Sell us your book: How 'Napkin Finance' explains money with art



Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Reporter

Myles Ma is a senior reporter at Policygenius, where he covers personal finance and insurance and writes the Easy Money newsletter. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

Published January 6, 2020 | 3 min read

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Featured Image Sell us your book: How 'Napkin Finance' explains money with art

Tina Hay made sketches to help her understand finance while she was a business student. Those sketches inspired her to start Napkin Finance, a website that aims to simplify complex money topics with easily digestible drawings.

Now, Hay has published her illustrated personal finance guidance as a book: "Napkin Finance: Build Your Wealth in 30 Seconds or Less." We spoke to Hay about why people should buy the book. The following conversation has been condensed and edited.

We've written thousands of words on insurance. How did you boil it down to one napkin?

We do a range of topics. A lot of them are evergreen, like insurance and some of them are more timely, like how Kylie Jenner became the youngest self-made billionaire or how Apple became a trillion dollar company. But the way we approach different topics is we always have our creative team work together with our financial experts and brainstorm ideas of how to bring content to life.

We start with an article, but then we bring the creative and the other teams together and it's a very interactive process. As a group, we come up with the ideas and we test them and then it goes to our developers and illustrators and we go back and forth to come up with ways of illustrating ideas and making them more digestible, more visual, more engaging.

The book is full of jokes. What were you going for with all the humor?

Finance is very dry. It's an intimidating topic. And most financial content is very generic traditionally. So we're always coming up with ways where we can make it more fun and accessible. Humor is a great tool in doing that.

Who do you envision reading this book?

We've seen a lot of different age groups or demographics, mostly millennial, people who are young professionals making important financial decisions. But really our age demographic is from younger audiences, K-12, through older women and people who've never had to understand their money and finances. It's really fun to see how it resonates with different age groups.

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The book starts with basic personal finance but gets into complex subjects like hedge funds. How do you stay concise as the topics get more difficult?

It's important to make sure that whether it's a simple topic or something more complex, it's really diluted into what is the most important and also very visually appealing. Interestingly, some of the most simple topics are sometimes more difficult to actually create a napkin for. There's less to work with. But the more complex topics, sometimes they do take time. But again, we go through the same process of the creatives coming together with financial experts and then brainstorming ideas and going through different ways of grabbing the reader's attention.

Why should people listen to you?

I am an outsider. I think myself and my team, we provide a unique way of looking at money and finance for the lay person that anyone can engage in. Everyone should take control of their finances, even if it's one step at a time. We help people do that even in the early stages of understanding the basic concepts.

My background and the inspiration for "Napkin Finance" is that I went to business school coming from a liberal arts background. I had never taken a finance class and I was sitting there next to bankers and consultants. So I started doing the sketches and learning myself using visuals, and that has really resonated with a lot of people.

The perspective I bring and my team brings is we understand finance, but we also understand what makes it complex and intimidating.

The book is selling for $25.99. You can buy a Fortnite hoodie for the same price. Why should people buy the book?

The book will last you a lifetime and the hoodie, maybe a year or two. You can empower yourself and have the opportunity to understand important lessons and topics and themes that can help you in every aspect of life — money touches everything from wellness to work to personal relationships. What else is more important than that?

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko