Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money

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9780804164047: Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money
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Finally, a financial plan that lets you be YOU, only richer.
It’s time to throw away all your old notions of what financial advice should look like. Because if you’re looking for a book to put you on an austerity savings plan that has you giving up vacations and lattes, you’re out of luck.  But if you’re looking to get your finances in rock-hard shape  - in less time than it takes to finish a workout – then Alexa von Tobel, Founder and CEO of LearnVest, has your back.

How? Through the LearnVest Program. First, you’ll take stock of where you stand today. Then, you’ll create your customized 50/20/30 plan.  50/20/30 simply refers to the percentage breakdown of how to spend your take-home pay each month. The 50 gets the essentials out of the way so you don't have to stress about them. The 20 sets your foundation for the future, then the 30 is left to spend on the things that bring happiness to your life.

By the time you’re finished reading this book, you’ll walk away with a financial game plan tailored to your priorities, your hopes and dreams, and your lifestyle. And, because von Tobel and the team at LearnVest are experts at financial planning in the online era, you’ll also learn how to integrate your financial plan into your mobile, social, digital life.  Like your own personal financial planner between two covers, this book will set you up for a secure, worry-free money future, without having to give up things you love.

So toss those old-school financial guides out the window, and get ready to start living your richest life.
From the Hardcover edition.

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Q&A with Alexa Von Tobel

Q. Why is talking openly about money so important to you?

A. There’s so much we can learn from one another! Think about everything you share with friends and family when it comes to other kinds of advice. We have no problem talking about relationships or career or health, but money is such a taboo.

When I was graduating from college, headed to a job on Wall Street, I realized there was so much more I wanted (and needed) to learn about personal finance. Once I opened up about this to friends, I found that we were all in the same boat. There’s something very reassuring and motivating about the fact that we’re all in this together. With Financially Fearless, I’m excited to blow the lid off this money taboo and start a real dialogue.

Q. In addition to running Learnvest you are also a Certified Financial Planner yourself. What financial topics do people ask you about the most?

A. I think the root of the questions I receive boil down to this: If I have an extra dollar, where should it go? How do I prioritize my next dollar with so many competing goals? How do I maximize my money?

Our wallets are pulled in countless different directions, so I believe it’s important to have a financial plan in place.

Q. How does your approach differ from that of other financial planners?

A. Money can be so complicated and full of unnecessary jargon. My approach centers on making all of this information accessible and consumable. Financially Fearless is an opportunity to learn the basics, but more importantly, to start figuring out how to take action in your life.

Q. You talk in the book about how a full 30% of your income should go to lifestyle and how you choose to spend it is up to you - how do you like to spend your 30%?

A. Yes, I’m a big believer in the 50/20/30 budgeting method. Once you’ve taken care of your Essentials (50% of your take-home pay) and your Future (20% of your take-home pay), the remaining 30% is yours to enjoy. Personally, the things that I value highly include gifts for others, travel, exercise—and fresh flowers (which are relatively inexpensive given the happiness they provide me!).

Q. How can people envision a better retirement?

A. Retirement goals can be daunting for many people. But instead of being paralyzed by that number, you need to set a plan into motion so you can chip away at the goal and start funneling savings into retirement accounts asap.

One of the exercises in Financially Fearless involves envisioning yourself at age 65+. Imagining the day-to-day life you want for yourself in your retirement years helps you recognize that the money you’re depriving yourself of today can have a big impact down the line.

Q. What encouragement would you give to someone starting to pay off their debt and feeling overwhelmed?

A. Take it one day at a time! I always say there are two things in life incredibly easy to gain and hard to lose: extra weight and credit card debt. As with all goals, break it down into smaller steps. The first step I recommend is putting a freeze on your credit card spending. Once you’ve hit pause on additional debt accruing, you can focus on getting your existing debt down to zero.

Q. Living in a big city like New York or San Francisco can get really expensive. How can people living in expensive cities still stay on budget?

A. Living in an expensive city can be a challenge, but it’s all the more important to stay on budget when that’s the case. Typically, housing costs are the biggest drains on budgets in expensive cities (as a New Yorker, I understand this 100%), so it’s important to minimize that cost as much as possible.

Analyze your current spending and then see what adjustments you can make. Track every dollar you spend to hold yourself accountable.

Q. The story of how you founded Learnvest is like a dream come true for many young entrepreneurs. Was it always your dream?

A. Entrepreneurship is in my blood—I come from a family of them. As soon as I realized what an entrepreneur was, it seemed like the perfect place to channel all of my energy!

My idea for LearnVest perfectly merged my desires to grow a business and to make a positive impact in the world. LearnVest was such a big dream that I dropped out of Harvard Business School in the heart of the recession to pursue it full-time.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would it be?

A. When everyone zigs, zag. Leaving business school during the recession may have been a crazy move, but turning away from the tide can have big pay-offs. It can be OK to take risks (with a business plan and a strategy in hand!)—you just have to make sure that it’s a calculated risk.

Q. Who is your financial inspiration?

A. Through LearnVest, I’ve encountered so many mentors with inspiring financial stories. Personally, the most valuable advice I’ve encountered is to invest my time in getting the big financial decisions, like proper insurance and a good investment strategy, right—not to spend my hours obsessing over ways to cut small costs. Curveballs will come. It’s essential to make sure you’re doing as much as possible to protect yourself.

About the Author:

 ALEXA VON TOBEL, CFP® is the founder and CEO of, an award-winning financial planning site.  A Certified Financial Planner™ who attended Harvard Business School, Alexa has been featured as a financial expert in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Forbes, InStyle, Glamour and on the Today show, Good Morning America, Anderson, Katie, ABC News, Bloomberg News, and more.  Her speaking engagements include Maria Shriver's Women's Conference, SXSW, Fortune Most Powerful Women's Conference, and TEDxWallStreet, and she is a columnist for Cosmopolitan, Inc. Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.

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9780385347617: Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money

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