The man millions of people have consulted to help make sense of their finances was told not to expect to get too far up the ladder. According to Noel Whittaker's father, that was what people in higher classes did, not their family.
Noel said he bought into that story for many years, and even chose to work at the then Bank of New South Wales because it was a secure, respectable job. But there were always inklings that he was destined for greater things.
"I always had a goal to be in business for myself. When we lived on the farm I had a milk run, and when I was in high school I sold eggs to the teachers. I then went into partnership with the farm owner and kept bees and had my own honey label. I guess I've always been a little entrepreneur," he said.
The bank job lasted a few years, but then Noel variously studied and worked in law, recruitment, accountancy (topping the country in income tax law), a listed property company, and a company that coordinated joint venture subdivisions. But then he read Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.
"The book taught me that your background or education were not a barrier to success and I could be anything I chose to be. I decided then that I would go into business for myself within 100 days, and I would spend the rest of my life promulgating the principles in that book," he said.
"Within four months, I had gone into business with one of my joint-venture builders in a building and real estate company. I had the sales accounting and legal experience and he had the building experience. That book was also the start of the journey into intensive studying of other success books and I discovered people like Denis Waitley, Jim Rohn, Anthony Robbins and Zig Zigler.
"Jim Rohn said 'if you want to be wealthy study wealth - if you want to be happy study happiness' and I immersed myself in success, finance, happiness and how to stay healthy. In two months I will turn 80, take no medications, and still feel as young as ever."
Noel also started writing a real estate column and hosted a program on ABC Radio. After one caller asked him to recommend a book on personal investing, for which Noel had no answer, he decided to write one himself. Making Money Made Simple was first published in 1987 (selling more than 2 million copies), and Noel has just released a revised version.
"While the basic principles have not changed for many many years, there are now things like Afterpay, contactless payments, keeping a credit score and of course houses are much more expensive even though interest rates are at rock bottom. The new book is more geared towards action steps because I have learnt that information without an action plan is useless," Noel said.
Noel is passionate about helping people make the most of the money they have, as is reflected in his 17 books to date. He believes that the combination of today's life expectancies, stretched government budgets and challenging financial markets are a perfect storm and all the more reason to have a good understanding of your finances.
"In the first book I said that 8 per cent will make it to financial independence and I notice in the latest review of superannuation by Jeremy Cooper that 80 per cent of Australians are disengaged with their finance. My father always said if you took all the money in the world and divided equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets."
Still, Noel is adament that money can't buy happiness.
"Having said that it is well-known that one of the biggest stresses can be caused by financial problems so having money can free you from that kind of financial stress, and it also give you more choices. But wealthy people still fight with the kids, have health problems, and anybody in business faces daily challenges."
For those starting their financial journey Noel has three main tips: start early to get the miracle of compound interest working, always spend less than you earn, and never stop learning.
Gain more simple financial disciplines that will make a big difference with Making Money Made Simple - The ultimate guide to finance and investment in the 21st century available from November for $29.99. See all Noel's books at www.noelwhittaker.com.au