Shivani Gopal is founder and CEO of The Remarkable Woman, a leadership and mentoring organisation that gives women access to the tools they need to advance their careers. Shivani also works with organisations in providing leadership programs to retain and promote future talent and diversity training to senior leaders.
What was your first job?
I got my first job at McDonald’s as soon as I was old enough to work: 14 years and 9 months! I couldn’t wait to start working and making my own money.
I was hoping I’d be on the front counter – I really love interacting with people and was super excited to say “You want fries with that?”
Unfortunately, I was usually on dining room duty, and the bins I had to empty were almost as tall as me! I liked it, though. It gave me structure, training and, of course, my very own money.
What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?
It came from my parents: never rely on a man for your money.
It gave me the mental perspective I needed to be the independent woman I am today.
As my future would have it, I ended up getting divorced at an early age. My financial independence was the liferaft that made the choice of leaving easier for me and that made rebuilding my life easier thereafter.
What’s the best investment decision you’ve made?
The first is my education. I know that no matter what happens in life I can lean back into my education and find a way to support myself.
The second is good risk management: having insurance. I took out an insurance policy for everything: life, TPD, trauma and income protection when I was 18.
It paid off too when, nine years later, I had to make a partial trauma claim for an unexpected illness.
We’re not unbreakable despite feeling that way at times, especially in our early 20s. It’s important we take care of ourselves, and important that we insure against our risks, too. It was one of the smartest (and at the time most goaded) decisions I’ve ever made.
What’s the worst investment decision you’ve made?
Buying a house at 19 because if I didn’t “the market would keep going up”, according to the real estate agent. Sure, the market has gone up since then but it also did significantly correct itself in the year after I purchased.
The purchase wasn’t the right kind of property for me in terms of the amount of renovation work that was needed to get it to turn a profit and I ended up selling it at a loss.
It’s taught me some solid life lessons, however, from a young age, on the need to not just buy the right asset but also the kind that you can hold onto for the right period to actually turn a profit.
What is your favourite thing to splurge on?
Experiences: dinners out and holidays. I love spending time with the people I love and making memories that I’ll keep forever.
If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?
Right back into The Remarkable Woman! We’re investing into some technology right now that will enable our mentoring programs for women, their learning and leadership outcomes, be even stronger. So any funds I put towards it helps us create more female leaders of the future.
What would you do if you had only $50 left in your bank account?
I started with nothing, so I’d go back to basics and do what got me to this point: spend less, learn more, invest wisely and work hard.
Do you intend to leave an inheritance?
I don’t have any children but when I do, yes, absolutely.
What can women do to become more financially independent?
See a good financial adviser and make some solid long-term investments. Review your super early because women tend to retire on around half of what men do, ask for a pay rise if you deserve it and always self-educate before you delegate: whether it be to your partner for money decisions or your adviser. Read the paperwork, know what your getting yourself into and be part of the decision-making process. The knowledge will make you richer too.
Finish this sentence: money makes …
…the right choices possible. If you are financially independent you can choose to build that business on the side or quit your day job altogether, you can choose to take on a new course, you can choose to buy a better home for your family, or it can help you make the choice of leaving an unhappy (or unsafe) relationship easier.
Money is critical for the choices in life it affords you.