Q&A With Kimberly Palmer, Author of Generation Earn

Kimberly Palmer is the author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, which was published by Ten Speed Press this week. I spent a little time speaking with her about the book and did a short question and answer session to learn more about the book and why she wrote it.

Why did you write this book?

I got so sick of hearing about how bad our generation is with money. We’re always hearing that we have so much debt, lack discipline to budget, or just don’t understand basic concepts about the economy. I just didn’t think it was true. I think we’ve had some tough breaks, like experiencing two major recessions in the last 10 years, but we’re also pretty resourceful. We love doing research and educating ourselves online, for example. We care a lot about making a difference, too. Basically, we want our money to give us financial stability, support our families, and also help us give back ‒ so I wrote this book to help people do those things.

What does Generation Earn refer to?

The fact that we’re part of an up-and-coming group that’s about so much more than the “generation debt” stereotype. I reject that stereotype!

So is debt a bad thing then?

Having too much of it is, but debt can also be a very good thing. It can let you launch a new career or small business or go to school. It’s possible to use debt, even credit card debt, to your advantage. One of my chapters (Chapter 2, “The Upside of Debt”) is dedicated to that.

You write about how to give back, but who can afford to do that?

Everyone. Because little decisions we make every day, from what kind of coffee to buy to where to get groceries, has a global impact. We can choose to buy green cleaning supplies, or preservative-free cosmetics, or organic baby food. Of course, a lot people also give back on bigger scales, by starting nonprofits or contributing to charities. There are some new ways to do that without being rich, such as forming a giving circle with friends. It’s sort of like the new book club.

What’s your favorite personal finance tip?

To invest in yourself. Spending $300 on podcast coaching lessons might sound wasteful, but if it helps you achieve your dream of launching a popular podcast, then it’s completely worth the price. The same concept applies to taking a professional advancement course, or even working with a personal shopper. I love focusing on the positive side of money ‒ how it can help us reach our goals.

What’s the most common mistake young professionals make with their money?

Letting their money slip away from them. It’s not just young professionals earning a steady income for the first time; almost everyone spends mindlessly from time to time. But spending without thinking, on restaurant meals or taxis or clothes, is such a waste. Because if your money isn’t helping you reach your bigger goals, whether it’s a vacation or a new business, then it’s being wasted.

What the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made?

I’m pretty sure I failed miserably at buying my first car. I think we probably could have gotten a much better price. I just found the whole thing so stressful ‒ much more so than buying a home, which is pretty crazy. The car dealer used all kinds of tricks, from making us wait a long time to being really aggressive. Next time we buy a car, I’ll be more prepared.

For more information about the book, visiting www.generationearn.com.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

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