Women on FIRE – Leveraged Mama

Did you know that the drive for women to achieve financial freedom has spread all the way around the world – including to New Zealand? Yes, that’s true. You might remember that I’ve featured some amazing ladies from Australia before – Kylie Travers and Get Money Wise – but not yet New Zealand. That’s going to change today.

You might know New Zealand as the land of the Lord of the Rings, but I knew of it before it was cool. Back when I was in elementary school I had a pen pal from there. I wish I could remember her name, so we could maybe reconnect in this age of the internet, but sadly all I remember is that I once mailed her a letter on a piece of paper shaped like a giant, folding ice cream cone. Don’t even remember what I said, just the paper.

Peti from Leveraged Mama is a mom who came to her interest in financial independence after years of care-free living with her husband. It was a layoff (redundancy in her part of the world) while pregnant that was their wake-up call. And now, after becoming a mom at 39, she’s on a mission. Let’s learn more about her.

Tell us about yourself!

Hello! I’m Peti Morgan – married mum of a two year old daughter, from Wellington, New Zealand. It’s a good time to be a New Zealander – we have a pregnant Prime Minister, and after the baby arrives, her partner will be the stay at home parent. I just love this! CMO Note – Just like in my family! That’s awesome.

My husband and I both work in software, he is an engineer I’m an Agile coach. I work part time and have a fairly new side hustle as a personal finance blogger. I’m also an award winning fine art photographer, but on hiatus – as a new mother I have really struggled to fit this into my life, but I want to pick it up again later. CMO Note – I work in IT as well! But as a program manager.

I’m on a journey to financial independence despite and because of becoming a mum.

In fact it wasn’t until I became a parent – at 39 – that I had my financial ‘awakening’.

I spent my twenties travelling, partying, and spending every cent that came my way, then continued this carefree lifestyle after meeting my (now) husband. Oh we had such fun!

Women on FIRE in New Zealand
Switzerland 2012
Women on FIRE New Zealand
Japan 2014

However, all this carefree living caught up with us and we were caught out when I was made redundant while pregnant. It wasn’t as if the pregnancy was unplanned (it was very much so), so we did have savings – but we also had debt, of which the repayments had to be figured into our monthly expenses.

Having chosen to take redundancy, it meant that I didn’t have a job to return to when it suited me, and of course we had less money for my year of maternity “leave”.

Having no real cash emergency fund, once our savings ran out, we fell back on our credit cards. And we fell quite hard, partly because we were still living the DINK life after becoming parents.

Around that time, my dad – who hasn’t worked for many years due to Multiple Sclerosis – withdrew and squandered his modest retirement savings early. I managed to claw back the last $1,000 which I’ve been eeking out to him for emergencies.

I did not want this kind of early retirement.

With parenthood comes great responsibility, and I felt that keenly. I didn’t want my daughter to have to support me in my old age. I certainly didn’t want her to make the same money mistakes I had (don’t we all go through this?!)

But I realised I knew NOTHING about money. I certainly didn’t know what Financial Independence meant.

To me there was either rich, or poor. In fact a few years ago, I had heard one of my friends mention that she wanted to retire by 40. I just thought – she would have to have quite a bit saved up in the BANK for that.

I knew NOTHING about investments, compound interest, dividends and the like.

How did you become interested in personal finance, and financial independence?

It was more that I realised I was part of a movement and that was really exciting. There were already thousands of people who had thought deeply about the very things I was just discovering.

For so many years I had been denying my instincts and true values, and instead going with the hedonistic urges which never felt 100% right. I felt like I was living a rich person’s life without having earned it and this was literally true!

But it was actually this clip, that started my wee head spinning CMO Note – This is worth watching and showing to your kids. And includes an adorable kiwi bird.

Here he talks about compound interest, but he uses an example of 8% returns. I thought – right! This is how I save my daughter from the same fate as me. 

But… the comments on the video nicely illustrate what subsequently happened for me, and what led me to eventually ‘discover’ the FIRE movement (as if you were hiding all that time):

Once I started digging around for information, it was as if I had poked a hole in an ant hill and all these blogs, people, forums and books – all this knowledge and information just started teeming out at me. (It doesn’t take much for the FIRE to spread, right?)

It wasn’t unlike being unjacked from the Matrix. All of a sudden everything I knew to be true, was not. All my past beliefs about money disappeared in a poof of smoke and I was left with the truth.

And the hard truth was, I had a heap of consumer debt and was no role model for my daughter.

Women on FIRE New Zealand
Me with my daughter, 2016

Two carefree spenders who had just become parents were about to get initiated, and thus began the very painful the process of lifestyle deflation.

Holidays – cancelled. New car plans – canned. High end rental – goodbye.

The ironic thing about lifestyle deflation to become debt free – is that you were only ever delaying the inevitable, but with the addition of interest payments on top.

How we live today and the speed at which we can move money now is how we could have always been doing it, we just chose not to discipline ourselves.

And we’re paying for that, literally, in compound interest!

I don’t regret the path we’ve come along – both my husband and I LOVE to travel and we treasure every moment spent on the road. We plan to travel extensively again, once we have some healthy, income generating investments and leveraged income coming in.

Yet, we still experienced a kind for grief for our old lifestyles – combining the experience of becoming parents with a total financial makeover isn’t something I would recommend, but I have many, many tried and true tips to help others through this very situation. I don’t want debt and lifestyle creep to be a barrier to finding FI. This is why I started blogging really, to help other mums who find themselves having to work really hard just to keep the hamster wheel moving – find another more fruitful path without having to sacrifice as much treasured time with their children in their younger years.  I want to help them get off that hamster wheel, and discover FI as I did – because it really is just hiding in plain sight!

Tell us about your FIRE journey – and motivation. What does FIRE mean to you?

Financial Independence to me – means living life on my own terms and according to my values, and having the freedom to choose.

Currently, it means generating enough passive and leveraged income to cover expenses, and choosing to actively generate income for anything extra. I know that traditionally, FI means generating enough money from your investments to cover your expenses – but because I’m a late starter, I’m getting slightly creative with it! In any case, I will have the freedom to choose what I work on.

I want to create a location independent business, that allows me to get my message to the masses – so that I can help other mums to find their own path to FI, no matter what their circumstances.

I don’t see myself retiring early – I’m a serial-entrepreneur that wears many hats, so perhaps ‘work’ might look a little different once I’m financially independent, but I will still be getting my hands dirty somehow. I want to continue traveling and perhaps live abroad again with my family (I lived in Breckenridge, Colorado and London in my twenties). So a location independent business is really important.

What’s unique about pursuing financial independence as a woman – and a mom?

Occasionally I question myself and ask- why should I be different?

In New Zealand we seem obsessed with owning houses. This is our ticket to retirement. I would absolutely LOVE to build a house – a home – for my family. But it is not going to be my fallback for retirement. I want diversified investments and income streams – not just a house.

What makes me so special that I should have more options and more freedom than others in retirement? What makes me think it’s even possible with kids in tow?

To me it’s not about being different, it’s simply about living in alignment with my values.

So, I’ll do it regardless of my situation. Being a woman, being a mother, is no reason not to pursue FI. There are no real obstacles – only the ones you choose to see. Having debt – as a mother working part time – is not barrier to financial independence for me.

I think it’s possible for anyone to do it- to become financially independent and have options – if that’s what you choose.

If you’re familiar with Jon Morrow’s story you’ll see an amazing example of how there are no real obstacles. He has Muscular Dystrophy, is in a wheelchair and cannot move his body. He must use a machine to talk. But in that state – and because of it – he grew his business to the multi millions – using only his voice, because that’s what he chose to do. CMO Note – I hadn’t heard of Jon Morrow before, so when I got this I made sure to do some research to provide you all a link. Go to that link. You’ll leave inspired.

And despite what my dear Dad did with his retirement savings, he will always have my respect and admiration for the choices he made. He was once in a wheelchair too because of his Multiple Sclerosis – he lost all the movement on his right side and had to learn to write again with his left hand. But through a conscious choice to make massive lifestyle changes, he went into, and stayed in remission from the disease, and he now walks every single day. He hasn’t used a wheelchair in many years.

I choose to believe, that we are a product of our decisions, not our circumstances.

What advice would you have for other women, and moms, on this path?

I know that it can be incredibly overwhelming to be in debt, and juggling madly just to keep all the balls in the air as a working mother. How can you even think about getting out of debt – let along becoming financially independent – when you are just barely holding everything together?

I don’t want consumer debt to be the end of a dream for financial freedom, so to specifically help those whose first step towards FI is getting out of debt, I have these tips!

Reframe your use of credit cards

There are many reasons I recommend avoiding credit cards – if getting out of debt is your first step towards financial independence, then do anything you can to get away from them and stop living beyond your means. I talk specifically about why consumer debt is “dumb” debt in this post: https://leveragedmama.com/blog/credit-card-debt/. But some would argue that all debt is dumb debt. I might agree.

Get totally transparent about your spending

If you really want to improve your financial situation – no matter where you are starting from – having total transparency of all of your spending (your partner’s AND your own) is going to help immensely.   Understanding your spending habits gives you a set of levers that you can adjust depending on what your current and future needs are. If you don’t have total visibility of your spending – these levers either don’t exist, or aren’t very effective.  

If you’re really impatient to get to FI like me!

I am constantly looking for the most effective and efficient way to do things. Getting debt free and working towards financial independence is something I am very impatient to do, so have devised and shared many effective ways and shortening the journey in this post.

Where can readers find you?

I blog at The Leveraged Mamaand like to share actionable tips and insights for getting debt free and working your way towards financial freedom – as a mother. I LOVE teaching people and sharing knowledge that will help you improve your financial situation, so that is what you can expect from me here.

I’ve been using my Instagram as a kind of pep talk for people on a debt free journey, and it seems to be hitting the spot! I’m on Facebook too, and readers can email me at peti@leveragedmama.com

Thank you for having me on your blog Liz – you provide such inspiration for other mums/moms out there seeking financial freedom!

CMO Here Again

Thanks so much to Peti for stopping by to share her story. I loved learning more about her, and how she came to pursue financial freedom. Isn’t that compound interest example amazing? Be sure to share it with any young people or kids you may know. Saving small amounts over a very long period of time is a powerful force for wealth.

Be sure to leave her a comment to let her know how much you enjoyed her story!

Interested in more stories on women seeking financial freedom? Find the full list here.

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9 thoughts on “Women on FIRE – Leveraged Mama”

  1. Fantastic to hear your story Peti thanks for sharing. I’m going away re-inspired to stay focused on our family FI goals. My journey started after reading ‘Your Money or Your Life’ and I still think about that book all the time. It’s a game changer!

  2. Thanks for sharing Peti… sounds like my own story! I’m a serial entrepreneur too and still working on my financial independence! It’s a journey not a destination right? Good on you for helping others do this!

  3. Love your story! Thanks for sharing:)

    I am also a mum pursuing financial freedom. After getting rid of our debt, I am now focusing on building a dividend portfolio with the aim of generating enough passive income for our early retirement.

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