What we learned from the personal finance books of 2019



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.

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Over the course of 2019, the Sell Us Your Book team (OK, it's just me) has had some wonderful conversations with personal finance authors. Here's a look back at some of their big money lessons.

Find a motivation for saving

"Saving for saving's sake is crazy boring and unmotivating, but if you know what you're aiming for it's so much easier to find that motivation," said Tanja Hester, author of "Work Optional."

Retiring early is a nice goal, but if you're going to undergo the sacrifices it takes to get there, it helps to have a picture of what you want to do instead of work. Some good questions to ask: What do you want your legacy to be? How would you fill your days?

Money is a means to an end

Jill Schlesinger, author of "The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money," believes people make money a bigger deal than it is. She summed up a healthier approach: "I'd like to have the opportunity to choose different things in life and the only way to create that opportunity is to manage my financial life in a really responsible way."

People still feel overwhelmed by money, even when they have enough for shelter, bills and necessities, Schlesinger said. But once you have the basics, accumulating it isn't an end in itself; it's a way to give yourself options.

Time is on your side

"When you're young, time is your biggest asset when it comes to investing because compound interest is going to be working for you," said Erin Lowry, author of "Broke Millennial Takes on Investing."

The earlier you start investing, the more money you'll accumulate in the long run. The longer you wait, the harder it is to catch up.

Pay yourself first

"You have to pay yourself first automatically, minimum one hour a day of your income, and it needs to go in a retirement account," said David Bach, author of "The Latte Factor."

That's one of the three secrets to financial freedom in Bach's personal finance parable. The second and third? Automate your finances and think about what would make your life rich today, not just 30 or 40 years from now.

Your identity has already been stolen

"Every day there's another breach," said Frank Abagnale, author of "Scam Me If You Can." "That's why you have to be a little more careful and make sure you're monitoring your identity."

If scammers haven't gotten to you, they will, the former con man said.

College is no longer a sure bet

"The return on investment has become murky at best," said Jonathan Mendonsa, co-author of "Choose Fi." "I have friends that are teachers with $90,000 of student loan debt. They're screwed."

Given the toll student loan debt can take, potential students have to look more carefully at the return on investment of a college education, Mendonsa said.

Image: Freddie Collins (Unsplash)