AS one of six children growing up in north-west NSW in an Aboriginal housing commission area, Phil Usher never wanted for anything.
But by the time he was in his early teens, convinced there was an alternative to working a 60-hour-week for a small wage like his father, Mr Usher began reading voraciously about the likes of the rich and famous, from the Packers to Warren Buffet.
“I thought ‘what makes them different from our family’ and for my 14th birthday my sister bought me a book about money and I just took to it,” says Mr Usher, now 30.
Mr Usher’s fixation with finance continued after school, when he did a business and marketing degree at the University of Newcastle then gained qualifications as a certified financial planner.
His first job was working in financial planning at Centrelink for the Department of Human Services, and he developed and sold an online wedding planning business.
But it’s through his company The Cheeky Investor that he is in his element, teaching people, moreoften millennials, to “live life and build wealth” and be “winners” at personal finance.
Mr Usher, an advisor at The Business Centre Newcastle who draws income from his online courses and investing in shares and startups, set up his company because it’s all too easy for youth and the general public to be misled on finance matters.
“There’s a mentality of cutting your coffee intake to save $800 a year but that’s the mentality of dieting, and if you cut foods you’re more likely to cheat,” he says.
He says youth with parents or grandparents who suffered from the Global Financial Crisis were cynical about finance. But he believes that as consumers, they must realise they hold the power, able to get instant comparisons online for products; and recommends they have a clear financial vision: “Whether you want to be a millionaire and retire in your 40s or retire in your 60s, once you have direction it’s easier to move towards it.”
Mr Usher hosts Whisky, Wine and Wealth meet-ups in Newcastle, eschewing the office setting for a bar: “You need to come up with fun ways to break down people’s thoughts on things,” he says, adding that a course titled Winning at Personal Finance is better than the “God awful” term Budgeting.
Mr Usher says he does not endorse products or receive commissions and traces his desire to educate the world on finance to his Aboriginal culture.
“Sharing knowledge to benefit the community goes without saying,” he says. “I am asked 'If you're so successful at investing why do you need to sell courses?' The sharing of knowledge is a major part of the answer to lessen financial burden on people.”