Recognising the absence of any real education around money and finance, Sydney-based Paridhi Jain found many Australians struggled with managing money, superannuation and unforeseen expenses. To address the gap in the market, she founded SkilledSmart in 2017 which claims is a 'money school for adults'.
“Cancer can be very expensive and often that adds to the stress for families battling this dreadful disease,” reflects Paridhi Jain of her time working as a case manager at the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Legal & Financial Advice Program.
As a graduate of Commerce and Law, Sydney-based Paridhi had a fair idea about how to manage expenses which enabled her to talk to and listen to families battling cancer.
“At work, I spoke to Australians who were fighting cancer and one of the most recurring issues was how they were experiencing financial stresses associated with cancer. So many of them were unprepared,” she tells SBS Hindi.
Ms Jain soon realised it was fairly common for people to be unaware about how to handle their money, how to select their superannuation, plan a budget, select insurance and invest money.
“I happened to speak to my friends and they too had no idea. Most of them went with the super their employer recommended. Many had no idea where to invest and how to budget. I realised that finances were something that one either figures it out one’s self or has to seek professional advice from a financial advisor which is often expensive,” she says.
“People don’t think about money seriously until it becomes a concern. It is mostly when calamity strikes, people find themselves unprepared,” she says.
Recognising the gap and remembering the devastating consequences of financial vulnerability she witnessed during her time at the Cancer Council, she saw there was a need for a more accessible way to learn about one’s finances, develop financial skills, and build a strong financial foundation.
That is how Paridhi launched SkilledSmart - a ‘money school for adults’ in 2017.
In less than three years, SkilledSmart program, which started as workshops, has moved online and has seen hundreds of Australians ranging from young, old, in cities and regional areas to migrants and single women, across the country learn about managing their money.
The six-week course taught by experienced financial advisors covers topics like budgeting, taxes, investing, insurance as well as superannuation.
“I quit my job to start this and the impact it has had on people is amazing. Finances are an extremely important aspect of our lives. Our relationships depend on it. Our lifestyle and how will it be, depends on it and yet we don’t talk about it or learn about it. I am glad the program is making a difference in people’s lives,” says Paridhi.
‘Saved $8000 in seven months and went on a European holiday’
34-year-old Elena Stavrou was struggling with her finances when she came across a free workshop on money management by SkilledSmart.
“I had never learnt to handle my money and was struggling with my finances when I came across this offer to sign up for a free workshop to learn about how to manage money,” Elena tells SBS Hindi.
That hour changed her perspective towards money, she says.
“I heard Paridhi talk about how anyone can manage their finances and signed up for her skilled smart course,” she says.
The course in managing money saw Elena save up over $8000 in seven months for a European holiday.
“The course taught me the basic fundamentals of managing money. I figured I had a lot of unnecessary expenses like gym memberships and takeaway food. I went hardcore and cut down on many of my expenses and saved up for a holiday that I so much wanted to take,” she says.
“I have learnt a lot. About how to budget, taxes, superannuation and insurance,” she says.
Elena is among hundreds of Australians who have undertaken the SkilledSmart’s flagship program called ‘Mastering Money’ which talks about and teaches basic financial planning to adults.
“The idea is to teach adults how to handle their money. Something that we don’t learn at school,” says Ms Jain who is currently working on building more in-depth courses.
But as starting out a business often is, Paridhi went through her own challenges while setting it up and running the show singlehandedly.
“It was hard to quit and convince people around me. As an Indian, it is hard to give up a stable job and a regular income. Also, launching your business can be very isolating. I did not have people around me with whom I could relate and share what I was going through and experiencing. It can be very stressful,” she says.
The key is to find a support network and acknowledging the purpose of doing it all.
“I found a support network along the way where I could talk to others who were establishing and running their own enterprises.
“And when I saw the impact my program was making on people’s lives that kept me going,” she says.