Churning butter into Diamonds



Success is no stranger to New Zealand recording artist, Ladi6. Her achievements as a musician are numerous and she has a string of accolades to be proud of. 

For Ladi, preparation, hard work and money management are important factors contributing to her success. She speaks with Jacqueline Taylor about her journey of managing finances and planning her financial future. 

Ladi6 has been centre stage and in the spotlight at various New Zealand music awards year after year. With three albums (the last, Automatic, recorded in Detroit) and several award titles to her name, she is an icon in Hip Hop circles both locally and internationally. But earning an income as a successful musician is seasonal for Ladi6. There have been times when she has been worried about when the next paycheck is coming and avoiding debt is priority. Ladi agrees that money management is important for success as a musician as often a lot of money goes out before it comes in. “We have to pay for projects before we have the income to pay for projects and then make the money afterwards to pay it back!” 

Understanding her finances has certainly been something Ladi has developed on her journey as a musician. It wasn’t until she committed to becoming a professional recording artist and starting her company SLR Limited at the age of 24 that she really began to understand the importance of money management and calculating budgets. Ladi gives a lot of credit to her manager, Rebecca Caughey for supporting and guiding her on managing budgets in those early days. “She was more aware of money and understood it much more than I did, so when it came to starting SLR and managing our money, Rebecca showed me a lot of things.” However, Ladi’s desire for successful money management developed at a much earlier stage in life when growing up in the working class, lower socio-economic suburbs of Christchurch. 

Ladi’s parents were hard-working youth and social workers who consistently worked in order to provide a better life for Ladi and her five siblings, with the hope of moving to better neighbourhoods and schools. Money was tight and most of the family’s lifestyle was controlled by a strict budget, so much so that Ladi has memories of times when she needed to ask for permission to eat an apple. However, there were moments when money was abundant, with perhaps a bonus from her parents’ workplace, but was spent quickly. “[My parents’] kind of idea with money was to spend it when you’ve got it. Quite often we were on a strict budget so when they were flush they wanted to spoil us all – often I remember getting twenty dollar notes and I was only nine.” Although Ladi admired the work ethic of her parents, their frivolous spending habits and their subsequent money difficulties was something Ladi watched and didn’t want to repeat. “[My parents] were mentoring me about finances by role-modelling their lives and I was taking bits and pieces of what I did and didn’t want for my future.” 

After witnessing her parents’ lack of saving and future financial planning, Ladi’s attitude to money quickly formed. “It made me want to be more aware of my money, my savings and in particular, how I’m going to set myself up for retirement is something that is constantly in the back of my mind.” 

Ladi is a big believer in putting money aside to save for retirement. She has seen all too often friends and family members nearing their sixties in the same job they were working in during their forties, working for the same rate, at the same speed. “It’s not what I want to be doing. I don’t think any Kiwi wants to be doing. I think they want to be slowing down. I think they want to be having that little nest egg to be able to say, ok, what fun things am I going to do in my older years, or, how am I going to be living that’s comfortable for me where I don’t have to be working so much.” 

With this in mind, Ladi and her partner Parks (Brent Park), have created a financial plan to ensure they are prepared for any situation. “I think it is so important to have a plan for your money so you are not riddled by the idea of money. I’m a very pragmatic person with a practical approach to money so you don’t have to think about it as the most important thing in your life but it’s going out and it’s doing its thing.”

Clearly, one of their larger investments is their music company SLR Limited. Ladi sees the company as an investment in herself, creating options for future opportunities. However, she is aware of diversifying her investments and has savings elsewhere. Although she and Parks are yet to buy a home, they are saving for a deposit and hope they will be able to invest in property in the near future. KiwiSaver is another key investment for Ladi and Parks. Even when times are tough they continue to make contributions to their KiwiSaver. “Its just so important to keep it rolling.” With goals for future investments in equities and property, plus her already well-established investments, Ladi6 is certainly churning her hard earned bread and butter into what will be diamond retirement savings.

Listen to Ladi6’s song ‘Diamonds’ on her album Automatic.