The Barefoot Investor: At that moment, when everything was falling apart, I looked in the rear-view mirror and said 'I've got this.'

Scott Pape was just 35 years old when he and his wife Liz lost all their possessions in 2014. Everything. Every photograph, item of clothing, piece of furniture….all of it. And as he stood there looking at the charred remains of his house after the Victorian bushfires that devastated the area where he lived with his young family, he had an incredibly surprising reaction.

It would go on to be the basis for his extraordinary best-selling book The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need which was released less than a year ago and has topped the book charts ever since…this is an edited extract from his book, republished here with full permission.

A blackened sheep stopped right in the middle of the road and eyeballed us. Its feet were badly burnt. It was shaking. The wool on its side was scorched into curly knots, revealing its bloodied ribcage. It was heaving in and out, clutching for air. In shock. Dehydrated. Traumatised. With our fences destroyed, the poor girl was left stumbling around on her own, searching for water on our home block. Most of her flock had been burnt alive when a bushfire ripped through my farm 24 hours earlier.

Scott's farm after the bushfire


Without my knowledge or approval, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries had rolled up at first light and begun destroying my surviving sheep. Apparently they can do that when your farm is declared part of a disaster zone. The sheep limped off to the side of the road. They’d find her soon.

Scott tells Mia about the bushfire on the latest episode of the No Filter podcast...

I gripped my wife Liz’s hand and continued driving down our driveway towards our family home. Two chimneys and a pile of rubble were the sum total of a lifetime of possessions.

Her wedding dress. Tea cups. The few last remaining photos of her late father, who had died 10 years earlier. Butter knives. All of my baby son’s clothes. All of his toys. Everything was gone. Overhead, a TV news chopper hovered. Later, it would land amid our dead and dying animals, and a reporter would enter what remained of our private family home and kick through the still-smouldering personal possessions that had made our little family us.

Scott and Liz look at the remains of their house

At the time I was used to fronting the nightly finance news; that day I was the news. With the thick smell of everything burning, the sight of everything we’d worked for in ashes and a chopper buzzing around us, my wife erupted. She began screaming uncontrollably. Deep, loud groans of pain. Our baby son, Louie, who was strapped in his car seat, began bawling in sympathy.

At that moment, when everything was falling apart, I looked in the rear-view mirror and said to myself the first thing that came to my mind: ‘I’ve got this.’

That’s the truth. That’s exactly what I said.

Listen to Scott's full interview with Mia Freedman here:

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not some Bruce Willis diehard tough-guy character. Far from it. But if this was the lowest point in my life, there was something deep inside of me that knew I could handle it. And over the next two years, I did.

Because here’s the thing: at some stage you’re going to face your own financial fire. It could be when your partner walks out on you and the kids. It could be when you’re sitting alone in the work carpark after the boss has made you redundant. It could be after you go to the doctor for a simple ‘check-up’. It could be your girlfriend telling you she’s pregnant. It could be when you glance at your super statement and wonder how you’ll ever afford to retire.

No matter what you face in the future, I want you to be able to look yourself in the eye and confidently say to yourself: I’ve got this.

What is the best bit of financial advice you've ever been given? 

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