How the Bare­foot In­vestor bounced back from a dev­as­tat­ing bush­fire.

Bare­foot In­vestor rises from the ashes to get your fi­nances sorted

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - Han­nah Busch

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

PHOTO: ISAMA SAWA

Scott Pape is known as The Bare­foot In­vestor.

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