Money pro tips: A Q&A with writer & real estate investor Emma Pattee


Policygenius Staff

Policygenius Staff

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Published January 10, 2020|3 min read

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Each week, we ask a personal finance or business expert for their money pro tips. This week we talked to Emma Pattee, a real estate investor and writer featured in Glamour, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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Last thing you resisted buying: A new laptop. My laptop is five years old, and for some reason that made me decide I need a new one.

How did you resist it? It cost $1,000, and I told myself that if I didn’t buy it, I could spend that money on anything I thought would benefit my writing or business. So instead of it being a laptop or nothing, it was a laptop or anything I wanted. And that made me realize my old laptop was perfectly fine because I found something else I wanted more than a new laptop!

Learn whether renters insurance would cover a new computer.

Last thing you splurged on: A novel writing workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch (with the $1,000 I would have spent on the laptop!)

Why’d you OK the splurge? Writing is my all-consuming love. And I try to always spend my money on a values-based scale (so writing > laptop > eating out > travel > clothes, etc).

What’s your current money goal? Work five hours a week and make enough to pay the nanny so I can spend the rest of my work hours writing my novel.

How you’re working toward it: Writing for The New York Times and doing some copywriting for select clients.

Money thing you’re most proud of: My husband and I have gone from complete money opposites to being very aligned on money and it’s taken a lot of personal work and communication skills on both of our ends to get there.

A money regret: When I was in my 20s and more frugal, I often put money ahead of building friendships and community and I regret that. I once skipped a dear friend’s bachelorette party because I didn’t want to spend the money, and when I look back that was silly.

Best financial advice you ever got: When you and your spouse fight about money, it’s not the two of you that are fighting. It’s your entire familial legacy passed down through the generations. You are just living out your great-great-grandparents’ money beliefs.

Worst financial advice you ever got: Your 20s are for experiences, your 30s are for saving money.

Top money tip you give to people: Get a prenup or postnup. It’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself, your spouse and your children. Even if you have no money. Especially if you have no money!

How do you budget? I used to do anti-budgeting, where I saved first and then just spent the rest. But I’ve just started using You Need a Budget and I’m liking it.

Book, podcast, newsletter or blog you recommend to help people be better with money? For investing, I recommend the Invested Development course. I love Kristin Wong’s column on relationships and money. And “Mind Over Money” by Brad and Ted Klontz.

Common money advice question people ask you: I want to invest in real estate but I don’t know how to get started.

What you tell them: Give yourself a 90-day deadline and just do it. You can’t grow as an investor until you invest, and so you just have to get started. I see too many people stuck in spreadsheet paralysis.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko