A young professional with a desire to succeed

Ellen Burgin is a young communications professional with a desire to succeed.

She was encouraged to sign up to The Constant Investor by her finance enthused boyfriend.

Ellen Burgin tells Greg Dimopoulos her investment plans for the future, and the impact of the humble avocado on the hip pocket.


Ellen, great to speak with you today.  Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Of course, my profession is in communications, media and marketing. I’m currently working in communications for John Holland, the construction company. We’re working on some level crossing removal packages but in addition to that, I also work as a journalist for arts, culture and theatre outside of work and I also consult for Victorian theatre companies in and around the city. I’m about five years out of uni, I’m debt free and investment free and I’m just looking to kind of start setting up my life a little better. I got a bit off track, started to ramble.

What prompted you to become a member of The Constant Investor to begin with?

My boyfriend actually signed me up, he being an accountant and financial planner in self-managed super, he’s a big fan of the site and thought I would really like listening to Success Stories and stories of women who have become financially successful, in very lucrative professional careers and just the stories of women who’ve had a different career path to mine. I find them quite inspiring.  We often listen to The Money Cafe in the car, so it’s really great to hear – I will hear something about finance or investments in the news, major news like the big four banks dropping ATM fees, but then I’ll actually get that insight into what that actually from him or from The Money Cafe or the investment wrap up.

How helpful has the advice been that you’ve received so far?  Are you starting to plan to maybe make some investment decisions?  What have you learnt when it comes to investing?

I think I’ve learnt that I really need to make a plan and so, that’s something that the advice has been really interesting. It’s certainly something to give a greater awareness of the financial markets around the world, what kind of investment options are open to me. That the property market might not be so viable for me at the moment or it might crash in a couple of years, who knows, but that I need to really seriously considering this kind of thing and making a plan. At this stage I’ve made no investments, but I also have no debt. So I’m certainly in the position where I can start really planning for this and I found The Constant Investor to be really helpful.  It also helps me talk to my partner about the things he does at work. It’s just a bit interesting.

In your line of work do you deal with anything to do with money or finance or anything like that at all, in your communications role at John Holland?

Very little. I don’t have any purchasing decisions which, look, is great for me because I’m not great at counting or estimating or having any form of spatial perception. I’m not great with numbers, that’s why I’m in a really, really front facing communications role. But I do manage things like negotiations on invoices and things that are related to my role. We do a lot of relocation work, so when we do major construction work, we’ll move people into the hotels and so on and you know, talking to our suppliers and contractors. I manage a lot of invoicing and so on for that, but mostly I pass it on to the accounts team. Which is lucky for me it’s not my first most comfortable thing to do. I’m not great with numbers. In my personal life I’ve learnt how to use all the different bank apps and the ASIC spending tracking. I guess it’s kind of opening up a new world for me in terms of money, accounting.

When it comes to, you mentioned success stories earlier, and the stories of success for women and how they’ve really achieved what they have. How is that helping you in a professional sense in your career?

I think it’s really inspired me to both kind of strive for leadership as well as look at change. I work in the construction industry, it’s a very male dominated industry. I’m the only woman in the office today. It further brings to light things like the gender super gap and the gender pay gap. The need for the change in industries but also that purely because I’ve been born a woman I’ve got a bit of a different footing in both the financial market and my career. And so it certainly seemed to open my eyes to that I really need to seriously start considering some things. I’ve really discovered a fantastic kind of explanation of it all by Jane Gilmore. It’s on the Queen Vic Women’s Centre website about the cost of motherhood and the cost of womanhood that kind of brings to light the need that females really need to put in some thought into financial planning, contributing to your super. I’m lucky enough to be HECS debt free which I think is great, but others have told me it was probably the silliest thing I ever did was paying that off, it was the cheapest loan I’ll ever get.

But yeah I think it’s great to be in a position now that I own one single asset, being my car, but that’s all paid off and I have no debt. But, you know, I’m a young woman who rents and still pays $1,000 a month in rent in a share house. It’s really just, between these stories and this increased awareness of financial planning as well as just the market at the moment. I really need to start planning for my future as well as, I just needed to gain this kind of education in what it takes. I think the greatest thing I’ve learnt in the last few weeks is from this story, a man isn’t a financial plan. Being a strong feminist myself I think it’s really important having had my eyes open to the things I need to do in terms of financial planning and super to kind of continue that education for other young women because, you know, being a millennial, telling me not to buy avocados, is really helpful in helping me buy a property or make investments.  I really like avocados, so there you go. 

I don’t think you’ll find many people that don’t like avocados.

Yeah, look some don’t and I find that shocking. A colleague at work has just bought his first property at 29, but he buys a coffee every single day and it’s these kind of decisions that I’m looking at going, you know, 2-3 coffees a day and that’s $15 a day and that’s how much you really can, you know, where can we make savings and where can you budget better. I’m lucky that my parents raised me to be pretty financially savvy as possible. I do have savings in the bank, I do have a monthly budget. I get paid monthly which is a little difficult. But it’s really just, everything’s opening up my eyes to this education. It’s probably a really a good time to be learning about it, while I’m 25.

You mentioned earlier that it might not be viable for you to jump on the property ladder in the next few years. Are there any particular segments of the investment market, technology stocks or anything like that that you are quite interested in and keep a close eye on?

I think, I mean given that the housing market makes so much sense but at the same time, isn’t looking good. I think stocks and shares are going to be the next place I look to kind of invest as well as I now know that I need to invest in myself and kind of self-contribute to the super. I think that’ll be where I’ll be concentrating my assets for the next few years, but as well as like trying to education myself on what other options are open to me.

Now you’re obviously still quite young and one of our youngest members at hand. Why should young people jump into the investment game so early. What positive effect has it had on your life and what knowledge do you think it will help you with down the track?

I think, I mean at 25 I know two people who own property, that’s it. Like I two friends who own property and one of them being my accountant partner. Through these kind of people I’ve started to learn these things are possible but they do take a lot of planning and a lot of time. Knowing, based on my current savings and income I’m still three to four years away from having a house deposit. If I didn’t have that knowledge now, I’m still three to four years away from the house deposit whenever I discover that. So at this stage, you know, I’m looking at buying property at 30. If you don’t get that knowledge early enough you’re not going to be prepared to buy property when you need to. Especially if you’re starting to consider having a family or things like moving overseas or changing jobs. If you don’t know that early enough to do the planning, it’s just going to set you back even further. If I had have known that if I had have started saving every penny four years ago, I could have been looking at buying a house next year, maybe.

I wonder if that would have changed the decisions I’ve made. I’ve been out of home and renting for about three years. I lived overseas for about seven months. I’ve had the security of travelling every year. I think if I had have had this financial background maybe earlier on or through uni, maybe I would have made different decisions. I’m pretty happy where I’ve landed but now it’s really time to start considering it and I don’t think a lot of my colleagues or friends know that. I don’t think they have this background, which means I don’t think they’ll be prepared soon.

Well I’m glad that The Constant Investor is helping give you a leg up and we’ll leave it there. Ellen, thanks so much, once again for speaking with me today.

Any time.

If you’d like to share your investing story with the curious investor community, please contact us at hello@theconstantinvestor.com,