Meet 'Investie Besties' Sonya and Sim. The founders of @girlsthatinvest. This inspiring duo have been pals since high school. A couple of years ago, they started a conversation around money, finances and becoming investment savvy (not the usual convo you associate with Millennials and Gen Z). Since that chat, they launched an award winning investing podcast, have been featured in the Daily Mail and Vogue India.
We love their mission, empowering women, and are excited to share this interview with our Sabenette's!
Share a little bit about yourself, your background and what led you to become the women you are today?
Sim: I’m 25 and spend most of my life growing up in Auckland. I had the privilege of attending good public schools and every Sunday I would travel down to the temple which was situated in a low socioeconomic area. Very quickly I learnt my temple friends didn’t have the same privileges and experiences that my school friends did, and the reason was money. Money is such a huge part of our lives, it affects how we interact, it affects our ability to receive access to care. It’s little things like being able to take time off for at Dr’s appt or not.
Sonya: Howdy, I’m Sonya, I am also 25 and have spent most of my life in Auckland. I would like to say that I have always had an interest in personal finance however up until the age of 18 I never really thought about it which is a huge privilege in itself. Growing up, neither my family or my friends talked about money so I didn’t either. It wasn’t until my brother gave me Rich Dad Poor Dad as a 18th birthday present where I started getting interested in personal finance and my own spending habits.
Let’s chat Girls That Invest, take us back to the beginning, how did it begin?
Sim: When I was learning about investing I really struggled with the culture surrounding it. I felt very out of place and just didn’t feel like I “belonged” at all. There were a lot of jargon terms and barriers that made me feel like I wasn’t meant to occupy this space, being a woman, especially a woman of color. I created Girls That Invest in March 2020, the stock market had just began to drop however with my financial literacy I knew this was a good opportunity. However due to the lack of financial education, many people saw the drop and were scared. I knew something had to be done to make investing more accessible.
How did your paths cross to create the worlds #1 Podcast for women who want to learn more about investing?
Sonya: Sim & I have been best friends since we were 5, ever since she stole my stickers for her sticker book (I will never let this go). We were there for each other in every awkward stage of our lives and we talked about literally everything. In 2020 while I was visiting Sim in Hamilton, after a deep conversation about all things life, we got to talking about money and our personal finance journeys. We talked for hours about how much we made, what we had saved up so far, investing, finance books, our money goals - the whole lot. We couldn’t believe we had never spoken about it before and how easy it was to open up and talk about it. Right after the conversation, we made tea & Sim talked about her vision for Girls That Invest and starting a podcast - it didn’t take much convincing for me to jump on board. It was truly a grassroots mission, we learned everything ourselves about editing, recording, software all through our saviour Google while trying to balance full time jobs. Fast forward nearly 2ish years later, we’ve topped the charts and accomplished so many wonderful things together.
Let’s start with Finance 101…EFT vs. Index Fund, what’s the difference?
Sim: An ETF and Index fund are both baskets that hold stocks of companies, imagine a little basket filled with a share of apple, amazon, google etc. Instead of buying each company separately (and thus incurring fees for each one) you can buy them all by purchasing a piece of the basket. The difference between an ETF basket and an Index Fund basket is while they can both invest in the same companies, the price of an ETF can fluctuate throughout the day, while and index fund has one price set at the end of the day. An ETF can also be bought as a fractional share, which means if the ETF is worth $1000, you can still buy it with $100, you just get 10% of it. An index fund is not as flexible, so that's when you need to save up $1000 to begin investing. Most of our begin with ETFs.
Some peoples first reaction to finance and investments as boring or uninspiring. How are you tackling that?
Sonya: I think unpacking your money mindset and why you think that way is an important place to start. Everyone has reasons why they think the way that they do, if you can sit down with yourself and try figure out why its so boring for you - it makes your next steps clearer. It doesn’t have to be so boring or uninspiring. From aesthetically pleasing budget apps, to an abundance of different resources online for personal finances - there’s something out there that is catered to you and how you can learn/gain inspiration. You started the podcast to help make investing simpler for women, it has become a hit, how did that feel?
Sim: When we realised we were the #1 business podcast in the US, overtaking big names like Gary Vee and Tim Ferris, I had to lie down. It was overwhelming but in a way expected, we had put so much hard work into growing the podcast and fostering a community, being #1 was our ultimate goal in the end!
Who do you look to for investing advice?
Sonya: My older brother Arri is usually my go-to for anything money related. He’s got a interesting take on most things and usually makes me think of things in a different way when it comes to stocks, crypto etc. Any hot tips for people looking to invest but have no idea where to start?
Sim: A good place to start is not to look at what companies to buy, but rather look at what your risk tolerance is and how long you want to invest for, e.g. a few years or until retirement. Knowing your risk profile and timeframe then allows you to work backwards to see what companies or ETFs align with what you're after. Someone who wants to invest for 30 years and has a high risk profile like myself likes to invest in the S&P500 ETF VOO as well as more risky growth stocks like Tesla and Shopify.
Advice for someone who’s getting overwhelmed with investing, finances, money and getting overwhelmed with all the jargon that often comes with it?
Sonya: This was 100% me and it was one of my biggest barriers before I started my investing journey. One of the most important things to know is to figure out what type of learner you are. This allows you to understand how you can digest and retain information best. Do you like quick Youtube Videos that explain things with visuals usually under 20 or so minutes? Do you like listening to podcasts in the morning while you’re on your morning commute or on a walk/run? Do you like a classroom environment so you need to look into a course that can guide you through your learning journey? We’re so lucky to live in a time where information is so accessible and most of the time free. If you know how you best learn and then seek out the content that caters to you - you’ll be good to go. Also, the additional pressure of feeling like you’re not smart enough or good enough doesn’t do anything for your learning journey (this is such a big topic in itself), it just adds so much pressure. If you can try to switch up the way you speak to yourself - it makes learning and life more enjoyable :)
What do you say to those people who say ‘but I’m no good with money’.?
Sonya: I don’t think anyone jumps out the gate “good with money” and knowing exactly what to do. The comparison game doesn’t make it easier either. We all start somewhere and everyone’s first steps are going to be different. After reading The Barefoot Investor in 2018, I started to sit down with money once a week and I remember being so terrified & uncomfortable the first time I did it. I mean, sitting there with your bank statements and coming to the harsh reality of your unhealthy spending habits isn’t the easiest thing to do but it was so necessary.
You have created an Investing Masterclass. How did that come about?
Sim: We had so much great feedback from our free podcast, however there is only so much you can teach without visual aids. Instagram was a great wasy to show investing concepts visually, but unlike podcasts you can’t hold peoples attention for more than a few minutes. We had a lot of people ask us for more in depth knowledge in a step-by-step format that took them from A to Z, so a masterclass was the natural next step. Sim put up a presale to gauge interest, and we ended up having a waiting list of over 1000 students so she very quickly set to work! The masterclass has been a huge success, with many of our community eagerly anticipating the next cohort.
What motivates you?
Sim: Financial freedom means freedom to me, money is not about cars or fancy things for me, it’s the ability to live life the way I want to. It means choosing when I work, where I work, how I live my life, who I surround myself, how much time I spend with my loved ones with and what values I live by daily. These are the true motivators in my life, and money to me is a great tool to help me achieve that.
Sonya: To echo what Sim said above, financial freedom for me means that I can take care of myself and others. I have a very community mindset, my motivation comes from being able to support my family and friends if they need it and it not be detrimental to my own life and lifestyle.
What inspires you?
Sim: I’m inspired by the great shift in what it means to be a successful business person. Growing up I never saw women in power suits who owned successful businesses or ran large organizations, seeing the shift and realising that these concepts are completely within my reach has been incredibly inspiring. Representation truly matters.
Conversations you wish we were having more of?
Sonya: The privileges we had while growing up and how that impacts our relationship with money and to be honest, how successful we are.
Sim: I wake up and try journal every morning, my prompts are what i’m grateful for, what my affirmations are and “what would make today a good day”. I also write down my yearly goal and try spend some time visualising myself achieving it. It sounds very woo-woo and I have to say it took me a while to jump on the manifestation bandwagon - but it really does work! I then follow my day with a homemade iced latte, workout if I can and go straight into my emails.
Sonya: Journaling has truly changed my life. Putting my thoughts out there and being in a reflective mindset towards the end of the day has been such a game changer to thinking more optimistically and quietening intrusive thoughts.
Mantras you live by?
Sim: If there’s a will, there’s a way; we can’t control where we come from, but we can choose where we want to go.
Sonya: I’m a chronic overthinker, something that has stuck with me since I read it is "I can't see a way through," said the boy. "Can you see your next step?" "Yes." "Just take that," said the horse. - The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse - Charlie Mackesy
What does financial success mean to you?
Sim: It means financial freedom, I think I am quite lucky to be in the position I am in, where I’ve reached a level of financial success that I wasn’t expecting to at such a young age. But I think the level of sacrifice I had to take doesn’t make it sustainable long term. For me financial success means having enough to be happy and experience life, but also having enough time to spend with family, friends and on my own health.
Can we expect more from Girls That Invest in 2022?
Sim: We are in the process of writing an investing book, relaunching our investing masterclass and continuing to grow our social media presence where we have had the privilege of connecting with over 100,000 women and BIPOC across the world who want to grow their wealth. It’s a beautiful thing and I pinch myself everyday over working in such a meaningful role.
We think a Saben bag is a great investment, (okay we might be a little biased! But when you work out the cost per wear it basically pays for itself!)Which Saben bag is your go to, and why do you love it/ why did you choose it?
Sim: my go to is the Frankie bag. Function is important to me and this bag just does it all! Its cute enough to use as an everyday bag but also big enough to fit my laptop & use when I’m working. I took it around with me when I visited Melbourne in March 2022 - it’s so versatile I was able to use it as my carry on. I love the softness and the tassels just add a playful edge!
What’s the next ‘investment piece’ on your Saben Wishlist and why?
Sim: I have my eyes set on the Parker briefcase. It’s the perfect for those larger items and for when we have to move around and set up in different locations - one of the beautiful part of girls that invest is we keep it versatile and can truly work from anywhere, whether that be a café or a new city! Who doesn’t want a boss looking briefcase!
Any last thoughts, feelings, insights to share with readers?
Sim: I think the one thing I would want to leave readers with, is a lesson my dad taught me. When I was in high school my dad took my younger brother and I to the harbor to look over the boats and yachts that were parked up. We didn’t come from a family where owning a boat was even a thought. Dad asked us to look at the boats and told us that if we wanted one, all we had to do was work hard, work smart and never give up. The boats were just a metaphor, he taught us about the importance of dreaming big & doing whatever you needed to because you can achieve your wildest dreams.
Where do we find you?
Sonya: We are on pretty much all social media platforms - @GirlsThatInvest for Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook. You can find our podcast on all major streaming services such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.