5 Realistic Ways to Build Yourself a Nest Egg and Find Financial Security

Lost control of your finances? With sacrifice and smart planning, all of us can grow our nest eggs.

Rick Morton recently published a book about growing up on the poverty line. An extraordinary piece of social commentary, One Hundred Years Of Dirt opened my eyes, challenging me to think differently. He writes of wealth: “For all the patronising axioms about money never buying happiness, it does allow for other things that help. It buys time to spend with families, mobility, the uniquely preservative state of having a home to sleep in and knowing that you always will.”

For me, the freedom and choice that comes with financial security is something I crave deeply.

Rather than worrying my whole life about money, I set a goal: to be financially secure when I turn 40 in six years’ time. I’m not a highly paid investment banker and I don’t come from family money. On a journalist’s wage, I had to get creative when I decided on this goal. I tripled my money on a marijuana stock but then, cocky from my lucky gain, lost $30,000 in one day investing in a speculative health company. I’ve done some things right, though: automating my savings and low-cost investing. So now I’m on track to have almost a million dollars in cash and shares by my 40th birthday. Here are the lessons I’ve learnt so far.

Lesson 1: friends first
In my experience, conversations about money flow better over wine and cheese (or kombucha – choose your poison). And sorting your financial shit out once and for all is easier when your friends join you. Sophie McNaught, founder of Women and Money (which organises forums for women to learn about money), has a theory: “Women don’t talk about money because there is no social setting in which it’s acceptable to do so.” So, create your own safe space. Message your sister or your best friend or both and get set for a big night in with your money-accountability buddies.

Then dream big. What opportunities would wealth create? The ability to quit the job you hate? Less conflict in your relationship? A down payment on a house? Write down your dream and its price tag and put it somewhere you’ll see – an everyday reminder of the new direction you are heading towards.

Lesson 2: health check
Expenses, income, credit card debt, mortgage, savings … it’s time for a money audit. Cool apps like Pocketbook can help you easily gauge your financial pulse. Tonya Rapley runs My Fab Finance, which specialises in helping women build their financial future. “Women say to me all the time: ‘I’m a financial wreck!’ Often you get under the hood and realise they’re not as bad off as they think,” she says.

Understanding where your money is going will give you more confidence to take financial charge. If you are a latte-twice-a-day type, you might not realise that you are spending about $2,900 a year on coffee. Neither did my fiancé until he went through this consolidation process. Afterwards, he bought a coffee machine to make his morning espresso at home. Subscribe to Netflix and Stan? Be brutal: cull where you can. Save yourself thousands in fees by combining your superannuation. The myGov website helps make this easy by showing details of all your super accounts, including those you have lost track of.

Lesson 3: becoming rich is not all about what you earn
I hit the salary jackpot in my first full-time job earning $28,600 a year. I could cover my $110-a-week share-house rent and still afford to go to the local Thai restaurant once a fortnight for the $10 dinner special. Living the dream! In the back of my mind, though, was my mum’s money mantra: “Always funnel part of your wage straight into savings, no matter what your income.” So, dutiful daughter that I am, I set up a weekly direct debit of $90 into a high-interest online savings account.

Let’s crunch the numbers: imagine at my age of 34, you start putting aside $90 a week, every week. By the time you’re 60, assuming an average investment return of seven per cent, you’ll have $321,000. Let’s take this same scenario, but start younger. Aged 21, saving $90 a week means by the age of 60, you’ll have almost $869,000. Google ‘compound calculator’ and play around with the figures. It will feel like magic but it’s just maths – exponential maths.

Casey Halliley, founder of Wealthology 101, which provides financial advice and support to clients, explained it to me like this: “Becoming rich is not really about what you earn, it’s about what you do. Taking advantage of the power of compounding interest as early as possible is the smartest decision you can make.”

Lesson 4: show me the money
Ask for a raise: I can hear the excuses already: “I don’t earn much and never will.” “My company works in strict salary bands; there’s no negotiation.” But there is almost always room to negotiate for valued employees. If your supervisor rules out a monetary increase, think laterally. Can you ask for an extra week of annual leave? A car park? If you do get a pay rise – awesome! Now let’s pretend it never happened …

“When I got my first huge raise, I acted like I didn’t: I funnelled all the extra into a different bank account. Before I knew it, I had a deposit and bought my first house at 31. I was earning $67,000 at the time,” says entrepreneur Kelly Legends, who kept up that discipline, and now, aged 40, owns two houses.

Side hustles: Airlie Walsh is a news reporter at Parliament House in Canberra. A passionate photographer, she has built a photography print business on the side that is loved by celebrities and interior designers. “Squarespace made building my website and selling online really simple. Since I started a few years ago, we’ve shipped my limited-edition prints all over the world.” Passion plus profit equals win-win. What skills do you have that others would pay for?

Rent a room: do you have a spare room where you live? You could be sitting on a gold mine. When I moved overseas, I supported myself by putting a single bed into my tiny study and renting it out on Airbnb.

Closet cull: own a few designer handbags that are collecting dust in the back of the wardrobe? Take a leaf out of my housemate’s book and list them on eBay. She earnt almost $3,000 selling (somewhat reluctantly) her Louis Vuitton Lockit. As Marie Condo preaches, if something doesn’t give you joy, get rid of it. Or, even better, sell it online.

Lesson 5: automate 
I love Tim Tams, especially the dark chocolate ones, but need to hide them on the top shelf otherwise they are too tempting. In the same way, every month I automate a percentage of my income to go to an online-only investment account so I can’t touch or spend it. Once you’ve accounted for your expenses and some play money, work out how much you can save. Let your financial-accountability team know and commit to an automated transfer into a savings or investment account. I’m not a millionaire yet, but with my nest egg compounding, I may just get there. Six years to go.

Top 10 Quotes from the Ladies Get Paid Conference

On December 8th, 2018, over 600 babes gathered in Brooklyn for the second annual Get Money Get Paid conference sponsored by the awesome women of Ladies Get Paid. It was nothing short of magical. Lessons were learned. Myths were busted. Mics were dropped.

So much wisdom and inspiration cannot and should not be contained, so we’re passing it along. Here are ten quotes to psych you up, make you think, and keep you going on your crusade to get paid. 

P.S. Ladies Get Paid has a Slack channel. Yes, you should join.

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  1. “If you’re afraid to walk away, if you don’t have other options, you are trapped.”

On Salary Negotiations, Morgan Fletcher, Certified Negotiation Instructor

2. “Get paid for the value you create.”

Kara Stevens, founder of The Frugal Feminista

3. “9-5 was so men could get out before the kids were up and get home when they were already asleep… the world is designed with the male dynamic in mind. How do we change that beyond maternity leave?”

Jennifer Justice, Pres. of Corporate Development at Superfly

  4. “What you do is not who you are… If you fuck up, you are not a fuck up.”

 On Imposter Syndrome, Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid

  5. “It’s easier to believe that by eradicating individual bad actors we can avoid confronting massive systemic inequalities.”

On #MeToo, the pay gap, and so much more, Kara Brown, writer for the CW, Jezebel, Freeform’s “grown-ish”; co-host for Crooked Media’s “Keep It” podcast

  6. “Find some way to express your anger. Questioning whether you have the right to be angry won’t serve you… Let it out.”

Rebecca Traister, writer for NY Mag and The Cut; Author of “Good and Mad”

  7. “Crush your approval addiction. And show up… even hungover.”

Lisa Copeland, Board of Directors for Women in Automotive; trailblazer; keynote speaker; all around badass

8. “Follow your bliss? Fuck that. Solve a problem. Find things you want to punch.”

Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO of BRAVAInvests; Author of “Leap Frog: 50 Hacks for Women Entrepreneurs”

  9. “Be proud that you’re doing what you need to do to make ends meet. Never feel embarrassed of what you have to do just to make it work.”

On survival while starting your own business, Polly Rodriguez, CEO & Co-Founder of Unbound

10. “You’re going to encounter gatekeepers. It’s a test of your resilience. “No” means “Not Yet”… Take rejection personally, then make it constructive.”

Beth Comstock, Changemaker & Author of “Imagine it Forward”; Former Vice Chair of GE

Trump & PM invite more Andrews than women to prestigious dinner.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull & President Donald Trump celebrated with their business besties at a gala dinner in Washington DC this weekend.

Among the sea of suits and ties was just a handful of women. Out of the business leaders, there were five Andrews, four Mikes, two Glenns, two Gregs, two Toms and two Steves on the invite list.

But only four women made the cut. More businessmen named Andrew got the call up than women.  

Between them, Australia and the United States invited fifty one business heads, meaning women were less than 8% of that guest list for the prestigious event.

Australia’s Ambassador Joe Hockey and his Embassy staff along with the Business Council of Australia handpicked the 26 Australian leaders. Apparently among them they could only come up with three worthy Australian women. (AMP’s Chairman Vanessa Wallace, Jennifer Wastacott from Business Council of Australia and Dr Stephanie Fahey the CEO of Austrade.)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lauded the event as “the largest and most significant delegation of business leaders in the US”.  An intimate audience with key American decision makers – access not even money can buy.  Choosing to overwhelmingly give this opportunity to male leaders further perpetuates inequality.

In 2018, we should expect better. Given the #metoo & #timesup campaigns, surely we can demand better?

The Prime Minister’s Office, Australian Embassy and DFAT officials certainly ought to know better.

Australia’s diversity, our difference, our daring is what makes us great. It fosters technological genius like Tan Le’s company Emotiv, behemoth IPOs like Atlassian‘s and global online powerhouses like Jane Lu’s Showpo. To ignore the breadth of what we have to offer and to turn your back on showcasing it, does Australia a disservice.

But even if we put aside the Government’s duty to be inclusive – such an outdated attitude is simply bad business.

This McKinsey’s study found companies who commit to gender, racial and ethnic leadership diversity are more successful – they’re much more likely to have better financial returns.

Surely then diverse diplomatic conversations would be more productive? Should this not be the highest priority to ensure reaching optimum outcomes for everyone?

The Prime Minister gleefully posted a video of attendees comparing their brand of cowboy boots at the event. Another video on his instagram story had Donald Trump shaking hands with key Aussie leaders…but there was not a woman in sight.

The Australian Government and its agencies should be actively fighting against the boys’ club, not encouraging it. A tax payer funded event with such an astonishing lack of diversity is a disgrace.

The event was to mark 100 years of Aussie US mateship. So much has changed….and yet, so little is different.

Let Them Flinch First: Megan McWilliams


Digital Media Diva


How do you describe yourself in one sentence?

“Recovering magazine publisher/editor gone mad for digital media production.”

What's your job title & how did you get there?

“Executive Producer/Founder of The Green Divas media brand. Got here via the road less travelled.”

What's the best piece of advice you've received re negotiating your salary & benefits?

“Always try to let them start the negotiation, and LET THEM FLINCH FIRST.”

Do you ever talk about your salary with coworkers? Why or why not?

“Nope. Not Necessary”.

How do you prepare for pay rise, promotion or tough negotiation conversations? We'd love to hear all your hacks & top tips!

“KNOW YOUR WORTH. I mean do the research AND be honest with yourself, then when you are clear, embed it in your brain and be as fearless as possible”

What would you tell your younger self about negotiating your first salary?

You are so much better than that!

Did you ever agree to something in a negotiation you now regret doing?

YES! at this point, primarily with clients. It still happens, I WANT the gig, so I ratchet back my prices, anticipating their response to imaginary things (usually). When they come back immediately like, "Wow, great price, we're in!" No haggling or winging at all -- I know I've once again, screwed myself.

Instgram: @greendivameg & @thegreendivas


Information is Power: Emily Clark

How do you describe yourself in one sentence?

“I'm a curious journalist who notices how weird and wonderful people are and makes a point to ask them about it.”

What's your job title & how did you get there?”

“Digital Journalist, Specialist Reporting Team, ABC News. I got here via a country education > a fortunate series of benders between university assessments > a tabloid TV gig > lots of travel > and a pivot to digital.”

What's the best piece of advice you've received re negotiating your salary & benefits?


“The first negotiation with a new employer is the most important one. Set a precedent that you are here to work, but also here to get paid. Let them know you will always come to the table expecting a pay rise because you will always deserve it.”

Do you ever talk about your salary with coworkers? Why or why not?

“Yes. This is something I've proactively done over recent years. I work for a big organization. There is money to go around so we should all get ours. Information is power.”

How do you prepare for pay rise, promotion or tough negotiation conversations?

“I step outside the established norms inside the workplace and look at the marketplace. What am I worth out there? Find examples and bring them to the table. Own your space in the room, be present and look people in the eye. Use language like "I'll have to think about it" if you're not satisfied. Buy yourself time. Remember, a good boss will respect you more if you hustle a pay rise like you hustle a story. And back yourself. Always.”

What would you tell your younger self about negotiating your first salary?

“Ask for more. Ask again three months later. Agree to KPIs only when your reward is measured too.”

Did you ever agree to something in a negotiation you now regret doing?

“So far, no. I came close when I agreed to a billable time percentage at a PR agency. Not because it was unfair, but because I was too young for that level of stress. Responsibility and authority have to be balanced.”

! ALERT ! Must Negotiate Performance-Based Raises: Kelly Glover


Podcast Guest Booking Agent, The Talent Squad

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How do you describe yourself in one sentence?

“Podcast guest booking agent & award-winning branded podcast producer”


What's your job title & how did you get there?

“Founder & CEO (started my own podcast agency)”

What's the best piece of advice you've received re negotiating your salary & benefits?

“Actually, I've never received any advice. Ever.”

Do you ever talk about your salary with coworkers? Why or why not?

“When I earned less, yes. When I started earning more then no.”

How do you prepare for pay rise, promotion or tough negotiation conversations?

“Research other salaries in the market.”

What would you tell your younger self about negotiating your first salary?

“Negotiate performance-based raises/ bonuses in the contract so it's a win win.”

Did you ever agree to something in a negotiation you now regret doing?

“I always saw jobs as take it or leave it money so that's what I always did. Now, i'd build in performance factors.”

Talking About Salaries? YES: Jenna Lovell


Writer & Editor at My Missing Factor


How do you describe yourself in one sentence?

“I'm a chocolate & adventure loving word nerd who encourages myself and those around me to live a life on their own terms.”

What's your job title & how did you get there?

“I'm a Writer, Editor & Women's Health Advocate. My illness has inspired me to create a job that creates and supports a healthy life.”

What's the best piece of advice you've received re negotiating your salary & benefits?

”Know your value, and accept nothing less. It can be easy to be negotiated down on a price or salary, but sticking to your worth has so many more benefits than just financial.”

Do you ever talk about your salary with coworkers? Why or why not?

“I have in previous jobs, even though its often written into contracts that you can't. The only people being quite seems to benefit is the employer, and that always bothered me. One of the great things about the solepreneur/freelancer communities I'm in is we are supportive and collaborative, not competitive. Discussing job issues & challenges empowers and educates, and there's nothing bad about that.”

How do you prepare for pay rise, promotion or tough negotiation conversations?

“As a freelancer, I work on attracting clients who value me and value paying well for a job well done. My clients help me value what I offer, and some of them have supported me in pitching or renegotiating fees in my favour.”

What would you tell your younger self about negotiating your first salary?

I'd say that the 2008 GFC really sucked, and under the circumstances you did a great job. I'd also say if you decide to set your sights and standards high, that's an amazing thing to do for yourself.”

Did you ever agree to something in a negotiation you now regret doing?

“To be honest, in previous jobs, I've never felt like I was in a negotiation, more like salaries were presented and agreement was expected. I think for my experiences, in jobs I've always agreed to everything, and that's a mistake!”