31.05.19 | How to get rich (and goodbye)

By Jessica Sier 31 May 2019 4 min read

How to get rich!

When I was younger, I wanted to be rich so badly.

Once I was sitting at a restaurant in Melbourne; the kind with white tablecloths and artfully melting candles. I was dating a wealthy guy at the time, and he was sitting across from me.

“You know, Jess,” he said. “I know how you could make a lot of money, really easily."

I tensed up with excitement.

I was 22 and had just come back from an internship in the European Union press gallery.

The sovereign debt crisis was in full swing; the Greeks needed another bailout, the Spanish weren’t far behind and the Chinese were circling around some of Europe’s largest infrastructure assets.

I’d seen power in action, but I hadn’t really seen money in action.

My companion reached across the table for my hand and said, “You could make a lot of money as a hand model, you have beautiful fingers.”

The anger I felt was stupendous. What. a. stupid. thing. to. say.

I looked at my home-painted nails and my extremely ordinary hands and angrily used them to dole out some more wine.

I don’t think he really noticed my reaction; but it was a clarifying moment.

I had surprised myself: apparently I did want to make a lot of money. And preferably rather easily.

There seemed to be money everywhere. I saw it at Bondi Junction in the form of gleaming, never-left-the-eastern-suburbs 4WDs. I saw it in the money poured behind the bar in Kalgoorlie.

I saw it on the wrists of bankers with cracked iPhone screens and in the absurdly small purses women clutch on their nights out.

I began to see it in office spaces for lease and in the reports at the end of the news.

And I wanted to get a slice of that.

So, I decided to use journalism as a guise for learning about how to make money. I would go and report on how other people had grown their wealth and I would basically do the same.

There was absolutely no way a dude in a suit who understood the stock market was smarter than I was, and whatever he could do on his little screen, I could do. Probably.

So I became a journalist, and began my life spying on the rich and successful.

And I was out looking for the trick. The trick that would make me a lot of money without much effort. The trick that meant I didn’t have to be a hand model.

So I learnt about share markets, and investing, and debt. I learned about compound interest, and building businesses, and trading.

I watched dreadful mining companies on the ASX explode in value after a lithium discovery.

I watched software make millionaires overnight.

But all of these seemed to be flukes.

How had they gotten rich? Where did all the surplus money come from? The kind that enabled diamonds around their wives' throats? The kind that took them to Chamonix each year?

And one helpful thing when you’re a ‘plucky’ young woman with a taste for good wine and late nights, is people let their guard down.

It wasn’t until I was back at another restaurant table, with another white tablecloth and one of those small intimate lamps instead of a candle, when I actually learned the trick.

The old man who was my dinner companion that night was a registered billionaire. Like, a proper one.

He was an immigrant, a jack of all trades and a funny guy who had a lazy way of quoting literature like he'd just read Chekhov that morning.

“Trees that grow slow bear the best fruit,” he said to me. “There’s no advantage to hurrying through life.”

I felt that same ripple of anger that I felt at the ‘hand model’ comment, but somehow that comment also stuck with me.

I sipped my wine and thought about it. And for the first time, I appreciated time.

The trick, as you’ve already guessed, is patience. And habit. And the sooner I learned that, the sooner I was going to actually build wealth.

And it’s that habit and that patience that we preach here at Spaceship.

Really, building wealth is just a numbers-over-time game. But, in Australia (and throughout the world) investing has instead been hijacked by ego.

The same ego I was feeding on my quest to figure out ‘how people got rich’.

I've been thinking more about Spaceship Voyager, and at its heart, our app is essentially for people who don't want to let their ego get in the way of long-term investing.

It's not for the traders, the short sellers, the gamblers or the speculators.

Instead, the two managed funds offered by Spaceship are for the careful, smart mob; those who have the wherewithal to gain exposure to the share market and maybe even make investing a habit by establishing a regular investment plan.

They're the type that invest for the long term, and aren't the type to hysterically yank their money out of the market at the first signs of distress.

They like learning about the curious world of capital allocation and business strategy, and small gyrations in the share market don’t fill them with indignation or alarm.

You guys get it.

This is a weird experience that I had in my life that nudged me towards maturity. Or at least a baby step towards understanding that money is only ever a tool to accomplish other cool things.

Now I’ve told you this long winded, self indulgent story because of two reasons:

  1. Sharing experiences is incredibly powerful, and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has shared theirs with us through our Real Money Talk series. It’s brave to put the truth out there.
  2. And also this is my last newsletter for Spaceship. So if you hate it there’s not much you can do about it.

Thank you very, very much to the wonderful readers who give us all sorts of feedback every day.

From spelling mistakes to deep philosophical disagreements; that you take the time to write in and share parts of yourselves with us has blown my mind.

I’m going to leave you in the capable hands of Bryna, who is a superb writer and an excellent judge of memes, pop-culture and has hundreds of savvy money-making and money-saving tricks up her sleeve.

And as Spaceship  s itself into its next evolution, I hope you all maintain the steady patience to achieve a level of wealth that gives you freedom.

Which of course, is filthy rich.

P.S. This header features Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum, who is comprised of both human and candy DNA, and is a character in the 2007 Adventure Time.

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.

31.05.19 | How to get rich (and goodbye)