About me

Photo: Me in 2018 holding the book Nickel & Dimed: Undercover in Low-wage USA by journalist Barbara Ehrenreich. Nickel & Dimed is a bit like a modern day female perspective Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell, I recommend any budding economist to read both these books.IMG_9510

My name is Ellie, and I want to make finance, money, and economics more accessible to women and girls.  With this blog I hope to speak in plain English about economics and finance issues.

I studied Economics in High School, something I really recommend to any young person.  It gave me a really good foundation for understanding the economy, finance and how banks and government work.  Since then I have maintained a keen interest in finance, economics and politics.  At university, I took some electives in finance and economics  (but I graduated with B.Science (First Class Honours) in chemistry from Sydney Uni.

What finally drove me to do formal study in economics was that I thought I need to stop being a bystander and make more of an impact on the things I am passionate about.  There is no point arguing with a TV or newspaper — it can’t hear you!  — Do we even watch TV or read newspapers anymore? …  I read my news online, some free quality journalism like The Guardian Australia, and though subscriptions, like the New York Times, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal.  I do occasionally still buy a hard copy of the Financial Review, just because it’s nostalgic for me.

Finance and economics are not so difficult to understand, it just takes a little bit of effort and mostly time.  I firmly believe women and girls — in fact everyone — should empower themselves with financial knowledge.  There is a great myth around finance that it’s difficult and a lot of math, but I promise you the math is not that hard!  I should know after studying math and physics at university.  I think there is a lot of jargon, like in other professions, but once you learn the meaning of that jargon it is not as complicated as it once seemed.  I think in many ways, jargon has been a way of not only abbreviating, but of keeping others out.

Elizabeth Vleeskens family photo farm 5

Photo: My baby sister (inspecting the banana), my mother, and me  (c. 1990) having morning tea in the garden on my parents farm in Queensland, where I grew up.

I wasn’t always the best student, I actually dropped out of formal high school for 2 years, between the ages of 13 to 15 due to a combination of bullying and generally feeling overwhelmed stemming from undiagnosed Autism, before returning to finish school when I was 15 and 3/4 years old.  In the year that started after I dropped out, I enrolled in the Brisbane School of Distance Education, but I was asked to leave after the first year because I hadn’t completed enough work.  After that, I attended an informal school that was more like babysitting, where we were not given, nor expected to do work.  I did organise, with permission from the supervisors there, for myself and the other students to do a mural at the school.  I remember the day we painted it was great because it got all these guys off the couch who usually never joined in with anything besides watching movies and lunch.  After six months of this, my father I guess had had enough of this, and packed us all off to the Netherlands.  I attended an Intensive Language School in the Netherlands to learn Dutch.  That school was where things changed for me.  We lived in a small village and later in The Hague. I got to see the (outside) of the International Criminal Court, around the time of war crimes trials for the former Yugoslavia, and the Dutch Parliament, which is held in a really cool castle called Ridderzaal or “Knight’s Hall” in English.

When I came back to Australia I was able to, with a bit of initial complaining on my part, enroll into formal school and complete the last half of year 10 to get my School Certificate, and then my Higher School Certificate. I accomplished year 12 through sheer determination, by studying approximately 5 hours a day after school in my final year and having access to a great volunteer tutor.  In High School math didn’t come easily to me and I really had to put in a lot of work to get decent grades (all that extra study was basically for mathematics). Not top grades, like B or C grades, I ended up with a score of 71 for 2 Unit math on my HSC.  I had an amazing volunteer tutor from The University of Sydney, who I had access to as a disadvantaged student.  My tutor is now a full Professor with his own research group, has won several awards over his career, including a Tall Poppy, an all round amazing person, and always an inspiration to me — so it seems I was in really good hands!  At the end of year 12, I came top of my class in Economics, Physics and Advanced English, but my school was pretty disadvantaged, so even that isn’t a massive accolade.  Still, I felt very proud, considering for a while it looked like I wouldn’t make it past year 8.

I have a Bachelor of Science (Honours 1) from the University of Sydney.  I am currently studying a Master of Economics.  I tutored at university for 5+ years and I have learned to explain concepts and answer questions in a simple and straight forward manor.  I hope that I can help explain a few ideas and help you on your personal journey to financial empowerment.

This is a blog of my personal views about economics, finance, politics, and international relations. It should not be taken as financial advice.  Tips or advice on this blog is general and doesn’t take your personal circumstances into account.  If you are unsure about financial decisions, you should seek independent financial advice.

This blog is written using mono space font to allow easier reading for people with Autism.  At present I am not sure how to enable other accessibility options but I will attempt to update this in the future.

Some useful resources:

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) information page on superannuation, https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/Growing-your-super/Keeping-track-of-your-super/

MoneySmart, an Australian Government financial education initiative, https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Education Resources, https://rba.gov.au/education/resources/

Investopedia, an education resource to help people learn about investing, https://www.investopedia.com



All artworks by Elle Fleischer © 2018