Making Money Made Simple with Noel Whittaker

May 17, 2022
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

Sometimes an expensive lesson can be worth every penny.”

Noel Whittaker

The greatest blessing I’ve had in 38 years on this planet is two parents who have guided me – and continue to guide me – through their example.

It’s only when you get older, and especially when you have kids of your own, that you truly grasp the sacrifices and support that your own parents have given you. 

That’s why today I’m so excited to have my father, Noel Whittaker, as our special guest for Episode 87.

There are many reasons why Noel has been such an inspiration to me:

  • He created a successful life after growing up in a modest circumstances; 
  • He’s got the most integrity out of anyone I’ve ever met;
  • He’s extremely motivated, still to this day; and
  • He’s always thinking about what he can do to help the people who need it most.

If you’re Australian, you might know a bit about Noel’s professional background. He’s one of Australia’s most prolific authors, with 24 bestselling books, including Making Money Made Simple that sold more than two million copies. 

Noel’s been named Australian Investment Planner of the Year, was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for raising awareness of personal finance.

Together, he and I have collaborated on dozens of projects over the last 20 years, including The Beginner’s Guide to Wealth, which we wrote to help young people with their attitude, goals, and habits.

And in his spare time, which is usually fleeing the chaos of 13 grandchildren, Noel loves to get his money’s worth on the golf courses of southeast Queensland.

In this episode, we’ll go through:

  • The #1 step to achieve financial freedom
  • How he was able to turn an unwanted manuscript into a multi-generational bestseller
  • The blueprint to getting featured in national media outlets, and
  • What motivates him, even in the latter stages of his career.

Note: If you’re watching the video interview or listening to the podcast version, you’ll notice that I call him ‘Noel’ rather than ‘Dad’. It’s something I’ve always done – and I’m not sure why.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with my dad, Noel Whittaker!

James Whittaker:
It's about time we had you on the show! Thanks for being here.

Noel Whittaker:
I'm honored to be on your podcast. I've been a big fan for many years, James.

To kick things off, can you give us a bit of a sense of what your childhood was like?

I was born on a farm, so I always had jobs to do. There were cows to milk and chooks to feed. There were always jobs. It was great exercise and a wonderful environment.

My father was the manager. We didn't own the farm so we weren't wealthy. We had a roof over our heads and we had pork to eat, and stuff from the farm. It was a modest upbringing, but we were never hungry.

And that was a pig farm in the south of Brisbane?

Yes, at Kingston.

What was the mindset around entrepreneurship in your household growing up?

Well, a couple things here. I mean, back in the day, you respected people. My parents knew their place – they knew they were here, they weren't there. They spoke about lawyers, doctors, and other higher ranked people.

I was always told that I couldn't rise too much.

I was always told that I couldn't rise too much, but just to keep my nose clean and be an honest, decent person and I would then achieve all that I had the potential to be.

When you started your first business, did you feel comfortable going down that route or had you felt it was something that was never a possibility?

There was always a drive in me. I always dreamt that one day I'd have my own radio program. 

At 12, I was selling eggs to the teachers.

At 14, the owner of the farm backed me in a beekeeping enterprise. We had 13 hives. I had my own honey brand. I guess I've always been a little merchant. I really think it's in you, that entrepreneurial spirit.

Sounds like you had nine lives in your career before you even started your own financial planning business!

Absolutely! That was a long way down the track, that one.

And I wish we could have busted out the beekeeper outfit just for this episode.

Well, it's a bit like PPE gear. It's very light and uncomfortable.

Yes, I'm sure.

My father always said, get a safe and secure job so when the depression comes, you won't be out of a job.

I joined the bank of New South Wales because it was Australia's oldest business. When I joined the bank, my goal was to become a bank accountant, which was number two in a branch. After six months in the bank, my goal was to become a manager. I suddenly saw that I wasn't as bad as I thought, but I had fairly small goals.

I thought, therefore, I'm dumb and they're smart.

I was fairly inferior, I think, but I went to high school [Salisbury High] with incredibly bright kids. I was number 10 in the class. The number one student was top of Queensland, and the number two student came third in Queensland. And I thought, therefore, I'm dumb and they're smart.

I thought I must be too dumb to go to university. It didn't occur to me to go to university because I didn't think I'd have the brain power for it.

I feel like you just touched on the biggest problem with the educational system right now – it's too quick to put people in two buckets: smart or stupid.

Yet, the people who perform very well academically are often the ones who make better employees rather than business owners, just as people who perform poorly academically, but acquire some real world expertise – whether that's getting along with people, public speaking, writing, grit, all of those different attributes – can be very effective outside the traditional route.

Poor academic students can actually be very powerful and successful business leaders.

On that note, I went to a one-teacher state primary school, and a dunce of the class – we had seven – was Lionel. Lionel got a butcher shop, he was the first bloke to own a Ford Mustang. So he became a top butcher.

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Noel Whittaker does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀

And when I went to vocational guidance, they’d say, “We think you could be an ichthyologist,” which means you would study fish. Entrepreneurs weren't even thought of; you knew your place. Unless you were very dumb and you were forced to succeed.

What was the moment for you when you realized – and accepted, most importantly – that you were 100% in charge of your life, and how did things start to change for you once you had that realization?

I was 32 and I read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and the hands that picked it up were not the hands that put the book down.

I made two vows: first, I would promulgate Hill’s success principles for the rest of my life; and, second, I'd start my own business within 100 days. It took me 150 days to start the business, so I almost made it.

I was 32 and I read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and the hands that picked it up were not the hands that put the book down.

And I'm so proud that you are now the world’s foremost authority on that book.

Jim Rohn was a huge influence on me and you, too. And Jim Rohn's mentor was Napoleon Hill, most famous for his 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, the bestselling self-help book of all time.

What were the biggest lessons that you applied after having those two people, Jim Rohn and Napoleon Hill, as mentors through the written word?

Well, I think if we go back to the 1970s, I just got immersed in personal growth. It was Norman Vincent Peale and Dennis Waitley and Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn, and all those people. And of course they always mentioned goals. Goal-setting is the big one. 

So, for 10 years, I immersed myself in every self-help book I could find. And I just loved it. 

I always feel sorry for people who were never going to read those books.

I guess the most powerful thing about goals is that, for most people, it's the first time that they’ve really thought about what it is that they want.

It reminds me of this print you had in your home office for as long as I can remember that says, “I am in charge of my life.” What is the backstory behind that print?

That’s dated 15th October 1985.

I went to a five day VisionQuest live-in course. And at that course, you had to say what they would say about you at your funeral. Like a bolt out of the blue, it came to me, “My role on earth was to make people prosperous with education about finances.”

For 10 years, I immersed myself in every self-help book I could find.

I've stayed on that track ever since. And it was always for ordinary people. Ordinary people are my constituency.

Is that your handwriting in the print or is that something they gave you?

I hand wrote it.

Because I was all over the place. I wanted to write a book, and at the course I talked about writing the book, and they said, “Go out and write the book.”

The book is a fascinating story. The business I started was a real estate and building business. I met this builder and I figure, okay, I've been an accountant, I'd been a lawyer. I've been a salesman. I had all these jobs so I could bring in the accounting, the legal and the sales.

We started the real estate agency and a building company. And all my builder mates and friends said, "Isn't it silly hooking up with this guy?" And it was a Sunday. I remember this Sunday well because I'm in the office and there were no sales, the phone wasn't ringing.

And we had a display village. In those days, we'd buy a parcel of land and build homes on them. We had a cul de sac in Rochedale, Brisbane, with about six homes in there, all waiting for sale. I thought I'll go and have a drive. 

I thought, “You don't do business sitting on your bum in the office waiting for the phone to ring.”

And I drove out and I saw a couple looking in the window, had a chat, and I sold them that house. And I thought, “You don't do business sitting on your bum in the office waiting for the phone to ring.”

The next week, I had 80 corflute signs made with “Camden Homes” and an arrow, and I put them on every telegraph pole in about four square miles, and the street was chock full of people. So I think I’d actually started the first display village in Australia.

I love that. And a big part of your story is that hustle mentality of just getting off your ass and getting it done. It's so important, and we’ll talk about how you did that with Making Money Made Simple shortly.

Back to the “I am in charge of my life” print. I want to make sure that's really clear for people who are watching this on YouTube or listening to the audio version

It’s in this large handwriting, “I am in charge of my life.” Now, that never meant anything to me when I saw it growing up because, while Noel is good at many things, handwriting is not one of them!

So I always thought the ‘g’ was an ‘s’ and always wondered, “What does ‘I am in charse of my life mean’!?”

But now, at 38 years old, I can see how having that “I am in charge of my life” phrase handwritten next to you, and seeing it every day, would be so empowering. It has to help your motivation and commitment. 

It also said “I am in charge of my life.” And that means you control it – you’re the one who determines the goals that you write down.

Think and Grow Rich includes all the excuses as to why you can fail. “It's too hard. I'm too dumb. It's the wrong time.” But once you write the goals, you become in charge of your life.

Well said.

I remember one time, many years ago, you and I were walking down Queen Street in Brisbane. You were about to do a speaking event, and I said to you, "Do you still get nervous before a speech?"

And you said, "Yes, I still get nervous before a speech, because the moment I don't get nervous is when I know I'm no longer passionate about it and I will stop speaking." 

When you started your career, the nerves were probably much more amplified. How did you push through the nerves early in your career once you started speaking to these larger audiences?

I think what made me different is I always gave my boss my everything. Now, I joined the bank. The bank offered the start to join Rostrum Club. I'm the only one who took up the offer. And I went to Rostrum and my knees would wobble for the first time. But then I'd get over it.

I was always there, always going the extra mile. Always.

Then I ended up in the foreign exchange department, and the bank said, "We need someone to go to staff training and lecture on foreign exchange." I was the only volunteer. It meant getting out of the office, being driven in the bank’s nice big car, more public speaking, more educating people. 

Then the bank had a contest to see who could get the most leads. Most people rubbished the idea, but I made sure I won it. I was always there, always going the extra mile. Always.

It's like the Napoleon Hill quote: “Go the extra mile. Most people don’t even go the first mile.”

Exactly. It's a great quote. It's goals that get you doing that. You see, goals make the person. 

One of my big tools is my do list. I write down what I'm doing today and the goals are on that, and that makes you start.

Yeah, they just nag away at you until they’re done.

Earlier we mentioned your book Making Money Made Simple, first released in March 1987. It sold more than two million copies, and is still a monster seller today. You recently revised it as well. I believe at one stage one in six Australian households had a copy of the book. 

What did you know that book publishers didn't know as they all rejected your manuscript when you first tried to get it published?

Let me share a small story.

Because I believe in the universe and when we started the real estate business, I noticed a local hairdresser had a weekly column, 400 words in the local throwaway paper called ‘Clips’ or something. 

And I said, “Righto, I'll do a real estate column.” And that got me in the habit of writing 400 words every week. Then I hired a PR bloke to get me a column in The Courier Mail newspaper, so then that was there. 

And then ABC Radio rang and said, "Look, we've seen you in the newspaper. Can you come and do some talk back?" And I said, yes, well, but just prior to that, the real estate institute had made an offer.

They said, "You are one of six people we think have potential with educators. If you pay the air fares, we'll take you to Canberra and Doug Malouf will teach you how to give a presentation." Three people said, “Haven't they got the hide – I'm not paying my fare!” And three of us went down. 

The big thing from Doug's presentation was if you make a speech, they must take something away. As in, there must be a handout. When the ABC rang me, I thought, well, now wait a minute, we need a handout for this program. We did a budget in the newspaper and the ABC promoted the newspaper and the newspaper promoted the ABC. Then that happened. 

Two days later, a guy rang me, “We were up in Brisbane from Sydney, we heard you on the radio. We saw what's in the newspaper. The Daily Telegraph in Sydney wants to publish a money book. Would you do it?”

I said, yes. I wrote the manuscript then it became advertorial. The whole thing failed, but I was left with a manuscript.

Now the radio program went to a talk back on 4BC of a Saturday morning, and a woman rang up one fateful morning saying, "Noel, you talk good stuff. You write good stuff. What's a book I can read?" And I researched the bookshops and there was nothing.

The whole thing failed, but I was left with a manuscript.

There were big thick books of tiny print. There were ‘how to buy a thousand homes in two weeks with nothing down’ but there was nothing practical. I decided I'd write the book. I used the material I had written for the failed project and that became the source of Making Money Made Simple.

And of course you procrastinate, it got too hard. My wife said, "Righto, you will start today." I said, “It's Boxing Day!” 

She said, “Yes, today.”

Now, a book's too big, it’s too big of a goal. So you can't write a book, but you can write a table of contents. That's the first goal. 

The second goal is to list 30 concepts. Next, write 2,000 words on each concept and there's your book. 

Halfway through I got all the doubts all authors get, but I pushed through. And in January 1987, it was finished. I took it to a couple of publishers, they said, "Ah, there's too many books about money. No way." Back then, a manuscript was just a big Word document. 

A guy I knew said, "Well, I know a publisher, Boolarong Press. If you take the risk, they will publish it." I paid the production cost and we did 5,000 copies. In one week, 5,000 copies were sold – it became an overnight sensation.

And in Making Money Made Simple, I mentioned something that no one else had before. I said, if you pay your mortgage payments fortnightly and not monthly, you will save a fortune. Because 26 fortnights and 12 calendar months, you make an extra payment.

Then it went everywhere. It sold 100,000 copies in eight months. One in six households in Australia owned it. And that was the start of me becoming a household name, I think. Of course at that stage, we started the financial advisory practice and the sales of the book helped the practice.

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Noel Whittaker does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀

So much to unpack there. 

I see so many people now posting videos, talking about the mortgage repayment frequency as well. Now, everyone's obviously talking about it, because it was so valuable. 

The unspoken truth about book publishers is that the publisher thinks the author's going to do all the work to sell the books, and the author thinks the publisher is going to do all the work.

What were some of the specific actions you took to be able to get that book into the hands of as many people as possible when it first came out?

Well, a book has to be written then typeset. You need a cover. And the famous $20 note... Everyone knew the book with the $20 note. 

Many people said you wrote Making Money Made Easy, and I would correct them and say, “Simple, not easy!”

Big difference, because easy is not simple. 

And then it needs to be publicized. And of course it sort of takes off. Once it becomes in the top 10, it just rolls through momentum. 

Then I was on TV. I was on radio. I'd fly to Sydney every week to do the Channel 10 show in the morning. It just built on itself.

That's great.

At the same time, a guy wrote a book on how to pay your mortgage off quicker and it became a bestseller. And he gave up then!

But me? I’ve never given up. I've been in the newspapers for 40 years. I’m the only contributor who has never missed a single column – not for holidays, Christmas, nothing – because I'm not letting anyone have a chance of getting my spot. And I've got my foot in that spot and that's how it is.

Making Money Made Simple was definitely a leverageable asset for you. Just like Dr. Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, who has his Power of When quiz that identifies your optimal daily routine based. 

What are the biggest opportunities that a leverageable asset like Making Money Made Simple created for you and the business?

Well, people often say to me, “I'd like to write a book” and I say, “Write it!”

But when you write a book, why do you want to do it – is to make money, to become famous, to boost your business, or simply because it’s in you? You normally won't make money writing a book. You may become famous. 

Once you choose to be the leader in your field, it makes it hard to compete.

If it's in you, good, but it's a great tool for your business. I became the industry specialist in personal finance, just like Dr Breus is the leader in sleep. Once you choose to be the leader in your field, it makes it hard to compete.

With the coaching I do, helping people to be recognized as an authority in their industry, a big part of that is making sure you're not sitting there on your ass doing nothing.

You have to get out there. You've got to put content out there. You've got to show that you have done the hard yards and include case studies and testimonials of people you’ve helped. 

People need to know that you can articulate the problem really well, because if you can articulate the problem that they're facing better than they can, the more they'll assume that you have the best solution. They're just like, "Cool, I want the result. You are clearly the go to person to help me get the result. What are the next steps?" 

And you've built up trust through the book or a podcast. 

It's the power of legitimacy. And you tell stories. As Jim Rohn said, “Jesus Christ taught in parables.” So make sure you’re telling stories.

At least six or seven times a week, I get an email saying, “30 years ago, I got your book. It was life changing for me.” If I give a speech now, there'll always be people in the audience who will bring a book along to be autographed. That's the nicest thing, I think.

Yeah, it makes you think, because obviously not 100% of people are going to reach out and do that. There are times in my own career where I thought, “Is anyone paying attention?” And then the right message or the right thank you heads your way. 

I had someone reach out to me once who said, “I've been following you on social media for a long, long time. I just wanted to reach out and say, keep doing what you're doing. You're inspiring everyone.”

This was a person who never once liked or commented or as far as I know, shared a post, but people are listening. So you've got to stay persistent with what you're doing to be able to keep inspiring.

That was the thing with the newspaper column. For six months, nothing happened. But all of a sudden, after six months of every week, 400 words, people started to notice it. 

Because it was syndicated, I was in almost every newspaper. Someone would email me to say, “I read you in the Armando Gazette” or “the Blue Mountains Bulletin”! I don't know where they come from, but it’s valuable to be all over the country.

You and your business partner, Cheryl Macnaught, seemed to compliment each other so well when you had your financial planning company for 30 years.

What are the secrets to a successful business partnership?

It's like a marriage, so you need a commitment. At some stage, your marriage partner and your business partner will drive you up the wall. But you have to stay in there. 

I mean, we had different strengths. Cherly was detail-minded. She did the administration, she hired the staff. Whereas I was the rainmaker, which I was happy to be.

I'm an entrepreneur – I'm not a detailed person. I hate hiring staff. I hate doing the books. I'm the rainmaker. And we both knew that.

In a business and a marriage, you must have common values and goals. 

Many times people said to me, well, I don't think it's fair you're half-and-half because you are the visible one. I said, "Yeah, but you don't see what she's doing, which is behind the scenes." It's a lot of work behind the scenes. 

In a business and a marriage, you must have common values and goals. Cheryl and I both wanted to build the business, my wife and I both had the same values  – and that helps you stay together. But there will be times when you'll clash and that's totally normal.

In 2007, you and Cheryl decided to sell the business. It had been a major part of your lives for 30 years.

When did you know it was time to move on, and how did you prepare the business for the sale?

I was about 65 and you realize that you can't be the rainmaker forever. Plus, it's nice to harvest some wealth out of it because business is always about cash flow. 

So when you’re thinking about selling, the first thing is that people will want to come and look at your business. They sign a non-disclosure document, and your major competition can start going through your books.

Then you get silly offers, then they want to offer you shares. My wife said, “We are not taking shares. We are taking cash.” Cheryl said the same thing. And then we got a good offer from HBOS [Halifax Bank of Scotland], which we liked.

They were nice people, but they never give you the full freight. We got two-thirds in cash and one-sixth payable twice over two years, provided the business maintained its profitability.

Well Cheryl said, “What if you stuff it up? You're going to take our business, walk in, change everything and stuff it up!” They said, “Well, why would we do that?”

Then we spoke about adding a clause that there couldn’t be any changes without our consent, and they said, “You’ve got to be joking.”

But in the end, after we had days of negotiations and 12-hour meetings, we eventually came to it and it worked well. It was a year before the Global Financial Crisis hit so the timing ended up being in our favor.

Interestingly, we were bought by HBOS, Scotland’s oldest bank. I would've taken shares. They were £50 then, but my wife and Cheryl said, no, no shares. 

Then, in the GFC, HBOS shares fell to 50 cents or something. One of their staff members who was 50 had worked there all that time, all her money was in HBOS, she lost a whole retirement fund. Today, I think HBOS is gone.

It’s a good lesson about the bird in the hand.

You and I must give a shout out to my mum, your wife, Geraldine. She's literally the kindest and most compassionate person I've ever met.

Having her as a mum is about the greatest blessing I could possibly imagine and something I'm grateful for everyday.

I say that as a wife as well, of course!

How did her presence in your life change things for you?

She's a giver, as you know. She's a wonderful presence. We share values. She was a flight attendant, then went back and became a psychologist. She's smart and she's nice and she's got a good business sense. I think it was just a lucky choice.

And you describe her as your good luck charm, don't you?

I do, a good luck charm. Absolutely. 

I got divorced at 38, and I met her six weeks later. That's the universe! And we got engaged eight weeks after that. And it's been 42 years since then.

That's why you weren't too popular with the new in-laws at the beginning!

Exactly! A 38-year-old divorced man married a 25-year-old treasure. It was not what they wanted.

What about having kids, how did that change you?

I was 41 when the first child was born. You can't even describe it. To see the world through a child’s eyes is like seeing the world in color for the first time.

To see the world through a child’s eyes is like seeing the world in color for the first time.

For me, there's no experience like having kids. Again, they can drive you mad. Well, you were one of them!

And I said, you always have the pride, the joy, and the challenge. Well, of course, with the pride, joy, and challenge, the roles can vary a bit.

But having kids, that's the biggest thing in my life.

I bet you never thought you'd have three kids and 13 grandchildren!

Yes, I didn't expect the oldest to have seven kids.

You've only contributed two of the grandchildren!

I know. I'm definitely falling short! But I also have no intention of catching up to Mark.

Yes, I don't think you need seven.

With grandchildren, it's different than your own kids. It's a bit more hands off.

You've got a lot more life experience, too. 

You take your grandchildren to golf, cook meals at home, and all these different things. How has spending all that time with your grandchildren changed your perspective?

I think it's fun to see life through their eyes. And God, they can eat. I can't believe how much they can eat! But it's just wonderful to be around them. 

And it's great to see that they've all got good parents who encourage them. See, to me, it's about personal growth.

The conversation of human potential has been my life’s work, and a large part of your work, too. The show is called Win the Day

Why do some people who have all the advantages – the best education, any money and resources and connections they could possibly want – end up with their lives in complete shambles, and even take their own lives, whereas others who have nothing – and fight for absolutely everything they get – end up being so successful?

Why is there often that disparity between the two?

The first Think and Grow Rich principle is desire. Now, I can't create that. If you don't have desire, I cannot give it to you. I've always had desire, and I've still got desire. 

And I test people. If I see someone I think is good – it might be a waiter, a tradie, or someone else I encounter throughout my day – I give them a book. 

A couple months later, I ask them, “How's the book going?”

They often say, “Well, I haven't started yet.”

And then you know there's no desire. Whereas other people tell me they’ve read it and things are going well.

I do not know how to give desire to people who just don't care.

Other people read that same book – the exact same resource and the exact same words – only to have accumulated $10 million 30 years later.


It used to be really frustrating for me to help people who aren’t ready to help themselves. I've stopped taking ownership of other people's inaction and now work exclusively with the people who want the help rather than trying to help everyone who needs the help.

Yes. And I think the great one in business, you hire attitude and teach skills. You cannot change attitude.

You are working on a new book now about 10 steps to financial freedom for young people. As an aside, I love that you're always working on new projects!

If you had to narrow it down to the most important step for someone to achieve financial freedom, what would it be? What comes to mind?

One, you must spend less than you earn. It's very simple. You spend less than you earn. Now, there's a surplus. You invest the surplus. 

At the same time, you improve your skills by self-education. As your skills-base grows, your income grows, and you're on your way.

I do not know how to give desire to people who just don't care.

80% of people have no interest in improving their skills. 80% of people fall for ‘buy now, pay later’ credit cards. They're always behind. If you are in debt every pay day, you never get ahead of the game because you need to create the capital base.

Now, as Jeff Olson said in that wonderful book, The Slight Edge, it's the small things. Compound interest is very slow to start but gee it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. 

So make sure you don’t spend everything. You must start the capital base so it'll grow faster and faster, and improve your skills at the same time.

If you could make one change to government policy to better incentivize people to take ownership of their finances – or finance more broadly – what would it be?

I know I'm putting you on the spot here a bit with that one.

The government has effectively wiped out the financial advice industry because there were a few shonky advisers. And the government said, righto, we'll send them all back to university. 

So, top people, aged 50 - 60, they made them go back to uni and some didn't want to, to do a course they didn't need. I mean, you don't send your doctor back to uni or your lawyer back to uni.

They then said, if someone comes for advice, you must produce a hundred-page document. So basically a financial adviser has to charge $5,000.

They got to pass the costs on to the client.

All the compliance costs. If someone's got 20 or 30 grand, what the hell do they do? And that's the problem.

You've written 24 books. Number 25 is coming out very soon, as we just mentioned.

You seem to thrive on being awake before anyone else and going the extra mile and doing the work. What motivates you to do that, even at this stage of your career?

Well, having heard your Sleep Doctor interview, I'm the early one – the Lion chronotype. I wake up early and I'm happy to be sound asleep at 10:00pm. 

And I just love what I do. There's so much going on in this financial world – estate planning, superannuation, tax. It's just a nonstop thing. And I get about 50 emails a week with questions from people who tell me what people need to hear. It's a great learning experience.

Because I still want to be the specialist. I don't want anyone getting my place!

We've got some questions now from the Win the Day community. If you want to ask questions of me or upcoming guests on our show, email us at or join the Win the Day group on Facebook.

The first question comes from Robin:

How do we help parents plan for retirement age? Is it best to interfere or to let them live their own lives and deal with the consequences?

Well, I think there's a bit of both here. It's well known that the more transparent the family finances, the less chance of strife later. I think that the more involved you can be with your parents, the better, so talk about things. 

I mean, there's my Retirement Made Simple book. It's 430 pages. Get involved with your parents, discuss things with them, because a lot of parents are terrified of nursing home costs. A lot of kids will say, “Parents, spend it. We don't want your money.” I believe in the bank of mum and dad – I think if parents can give their kids a hand up, not a handout, that's great. 

So I think the more you can talk with them and see what they're worried about, because most retirees don't know what they don't know. If you make a mistake when you're retired, it's going to be a couple hundred grand, at least, as the cost of that.

Spot on. The ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality won’t serve you well for retirement for those who don’t want to engage with their finances.

Yeah, and the government expects people to use the equity in their home, which can be a reverse mortgage where the oldies take out a mortgage and it grows because there's no payments of principal or interest. It just grows. Which means it'll double every 10 years.

And that means there's less for the kids. If the kids paid the interest that wouldn't change. They're the kind of things to talk about.

Next question comes from Tarsha:

What's the best financial tip for a startup business?

Focus on profits, not sales. So many people say the turnover's half a mill. I don't care how much you're making. Don't confuse turnover and profit. That's extremely dangerous.

And make sure you keep good books.

The final question comes from Danny:

When should someone start salary sacrificing into superannuation? [For people in the US, that’s the equivalent of 401(k).]

Every investment decision has good points and bad points.

Superannuation is great because you can have pretax dollars and it's in a low tax area, but you can't touch it till you're 60. If you are 20, why would you lock out money for 40 years? Salary sacrifice was big when you couldn't get a tax deduction for your own contributions, but now you can.

Going into superannuation from 35-40 upwards is great. And salary sacrifice comes out and you don't miss it. And I think for most people it's more effective to salary sacrifice, which means you pay money every fortnight and then you don't try to find some big lump sum.

What brings you the most joy in life today? Apart from having your favorite son back from the US!

Well, the most joy in life today, well, there's so many things. I love walking on the beach. I love sitting in bed with my wife of a morning with a cup of tea and newspaper.

I love being with the kids. I think the great things don’t cost money. I'm a simple eater. I'd much rather have a home cooked meal than a Michelin starred meal.

I'm often asked what the best advice I get from my parents is. I want to turn the tables on that – what's the best bit of advice that you've learned from me, if anything!?

Preparation. You always made me prepare for presentations, because I'm a wing it guy. But you always made me prepare and you even helped me prepare.

You'd say, “Your PowerPoint slides are crap!” You would take them back and rejig them for me. So you were very big on keeping me on track, and I thank you for that.

When your time on this earth comes to an end as it does for all of us, what do you want to be remembered for?

I like the apple and the seeds. I'd like to think that the education I've given people has gone through to their kids and their grandkids and their great grandkids. I'm hoping any philanthropic things I do, it's all about doing that.

Helping create that generational wealth for families who didn’t have that before?

Yes, especially kids of violent families and those from poor upbringings. 

On your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day?

This too shall pass.

It's the same as golf. That was a terrible hole but there's another hole coming up and I might do better.

I've never seen you have a terrible hole in the golf course!

Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

I think about you and I say, “What will I do to Win the Day?”

Then I write those actions on a to do list.

Love it.

Dad, thank you so much for coming on the show.

It's an honor.

Final steps to Win the Day...

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Until next time…

Onward and upward always,
James Whittaker

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