Podcast – Lacey Filipich on Life, Money, Mini-retirements, and Death

Captain FI Financial Independence podcast – Lacey Filipich

Lacey started her entrepreneurial journey with a hair wrap stall at 10 years old. Today, she’s the co-founder and director of two successful education businesses; Money School and Maker Kids Club.

Between hair wraps and start-ups, Lacey graduated as valedictorian from the University of Queensland with an Honours degree in Chemical Engineering. She moved to Australia’s ‘wild west’ to begin her career in mining, rising quickly through the ranks on site. A health scare and her sister’s death opened her eyes to the world beyond work, leading her to redesign her life.

Lacey started investing at 19 and now earns a passive income from her assets. She considers herself ‘financially independent time rich’ – FITR. she is able to choose if, when, where, how, on what and with whom she works.

Helping others learn the skills they need to achieve financial independence is how she chooses to spend her time, and she has authored an award-winning book ‘Money School’ as a resource for everyone working towards becoming FITR with their money!

Lacey Filipich

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Introduction to Lacey Filipich

I first heard of Lacey when I watched a TEDx talk she gave at the University of Western Australia in 2018 on the concept of mini-retirements, that is, taking regular sabbaticals throughout a career as part of a genuine commitment to work life balance, and I thought it was brilliant.

Lacey was so genuine and brutally honest about her life experience and struggles working in such a high stress operational role in the mining industry. Listening to her talk about trying to balance her career, family life and deteriorating personal health issues really struck a chord with me as it sounded all too familiar to balancing my high-stakes and stress career as a pilot with multiple family and personal issues.

Laceys TEDx talk has nearly reached one million viewers on YouTube, and I still get goosebumps every time I watch it.

Lacey Filipich TED
Lacey Filipich presenting her TED speech on Financial Independence

Lacey is the Author of Money School, a book she founded with and dedicated to her late mother Fran. Lacey credits Fran for much of her financial success; from encouraging her to save from a young age, helping her early business ventures through to gently nudging her into rethinking an expensive first car purchase into a deposit on an apartment at only 19 years old. 

Lacey continues to run Money School to honor Fran’s legacy. Her mission is to teach young people the skills they need to become financially independent, in line with Frans motto ‘It is never too late to start on the path to financial independence’. 

I love their book so much that I have since bought dozens of copies to give away to friends and family, and it’s a regular feature for my online giveaways. It is a brilliant and practical guide on how to work towards becoming financially independent and time rich, which has even got some people calling her the ‘female version of the barefoot investor’

“Financial independence makes me time rich, so I get to choose how I spend my time.”

Lacey Filipich

Money School tackles a pretty huge but often neglected part of FIRE – that is, what does the RE part even mean? Vicki Robbins famously said, “Financial Independence is just the beginning, and I love Laceys take on what comes next. 

I felt a huge sense of connection to Lacey and her story. Learning a bit more about her, I found out that not only was she a great public speaker and a talented writer, but she was also a savvy entrepreneur and bloody great with her money.

I also found out that Lacey is probably one of the nicest and most compassionate human beings around. She has personally helped me through some difficult periods in my life, like helping me to navigate my parents terminal illnesses, overcoming the trauma of family members suicide attempts and dealing with my own mental health issues as I agonized with the decision whether to leave my high-stress flying career or stay.

As you might know, I recently took the plunge and it was bloody scary. But having pioneers like Lacey there setting a great example and only ever a message away, I have never felt so privileged to be part of this unique, wholesome and genuine community. 

I feel super privileged to have her on the pod today, so without further adue lets get stuck in

Captain FI Podcast – Lacey Filipich on Life, Money, Mini-retirements and Death

Show notes

  • Check out Money School’s enterprise education for kids – Maker Kids Club – helping aspiring kidpreneurs launch and run their own micro-businesses

Founded by mother-daughter team Lacey Filipich and the late Fran White, we help you master money so you can experience the ultimate freedom: the final say on how you spend your time. This allows you to enjoy life now, instead of working your butt off during your prime years on the elusive promise of a relaxing end-of-life retirement.

Since 2010 we’ve helped thousands of people around the world become debt free, start saving and get on the path to becoming Financially Independent, Time Rich (FITR). Our Money Schoolers feel in control of their money, confident in their future, and excited about escaping the 9-5 grind.

Lacey Filipich and Fran White
Lacey Filipich’s TED talk on Financial independence and mini-retirements

Transcript with Lacey Filipich

Captain FI: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard the financial independence podcast.

Gday and welcome to another episode of captain FIRE, the financial independence podcast, where I open the cockpit to some of the best and brightest in personal finance, as well as those who have reached or are on their way to financial independence. Before we get started, remember nothing said, here is financial advice, and you should always do your own independent research before making any financial choices with that being said, I hope you enjoy the episode and learn something

new buckle up ladies and Jan. Because fair [00:01:00] warning. This is gonna be a pretty long intro. Before we get this interview off the ground. I first heard of Lacey after she gave a TEDx talk at the university of Western Australia in 2018 on the concept of mini retirements that is taking regular sabbaticals throughout a career as part of a genuine commitment to a work life balance.

And I thought the concept was brilliant. Lacey was so genuine and brutally honest about her life experience and struggles working in such a high stress operational role in the mining industry. Listening to her, talk about trying to balance her career family life and deteriorating personal health issues really struck a chord with me as it sounded all too familiar today.

Lacey’s TEDx talk has nearly reached 1 million viewers on YouTube and I still get goosebumps every time I watch it. Lacey is the author of money school, a [00:02:00] book she founded with and dedicated to her late mother Fran Lacey credits Fran for much of her financial success from encouraging her to save from a young age, helping her early business ventures right through to gently nudging her into rethinking.

Perhaps that first expensive first car purchase would be better spent on a deposit for an apartment at only 19 years old, Lacy continues to run money school to honor France legacy. And her mission is to teach young people the skills they need to become financially independent in line with France motto.

It is never too late to start on the path to financial independence, but money school also tackles a pretty huge, but often neglected part of FIRE. That is what does the re part even mean? Vicky Robbins, another famous author once said. Financial independence is just the beginning and I love [00:03:00] Lacey’s take on what comes next.

I actually like their book so much that I’ve seen, bought dozens of copies to give away to friends and family. And it’s a pretty regular feature on my online giveaways. I think it’s a brilliant and practical guide on how to work towards becoming financially independent and time rich, which has even got some people in the industry referring to her as the female version of the barefoot investor.

I felt a huge sense of connection to Lacey and her story. Learning a bit more about her. I found out that not only was she a fantastic public speaker and a very talented writer, but she’s also a pretty savvy entrepreneur and bloody great with her money. I also found out that Lacey is probably one of the nicest and most compassionate human beings around.

She has personally helped me through some really difficult periods in my life. Like helping navigate my parents’ terminal illnesses, overcoming some of the trauma of my family. Member’s suicide attempts [00:04:00] and dealing with some of my own mental health issues. As I agonized with the decision, whether to leave my high stress flying career or stay, as you might know, I recently took the plunge to FIRE and it was pretty bloody scary, but having pioneers like Lacy there setting some great examples and only ever being a message away, I’ve really never felt so privileged to be a part of this unique, awesome and genuine community.

So Lacey thank you so much for making time to come on the pod. 

Lacey: Oh, thank you so much for having me. And I know you can’t see me right now, but I’m really blushing. That was so lovely. Thank you, Cap.

Captain FI: Ah, no worries. It’s great to be able to, chat and be able to share this stuff publicly.

Lacy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Lacey: Yeah, no problems. I can talk as you’re about to hear. I grew up in Brisbane and I grew up with a sister who was a couple years younger than me. And when I was, I think about eight, my parents split up. So I had a pretty common experience back then, that was in the [00:05:00] early nineties, which was.

They didn’t have a lot of child support stuff on offer for the mom, which was usually the primary carer. There was much less of this 50 50 there. So I basically grew up with a single mom and my dad, although he earned a lot of money with his construction business, didn’t pay a whole lot of child support cause it was his own business.

And there was very interesting strategy around his deductions as I learned when I was his bookkeeper for a little while. But that experience brought money into sharp contrast for me. Cause I could see my dad who was making a lot of money. Spending a lot of money as well on lots of lovely things.

And then my mom, who was on a shoestring raising my sister and I, she was earning about originally, it was less than 20 grand a year when they first split. And I think she got up to about 30. And then I basically out earned her after I left university. She never earned a lot of money, but she was really smart with her money so she had a big influence on me and I was just a pretty normal nerdy kid.

Loved maths, always loved maths from the beginning. Loved problem solving was very happy to do anything to do with [00:06:00] chemistry, physics, that kind of thing, and was pretty much into individual sports through high school into gymnastics and judo and those kinds of things, and a bit of a nerd, which wasn’t as popular as it is today.

One of those kids that was a bit quiet, a lot of reading but out of all of that discovered I love problem solving. And so I chose engineering as my career.

Captain FI: Yes. And I actually started my career in engineering as well. And I don’t know, I think there’s something about, that love of math love of numbers. It draws you into engineering field, do you think it lends people to maybe being a bit better with money than other careers?

Lacey: I do think so well. And also engineering’s about problem solving more so than just the maths, right? The maths is just the mechanism by which you solve the problems. So you don’t actually need to be good at maths to solve problems, but that’s, I assume why so many engineers end up there because logic problems and any kind of mathematical problem, it’s the same kind of, how do you go that process of solving the problem?

And when I think about modern life, The way we solve the [00:07:00] problem of modern life is to work as hard as we can to earn as much money as we can to spend it on things. And it’s no surprise to me at all that a lot of engineers go well, that’s a silly way to spend my time. not a very good way to use my money.

And we’re also, I think, as a genre of people obsessed with reducing waste, we don’t like to waste time. We don’t like to waste resources. So it’s, I see a lot of overlap between how people manage their money well, and how engineers just do their day to day job. 

Captain FI: Absolutely. I’ve heard a lot that personal finances, something like 90% behavior or problem solving and, 10% numbers.

Lacey: Yeah, that makes sense. And I really agree with that. I think the maths that’s probably the other part of it. The maths really isn’t as hard as we would think. I know compound interest looks a bit scary, anything where you’re gonna do any kind of calculation like that, but it really is just algebra and most of us who’ve done engineering have done much more interesting math than that.

Had to worry about things that are a lot more complicated. So the algebra doesn’t look too intimidating. And the good thing is, of course, [00:08:00] there’s so many online calculators and tools these days that you really don’t even need to be good at the maths at all, to be able to cope with money. 

Captain FI: I was gonna say, yeah, isn’t that what excels for? Or yeah, the internet someone else will do it 

Lacey: That is exactly right. And it used to be this thing when I was a kid, where you had to understand how the maths worked. And even when I was a graduate engineer, the older engineers would bemoan how little we understood of the underlying principles and their explanation was always if you don’t understand the underlying principles, then you can be fooled by a calculation. That’s gone wrong. And I think there was that’s to a certain extent. True. But most of the time, 99% of the time the calculation works. And so you don’t need to have that underlying theory. And so anyone who’s worried about their math skills listening to this, you don’t need to be good at math. If you got through year five, you’re pretty much right. 

Captain FI: Yeah. And another thing you don’t have to be very good at English to run a website. Me as a case in point . 

Lacey: Yeah. Isn’t it fascinating how the world’s changed. We all got in trouble for our bad spelling and bad grammar and then all of a sudden it’s okay.

And I guess engineers were used to communicating in dot points. I always say to people like, it [00:09:00] really surprised me when penguin wanted me to write the book. Cause I was like, I’m an engineer, right? Like I’m used to writing dot points and mostly numbers and they were quite happy to take the risk. Cause it turns out that all that stuff can be fixed. . 

Captain FI: Oh, gosh. , so you worked in operations, in mining and you, I think you said you worked in projects and restructuring. Yeah. So obviously, there’s project management like that it’s pretty involved and, like cost optimization.

It’s a big thing. So obviously finance became a big part of your professional life. But looking back on the, sort of the start of your money journey, what did it look like and what was the trigger for you to even start thinking about financial independence or saving in investing your money?

Lacey: That’s, I think quite interesting when I’ve looked back on it, I didn’t even know the term FIRE until 2018. I’d never heard of it until that point. I hadn’t known that was a movement. So I never really started out with this FIRE thing as a goal. What I had seen was my mom struggling with money and she was a magician, [00:10:00] but not having much of it now for us, it didn’t really matter too much.

We felt safe. We felt loved. We were clothed, but we didn’t have money to spare. And I know that had a big influence in my mom’s decision making when I got a scholarship to high school. So it was a full ride. I didn’t have to pay for our private school. That was life changing for her because she felt like she could give us this amazing education, but she wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise.

So I was always conscious of money, but never in this way of wow, we’re gonna be in real trouble. If mom doesn’t get a pay rise or anything, I always felt safe. So it was present, but not stressful if you get what I mean. And so I became aware of that where my parents split up.

Particularly because mom went from being, in a double income household to being a single mom and not getting much child support. And I guess, cause I was the older sibling, she started talking to me about things a lot more. My sister was involved too, but I think I showed more natural interest.

And so I started understanding how she was making decisions. And I got excited about earning some money through my own business. When I was 10, I started [00:11:00] a hair wrap business, which will really date me, cuz that was popular in the early nineties’s you to take cotton and wrap it around your hair. And the cotton piece would stay in your hair for a week or a month.

And it was decorative and very attractive to 10 year old girls. And so I started this business and it was when I was going to the first event in the car next to my mom. And she said, what are you gonna do with the money you make? And I was talking about spending it and she told me. How, when you put money in the bank gives you more money.

And of course back then interest rates were like 10%, right? They were really positive, not like the measly couple of percent you get at the moment. And as she explained it to me, she said it was like rabbits breeding it was quite a graphic reference. She explained that it would just compound up and that’s what really got me hooked on the idea of saving.

It was just that one. Hey, did you know, the bank will give you more money and explaining how it bred up. And that was really, that was it. From then on in, I was like, wow, I want as much money in the bank as I can get. So started saving half of every dollar I’ve ever earned. And that was really like the pivotal point that got me interested in money.[00:12:00] 

And then as I got a bit older, my mom, she was a bookkeeper at the time. And then later qualified as an accountant and she was working for. Individuals who were doing amazing things with their money. And she was watching these different things they were doing. And she was learning about the tax code and she was seeing how they invested and how they bought shares and property particularly.

And she was thinking, wow, how can I do that one day? She didn’t have enough money, but she was learning about it. And she started getting me involved in the learning. She took me along to this seminar. I remember it when I was about 17 was at the gap Tavern. I grew up in the gap in Brisbane and this guy was doing a talk.

And usually these talks are all about selling you into a product, right? You go in and they go, Hey, we would like you to buy our, whatever it is. And on this occasion, it wasn’t like that. He talked about how to buy quality undervalued assets. And that really got my interest. So mum got me rich dad port at it.

And then the next thing you know, I was buying apartments and here we are. 

Captain FI: Wow. Hearing you talk about your upbringing and your family life. [00:13:00] I feel like I could be talking to , one of my older sisters, because there’s so many similarities between our upbringing. Unfortunately I never started a hair wrap business.

I don’t know if I’d be a good like spokesperson for that at the moment. I feel like I’m getting bolder and bolder every day. It’s a cruel reality of aging as a bloke. But no, that’s awesome. So saving half your money and just seeing the interest Interest coming every month or whatever on your deposits.

. And and then, so you went into property fairly young. Yeah. Did you, at what point did you start looking at shares or, index funds managed funds, that kind of stuff? Or did you just stick to property from a young age?

Lacey: I did property the first one when I was 19. And the story about that. So I was gonna, like you mentioned, I was gonna buy a car and mom said, oh, that’d be the deposit on an apartment. She was very good at just planting a seed. Not giving me a big lecture. And so six months later she was helping me go and look at apartments and work out which ones I could afford and all that sort of stuff.

So I did that from 19 and then I bought another property when I was 21 [00:14:00] and then 23. So I had three properties at the age of 23, and I had just moved from Cal goly to Quana and we’d had a change of ownership of the company. I originally worked for Western mining corporation WMC, and they’re a bit of a store wart in the mining industry in Australia and BHP bill at the time.

Now just BHP had taken us over. So we just had the change of labels. And with Western mining, there’d been an options program. You got given a thousand dollars worth of options every year. And I let mine expire cause I didn’t know what they meant and no one explained it to me and my mom wasn’t into options trading then.

And so I just didn’t even think about it. I certainly now when I look back at it, I think, wow. Imagine what those options would’ve been worth. That’s a bit embarrassing. But out of that, BHP introduced a share scheme. So they offered an employee share scheme, which was designed to keep people honors employees, cuz they were worried about retention.

It was that you didn’t get a discount on the shares. You bought them at market rate, but they bought them automatically for you from your salary. And then if you stayed for three years, they matched, you share for share. So if you’d bought 50 shares, they’d [00:15:00] give you another 50 shares in three years time.

So great retention scheme. I of course left before I got matched unfortunately, but that was my first introduction to buying my own shares. I’d had a managed fund in my teens. So I had said to mum, I wanted to do better than the interest rate cuz interest rates were dropping and she helped me find what was an originally a Rothschild managed fund.

And I put a lot of my savings in there. So I understood that idea of a managed fund. But hadn’t bought individual company shares or anything to do with ETFs or indexing at all at that point. But getting those BHP shares had been my first introduction to owning a share in my name. And I think I was about 24 or 25 at that point.

So that’s when I got started. And then I was watching shares that I was like, oh wow, this is interesting. And I had a guy at my work, Gary, who I still remember. He was an active trader. I learned a lot from the people I worked with. They were very happy to share their knowledge with me. And I could tell what the market was doing because Gary was either banging his head on the keyboard.

Cause it was a bad day or he was walking around smiling and I remember seeing that thinking, that’s not how I wanna be. I [00:16:00] don’t want to be responding to what the market’s doing every day. That is not my idea of a good time. I don’t wanna be having a bad day just because the market’s turned down or the share I’ve bought’s.

I don’t wanna be thinking like that and that really set my direction. So from there I started looking at what shares I could get that weren’t going to be these big swings in that I could pretty much set and forget as much as I possibly could. And that’s what led me to ETFs. And LICs

Captain FI: Fran sounds like a wonderful influence.

And , I like how you said, she was able to plant the seed rather than be more directive. I often get feedback that I have the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We’re talking about personal finance with my friends. I actually, I have a friend who works for BHP.

He does some share trading and like rather frustratingly. He does amazingly out of the share trading. I think it’s like paid his mortgage off. Huh? Wow. And every time I talk to him, I’m like, no, this shouldn’t be possible. I’m pretty sure the data says. You gotta have index funds. And he is ah, yep.

That, that invests in some mining corporation [00:17:00] and off it goes. So yeah. Some people are really good at it. Yes. But yeah I’m not very good at it. I just stick with the boring. Boring stuff.

Lacey: Me too. And look, I do know people the same as you that have done well, I know a lot more people who don’t tell you how much they’ve lost in that process.

It’s just like the people who win lottery occasionally or, do well on a particular bit. They don’t tell you about how much they’ve lost. So I’m always a little bit skeptical cause they only tell me about their wins. 

Captain FI: Hello, my name’s captain FIRE and I’m at traders anonymous. I did try and trade the market and.

I underperformed like actually for a long time, I tried to convince myself that no, I got around the index, but no, I definitely underperform the index, but anyway I’ll call that an investment in my own education. So people go through. Yeah. So look lace one things I really wanted to talk with you about today was obviously a pretty inspirational TEDx talk about mini retirements.

I’m gonna have a link in the show notes to the actual, I think it’s [00:18:00] about a 15 minute clip. I’ll see if can splice some really cool soundbites in, but for those who haven’t seen your talk what is a mini retirement and why might they help someone on their career if they’re wanting to reach financial independence?

Lacey: Look, I think this is a really central idea. If you’re gonna do FIRE this idea that you don’t delay gratification forever, and the idea that we’re gonna work. For 40 or 50 years and then retire at the end, just doesn’t make sense anymore when we live so long and when our quality of life changes so much and when we can make money earlier.

So I first came across that idea of mini retirements when I was reading the four hour work week, which I know you’re a fan of as well. Good old Tim Ferris. And I had already had one mini retirement by that point. And I hadn’t realized that’s what it was called, but having read the book, I was like, wow, you can do this regularly.

What a great idea. And the idea is instead of waiting until the end of that life retirement, so that 20 to 30 years stretching after 65, you [00:19:00] bring chunks of that into your working life earlier. And those chunks can be as shorter, as long as you like. When I was reading Tim Ferris’s book, he was saying three to six months is good.

You can do 12 months. You can do a couple of years, but anything that allows you to take a decent amount of time off. And for those of us that are used to working with four weeks of annual leave a year, Generally, we don’t take those four weeks at one point. So we often take a couple of weeks. You’d know how it feels at the end of that two weeks, right?

Just at the end of the two weeks, you’re just starting to relax. You’re really just starting to unwind. And the point was, if you just keep doing that, you never get this downtime. You never get the unwinding of the pressure and the alarm clocks and all that stuff. And unfortunately you don’t get real respite by having a mini retirement, having, a few weeks, a few months.

And I had, most of my mini retirements were four to six months. You really get to experience what it feels like to be retired, not waking up to an alarm clock, not having a schedule, not really even knowing what day it is. Sometimes indulging all your interests. It might be travel, [00:20:00] eventually , we’re certainly gonna be allowed to travel again soon.

It might be learning a hobby. It might be writing a book, but doing something that is completely devoid of your normal day to day work and having that recharge. And doing those as often as you like. So I had a, in a five year period, I had five mini retirements that was about 22 months in total. So that’s a pretty big chunk of time off when you add it all up, but broken up over those little bits and pieces.

So in between those I would work. And so having learned that was an option. And I decided to build that into my lifestyle. I discovered that you couldn’t do it really well with the company I was working for. They were happy for me to take one big chunk of leave, but I didn’t like the idea of me coming and going , twice a year.

So I ended up moving to consulting to make that happen, but it was worth it to get that experience. And I feel like I’ve managed to have decent breaks of time. And my now husband has also been able to do that while our kids are young, while we are still in good health, while we can do the things we wanna do.

And we’re not waiting for that end of life retirement. And that’s really the point. So you might have heard it [00:21:00] called a sabbatical elsewhere, but it’s the same thing. Take a break during your working life before you reach. 

Captain FI: Oh, I can tell you, there is nothing better than not setting an alarm. 

Lacey: I agree.

Captain FI: Alarms were the ban of my life when I was working. And like, when you are setting an alarm at three o’clock in the morning when you’re so jetlagged and you are just like literally eating the nest cafe SAS, because rather than making the coffee, because it’s, you’re trying to get an extra 30 seconds of sleep.

Yeah, I hated it. So and I always found as well, when I did take like annual leave or entitlements, I like I’d get sick. That’d be like the first thing that would happen. I’d be like, I’d get home. I’d be like, cool. Got two weeks. I’m gonna do so much. Cool shit. And then I’d literally get a cold.

And I’d just be like, God, 

Lacey: yeah. Your body finally gets a break. It goes, oh, hallelujah. Now I would lucky to recover. You need to [00:22:00] stay in bed. It’s just what happens. It happens. Yeah. I remember the same thing. It’s awful. Isn’t it? 

Captain FI: Yeah. So it’s been an interesting adjustment period for me lately.

I seem to be settling into a pretty cool routine, getting up when the sun gets up in the morning. I’ve got a dog now, so we go for we go for stroll in the mornings. I gotta be careful not to use the w word because she’s sitting on my feet at the moment under my desk.

I tried really hard to get her to go and sit on the couch. She’s, she just loves being loves being with me. Yeah. But yeah, so we’re enjoying figuring out our routine for what is, and what isn’t an appropriate amount of time to spend blogging or podcasting trying to juggle, spending more time with family and stuff.

Yeah. It’s brilliant. So my question it’s probably not so much for my benefit now, but for sort of people that are listening, who, are leaning towards this idea of the sabbatical or mini retirements Particularly in aviation, right? Because that was the industry that I worked in.

Currency is super important. And that is if you have a [00:23:00] big break from flying often you’re pretty rusty. And your landings are pretty bad when you get back and you can usually bash that out in the SIM. Or, after, a couple of sectors, you usually pick it up pretty quick.

But I imagine there’s like plenty of careers there where, currency is just as valid. Are there any tips That you can pass on for ways people can stay competitive or stay current in their role during or after one of these mini retirements. Without, stressing themselves out during the mini retirement.

Lacey: Yeah. You gotta have that balance. And I think that’s where there’s a couple of things at play. So first of all, how long is your mini retirement going to be? If you’re gonna take a couple of years off then yeah, you are definitely gonna be rusty, but if you’re just gonna do three months, that might not be massive.

So that’s the first thing to think about is in relation to what you’re doing and your particular career, how long could you take off before you would feel that pinch it’s the same advice I often give to moms who are returning to work as well, or any parent who’s had some parenting leave. It’s about that, how long you’ve been away.

[00:24:00] First of all, if there’s that, the second thing I would say is don’t let go of your networks. So just because you’ve finished a job, if you’ve been allowed to take leave from a job and you’re gonna go back to that same role with that same organization, it’s very easy because they know you’re coming back, but a lot of people will move to contract work or consulting work to make this kind of lifestyle possible, which is certainly what I had to do.

My operational role. Couldn’t continue doing that. So I had to move to consulting. When you have that, if you’re leaving a company or leaving an organization, each time you finish, you’ve gotta make sure you keep that network alive. So that might be that you spend some time on LinkedIn at, every month you might go in and shoot a few people, a message or do some phone calls, a phone call makes you stand out these days because everybody pretty much relies on emails, but just enough to keep those professional networks alive is generally enough to keep you front of mind.

If a new role comes up. Or if you’re ready to come back in, it’s not like you’re just coming in cold. So I think that’s really important if [00:25:00] you have a qualification that needs to be maintained. So you need to do regular, career professional development or any kind of continuity. Try to keep that up would always be my advice because it’s so hard to catch up later if you let it lapse.

So even if that means during your mini retirement of six months, you’re gonna spend a day at training or two days at training. It’s probably worth it to keep that continuity and keep that network up. So you don’t have to think of it as complete abandonment, but also keep in mind that whole, what are you gonna do next?

The other thing I think, which you’ve talked a little bit about is if you’re gonna run your own business, How can you set that up and how can you have the coverage you need? So that business doesn’t die while you’re taking your break or has some way of continuing with a bit of support, or can you have a business that you turn off or on?

It’s a really big area. You can spend a lot of time puzzling through this, and there’s lots of options, but having a plan and then knowing what you’re gonna do and how long it’s gonna be means that you can work out. What’s the best way to keep current in your particular.

Captain FI: Yeah. So [00:26:00] plan ahead.

Don’t just Leroy Jenkins it, submit a six month leave app and flip the bird as you run outta the office, throwing paperwork over your shoulder.

Lacey: that’ll be a great look. You could try it. I dunno if you’d get to go back 

Captain FI: yeah, that probably lead to a full time retirement, or you just say to him, oh, did you get FIREd?

Lacey: I hit FIRE. It’s different. Yeah. Yeah. I like that. That’s good. I don’t think that’s that balance too. You can imagine people flipping out like that because they’re so stressed. The point of doing these mini retirements is to not let yourself get that stressed. It’s much easier to put up with all the bureaucracy and BS when you’re not really wired because you know that you can take some time to unwind and then you can deal with it when you come back.

And so you’re less likely to have those huge outbursts 

Captain FI: look, I’m guilty as charged. I very rarely took leave and basically. I didn’t quite throw paperwork and swear as I left the office, but it wasn’t exactly the most graceful exit. And I know that you you came to a bit of a [00:27:00] boiling point as well in your operations role, how did, like, how did you know enough was enough?

And it was time for you to move on from your engineering career? Cause look, it’s a difficult job to get into chemical engineering. It’s, four or five year degree to start with, then you gotta do all the PDT, build your way up. You build yourself up into this pretty senior.

Position. And the last thing you wanna do is throw that away. What was going through your mind when it was time to move on? 

Lacey: It was a massive existential crisis for me. I had, since I was in high school and then at university been convinced, I wanted to be CEO of a big company and BHP was the perfect place to be.

So I had got myself onto the fast track in BHP and I was being streamlined to be a vice president within five years and all that stuff. So they were moving me around as a superintendent from department to department and I was 110% in, I wanted to be up the top eventually. And I really thought that was my career goal.

And so engineering was a great way to get [00:28:00] there and I loved doing it, but I, it was strategic most I think engineers as the highest proportion apart from MBAs of CEOs in Australia, there’s a lot of engineers who are CEOs. And I thought, oh, this will get me there. And of course. That was all going really well.

And then three things in quick succession happened. First one was I burned out, so I just pushed myself too hard. I had 18 months with no holidays working long hours, not looking after myself at all. And what happened in the end was I actually got a virus. So there’s nothing I could have really done about that.

We still dunno what virus it was, but it took half my hearing on my, in my right ear. So I’m part deaf now in my right ear, which is really annoying for my family. Cause I refuse to wear a hearing aid one day I’ll have to do that, but at the moment I can get away with it. But it left me better at him for five weeks.

And in your mid twenties, you still think you’re invincible. I did anyway. I’m sure there’s probably people who are listening that still think that and lucky you, but that was the first time I realized I wasn’t invincible and I had to look after myself and I thought, do I really wanna be the person who slogs their way to the top, but is decrepit or has had heart attacks or strokes or any of that sort of stuff, [00:29:00] is this really worth it?

So that was the first thing. And I thought I’ll just go and have this holiday. I had my first mini retirement three months going through south America with my boyfriend at the time. Now my husband and recovered and thought, oh yeah, I can come back and do this. It’ll be okay. And I’ll just, try and have more of these mini retirements.

So I came back to the same company and within a couple of months, two things happened. The first one was that my sister ended her own life and she was 24 and she had mental health issues. Since she was very young, but they had been really noticeable since she was about 18, so six years. So we knew she was ill.

She’d had three attempts, but as the doctors described it, they were cry for help attempts, not really serious attempts. And she had been looking really good. In the year leading up to her final decision. She was engaged. She had a fun fiance, much older than her, but he was lovely guy. She had a good job.

She was pretty healthy and she was looking after herself and she was seeing a psychologist regularly. [00:30:00] And I don’t know really why it happened. I still still think, wow, I can’t believe she, she did it, but when she did it, she was serious. She didn’t wanna be found this time. She was only found the following morning and she arranged it that way.

And it was at that point that I had this moment of, oh my gosh. Imagine being 24. And first of all, feeling, that’s the only way out. But second of all, life’s so short. So amid all that grief. Cause of course it’s an enormous amount of grief. Losing your sibling. And she was the sibling I grew up with. And although I had lived on the west coast for a while, she was the only one I had because of growing up with her since then I’ve got a half sister who lives in wa but that’s another story.

But at that time it was just really shocking to me that life was so short and so final. And I should also add that I’m not religious I’m agnostic. I’m very happy for people to have faith, but I’m not, I wasn’t sure if there was an afterlife or anything. And it was that idea of, wow, that’s the end. So final, and seeing a dead body.

Cause I hadn’t seen a dead body before that was really confronting. And so I had that going through my [00:31:00] head this whole, wow, life’s short, this is a really big deal. And then I got this promotion at the same time and I thought this promotion was gonna solve all my problems at work. That finally I was gonna have some autonomy and I just.

I didn’t , it’s just the further you go up the chain, the more meat you are in the sandwich. And even when you get to CEO, it turns out the board is in charge. And then the shareholders are in charge of the board. There’s no point at which you get to make decisions autonomously in a big company. And so I had those three things happen in really close succession.

And this existential crisis was, do I really wanna be a CEO of a big business anymore? And the answer was no. So why would I stay? And so I resigned, I opted out and said, I’m gonna have another mini retirement. And while I was on that mini retirement, I found a different purpose, which became money school.

But yeah, it was a pretty traumatic experience. I think a lot of people go through in their twenties when they’ve spent a few years in their career, this thing that they’ve been working so hard for, and then they realize, Hey, this is not where I wanted to be. [00:32:00] 

Captain FI: Wow. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Hey, Lacey yeah I’m really sorry to. Hear about what you had to go through with your sister at?

Lacey: Oh, thank you. I know it’s been so long now 13 years that I can talk about it now without falling to pieces, it was awful at the time and it’s just, it, a lot of it’s directed a lot of my life. I’m sure these things, they change everybody, it’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to do something different. That’s what I think I’ve taken out of it. And if it’s that’s the small silver lining on a very big, dark, horrible thunderstorm cloud, that was that experience. But yeah it’s pretty brutal. 

Captain FI: Yeah. I guess that that leads us pretty well into the next question that I was gonna ask you, which was so what is the money, school project all about?

You mentioned that, as a part of your life changing direction, You switched focus from the drive for this, Uber successful CEO driven executive into having a slightly different purpose in life. So [00:33:00] what is that purpose? And what’s the money, school project all about?

Lacey: It’s probably interesting for a lot of people when they think, oh, chemical engineer teaching people about money, but when you hear that background, it all makes sense. I I’d taken that first, my retirement, which a lot of people do, it was three months, south America travel around. A lot of people take long service leave.

When I, again, then resigned and wasn’t working, my friends were all saying to me, how come you don’t have to work? Lacey, how come you can just stay at home for six months? That doesn’t seem fair. And I asked them what they were doing there with their money. And of course they were getting credit cards and car loans and they weren’t saving.

Meanwhile, I had been saving half of every dollar I’d ever earned still. And I was still throwing it all into property and shares. So I was paying down the debt on the properties that I had and just accumulating mu shares and I’m cheap to run. So that wasn’t hard for me. It was very easy for me to just do that 50, 50 mentally.

And I’ve just been doing it for so long now. They don’t even think about it, but it was talking to my friends that I was going, hold on, how come you’ve gotten into all that debt and how come you’re not saving? Didn’t your mom and dad have the talk with you. [00:34:00] Didn’t you get the, this is how money works talk.

And of course they hadn’t. None of them had, none of them had parents who were really very good with money. They had parents who frankly lived to their incomes and didn’t accumulate assets. And weren’t working towards a retirement goal, which I had a role model who was, my mom was there. And then my dad was an example of what not to do but I had those two in my life and I was like, wow.

So we didn’t get taught any of this at school. Did we? That doesn’t seem fair. And so that’s where money school came out. I was like, this, stuff’s not hard. We just need to get kids to learn it early. So it started out me wanting to teach parents how to teach their kids about money. I didn’t wanna go into schools because I didn’t wanna have to deal with the education system.

Cause I’m quite lazy with those sorts of things. I didn’t wanna have to push in any barriers that I didn’t need to. And of course this is before the curriculum had been overhauled. It was 12 years ago, so they hadn’t put all the stuff in the curriculum that they have now about financial education and money smart.

Wasn’t anything flash at that [00:35:00] point. That’s the government’s one. The barefoot investor was still a columnist occasionally on the radio. , it was back in the, those days when they just wasn’t much financial education. And I thought if we could get parents to learn the skills and then teach their children the same way that my mom taught me, the advantage of that would be the values piece would come through because as we talked about, the math is pretty straightforward.

It’s actually the decisions about what works for you, where your values are, how much you’re gonna give, how much do you think is right to save? How do you wanna invest? There’s no absolute answer. That’s right. For everybody, there’s no recipe. And so I hoped by teaching parents that they would then use their values to help influence their children.

So that was the original model. And then out of that, it turned out that there was a lot of adults who were like yeah, that’s nice Lacy, but can you just teach me up teaching grownups about money and then teaching kids separately and yeah, that’s, what’s happened over the last 12 years. 

Captain FI: And so from from the money school project. So the education you’ve released now you and [00:36:00] your your mom Fran co-wrote the money school book as well. I reckon I only read that book maybe six months ago.

Lacey: Oh, really? Cool. 

Captain FI: . So when did you release the book?

Lacey: February, 2020, so yeah, a couple of years ago. So , I wrote the whole lot, my mom doesn’t like to write, I force her to write occasionally I used to she’s since passed away. But so it’s all my words, but I talk a lot about Fran in the book because she’s such a strong role model for me.

And her example, I think is so motivating for older people. And just to, and I say older, cause it’s anyone who’s older than me. It’s a relative term, but she didn’t start investing until she was 49 and got to financial independence when she was 63. So I think her story is probably vastly more inspiring than mine.

I like to tell people, I’m just what happens when you get financial education, with a child. This is what happens. Especially if they can earn a good income and have all those head starts in life. My mum’s story is much more inspiring because it wasn’t easy. She was that single mum with no money.

And so there’s a lot of that in there, but yeah, it came about, [00:37:00] because I had been in an article, which was actually about the FIRE movement. Someone said, can you comment on the FIRE movement? And I was like, what’s that? And I went, oh yeah, that’s what I’m doing. . And and then after that penguin random house read that article went and signed up for my blog.

And the commissioning editor got in touch with me a couple months later and said, would you be interested in writing a book? And I thought it was spam and thought, oh, that can’t be real. Oh, wow. That’s pretty funny. And but I was like, I better call that number. And it was penguin random house head office in Melbourne.

And so that, that’s where that be began. And I just hadn’t realized how far everything had gotten you feel. And I dunno if you’ve had this experience too, cap the screaming into the void when you’re producing content. When you do it early, like cuz when I started financial education was just not really a buzzword at all.

It’s gotten really popular since the barefoot investor came along and I probably should have tweaked that people were reading my blog cuz the barefoot investor tried to buy my business in 2017. But I just thought he was looking at competitors and trying to [00:38:00] take them out. But of course it turns out that people do read your stuff online.

So take note anyone who’s early in their career or their experience of doing a blog, there’s probably people reading that you don’t know about and one of them might be a commissioning editor. You never know 

Captain FI: actually, do you know what? So going off on a tangent here, but sometimes when people subscribe to your mailing list and then they go off on their, maybe not quite their mini retirement, but maybe they go off on their four weeks annual leave and they set like an auto reply on their inbox.

So I get at least at least, a dozen or so a month auto replies. Cuz I like, I send out an email on a newsletter whenever I like publish an article. And I get like responses back from so you know, some executives from some pretty big companies and I’m like oh, good to know that you guys are paying attention.

Lacey: Isn’t it nice. Yeah. 

Captain FI: , cause sometimes like I just think like really. I am not an expert at, on the, at this at all, you’ve been living and breathing this for, would you [00:39:00] say, like it was 12 years now? Yeah. Financial education, but 12 years. Yeah. That, that has been a while. I’m, I’ve relatively newcomer.

I just started blogging about my experience, learning about FIRE and reaching financial independence. And I’ve been happy that I’ve been able to help people. But yeah, definitely. I’m not an expert here, so it’s very humbling to see when when people are paying attention. 

Lacey: Yeah. But to find an expert, honestly I’ve never done a finance degree and I’ve deliberately not done anything in financial advice.

I think, There’s something to be said for the people who puzzle it out. And I wouldn’t knock yourself down at all. I would consider you in the expert category, you’re definitely an authority figure on this 

Captain FI: ah, shucks that’s only cuz I know what, how to SEO keyword so that I can turn up on Google.

Lacey: No, you also write beautifully. I love your blogs and I read them all. It’s very similar, that whole, you put those thoughts out there into the world and the way you think is more important than the fact that you did a degree in something or a qualification, because this is all solvable, none of this requires, a particular qualification.

There’s the nitty gritty. Yeah. I wouldn’t try and do [00:40:00] an accountant does or a lawyer does. But the general principles, ah, you can puzzle that out. I think maybe we have an advantage. Yeah.

Captain FI: Bit of good old engineering problems solving. So get a free body diagram going get a cashflow analysis.

Lacey: Exactly. Exactly. Oh, just puzzles. 

Captain FI: So look, I know I’ve personally. 99.99, 9% of my focus rather shortsightedly on the FI part of FIRE, in fact, so much so that I called my blog captain FI rather than captain FIRE. And to quote another very famous author Vicky Robins who wrote your money or your life.

And I’m pretty sure that came out in the early eighties. Yeah. She is a bit of a guru and a little birdie tells me is starting podcasting soon. Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. Recently been interviewed by, Scott kins on the playing with FIRE and so there are some gems on the playing with FIRE co YouTube channel and I love.[00:41:00] 

This one particular video with her now she’s being interviewed, Scott’s gone to her property. She’s got like this little island. I forget the name of it, but I’m pretty sure it’s they call it the island of contemplation or something place where S and pond the world. And she’s talking to, and the sort of the famous line is financial independence is just the beginning.

 Because of course, all of us, me, bunch of other bloggers everyone’s yeah, five, we wanna get rich from financial. How do we do it? How do we invest maximum returns, side hustles, burn ourselves out. Whereas you get to that position and then you end up having that existential crisis that it sounds it sounds like we both had, me more recently than you, so thanks for helping me through that last one

if financial independence is just the beginning, it really hints that the RE part of FIRE. Is more important and it’s a bit of a Pandora’s box if it’s not really planned for or managed. So what I [00:42:00] really liked about your writing in money school is rather than talk about FIRE with the RE meaning like, oh, I’m gonna sit at home and sort all my thumbs.

You talk about being time rich so would you be able to explain a little bit more about the time rich concept and what it means for you rather than just the sort of throw away retire early line?

Lacey: Yeah, it’s a big difference. I think for people that are focused on FIRE, so I’m delighted that you’re just captain FI because I think the RE is so flexible.

And what had happened was I was looking at the FIRE community as I was starting to get to know it and going, oh my gosh, I’ve found my people. , , there’s other people who do this stuff. Cause I had just focused on the FI bit as well. I hadn’t really thought about the RE I never. Pictured myself having extended, years upon years of doing nothing, I always knew I’d want to do other stuff.

And I found all these different definitions. There was work optional. There was coast FIRE there’s flamingo FIRE there’s lean FIRE fat FIRE. Everybody was trying to create these different definitions of how you could get there. [00:43:00] And I thought that sort of all of them had the same end goal, which was you choose how you spend your time.

No one actually wants to define what that is for you, because every person’s gonna be different. Like at the moment, you’re building an empire related to blogging, right? And I’m running a financial education business. And all the other people who have podcasts in this space are also running businesses.

None of us are sitting around doing nothing. But what we are doing is choosing how we spend our time. So instead of being money rich, we’re time rich because we don’t have to exchange our time for our income. And I think no matter what you wanna do, even if you wanna stay in the job you’re in, you can still be time rich.

Because if you get to financial independence, that job becomes a choice. And if you choose to go there every day and you love it. And I certainly know, I know at least two people that are close friends of mine that have reached by nobody at their work knows no one in their family, apart from their partner knows.

And they still go to work every day. They choose to be there. They are time rich. They’re not doing it because they have to. So [00:44:00] if you can make being time richer goal, you get to define it. How you want it doesn’t have to be retiring early. We don’t have to redefine what that looks like. We don’t have to call it.

Oh yeah. It’s retiring. It’s sabbaticals. It’s mini retirements. It’s coasting, it’s FLA mingling. It’s whatever. It’s just being time rich. And then because you have that flexibility, what I’m hoping is a lot of young people are gonna become financially independent earlier, and then they’re going to be able to work on the problems they wanna solve.

Cause I think there’s a lot of people who would be working on big problems, things like climate change or pollution or things like that. They would be working on those if they were lucrative, but instead they’re often these jobs that pay a lot more money, we can get to them to financial independence, then maybe they’ll come back and solve all these problems because that’s what they’d rather do with their time.

That’s what I’m hoping for.

Captain FI: That’s beautiful. It reminds me of a quote and I can’t remember who said this. It might be, I think it’s Pete Mr. Money massage, he, says work is better when you don’t need the money. And it’s really funny because when I was flying, I constantly felt time poor.[00:45:00] 

Like I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t seeing my family enough, seeing my friends enough, looking after my body getting enough sleep. And I felt like I. I always felt like I didn’t really have autonomy over my life. Like I didn’t have any control. And yeah, it’s been a really cool adjustment and I’ve got some really amazing plans in the works over the next couple of years.

I’m not trying to make too many waves about it, but I’ll say the first step is securing a, an acreage here in the Adelaide Hills. , and I’m gonna do some pretty amazing things with it in the changing the world for a better place space. 

Lacey: awesome. But see, that’s the point you get that freedom to dream as well.

I think so often when we’re in that cycle of work, like you say, you get that guilt. You also go I’m having my downtime now. I better think about nothing. You don’t get the freedom to dream. And when you get that time off and you’re not awakening to alarm clocks and you’re unwinding a space to dream comes back and that’s where magic happens.

I like that place. So that sounds really cool. I can’t wait to hear more about it when you get further along.[00:46:00] 

Captain FI: Yeah. And I guess the thing is when you are struggling to make your ends meet day to day, oh, the alarm clock starts, you’re so tired. You have that double shot coffee to borrow energy from future me just to get through, your briefings, your met, Toms get through your flight.

And it’s almost like you can’t, you don’t have that space or that brain space to, to think and plan ahead. And for me, like I, I consider myself super privileged in a super lucky position where I can actually save and invest my money. Like my heart goes out for people that, are struggling to even make their ends meet.

Like how can they even save and think about the future. When, they’ve got credit card payments, they’ve got, mortgage or rent. They’ve got, car payments, with the rising cost of living, even groceries and stuff starting to become unaffordable for a lot of families.

 So once people get on top of that financial management and start a good a good good budget and good cash flow, it, it [00:47:00] opens the doors to so much more possibilities in life to make the world a better place, rather than just struggling to get by and being reactionary every day.

Lacey: Exactly. And that feeling of stress. This is actually this, our research that I found a few years ago, it’s been around for a while time. I think I’d actually read it in utopia for realists first by Ruka Bregman. And it was about how your IQ is affected by financial stress. Your IQ drops by about 13 points when you’re under financial stress.

Cause in the back of your mind, Your brain is going, can I afford to eat? Can I afford rent? That kind of thing. And 13 points is about, 13%, that’s a significant handicap for an average person. I’m sure you’re a lot higher than that, but I can’t afford to give up anything like points . But that’s the problem yet?

Cognitive capacity reduces. So you can’t think about anything else and you don’t make as good a decision. So yeah, that’s, it is. It’s horrible for people to get stuck in that and trying to get out of it’s really hard. And I think there’s stomach issues around that, but you’re right. If you can get out of it, get past that period and then start making some headway.

It makes a big difference to people’s satisfaction and their ability to make those different choices and explore [00:48:00] their dreams. 

Captain FI: 13% is a lot and no, I wouldn’t wanna be sacrificing any percents either. Lacey . So in, in my career I dealt a lot with fatigue and so another fact that you might find interesting as well, is that like, when you are awake for 17 hours, your judgment is impaired.

By the same amount as being like the legal limit to drive a car like blood alcohol 0.05. Wow. So I can imagine if you are financially stressed out and perhaps working a second job and maybe a new parent that doesn’t really leave much brain space for you to actually do the important things in life.

Lacey: Exactly. The good news with the financial stress part is once you alleviate the financial stress, the IQ comes back almost instantly. So it’s not a permanent impairment. I dunno if there’s anything else for the long term sleep deprivation of being a parent. Oh yeah. But yeah, with the money stuff you can solve yeah.

Captain FI: I’ve seen, I’ve read plenty of studies through about, the effect of chronic fat fatigue and no shift workers. Are, they do [00:49:00] lose, they die quicker. They lose their health. Yeah. And, I guess for me, this is another motivator why I wanted to reach financial independence and become time rich so that I can not sit an alarm and I can wake up feeling refreshed.

Yeah. So that I can be a normal human being. Yeah. But speaking of fatigue something that’s probably on the cards for me, hopefully in the, not too distant future. Because one of my goals towards financial independence was because I wanna be a dad now you know, this there’s no crazy plans just yet.

There’s no tick ticking clocks but it is hopefully coming. So I wanna know how did having kids, or let’s wind it back. How did having a partner and having kids change your FIRE journey? And how are you and your husband educating your kids about money?

Lacey: This is such an interesting area and not just my story. In general the idea of the person you choose to be with whoever they are, it’s probably the most important decision you’re gonna make in your life for your [00:50:00] career, for your happiness, for your financial independence. So I think you, you can’t take too much time, like you , there’s no such thing as I took too long to pick the right person.

You gotta wait, but I’m just very fortunate that I met the right person for me at 23. And that was just luck. Because we worked in the same place. He’s an engineer as well, Adam and I don’t know, you would know this about most engineers. I’m the, I’m not the look at your own shoes type of engineer.

I’m the, gregarious, there’s a few of us, but like humans and we’re happy to talk to you, but engineers get a stereotypical, and out outgoing engineer is someone who talk, who looks at your shoes while they’re talking to you, not their own shoes. Adam’s more of the introverted type and a more typical engineer when you think of the characters of engineers.

But we ended up having very aligned financial sort of beliefs. Now he hates debt. That’s one area that we really, and for properties, he really hates mortgages. Whereas I’m quite comfortable with mortgages cuz I’ve been doing it for so long, but that’s not the only area we [00:51:00] really differ on.

Apart from that, we’re both just inherently conservative with spending money. He will splurge occasionally, like he bought a $20,000 motorbike, I think in 2007. that’s the last you, yeah. Yeah. You got a CBO 1000. He quite likes. Oh, quite sadly. Yeah. Yep. Yep. Beauty, beautiful bike. Yep. I do not go on the back of it anymore.

I do not have the flexibility. But he, so he’s got, he will still splurge on a thing. And like, when we went on our holiday to south America together, we dropped about 30 grand on that holiday. So he will still splurge. He’s not this, I will never spend any money person, but we just inherently hate waste.

And so for example, he’s been building a gazebo in our backyard and he went to all the used lumber yards and bought recycled timber. Like he was like, I’m not buying that new from Bunnings. I can get that from down the road here, and half the price and it’s recycled. So he just thinks like that.

So we just think similarly, and we both had. Parents who well, apart from my dad were quite conservative with money and sensible with money. So that’s been very easy for us. I [00:52:00] know there are lots of people and, my parents were an example. My mom like generally a saver. My dad generally a spender.

And that just, that was literally what broke the marriage down in the end. They couldn’t find a way to make that work. We’ve just been lucky to find that we’re quite aligned, but that said, it took us quite a while to realize that investing together might not be the best idea that I was much more I’m lazy, in the sense that I don’t wanna do lots of active stuff. I wanna make a decision and just have it sit there for 10 years. But I’m less risk averse than he is. So when I met him, he’s five years older than me. I was 23 and he was 28. He’d saved $300,000 in cash. And I was like, so what are you doing with it?

he’s it’s in cash. I’m like, ah, okay. So we had a. Interesting discussions about what was sensible. Cause by that point, of course I was onto my third property and he was just horrified at the thought of three mortgages and none of them for a house that I was living in. It, it was pretty interesting having those discussions over time.

Like we tried investing together, we have worked out we’re better off investing separately because I like property investing and he doesn’t particularly so [00:53:00] he sticks more to shares and managed funds type of things. And he does do a little bit of dabbling in individual companies, but mostly the managed fund kind of approach or an ETF.

Whereas I still do both property and shares. But we do consider everything joint. It’s all in, like nominally it’s a pool, but it’s just that I have things in my name and he has things in his name, but our spending has been very easy to manage. And of course the advantage of us getting to FIRE.

I didn’t realize I was fine until I was about to have my first baby. And I thought, wow, wonder what I’m gonna do when I go back to work. Cause at that point I was doing consulting. And when I was doing consulting, you had to be away from home. Most of the time I would be fi Monday to Thursday, most weeks.

And so you’re away three nights and I was like, I don’t wanna do that. So I was sitting there doing the maths and I’d worked out cause I’d pay down my debt, that the rent from the properties and the dividend from the shares was actually enough to cover our living costs. So that was actually a surprise.

And I was like, oh, I don’t have to go back to work. So that was nice. And I decided to stay home with Zoe for the first 18 months in the end. I didn’t, no one thought I’d last that [00:54:00] long, but 18 months was fantastic. And having that freedom to just, six months in be like, oh no, I’m enjoying this.

I’m gonna keep going. Everyone else thought I’d be bored. That I’d need a challenge. And believe me parenting is a challenge enough for me. Definitely. So yeah, that, that was great having that flexibility. But then after I think Zoe was 18 months old. My mom was talking to me on the phone and she could hear that I was getting a little bit bored and she moved from Queensland to Perth.

To be with me to help look after Zoe so that I could start working on money school in a bit more earnest sense again. So I still had money school in the background and I was like thinking about things, but I wasn’t doing much actively. So I then started working on money school in a bit of earnest and had a second child.

And of course, during this period my husband had been working for as a plant manager as so many engineers, do they get left in charge of operational things. And he worked for a company that he ended up getting made redundant from. And it was not a fun experience at all, working for that company four years of quite a lot of stress.

And so when he got made redundant, he took a year off and that’s 2017. So my children were four and [00:55:00] two. And so he was nominally house husband, and we nearly divorced that year. it was so stressful. I didn’t understand why it was so stressful. How could it be so stressful? Having both of us at home, me working part-time on the business.

I’d say 20, 20 to 30 hours a week and him being nominally, the primary carer. So he was in charge of the kindy lunch boxes and everything. We just honestly clashed so badly that I said, you have to go back to work or we have to separate because we can’t solve this. So how ridiculous is that to have this amazing opportunity with both of you at home and to stuff it up so badly.

And so we spent a while thinking about what had happened and he went back to work, interestingly, on shift work, great roster, two days, two nights, six off and again, after about a year, we started having the discussions about what would it be like if he had some time off. And then we talked about all the things that went wrong last time.

And this time it’s worked much better. So he is into year three of his, I still call it a mini retirement cause he will go back to work eventually. But yeah, year three of him being at home with our kids. So our kids are [00:56:00] now six and eight. They come to me as much as they come to dad, it’s very equal.

They are really close to him. He’s had that wonderful experience and he loves children. And I think you are probably gonna be like this cap. He just adores spending time with him. It’s his idea of a good time. So getting to see him have that opportunity and not feel pressured to be working, especially the long hours that you work when you’re in your mid forties.

And you’re a plant manager is just delightful. I feel very privileged now

Captain FI: . That’s beautiful. Adam sounds like a really good dad and it sounds like you’ve managed to, pretty responsibly like adults have grown up conversations about what is, and isn’t working and that’s really healthy in a relationship.

How are you and Adam teaching your kids about money? So are you getting them to, I don’t know, would hair wraps work this day? maybe like hair wraps for the metaverse like skins for fortnight or something.

Lacey: yeah. There’s lots of opportunity there. So my daughter is like already been harassing me to run businesses.

I remember when my father came around, he was going traveling and he left all his jewelry here for me to [00:57:00] put away. And before I could put it in the safe, my daughter was riding out price lists. She was like, cufflings $5 . And so she was like four at the time. And she wanted me to go and put it a desk out on the driveway so she could sell these things.

And then I said to her, okay, so you’re gonna give granddad the money she went. No, I was like they’re his things. If you sell these, you gotta, you’ve gotta give granddad the money and she was like disgusted. And so she said I’m not doing that. So she threw the paper away. And then next thing I know she’s out on the verge and I’m like, what is she doing?

And she’s out there singing. So she was busking on our verge. Now there’s not a lot of through traffic on our verge. So two neighbors came over and put 20 cents each into her little tin and she was delighted. So my daughter, I’m just gonna have to slow her down. I think she’s interested in money, whereas my son, and it’s funny, it’s a first child, second child thing, every dollar that comes to him, he’s like, how many Pokemon cards can I buy with this?

Or how much Lego can I buy with this? that this? So they have their own accounts that birthday money and stuff goes into, like from, usually from relatives. And so [00:58:00] we will tell them, and if, particularly my dad’s will give them money. So he gave them $50 each for Christmas. And so they go to the shops with us and they understand what they can buy.

And I know my six year old is already I’ve still got $66, but I can buy this particular. They go, I’ve gotta save up to 79. And they actually collect the bottles and cans, the 10 cent returns. So they’re the kids at the birthday parties who go around taking everybody else’s juice boxes, or empty bottles that have the 10 cents on them and carry them all home.

When we went on a three week holiday, over Christmas, half of our car was filled with bottles. They had picked up and that’s how they earn money. good on. So we’re not doing any like pocket money yet. We’re not doing any chores for money. I haven’t done either. They’re just they’re into it. And it’s at times like that, where I go, I really need to stop talking about what I do for a job.

Cause I think I might have gone too far the other way, but no, that’s brilliant. 

Captain FI: Sounds it sounds like you’ve got some self on your hands. Like a self propagating child, self teaching child. That’s the dream rather

Lacey: . Yeah, they get excited. It’s funny though. Every kid’s different, but I know with Zoe, she tries to piece things together and make up [00:59:00] a, she sees X, she sees Y so she tries to connect X and Y and she gets it wrong all the time.

And you have to guide them cause she doesn’t know something, and it’s like that with money. She doesn’t understand how I make money out of money school, so I’ve had to explain to her royalty’s outta the book, work and courses work and all those sorts of things. And so watching her think through it is fascinating.

It’s amazing how much they get so young and answering their questions and letting them be allowed to ask questions is a big thing. That was a big, popular thing in my household. You can always ask. And you’re not gonna get shot down, so yeah, they’re curious and they’re into it and I hope I’m not creating any monsters.

Captain FI: oh, that’s brilliant. It sounds like you might have an upcoming sort of money, school operations manager on your hands there. Oh, that’d be great. That’s a good idea. I should train her up. She’d be wonderful at it. at age such child labor yet. I dunno. ah, I dunno. We’ll let the listeners decide. No, that’s brilliant.

Look, I might be opening a Pandora’s box here. In investing for kids. I’ve seen people talk about it. I’ve seen people say it’s ridiculous. I’ve seen some people say it’s awesome. [01:00:00] Is that something you are looking at doing for the kids or not yet?

Lacey: Yeah, we are actually. And part of that is because sadly my mother passed away in late 2020, and she bequeathed money.

That was, oh, she bequeathed shares, which I converted to money and then bought different shares cuz she’d bought her own little mini portfolio and I been lazy. Me wanted ETFs. However, she’s left this money that is in trust effectively. I’m holding it in trust for both my kids and also my half sisters youngest child until they hit 25 is the nominal number.

So we had been putting money aside for my children. I hope they don’t listen to this episode because I’m not convinced I’m ever gonna give it to them. I’m still not sure whether giving children large sums of money. Is useful for them. I can see how once a child’s, making progress and maybe they’re, yeah, they’ve got a mortgage or something, then, if you wanted to bequeath them something, then paying off a chunk of their mortgage when they’ve already done, it might be good.

But I do worry about whether I’m gonna set up entitlement if I talk to them about it. So I don’t talk to them much about what we’ve [01:01:00] done for them. I talk to them about investing in general, like the idea of buying shares. Cause they go, how come daddy, it doesn’t have to work. And we talk about that kind of stuff.

But I have bought shares in their name specifically. So I’ve done the custodian account, the minor trust account where you buy them in your own personal name. Cause we don’t have a family trust. You buy them in your name, but it’s for them. And then normally you can transfer it to them without having to pay any capital gains tax or any fees when they come of age.

And that’s mostly because of the tax, cause it’s a decent enough chunk of money that we would’ve been paying those punitive tax rates that they make kids pay once they earn over 400 and something dollars. , that’s why I’ve done it that way, but I’m not convinced. It’s the best thing for them. I’m not convinced that handing them big chunks of money early in life does anything, but build that wealth gap out further.

So I haven’t decided yet whether we’ll give it to them, everything to them. Yeah

Captain FI: . Yeah. It’s a really interesting point. , I can’t remember who told me this or whether I read this somewhere, but there’s a quote, goes something along the lines of, yeah. One of the biggest burdens you can give someone is masses of unearned wealth.

And yeah, I think like looking back on [01:02:00] my own financial journey, it’s been, I’ve been so desperate for financial security and, for years and years, every day, I’ve thought I’ve opened my bank account and just go, oh, my investment balance. I can’t wait to, I’m reaching this threshold level of passive income, or I need this amount of money to be happy and feel safe and secure.

And I often wonder, if that was just dropped in my lap, how would I feel? And incidentally, sometimes I struggle to accept the wealth that I have generated now as being enough. Yeah it’s a really interesting point. I do hear what you’re saying with the custodial account, so that does sound cool.

I probably need to do some more research into that, but the perk of not paying the capital gain tax sounds pretty sweet when you transfer the shares. 

Lacey: Yeah. And I think, look, if people are much heavier than I am with the trust stuff. Because I had gotten so far down the track of my wealth accumulation before I considered a trust, I just, there’s no point

I do, I use my company as my tax [01:03:00] efficiency. That’s where I get my tax efficiency from running a company that has an ABM. And so I’m not worried about the trust, but I think if people are early. There might be something around the trust structure when you’re gonna build kids in that might work better.

And I know that was a big thing for Aussie FIRE bug. And he was pretty hot on having his trust for the family set up. So that’s an alternative you could consider. I’ve just never gone down that path. 

Captain FI: Actually, he did have a really good episode on that recently. I’ll put that in the show notes as well.

He I can’t remember the name of the guest, but Terry, he was a pretty smart Terry w yes, that was a great one. Terry. Yeah smart guy. Okay, cool. So look it’s been an awesome chatting so far, and I just wanna sort of switch gears a little bit and ask you a few more of kind of the generic questions.

 That I ask everyone if that’s okay with you. Sure. Awesome. So first up bit of a throwaway line, but is there anything you wish you knew before you began your journey to becoming financially independent and time rich? If you could go back and give yourself some [01:04:00] advice what would you do better?

Lacey: That’s interesting. Isn’t it? Cause I have that, the timeline paradox. If I said something to myself earlier would it change the outcome? I feel like everything I went through was necessary I think I would beat myself up less about mistakes. That’s I’ve, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve accepted that mistakes are just part of the Jews for getting the experience that you need to be good at this stuff.

And not having cashed in those thousand dollars worth of options at Western mining, buying timeshare from my stepfather, things like that, that I just look at now and go, oh my God, you idiot Lacey. I would beat myself up less for those because it was wasted time worrying about it and I needed to do those to get better at what I do.

Captain FI: Love it. You gotta be kind to yourself. Exactly. Because yeah, those thoughts manifest. Similarly, what are some of the tips that you might recommend for people on the, on their path to becoming time rich?

Lacey: It’s never too late, no matter what age you are so long as you’re still working and earning an income, you can work towards financial independence.

And even if you can’t get there or you don’t get there quickly enough, you’re liking, you’re gonna be in [01:05:00] a better financial position. So I would encourage people to just give it a shot, cause you might get lucky. Some, you might get some lucky timing market might turn up really swiftly just as you get in or something like that.

So don’t write it off just because you think you can’t do it cause it’s worthy goal. I think for most people to just try to become financially independent, cause you’re gonna get more stable along the way. I would also encourage people to start small. So they can make those mistakes. So don’t wait until your thirties to buy your first big property.

I think about the first one I bought $103,000. You, the magnitude of your mistakes is pretty small. , it’s that tiny. So if you can start small and make those mistakes and learn from them, then you’re gonna see that as valuable, like you were saying before. I think, it’s training for yourself.

It’s education you gave yourself inadvertently that is hard to buy. And I would also say there’s no, no one way to do it. So don’t think that you have to follow a recipe that you have to do. You don’t even have to do ETFs, which is very popular in the FIRE community. It’s a choose your own adventure story.

So [01:06:00] don’t be afraid to choose your own adventure and go a path less traveled if that’s what works for you. 

Captain FI: Yeah. Great advice. My next question, and I’ve got an inkling that I think I know who might be But who would you say or what has been some of the biggest influences on your financial journey?

Lacey: So obviously, definitely my parents, my mom is the role model that I’ve looked to and she, I can still hear her in my head, even though she’s been gone for 15 months, when I’m making a financial decision, I can really hear her . So I think she’s shaped my decision making in so many ways, and I was very lucky to have won that ovarian lottery.

And my dad bless his Conns, adore him, saw him today, even still wouldn’t follow his financial advice because he showed me what not to do. So that was as important, I think. Learning what not to do because it’s okay to have a recipe and follow someone else’s footsteps. But if you’re gonna deviate a little bit, you’ve gotta know what’s risky.

And I watched my dad make mistakes that were avoidable, and I’ve seen [01:07:00] me the play out of that in his life. And so that’s a big thing for me. There’s so many incredible authors in this space and content producers in this space and inspire me and I still learn things. I still learn things when I read your blog app.

So I don’t think I’ve ever stopped drawing on those influences and learning from those around me. So I think there’s a lot of it, but I would, yeah, definitely say my parents are probably the biggest ones.

Captain FI: That’s great. And I know you’ve got a list of some of your favorite authors if you flick them through to me, I’ll Chuck ’em in the show notes and definitely add them to my list.

Awesome. I’m slowly building up a big database of all the people in the industry and some of the, some of their works. Fabulous. So speaking of which, where can listeners get in touch with. Best place is money, school.org.au. That’s my website. I am on social media. So you can find money, school org on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Lacey: I’m pretty useless at social media in general. I’m good at just, populating at schedule and [01:08:00] sharing some content. And then I go for days without responding to things. So please don’t take it personally, if I take a long time to reply to your message, if you wanna get me email via the contact form on the website’s the best way

Captain FI: brilliant. I’ll have the the links and the show notes to Lacey’s website money, school as well as a couple of links to like her book and all that kind good stuff. Before we finish up, Lacey, I just wanted to ask, is there anything else you’d like to bring up today or anything in the works that you might like to share?

Lacey: So this is, I know I didn’t check with you beforehand. I wanted to ask if it was okay to talk about this, and I know it’s a little bit of a downer, but it’s front of mind for me at the moment, and that is financial abuse. And because I’m a financial educator, I can’t resist the opportunity to remind people to check in on your friends and family.

This has been a crazy couple of years, and it is a time when financial abuse has been on the rise. So people are being restricted from accessing bank accounts, being told that they can’t work. And because of that, they might be finding themselves in abusive situations they can’t get out of. So I would like to encourage everybody, please check in on [01:09:00] your friends and family.

Please keep an eye out for anything that sounds like, oh, I’m not allowed to work, or I haven’t got access to money or, that kind of thing. One in six women in Australia and one in 14 men will experience financial abuse in their lifetime. So I know it’s a bit of a downer, but please everybody check on your mates and keep an eye out for that stuff.

Cause we wanna nip it in the bud. 

Captain FI: It’s a super important topic. I actually have a friend who’s just written a pretty in depth article on her blog about her experiences with financial abuse. So I’ll Chuck that in on the show notes, cuz I think it was, it’s a pretty powerful read and I actually have, unfortunately seen my mom go through financial abuse with my parents before they separated and holy shit, I just, I have so much respect and admiration for my mom for literally walking away with nothing and three kids and dragging herself up by her boot bootstraps.

Lacey: So yeah, pretty impressive. And it’s she’s amazing your mother, she’s [01:10:00] just incredible. It’s so it takes a lot of strength, but that’s the thing. So many people go back again and again, because they’re financially dependent on someone else and it is just that she managed to do it.

She’s impressive. That’s just incredible. Yeah. good on her. 

Captain FI: I also wanted to mention Lacy and article you wrote In 2020 after Fran passed away, , it was actually like really emotionally powerful for me. And I still tear up when I’m reading it. And I just wanna check if you’re okay with me.

Just reading out a little bit of your article.

Lacey: Oh yeah, absolutely. And please that was cathartic for me to write so I’m sorry, tears you up, but hopefully it’s in a cathartic way eventually. 

Captain FI: . I hope you don’t mind me sharing, but Lacey’s mom passed away from cancer and went through some pretty Savage chemo and my mom’s going through something similar at the moment.

And Lacey’s article has just been amazing at putting things into perspective and helping me manage, some of my emotions and grief. [01:11:00] Almost communicating with other people, friends and colleagues about, what kind of I need at the moment. So the article that Lacey wrote was called what helped me care for my dying mother and what didn’t she published in November, 2020.

And I’m just gonna read out a little bit from the start of the article. And I’ll have the rest linked to the show notes. If you wanna read the full thing. So it starts my mom friend Wyat was also my founding business partner for money school and make a kids club and my best friend and the person who looked after my kids when I worked.

And the list goes on in short, our lives were intertwined on nearly every level. We saw each other almost daily for the last six years, since she moved 4,000 kilometers to be in the same town as me and her beloved grandkids. When Fran found out in late may, that her lymphoma had relapsed. The decision to be her primary carer wasn’t even a decision.

Really. It was a given I stopped taking on new work. I [01:12:00] started attending every medical appointment and threw myself into my newfound role so that I could be with her to support her through the horror of treatment. So began four months and one day of the cancer rollercoaster with an eventual terminal diagnosis.

Brand’s life ended at home where I was still her primary and only carer outside her medical teams. So I’m gonna stop there. 

Lacey: Oh. But, oh, it’s so sad. Isn’t it? It’s just so unfortunate. This happens oh, cap. And I feel for you going through this at the moment too, it’s just, it’s unfair, but how lucky are we that we get to be there?

Captain FI: yeah, it’s the rollercoaster of life, yeah. And what better reminder? We need to pay attention to, financial independence and becoming time rich so that we can enjoy our life. Even though it’s the longest thing we do, it’s pretty short .

Lacey: Yes, it is. And it’s that privilege [01:13:00] of being able to care for someone when you can, you can take that.

Time’s just so lucky that we can both do that for our parents and it doesn’t soften the blow of losing them. But yeah. Thank you. I, yeah I’m tearing up over here too.

Captain FI: yeah. I really encourage anyone who anyone who’s ever suffered cancer or friends or family, or, even if you haven’t I’d really encourage you to have a read of that article because I think a study show something like, one in every two people that’s, half of Australians are gonna.

Be touched by cancer in their lifetime. And I think reading that article puts it into perspective and it can certainly help not only you deal with that kind of situation, but also for you to be able to support, a friend or a family member or a colleague who might be going through some really difficult times.

And, the big thing stands out for me is don’t ask people what they want. Don’t ask, how can I help is just do stuff, do something. So some of the most valuable things for us personally has just been someone’s dropped off some food, or, some groceries, [01:14:00] it’s just, it’s lovely.

Sometimes it can be really overwhelming when people ask, oh, what can I do to help? And you’re just like fuck. I don’t know.

Lacey: exactly. I know what you mean. yeah. It’s the pits and cuz your brain’s too full. But yeah, I had one other good tip. Someone gave me the other day on that thing.

If you don’t know what to do, go buy some new sheets for their bed, go and wash them and dry them in the sunshine and then go over and kick them outta their bed and change their sheets. Just, to cause a freshly made bed. If you’re sick is like one of the most beautiful things in the world. It’s that’s really, that’s quite good because that’s like an act of service that’s gonna get used.

It’s not gonna end up in the bin. You don’t have to worry about allergies, but yeah, just that do for someone so they don’t have to ask is yeah, it’s a huge life changer.

Captain FI: That’s a wonderful tip. actually road trips my way over to Mildura recently and we’ve welcomed a new addition to the family.

 Missy, a little Cocker Spaniel pup. She loves nothing more than to Scrabble up mum’s sheets. She’s probably chewing through her [01:15:00] dooner as we speak. 

Lacey: So so there you go. That’s a very local tip then for anyone who’s listening that knows cap . 

Captain FI: Yeah. Yeah. Look Lacey, thank you so much. For today it’s been awesome to connect great to hear a bit more about money school and your story, and of course, very good tips for everyone as usual.

Thanks so much for being on the show. And I look forward to getting this one published and out as soon as I can. Fantastic. Thanks so much for having me. And it’s just been a delight.

Thanks for listening to another episode of the captain FIRE financial independence podcast. To read the transcripts or check out the show notes, head over to www captain FIRE.com for all the details. If you have a question for the captain, make sure to get in touch. You might even make it on the airwaves.

You can reach me online through the captain FIRE contact form or get in touch through the socials. I’m active on [01:16:00] Facebook and Instagram as well as a number of online finance and investing forums. And finally, remember the information presented on the show and the links provided are for general information purposes only they should not be taken as constituting professional financial advice.

You should always do your own research when making any financial decisions and make sure it’s appropriate for your personal circumstance.

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3 thoughts on “Podcast – Lacey Filipich on Life, Money, Mini-retirements, and Death

  1. Wow. A beautiful, poignant, and vulnerable episode. Surely one of your best? No-one is expecting you to be so personal in such a public broadcast but I was hanging onto every word at the end there! Lots of good, sensible, enlightened and modern perspective in this one, too. I feel a kind of connection with Lacey being a slightly older ex-WA chemical engineer turned money instructor myself as of late – I might have to sync up with her sometime as our target customers bookend well with each other. Thanks, ‘Cap’!!

  2. Hi Cap, Can you please share the link you were going to in regards to Financial Abuse: ” I actually have a friend who’s just written a pretty in depth article on her blog about her experiences with financial abuse, cuz I think it’s a pretty powerful read and I actually have, unfortunately seen my mum go through financial abuse”

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