By Mandy Te
This story is part of Re:’s Money Week, where we take a look at everything from asking your boss for a raise, to explaining what inflation actually is. Check out the rest of the stories here.
Simran Kaur is the co-founder of Girls That Invest, a podcast for women who want to learn about investing. Along with her best friend Sonya Gupthan, the duo run workshops and share advice so they can help tackle the wealth gap women and people of colour face.
They’re two young New Zealanders who in 2021 reached over 100,000 people with their podcast. On the Apple podcast charts, their podcast has become the number one business podcast in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and number two in the United Kingdom.
They've been featured in Vogue, Business Insider and TedX and in August, they’re about to release their first book.
Re: News Editor Mandy Te talked to Simran about money, Girls That Invest, and how to make conversations about finances more accessible for young people.
How do you see money as a tool for women and people from minority groups?
Money is a tool for everyone but especially women and minorities who have historically been dealt with a few more hurdles than the average person.
I never see money as a ticket to living a lavish life (but power to you if you do) but instead seeing it as a ticket to living an authentic life where you get to do the things you want to do, instead of the things you have to.
Growing up in a patriarchal culture taught me a lot about how money was the biggest cause of any power imbalance - between employees and employers, to relationships between partners.
I got to see the way women and minorities were treated unfairly and how their opinions were treated as mattering less because they didn’t financially contribute as much, as if to say “if you’re poor, your voice doesn’t matter”.
What are the main mistakes you see people in their 20s making when it comes to money and finance? What are the main causes and how can they be solved?
The biggest mistake I see is young people thinking that if they don’t have a strong financial background they must automatically be bad with money and there is no hope for change.
I hear statements like “I’m just not good with numbers” or “maths goes over my head”. This may have been the case 10 to 15 years ago when financial tools were more inaccessible but now there are countless calculators and ways of dealing with money that aren’t just numbers-based.
In fact, you could argue that being “good with money” is actually much more of a mental game than a financial one. You can have $100 in the bank and have good financial literacy or earn $100k but still live paycheck to paycheck.
Step one to dealing with the barriers to becoming good with money is actually a process of reviewing our childhood experiences with money and unravelling how this shapes who we are today.
Do we think money is inherently evil because of a greedy adult we knew? Do we think money is scarce because of the way our parents raised us? Or is it abundant and something that comes and goes?
From your point of view, what’s the most interesting thing about money?
There was a 2022 study done in New York that looked at what an extra few hundred dollars did for mothers and their newborns who lived below the poverty line. Some mothers received a monthly allowance and some didn’t.
One of the biggest learnings from the study was that the children who received the extra sums actually had faster brain development than those who did not.
The most interesting thing about money is the absolute peace of mind it brings to your life.
I don’t think money inherently brings happiness but rather peace. You are going to be more at peace if you don’t have to worry about bills to pay. You are going to be at peace if you can afford to take time off work when you or your dependents get sick.
I believe the peace money provides is what people mean when they debate about the happiness of money.
How did you and Sonya come up with the idea of Girls That Invest?
After my experience of learning about personal finance and investing, I really struggled with the lack of representation of females and people of colour both online and in person.
The groups that were speaking about investing were generally male and invested in ways that I didn’t always agree with.
I knew that if I was seeking a community of like-minded people I wouldn’t be the only one and thus the idea of Girls That Invest was born.
I asked my best friend Sonya to join me on the podcast to speak about our experiences with money - we both purchased some microphones and set up in my flat and the rest was history!
What do you have to say to young people who might be feeling down about the current social situations going on such as the housing crisis and the cost of living going up?
I think it's important to acknowledge the current climate is hard and nothing should take away from that.
Our generation is facing the highest wage to property prices we have ever experienced, with fierce competition in the job market and now extremely tough increases to cost of living.
There has never been a harder time to be a young person financially in New Zealand.
A good place to start is to set out the goals you want and work out which goal you’re wanting to aim for first.
It’s unlikely you’re going to be able to travel and buy a home, but maybe you value travelling first - this is where the concept of value-based spending comes in.
Society tells us we need to have it all so young - a good home, a career and somehow lots of money leftover to travel.
Value-based spending is taking away the shame of making people feel bad for wanting to spend money on things, and instead is a form of budgeting where you allocate to things that are important to you and forget the rest.
I also believe in having more transparency for better and fairer wages. We have a culture of secrecy and perhaps even shame around speaking about and asking for wages but it’s an important part of moving forward as a society to a more equitable New Zealand.
How can we make conversations about money and finance more accessible for young people and easier for them to understand?
Normalising money conversations is what our podcast was created to achieve, we believe that by having two young best friends speak about their own money experiences, it would encourage others to do the same within their own communities.
The truth is most people want to speak about money, most people just don’t know how to even begin that conversation.
What would be your one main core of advice to young people who are starting to think more about their money and saving money?
To take baby steps and to never compare their financial situation with anyone else’s.
You never know what other people's money stories are and if they’ve had financial help or even just financial security to kick start their journey a lot faster.
There’s just no point comparing your timeline with someone else’s - it will only demotivate you and at the end of the day you’re just trying to be better than past you.
Everyone is on their own money journey and it doesn’t mean you’re “behind” if you haven’t started. We don’t all start on the same platform.
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