Women, it's up to us to make our financial freedom happen: Jo Chivers

Women, it's up to us to make our financial freedom happen: Jo Chivers
Women, it's up to us to make our financial freedom happen: Jo Chivers

This Sunday we celebrate International Women's Day and the theme this year is MAKE IT HAPPEN.

What a great theme. Yes, us ladies really need to make things happen for ourselves and for our families.

As women today, we are responsible for our own financial freedom but also we are role models to our children, teaching them the concept of being entrepreneurial and to invest early. Unfortunately, this is still not taught in school.

I wish I'd learnt to be an entrepreneur at school and wished I'd started on my property investment journey earlier than I did. I now clearly understand that time in the market is such a valuable thing. Property investing is not a short-term investment, although you can make some relatively quick gains by using development strategies to add value, by holding you avoid the exit costs.  If you hold property for the longer term - 10 years plus, you really see the results.

The start of my investment property journey coincides with the birth of my first son. He's turning 14 this year so it's easy to remember when I started to invest. My then husband and I had purchased the family home a good time before this and reaped the rewards of capital growth that a beach side suburb bought.

But it was my will to MAKE IT HAPPEN that started our investment portfolio. I wanted to plan for the future now we had a child on the way and I didn't want to depend on a pension in retirement like my parents had to.

When I was pregnant and after reading the famous book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki,  I embarked on an intense property investment course because I wanted to become financially and property literate. I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could make wise investment decisions rather than trust others with our money. I did this on my weekends and at night whilst I worked full time.

Just before my first son was born after much due diligence, I took a risk and purchased an off the plan property. Not long after my son was born, the completed property made me over $150,000 in less than a year and so my property investment journey began on a high note. I went on to buy, hold and add value to five more properties before my son turned five.

Whilst investing and being a mum, I found a way not to return to the gruelling corporate world by establishing my property development project management business; Property Bloom.

In 12 years we've developed exactly 92 properties for our clients.

I have worked hard and MADE IT HAPPEN. By the time my second son arrived seven years ago my business was established and I was doing what I loved.  Working in my own business gave me the flexibility to be with my kids when I needed and wanted to and to attend the school assemblies, special presentations and coach their soccer teams.

For me MAKING IT HAPPEN means that I am in a great place doing what I love for wonderful people that appreciate the guidance we can give through the property development process.  It also means having choices.

One thing that drove me on my journey of MAKING IT HAPPEN and to keep working whilst raising my kids was the thought of taking time off work which would leave me financially dependent on my husband not only during that period but also into my retirement. There would be no contributions made during this time to my superannuation and how could I keep investing in property if I had no income? 

According to The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA):

  • Women retire, on average, with $112,000 in super savings – $92,000 less than men

  • One in three women will retire with no superannuation at all

  • Around 90% of women will retire with inadequate savings to fund a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.

What's astonishing is that if we want to retire at the age of 60 and we live about another 30 years which is becoming more feasible each day as the average life expectancy is rapidly rising - right now there is a massive spike in people living to one hundred.   We will actually need in excess of $2 million in our superannuation to support an annual income of $70,000.

We all have a lot of work to do to build up our super but women in particular are on the back foot because of the pay gap and because women tend to be the primary caregivers for their children. We also tend to care for our aged parents which may limit our earning capacity at that time as well.

The gender pay gap is actually decreasing and is lower now than it was in 1985!  According to the Diversity Council of Australia's figures, full time adult ordinary time earnings for women were 17.8% less than men in 1985 – now they are 18.8% less than men.

So what can we do?  Start with asking your boss for a raise, whilst that may not get you that two million bucks in super now, it may give you more serviceability to borrow. By leverage our incomes we can buy more property to hold.  Don't forget to look for property that you can add value to by using smart development strategies.

Finally,  we need to stop waiting and MAKE IT HAPPEN now! Let me know if you need a hand.


Jo Chivers

Jo Chivers

Jo Chivers is director of Property Bloom, which manages property development.

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