Meet Pennie Scott – Cowra farmer, independent candidate, agricultural academic and Verve member
It’s not very often you meet a woman as energetic and passionate as Pennie Scott. The self-proclaimed ‘proud country woman’ comes from six generations of farmers and calls the Riverina (Wiradjuri country) home.
Pennie has lived a diverse and colourful life as a mother of five sons, a farmer, an academic and even as the founding editor of a local Wagga newspaper.
Most recently, Pennie has channelled her energy into running as an independent candidate for the Riverina in the recent Federal election. While her campaign didn’t quite go to plan, Pennie is fiercely passionate about balancing the injustice in government, advocating for the needs of regional communities and equality for women.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Pennie to dive into her money story, how her relationship with money has shifted over the years, her experience as a woman in politics and what a wealthy life means to her.
Pennie’s experience running as an independent in the recent Federal election
We kicked off our conversation by chatting about Pennie’s recent campaign as an independent candidate for the Riverina. While Pennie didn’t meet the cut-off date for election as a candidate, her passion for change and equality is as strong as ever.
“My mother was horrified when I told her. She said, ‘oh no, it’s the filthiest profession in Australia. You’ll be hurt, you’ll be trampled, and you’ll be done over.’
I said, ‘Mum, this is why we have to do it’. Because if we just retreat and let the same people do the same things, we will never get change. So it’s a matter of taking a deep breath, as they say, pulling the undies up, and stepping in.
Against my better judgement, I have followed politics for a long time. What has disgusted me since 1996, in particular, when John Howard became the Prime Minister, is there was a massive change in how business was done in government. It became unfair, it became inequitable, and it became about pandering to the bigger end of town.
It became all about trickle-down economics, which is simply unfair and it does not work. In the country, we have so many benefits to living in the city, there’s no doubt about that. However, some of the social agenda in the country is way behind.
We have hospitals without doctors. We have maternity wards that have closed because there are not enough midwives. I can go on and on and on. So something had to change from the current system of providing funding for local governments.
It’s because of the inequity and the unfairness that really got me because it’s been like that, for the past 10 years since the incumbent has been here. I believe things have to change.”
Unpacking Pennie’s money story
“I’m quite sure we inherit behaviours and habits from our parents because we just imitate what we see around us. My father came from a wealthy family, he was a third-generation farmer. Often it’s the first generation that makes it, the second generation that builds it and the third generation that spends it.
Mum was the accountant, the bean counter and she was frugal. I’ve learned a couple of things from both parents. I love frugality. I love using my imagination to see how we can do something with what we’ve got, rather than having to buy something new.
On the other hand, my father spent like a drunken sailor, bless his soul, and he had so much fun. And so therein lies an interesting balance of not being so frugal that you’re unhappy and miserable and also about living in the moment.
Generally, where I spend is really important. I often ask myself the question, ‘who’s going to benefit most from my expenditure?’. So local is number one. I’m quite resourceful and I love upcycling. I don’t believe in buying anything new when there is so much sitting out there.
This is the frugal side, but also challenging the creative side as well. And how can I use something else for which it’s not intended? Reapply its use in some other form. And that’s why I’m loving upcycling clothing. And it’s something that I’m doing more of just simply because of the artistry and the creativity matched with utilising our existing resources.”
How Pennie’s attitude to money has changed over the years
“When I was younger, I was doing the corporate queen thing with pencil skirts and high heels and strutting around. And yes, I admit there were power shoulders in there too.
That was the formula to be successful. You accumulate money and you spend money. I’m now completely out of debt and I don’t own many things.
What does wealth mean to me? Well, I walk outside my beautiful strawbale house and I go and pick food from my garden. I take my cat for a walk and I let the ducks out in the morning. They’re not laying eggs yet (they’d better soon).
When I can walk down and see my two jerseys, my horse, and a little bull calf on an organic property where there’s so much birdlife and wildlife, and it’s peaceful. This to me is wealth.
Money is another form of energy. When you look at inflation and even the value of a $100 note, it can bring you this much one day, and then a third of it the next. We have no control over that.
That’s why I decided to base my definition of wealth on something very different. My health is my wealth, my fitness and my physical strength. Being resourceful, being self-sufficient, being curious, kind and compassionate. They’re my forms of wealth, which you can’t buy later lately.
My relationship with money is that it’s a form of energy. It’s useful for certain things, but it’s not the be all and end all.”
Why Pennie is passionate about ethical investing
“I want to know exactly where my super is going, and it was not into tobacco was not into alcohol was not into armaments. It was not into coal and oil. I want my money to be doing positive things. I want it to be doing good.
When Verve came along and I saw it is by women, for women, that was another box check. I know [Verve co-founder] Zoe Lamont, she’s such an inspiring woman from Wagga. I love that same ethos of ethical investment and understanding the challenges that women have had because of my superannuation contribution.
For me, it’s been a very unreliable pathway because I’m mainly self-employed. It’s challenging. I have to be in charge of my own super for most of my career.
I’m so happy to invest with Verve, I know what they’re doing. I love that women are making the decisions and that women are seen as not just strong financial managers, but ethical financial managers.”
Pennie’s top piece of financial wisdom for other women
“Money isn’t everything. There is so much more to life.
We have to have creative conversations about what is security. So often security, financial security is seen as the be all and the end all.
What I have learned is investing in myself has been critical, not just accumulating dollars. Investing in myself is a very tangible, exciting, creative and challenging way to use your money and it has been the best thing I’ve done.”
Are you a Verve Super member? We’d love to hear your story. Send us an email and let’s chat: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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