Broke Millennial – Erin Lowry

In this lockdown period, I have realised one thing. I am a person of momentum. If I start out on the good path to trying to get productive things done, I am on a roll. In fact, if I have some things on tight deadlines, I end up doing self-deadline tasks much better too. On the other hand, once I get into a productivity slump, it gets difficult to achieve simple yet important tasks like publishing a blog post. This dilemma is what has resulted in the last two weeks seeing no blog post on Elementum Money despite the fact that I have had a post brewing in my mind for days weeks. But, a friend exclaiming how you have been writing less is a kick like no other to get the machinery cranking up. So, let’s shrug this inertia away and get started with talking about the book for today – Broke Millennials – Getting your financial life in order.

Who is the Broke Millennial?

Broke Millennial is a blog started by PR professional-turned-blogger-turned-author Erin Lowry. In 2013, she started her blog to talk about good money practices for her fellow millennials. In my first month of blogging, hers was one of the first few blogs I wrote about. It helped that she had a solid, strong foundation to clean financial habits thanks to her the financial upbringing and lessons mostly taught by her father.

For instance, she often talks about her eureka moment as a seven-year-old, when she earned a bit of cash from operating a lemonade stall. Unlike regular indulgent parents, her cash stash got quickly whittled down by her father as a payment for taxes, cost of goods and wage for the helper, her little sister.

Another interesting anecdote is the way her father describes the equity market to her as soon as she mentions it. He talks about the volatility and how dips are not something to be afraid of but rather to be seen as opportunities in the long run.

Suffice it to say, the blog got popular soon enough getting along a flurry of followers and regular readers leading to the Broke Millennial book series (yes, series as a second one solely about investing is already out).

About the book

The first book in the series – Broke Millennial: Stop scraping by and get your financial life in order was published almost three years back. As the sub-title suggests, it aims at talking to the wide population of the broke millennials and giving them well-researched advice on financial habits, actions, decisions and behaviors.

Most of the topics and information is very relevant to the generation universally with some minor relevancy issues between India and the US. My only problem at some points was her over use of analogies which I thought could do with some toning down. However, to keep the post short, in my usual style I will hop over to five of the aspects talked about by Lowry.

5 key aspects from the first Broke Millennial book

The book is divided into 18 chapters, with most of them being short and easily palatable and came with their own summaries and some even with an action plan.

1. Understanding your money emotions

For a long time, I only thought of money in a very unilateral manner – money equals numbers. But, gradually as I entered into the amazing world of Personal Finance blogs, I realised we all have so many emotions churning inside us which often find an outlet in the way we feel and act about money. In the first few chapters, Lowry tries to get the reader to understand their own money personality better and also ideally change the vision from instant gratification to a more long term one.

2. Money and Relationships

For me, the best part about the book is where Lowry deals with money and relationships. I think money can either smoothen or complicate how you deal with people around you. This could be about that colleague who never has cash to pay for meals pre-decided to going dutch at. Or it could be about setting the foundation to clear, transparent communication while deciding to get hitched. What should be the questions you ask? How do you approach potentially sensitive questions? How can you be strategic when you need to be?

3. Managing debt

The two main debts that a lot of American millennials carry with them are student loan and credit card debt. Unless, there is a focussed, concerted effort to pay it off, it is easy to ignore it and let the interest keep piling on. Lowry talks in detail about two aspects. One, on the best methods of paying off the loans. Two, to continue with some essentials like building up on an emergency fund even while on the quest of debt repayment. The best part is that she first addresses any shame that people might be feeling about it, advising them to rather take action to attacking it.

4. Credit score and report

This was probably the longest and most US-specific chapter in the book. But, considering how important a role and how many things it can swing, it made sense to. She talks at length about what credit score & report are, what doors they open, what impacts them and some myth busting around it.

5. Working on thy cash flow

Lowry manages the B-word Budget quite well and in a friendly relatable manner. She gives some strategies around it in two levels, basic level 101  and a slightly more advanced version with 201. She also divides some of the long-drawn strategies into neat step-wise actions. As a final weapon, she pulls out the millennial favourite – apps with the due disclaimers to not depend on it for all inputs and of course, the security concerns.

As per me, insurance was an important missing piece in the book. That aside, it’s a great book for any Personal Finance newbie looking for a relatable way to start their journey into wading through this confusing mish-mash.

Have you read the first book of the Broke Millennial series? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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