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Peter and Sandra Michales: The rewards of working hard

Careful money management and hard work have paid off for small business owners Peter and Sandra Michales. Their values have also influenced their sports-minded daughter Zara as she builds her own business.

A team effort

When Sandra Michales reminisces about her daughter Zara’s childhood, she recalls a happy and determined child with a passion for sport and fitness.

“Zara loved to challenge herself – whether it was beating a boy in a race or learning something new,” said Sandra. “She didn't give up until she achieved it.”

As owners of their local corner store, Peter and Sandra have regularly worked long hours, but they always found time to help their five children pursue their interests. This included driving them to softball, gymnastics, soccer and drama classes, and always being there to cheer them on at matches, performances and awards nights.

Peter believes he and Sandra have always complemented each other in their approach to parenting.

“Sandra was the children’s sounding board and offered unwavering support and encouragement,” he said. “I advised them to be cautious and always have a Plan B in place.”

Learning the value of money

The Michales supported their children by providing everything they needed growing up. But if one of their kids wanted to treat themselves to a concert ticket or some new clothes, they needed to save up.

“A big thing in our home was delayed gratification,” Sandra explained. “All our children worked at the shop on the checkout once a week to earn money.”

Peter says this helped their children improve their maths and develop social skills, as well as giving them a great work ethic and helping them understand the value of money.

“When they were growing up I used to say to them, you earn $10 an hour, so if you’re going to buy $30 pair of jeans, you’ll need to work three hours for them,” said Peter. “Is that a good trade-off?”

Zara, who now owns her own personal training business, has benefited from the values her parents instilled in her while she was growing up. Her own hard work and careful financial management have helped her create a successful business, while at the same time allowing her to enjoy the lifestyle she wants.

“Zara still is careful about her spending,” Sandra said. “She recently saved for a holiday and stayed in backpacker hostels for most of the trip, but had one night at a five-star resort in Crete to treat herself. Because she worked hard for it, she appreciated it more.”

Winding down for retirement

Through careful spending and wise investing, the Michales now own two businesses, some investment properties and shares, and they’ve also set up a self-managed super fund (SMSF). As a result, Sandra and Peter believe they’ll be in a financial good position when they decide to retire.

Now in their early 50s, the couple say they’re in the process decluttering their life. This has involved winding down one of their businesses and renovating some of their properties.

Meanwhile, Sandra has returned to study and is about to finish a degree in nursing. While they hope to slow the pace down eventually, Peter admits that he’ll still need to keep busy.

“Otherwise I’d go insane!” he laughed.

With their finances in good shape, the couple hope to spend less time working and more time travelling and watching their grandchildren grow up. And while they’re confident about the financial lessons they’ve passed on to their children, Peter admits he worries about the transitional nature of work and the increasing cost of housing for the next generation. That’s why he and Sandra continue to encourage their children to save and be cautious.

“We tell them to look at the bigger picture,” said Sandra. “Always think a little bit further ahead and have a goal to work towards.”