can be broken down into two simple ideas: save money, buy assets.
Her first asset came when she put a deposit on an apartment at the age of 19, in the second year of an engineering degree.
But she’d shown an entrepreneurial streak well before then.
Having seen the ‘90s fad of her hair wraps while on holiday, the youngster decided to run a stall offering them at her school fete. She taught five friends how to do the wraps and they pulled in $300 at the only stall run solely by primary school students.
The school took the lot, arguing the fete was a fundraiser. Devastated but undaunted, she ran another stall at the next fete, this time deducting “salaries” before declaring profit.
Ms Filipich worked part-time jobs throughout high school and saved hard, earning her the cash to buy the Brisbane apartment, which she still owns and rents out.
She’s since added to the stable and pulls in about $40,000 a year from investment properties.
Ms Filipich worked in the lucrative fly-in, fly-out mining industry and rose to management level. But she threw that in after deciding it wasn’t for her.
“I didn’t like the one-in-five people who consume most of your time,” she said, wryly.
She didn’t feel any impediments in the sector because of her gender: “I have never felt restricted,” she said. “I have been the only woman in a room with vice-presidents and executives from BHP and have never felt that I should not be there, that I was there because of my skills.”
She says much of her confidence stems from her mother’s influence: her parents divorced when she was young, and after struggling for a few years her mum decided to get financially savvy. Most crucially, she decided to instil it in her daughter.
Ms Filipich’s advice to young women: “For a young woman in business, don’t take no for an answer and don’t apologise. I see too many women start sentences with ‘I’m sorry’.
“If you are good at something, own it.”
Ms Filipich says her father, also a businessman, instilled in her confidence about her own body, so she was never bogged down by self-image or self-esteem problems.
“For those girls who spend an hour in front of the mirror working on their hair and makeup, I would say ‘invest that time in your brain’.
“What you do with your body will fade with age, but what happens in your mind will be here forever.”