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My life lesson: Save every payday

Advice to save from her first pay cheque served entrepreneur Gen George well, writes Sylvia Pennington.

Her mum’s suggestion during her teenage years that she “put something away each and every pay day” has seen Gen George temper her entrepreneurship with a touch of caution, and continue to stash away cash for a rainy day.

George launched OneShift and Skilld – online platforms which match employers and staff for casual shifts – as a fledgling venture via a Wordpress site in 2012.

Four years on, the 26-year-old sits at the helm of an enterprise which employs 40 staff. OneShift Jobs has more than 40,000 businesses and 700,000 jobseekers on its books nationwide, while spin-off platform Skilld, which focuses on the hospitality sector, has signed up 8000 businesses and more than 120,000 job seekers.

George’s business has attracted multimillion-dollar investment and netted her a string of business awards. She is also the founder of women’s business networking group Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine, which runs monthly events for 19,000 members nationwide.

No stranger to hard work and hustle, George entered the workforce at age 14, doing after-school and weekend shifts on the counter at fast food chain Oporto. A stint as a swimming coach followed, then, in her senior year, she launched a babysitting club, finding gigs for up to 50 schoolmates and taking a clip.

“I was acting like a recruiter but had no concept of minimum wage or tax,” George recalls ruefully.

“My dad noticed all these white envelopes being dropped off at our house by young women – he sat me down one night with all these envelopes full of $10 notes and said, ‘What are you doing? What’s going on?’.”

Building a nest egg

George’s mother Jane George, a businesswoman who’d founded and sold her own recruitment agency and several cafes, was quick to emphasise the benefits of building a nest egg, once her first pay cheque came in.

“She said, ‘no matter how much you’re ever making, you’ve just got to put something away – every bit counts’,” George says.

“I think it’s just trying to change that mentality of ‘when I start making lots of money I’ll start saving’ because it doesn’t matter how much you’re earning, every little contribution you’re making, it all adds up.

“Even if it’s a dollar, put something away every day, no matter how small. Just start and then you’ve got your own safety net and some independence, no matter what.”

Online budgeting and money management tools like mint.com have helped provide visibility on where money’s going and whether savings goals are on track, George says.

Having a cash cushion made it easier to start her own business. “It’s enabled me to do things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do, had I not been saving,” she says.

Putting a little bit by is a practice which has stuck with her as she’s moved out of home and into the fast and freewheeling world of high tech start-ups.

“It’s important to have that mentality of not waiting for that bigger pay cheque to come in before you start ‘adulting’ as I call it – pretending to be an adult and being financially responsible!” George says.

“I still take mum’s advice every pay cheque, I still put money away – even if it’s $10, it’s something.”

This is a series from ANZ Women asking leading Australians to share important financial advice that has changed their life.