Real money talk: Vivian

By Jessica Sier 20 May 2020 5 min read


This post is based on an interview we conducted with Vivian on 17 February 2019.

Real Money Talk is our series where we interview Australians from all walks of life about their personal finances. The views expressed are those of the interviewees, based on their experiences with money, and as such are not necessarily representative of Spaceship's views.

We have changed the name of the interviewee for their privacy.

Name: Vivian

Age: 43

Where do you live: Surry Hills

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Business owner, gamer, and cat enthusiast.

What is your current net worth?

I have $50,000 in my super. I also own two businesses, but I have no idea what they’re worth. I’ve invested $115,000 in one (I own a quarter of a bar), and $50,000 into a co-working studio (sole owner).

How does it break down? (shares, real estate, businesses, home, superannuation, etc.)

I used to have some shares, but I sold them all. I probably had about $10,000. I sold them recently to pay my rent.

Any debts? (including HELP from Uni)

I have $5,000 on my credit card.

How did you accumulate your net worth?

The super is from working full time in a corporate gig for 10 years. I inherited some money from my late father (thanks Pops) which allowed me to invest in my businesses.


Tell us a bit about your career:

I’ve worked for three companies in three areas. First one was travel, I was a travel agent for about eight years. Then I worked in marketing for a telco, and then marketing for an insurance company. I quit corporate two years ago to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams (a singles social club). As mentioned earlier, I own a quarter of a bar, and a co-working space.

I bought into the bar with some friends. It seemed like fun, and the other partners had great experience in the industry so I thought it would be a good investment.

The co-working space was a pivot from my startup, which was a social club for singles. We wanted a “club house” but that didn’t take off. I needed to pay the rent, so I hired it out for co-working. I really enjoyed it, so decided to move into that full time.

Do you have income sources outside of your job? If so, how much do you earn from each and how did you develop them?

I use my co-working space to create multiple streams. We hold classes, workshops, small concerts, and corporate events here too. My income from these can vary a lot, depending on the ticket and peripheral sales (alcohol etc.).

What advice do you have for people who want to earn more money?

For people who are starting a business: start off with a minimum viable product to test that there is demand for your product/service. Also, don’t be afraid to share your ideas with everyone rather than worrying they’ll steal your idea. Finally, don’t go into business partnerships with your friends. Stick to collaborations.


What is your savings rate? And how has it changed over time?

At the moment I have zero savings. There was only one stage in my life when I tried to save money — when I was saving for a house. That was when I had a corporate job. I can’t remember how much it was though.

Do you have a budget?

No, I just know that I have no money. I have one for my business though. I definitely prioritise the budget for my business over myself.

How much do you spend per year?

All of it!

Do you make purchase decisions carefully or are you loose with your money?


How is your work-life balance?

Fantastic. I work approximately five hours per day, six days a week. Is that good? It feels good. I really enjoy the time I spend at the co-working space. We’re a good bunch of people and it doesn't feel like work being there.

What is your favourite thing to spend money on?

Games. I just bought East Shade. And cheese! Cheese is good as well. I’m saving up for a La-Z-Boy, so I can game in comfort.


How do you invest?

Businesses! I invest in businesses that I run or help run. I’m a silent partner in the bar.

What has been your best investment?

Investing in myself and my potential! And the co-working space.

What has been your worst investment?

Businesses that I don’t have full control over (*cough cough* the bar).

What's been your overall return?

Less than what I put in. I Haven’t quite clawed back my investment. I’m hoping to break even on the co-working space within six months.

How are you building wealth?

I’m continuously investing my time and energy into developing my business.

What are your main roadblocks? And how are you addressing them?

My love of my work-life balance. But I feel like I don’t really need to address that currently. I could put in more hours and get a better return, but I’m happy with how I am.

Do you have a target net worth you want?

No. It’s more that I want the co-working studio to be earning enough so that I can employ staff and have even more free time to invest in other businesses and revenue streams. I’d also like to save enough to retire at 60 (which isn’t that far away now).

When did you make your first significant behavioural shift towards wealth building?

I guess two years ago when I quit my job and decided to build my wealth through my own businesses.

If you could start again, what would you do differently? (Advice for younger self)

Don’t feel like you have to follow the same path as everyone else and that your family expects you to.

What mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?

Think carefully about going into business partnerships with friends and family.

Do you have any worries about retirement? If so, how are you planning to address them?

Yes. My current rate of super contribution isn’t enough to be able to retire when I’m 60. So, I do need to increase that.

How are you learning about building wealth? Is it from family, books, forced to learn as wealth grew, etc.?

I did an entrepreneur course, more about how to build your business’s wealth, not so much about how to invest your personal funds. I got some tips from a friend who’s a banker too. I listened to a few podcasts, and I read “The Lean Startup” and “Rich Dad Poor Dad”. That’s about it.

Do you give to charity?

I invest $30 a month in Kiva which gives microloans to businesses in developing countries. I also give a discount to charities who want to rent my space out. I also run an emerging artists program which awards free studio hire once a month to recent graduates.

Anything else interesting?

I’m very lucky because I love 99% of my job. Co-working allows me to be around inspirational people and the event side allows me to be around happy people. If I could just get someone to take out the rubbish for me, I’d be 100% happy!

Words by
Jessica Sier Right Chevron

Jessica Sier is a financial journalist. Prior to that she led content at Spaceship and was a reporter at the AFR where she discovered that breaking down financial jargon was a public good.

Real money talk: Vivian