Helen’s top tips for staying firmly on your feet financially

Helen Baker
Helen Baker

WOMEN today need sound, financial advice for every stage of their life, says financial adviser and author Helen Baker, founder of On Your Own Two Feet, an Australia-wide service dedicated to empowering women to gain and retain their financial freedom.

Helen has just released a fully revised and updated edition of her book On Your Own Two
Feet: Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence

“I’ve included many extra areas, especially about aged care and personal injury, plus there have been a lot of legislative changes since the book was first published in 2014,” Brisbane based Helen told Have a Go News.

“People can read the book and understand why they need to see an adviser to handle certain matters rather than do it themselves.”

Passionate about what she does, Helen says she believes there has been a lot of improvement in women managing their finances.

“Certainly, the younger generation are more au fait with finance concepts and there are more female advisers in the industry which women tend to be attracted to.

“But we still see lots of bad stories and often someone says, ‘I wish I had met you five or 10 years ago or I wish I had read this book earlier’, so women are still coming from behind. So it is really important to get the message out stronger than before and try and mobilise these women to take action.”

Helen’s updated book covers unique money challenges women face and how to overcome them, five financial foundations every woman needs to have in place; understanding debt, investing and budgeting tricks to set women up for life and working through divorce and relationship breakdowns.

She also offers money advice for different life stages, from singles to parenting to retirees and what women need to know about retirement planning, widowhood and personal injury.

“It could be planning for your parents or grandparents, an important area covering all life events good and bad or starting a business, so there’s lots of information people can refer back to in the future. Some women care for their kids, then grandkids and parents while working as well as being a wife; which is crazy. Being across all areas is key, knowledge is power as they say.”

Helen says in the past women made mistakes by not obtaining financial advice. 

“I know with people I see they are being placed in a better position, saying they wished they had done this five or 10 years ago but by taking the first step at least there is time to improve things.

“You might only need advice at the start to get everything right, it may not have to be ongoing, but women have to dispel the theory that financial advice is only for the rich. It’s not, it’s for everyday people who don’t want any surprises down the track.

“It’s about action, many times people know about things but they don’t act, time slips by and it’s another year and basically we run out of time.”

Helen says a big part of her business is helping women who are divorced or widowed. From a divorce perspective, there is her other book, On Your Own Two Feet, Divorce: Your Survive
and Thrive Financial Guide

“I recently had dealings with a client who thought she had a good deal and then realised she didn’t. The pre-divorce settlement is so important and I am passionate about these women not ending up homeless on the streets.

“There are situations with widows when the husband took care of the finances and he may not have done things properly so these issues have to be addressed.”

Helen says there has been an upsurge is the number of homeless women aged over 65 which is horrific and must be addressed.

She believes COVID-19 has challenged people’s values.

“It’s been really nice for people to reboot their lives, saying, ‘hang on a minute, I don’t want to work a 50 or 60 hour a week. I want time for my kids and I don’t need such a big house. There has been a change in values which is good.”

Helen, who has a degree in commerce and two masters degrees in innovation and change management and financial planning, is also a  two-time finalist for Australia’s Financial Adviser of the Year.

She says she is excited about what she does and hopes politicians will make change for women, including the homeless and those affected by domestic violence.

Proceeds from her books help charities supporting disadvantaged women and saving children from sex trafficking.

Outside finance, Helen can be found out kayaking, on a surf board, dancing or enjoying a picnic with friends.

On Your Own Two Feet (second edition) by Helen Baker (Woodslane) retails for $39.95.

On Your Own Two Feet