Setting priorities to achieve what matters most
Over the past few decades, Jane Curtis has learned to say ‘yes’ when life presents a window of opportunity – but to also have the patience and discipline to realise longer-term goals.
She and her husband Anthony have run their own financial planning and stockbroking business for more than 15 years, and when their two children were small that meant sacrificing some family time.
“I started with Anthony in the business by default, soon after our son was born,” she explains. “It was the early 2000s, GST had come in and the business needed systems set up. I ended up becoming the administration manager, working part-time until the kids were at school.”
When husbands and wives join forces in business, the stakes can be higher. Both depend on the same business for income – without the safety net of at least one pay cheque. And there’s also less time for everything else.
Jane admits that until her children were 10 and 12, “we really just worked on the business – and over that time we built up a great client base. In the early days it was really hard, we were in the office for long hours and I guess it was less flexible than I’d expected.”
She took on board some lessons from their clients’ life journeys.
“Life goes pretty quickly, and we've had clients who have passed away or become ill. Yes, you’ve got to plan for the future but you also need to make sure you're having a life.”
Friends with older children also advised her there’s just a small window of opportunity to travel as a family.
“You only get one chance at making those memories. So we decided if we’re going to have a life and do some travelling while the kids were around, this was it. Our daughter was about to go into year 7 when we did our first family trip overseas, and we’ve been able to do it every year since.”
Prioritising those experiences along with school fees meant putting other dreams on hold. Now that her children are independent and at university, Jane is putting her energy into renovating their home.
“Building a business made us disciplined with budgets. We had to be responsible and sometimes that meant waiting a little longer. In retrospect, if we’d tried to do it all back then we wouldn’t have been able to get such a good result. Now we can more easily finance the building works.”
Jane loves using her new Macquarie app to track the renovation expenses and budget.
“Anthony wanted to set up separate accounts for the renovation, but we don’t need to because I can just tag the building expenses and track it on the go.”
She says living in the house while the work is done is another way they’re being disciplined with costs. “It’s hard, but it also means I can keep an eye on things.”
Building a business made us really disciplined with budgets. We had to be responsible and sometimes that meant waiting a little longer.
The Curtis family has always run their business accounts through Macquarie, and Jane says she depends on the responsive service with extended hours.
“I can always contact someone and they are knowledgeable. Our business and personal life are very intertwined, and we need a service that goes beyond the 9 to 5 model.”
Another valuable piece of advice from a client was to make sure she had something else to occupy her time once the children left school. So Jane embarked on her own journey of personal development.
“I now have other interests which include a health and wellness program. It’s about taking a leap of faith in some ways.”
She’s learned to be open to new people, new experiences, and to be adventurous in her life journey.
Managing all these different parts of her life is a team effort with Anthony.
“Anthony is very good at the big picture and the detail. I’m good at filling in the gaps. He’s conservative; he probably still has a higher risk tolerance but he thinks long-term.”
Listening to client life stories has always kept Jane one step ahead when planning for her own family’s future.
“We’ve looked after older parents, and then their children and now their grandchildren. It’s interesting to see the big picture of life, and that’s given us some indication of what our own future might look like.”
For Jane and Anthony, that means planning for more travel – without their children. “Although we will both keep working, we would like to bring in more people so we can get out there and continue to enjoy what we’ve built. There’s a period when you’re young and fit enough to really enjoy travel.”
“Building our own business has required stamina and commitment and it was a risk, but I’m really glad we tried something different and made it work. My biggest advice? Say yes to new opportunities and don’t stop learning.”