How the PocketSmith Team Works on Their Financial Literacy

Having a solid foundation of financial literacy is a hugely beneficial and often under-serviced skill. As staunch believers in “knowledge is power” when it comes to your money, we thought we’d share how some of the team teach ourselves about personal finance, what education we received at school, and who inspires our financial journey.

Where do you get your financial knowledge?

The foundational money concepts I learned, like spending within my means and the power of compounding interest, were instilled in me at an early age by my family. Looking back, I gained lots of other knowledge through osmosis, just from talking to family, friends, and colleagues. It’s only more recently that I’ve become more intentional about expanding my financial knowledge. Now, I regularly listen to a few financial podcasts, subscribe to several money blogs, lurk on Reddit and talk to like-minded friends. And, of course, working at PocketSmith helps! — Dora, Head of Marketing

I’d say the majority of my financial knowledge was gained through small incremental learnings over many years, via friends and colleagues, and stumbling across some relevant blog posts and internet discussions. — Mike, Software Engineer

With the exception of what I learn as part of our work building PocketSmith, mostly by osmosis. I glean things that affect me as the news floats by, or when the need is immense, like when refixing our mortgage (RIP 2.65% interest rates). My amazing wife is our home CFO, and she’s patient enough to persist in getting the essential need-to-know things through to me, while I groan and roll my eyes. You know the builder with the jankiest house on the street? That’s me, building PocketSmith, while my own financial awareness is in tatters. — James, co-founder and CTO

Most of my financial knowledge has been cultivated online, but I do my best due diligence to make sure the sources are reputable and match my values. My fellow PocketSmithers are also excellent mentors, as it’s damn near impossible to not be motivated to reflect on your own finances and improve your financial knowledge when you’re surrounded by people who prioritize their financial health in their overall wellbeing. And even as a full-fledged adult, I still need to get my Dad’s opinion in there too. — Chloe, Content Marketing Manager

Mostly from discussions with colleagues at work and articles shared by colleagues. A little bit of mainstream media too. I would say I’m not that savvy at knowing how to grow the money I have, but I’m not silly about spending it either — definitely room for improvement! — Amanda, Customer Support

I don’t pay much attention to financial information, even with my accounting education background from my five years in secondary school. Before joining PocketSmith, I learned from friends and family via conversations. Now that I work at PocketSmith, I need to research and observe people’s behaviors and how people perceive the value of money as part of my job. It’s taking me on a new path to discovering finances, particularly budgeting. It is about our choice of lifestyle we want to live. — Siau-Jiun, Senior Digital Product Designer

Mostly online and through discussions with my colleagues here at PocketSmith. When online, I look for information across a range of channels. YouTube offers a great mix of indie producers for niche topics, as well as mainstream outlets like CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, Wired, etc. There are many subreddits for personal finance which are specific to topics and interests, regions, goals, and more. And podcasts, from good economics explainers on Planet Money, to interesting case studies on Wondery’s Business Wars, and DeFi on Kevin Rose’s Modern Finance. — Jason, co-founder and CEO

My real-world adult financial education began when I was self-employed before, during, and after the financial crisis around 2008. It was my first experience of the impact of macro-economic conditions on my personal micro-economy, and while it was a very stressful time, it got me interested in investing. In hindsight, the revenue curve of my one-person business looked very much the same shape as the stock market. That was quite an eye-opener. At the same time, I came across a copy of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which introduced me to the key concepts of investing. The overall philosophy expressed in the book is too selfish for my liking, but it helped me understand how to build personal wealth. — Olav, Digital Marketing Manager

Mostly Reddit (r/PersonalFinanceNZ, r/stocks) or chats with like-minded friends — and of course, internally here since we’re all money geeks! — Regan, Lead Software Engineer

Most people agree that they didn't receive enough financial education at school

How much financial education did you receive at school? Do you think that was enough?

Not a lot. I grew up in Singapore, where most kids had a small allowance from a young age because all schools had an affordable canteen and stationery store. So we were all used to buying stuff daily and managing a real cash wallet. But formally, through the curriculum, there was nothing. Future-proofing topics like investing and setting up passive income streams are things I wished I’d learned at school. As well as everyday life skills like discerning good and bad debt, understanding insurance, and how to get a home loan. — Dora, Head of Marketing

Pretty much zero; I don’t think financial literacy was talked about in my school at all. But I’m hopeful that it gets cemented in school curriculums so that future generations have a good foundation when it comes to finance. — Mike, Software Engineer

Very little, only what was taught in economics class. School definitely better equips us to be the Minister of Finance for a country, than it does to avoid dumb debt obligations (rent-to-own services have a lot to answer for). I definitely did not get taught enough, as is evidenced by these past mistakes. Worse is that the financial pitfalls for younger folks are even scarier today. The rent-to-own mistake of yesteryear could now easily be a payday loan mistake — which can lead to a much deeper and more significant financial hole than an overpriced TV and VCR. — James, co-founder and CTO

I took a solitary accounting class in Year 11 but as a “words not numbers” gal it just went in one ear and out the other. It’s pretty difficult to get a 15-year-old to care about something as intangible as concepts like “petty cash” when they’re busy tackling homework and hormones. It might have been different if they had been quantifiable outputs in our own lives — I like to think I would’ve been way more actively engaged in the process of investing 10 years ago if someone had told me how much more I could have in my portfolio now if I started there and then. — Chloe, Content Marketing Manager

Close to none! I think we covered some business accounting but zilch about personal finance! However, my parents were instrumental in creating good spending and saving habits, and I never fell into the credit card debt trap that some of my peers did. I received quite a generous allowance from a young age if I completed my chores and homework, but I had to use it to pay for everything (apart from food, housing, and essentials) myself. I wanted the woolen jersey as an optional extra for my high school uniform? I had to pay for it. All my clothes I paid for myself. That electric guitar I wanted — I paid for it. I realize this was a privileged position, but I think this was really vital in setting me up to learn the value of money and how to be mindful about spending and saving. My parents taught me to save before spending and not to use easy credit. — Amanda, Customer Support

Five years, more than enough! — Siau-Jiun, Senior Digital Product Designer

I studied some accounting in high school which technically counts as “financial education”, but none of it was applicable to my personal life. As I reflect on this, I realize the opportunities lost to my classmates and I for building good financial habits and a strategy for personal finances at an early stage. Being taught about money at school would’ve opened my eyes to the different paths my life could take, and consequently, informed the next steps in my education, as well as the type of work I would go on to do after graduating. Hey education systems worldwide — thanks for continuing to fail us all in this one important aspect! — Jason, co-founder and CEO

None, I don’t remember learning anything about how to manage my money or build wealth at school. So I left school only knowing that money came from jobs, but that was about it. For example, no one explained to me that house prices went up over time and so it was worth buying a house. I learned good financial habits from my parents, such as living within your means and spending money on things that matter so don’t waste your money on things that don’t. Essentially, “be frugal but not to your own detriment”. Having good financial habits meant that even though I ran out of money many times in my youth, I was never in “financial trouble”. — Olav, Digital Marketing Manager

Not a lot. You could take economics or accounting as a subject but those were obviously not useful for managing your own finances. A pretty glaring omission from the curriculum, at the time. I left school without understanding how mortgages work or the house-buying process. — Regan, Lead Software Engineer

Do you actively educate yourself in financial matters? If so, how?

Yes, it’s taken me a while to understand my own attitudes toward money so that I can also help my kids become more financially literate. I now know that time, not timing, is what matters when investing, so I want to start my kids on their financial independence journey as early as I can. — Dora, Head of Marketing

These days I keep an eye on the r/PersonalFinanceNZ subreddit to keep tabs on financial-related matters in New Zealand. Every now and then, a topic will pique my interest, and I’ll do a little more research of my own via resources like and — Mike, Software Engineer

No, but I figure that’s OK. Life is to be lived. There are plenty of other things to worry about, without being concerned about how changes in the open cash rate will affect my investment portfolio. — James, co-founder and CTO

Recently I’ve been pretty forward on educating myself on things that need my active participation, like investing, and I try to be aware of the basics of some of the bigger societal and economic stuff. A lot of my knowledge I pick up passively through friends and colleagues for money issues that haven’t touched me yet — lots of house-buying knowledge has been tucked away for if I ever get the chance to buy my own home. — Chloe, Content Marketing Manager

Not really! Though I know I should — always room for improvement! I do keep an eye on the news for important changes to interest rates and the like. While I do invest a very small amount through Sharesies, I really don’t have much of a clue about investing or strategies for growing wealth. — Amanda, Customer Support

I’m not naturally made for numbers. I can do it but need to force myself a little to learn it. When it comes to money matters, I’m a minimalist. I want to know how much I have left to spend and put some away for my savings. My sister and my husband take care of most of my money. — Siau-Jiun, Senior Digital Product Designer

I do! I’m fascinated by the influence money has on how our world works, and so there’s always a rabbit hole to a new insight on financial matters through any of my other interests: movies, music, technology, travel, current affairs, true crime — you name it! I just follow the trail until my curiosity about a particular topic is sated. As a recent example, my interest in high-speed rail led to learning about China’s debt as a result of massive spending on infrastructure. — Jason, co-founder and CEO

Yes, I had some formal financial education as part of my post-graduate studies and now I mainly learn through reading online articles on investing as well as news and current affairs so that I understand the economic climate that we are living in today. For example, I don’t personally invest in crypto, but I am very interested in how it might shape our economic future. — Olav, Digital Marketing Manager

I feel like I’ve got a good understanding of mortgages and credit cards that I don’t typically deep-dive on them unless something changes (which isn’t often for big banks). Having got into investing, I spend a bit of time researching companies and funds to continuously improve my portfolio. — Regan, Lead Software Engineer

Your financial education usually starts at home, and many of us can attribute our money habits to our parents

Who inspires your financial journey?

My parents, for sure. They 100% embodied avoiding lifestyle creep even as their incomes grew, always staying really pragmatic and un-brand conscious while giving my sister and me a really fun upbringing. They’re both retired now and are financially secure; they inspire me on my own journey with my kids. — Dora, Head of Marketing

100% my family. My goal is to make sure we have the financial capacity to weather storms and to fund the activities that we want to pursue. We’re not quite there yet, but that’s where our journey is taking us. — Mike, Software Engineer

My wife, and Jason, my co-founder. I think he almost has the same spending patterns as he did when we first started paying ourselves $500 a week in 2012. — James, co-founder and CTO

It might be a bit cliche, but it’s myself that inspires my decisions and makes me want to be financially healthy. I just want to make sure I have enough to be okay in an economic climate that’s in constant flux and do things that I enjoy, and provide stuff to the people I love and care about. — Chloe, Content Marketing Manager

I don’t really know! I think finances are still quite a taboo topic, and I would have no idea about most of my friends’ financial positions. I can’t possibly compare my own finances to anyone because I don’t know what their situation is. For this reason, it’s a little difficult to be ‘inspired’ by anyone in particular. However, I’ve also not sought out people to be inspired by! That could be interesting to do. In addition, we all hold different values, so it’s tricky to compare finances alone — as they are inherently tied up with this. It sounds cliche, but I value spending time in nature and experiences over things, and treading lightly on the planet is important to me — so if I was to be inspired by anyone, it would be people who are able to uphold these same values and maintain a comfortable level of personal wealth. I think my parents are a good example of not splashing out and not using easy credit just to keep up with a perceived lifestyle, so they would have been the biggest influence on me. However, their values are a little different from mine, so I am not as frugal or strategic as they were! — Amanda, Customer Support

Money is connected to everything in life, including basic needs. It provides resources and opportunities to enrich our life experiences. For me, letting go of my money is the ultimate goal. I believe that the moment we hold on tight to our money, we bury ourselves; we don’t even wait until we die. For this journey, I need to acknowledge my mum as a single parent who always gave everything she could to raise us. — Siau-Jiun, Senior Digital Product Designer

I’m constantly inspired by everything around me as there’s so much to learn from my friends, colleagues, family, and what’s happening around the world at large. I love taking in diverse perspectives and thoughts on money, and I constantly update my path based on what I learn. The person I talk to the most about my financial journey is probably my dad, who is and always will be more fiscally capable and responsible than me! — Jason, co-founder and CEO

I don’t really have a “who” or inspiration; I find life is too complex and dynamic for singular approaches to personal finances. I draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources and apply the bits that resonate with my situation. — Olav, Digital Marketing Manager

ELON MUSK! Nah, um… People who have hustled side gigs and built solid passive income, like entrepreneurs and people in the FIRE community. — Regan, Lead Software Engineer

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