How the Barefoot Investor bounced back from a devastating bushfire.
Barefoot Investor rises from the ashes to get your finances sorted
FIRE will strike everyone eventually. When he says that, Scott Pape knows what he’s talking about. They were real flames that shook his life apart two years ago when a bushfire burnt his home and possessions to the ground.
Scott, a financial advisor known across Australia as The Barefoot Investor, lost his home in the 2014 Mickleham fires.
The bushfires destroyed rural areas near Melbourne over one February weekend that became Victoria’s worst fires since Black Saturday.
As their house was burning down, Scott was off fighting the flames somewhere else as a Country Fire Authority volunteer in full knowledge his home was being destroyed. More than 30 properties burnt down.
Scott, his wife Liz and their then-infant son had nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few nappies. A financial counsellor who gave Scott $500 told him it was time to let people help.
“We lost absolutely everything,” he says.
“I had no (cash). I only had the clothes that were on my back.” The damage spread to every part of their farm.
A small bell Scott had gifted to Liz on their wedding day was about the only possession that survived. The tree they were married under was one of the few natural landmarks of their farm that didn’t burn.
Most of their flock of sheep, which numbered more than a thousand, was killed and staff from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries shot the injured survivors. The image of their razed paddocks flashed across televisions in lounge rooms across the country thanks to the TV news helicopters that hovered over the property.
Barefoot Investor fans showed an outpouring of support for the couple, including one young boy who sent them his pocket money. Scott chose to send the money back.
In the midst of this long recovery, Scott put his mind to the fire and other disasters like it: death, diagnoses, redundancies. He calls them financial fires in a new book written during the furious rebuilding process.
The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need is a sequel of sorts to his first book, published in 2004, and it has a specific goal.
“What I wanted to do was write a book that would keep people safe... to write a book for my family, for my friends,” Scott says.
“It was quite cathartic.”
The concept of safe comes directly from the bushfires. More specifically, it comes from the feeling Scott had when they drove up to the stacks of rubble and smouldering ash that had once been his home, his family photos, his wife’s wedding dress, his son’s toys.
He felt okay.
It’s not a feeling expected to be felt at the site of a scorched home, and it’s the subject of a lengthy opening passage in the new book.
In the passage, Scott doesn’t turn away from the worst moments of losing his house. He describes a heavy second inside the car when his wife began screaming and his son bawled with her.
“At that moment, when everything was falling apart, I looked in the rear-view mirror and said to myself the first thing that came to my mind: ‘I’ve got this’,” he writes in the book.
Speaking to Weekend, Scott expands on that unexpected thought.
“It was just that I knew I had my finances sorted,” he says.
The book is an effort to give other people the same feeling. He bills The Barefoot Investor as a common sense guide to money. You won’t get rich from his advice, depending on how you define rich.
“If all you needed was money, then James Packer would be the happiest guy on the planet. But he’s not,” Scott says.
“If you can look after your finances... I think that’s a worthy goal.”
He compares the CFA’s stay and defend rules to financial health. By the time disaster strikes, it’s too late to figure out if you’re ready or not.
Scott often uses the word confidence when he talks about money, and the attitude permeates his book.
“Everyone knows what they have to do...the same way everyone knows kind of what they have to do to lose weight,” he says.
“It’s about the behaviours we adopt.
“Small wins lead to big wins.”
Since the book’s release, he says readers have particularly
Scott Pape is known as The Barefoot Investor.