Thanks for taking the time to visit Manic Readers, Kimberly.
Thank you for having me!
With all the scholarships available now what attracted you to the Henry Luce Scholarship?
The Henry Luce program offers American college grads the chance to live and work in Asia for one year. The whole point is to introduce young Americans to Asian countries, so they can take that experience and knowledge with them throughout the rest of their careers and lives. It was an honor to be part of that kind of cultural exchange.
Can you tell us a bit about your experiences as a Henry Luce Scholar?
I lived and worked in Tokyo for one year, at the Asahi Shimbun. I wrote for the English-language section of the paper and wrote about everything from why birth control pills are hardly used in Japan to why the diet industry is so big. I also made incredible friends and spent a lot of time visiting local onsen (hot baths), hiking routes, islands and, of course, sushi restaurants.
With degrees in public policy and history how did you transition to personal finance and money expert?
When I was in Japan writing about culture, I quickly realized that business and economics has a profound impact on culture. My stories on the birth control industry, diet industry and other industries clearly covered culture and business at the same time. I knew I needed to dive more deeply into the economic side of things, so I could ask more probing questions and cover culture and trends more fully.
What prompted your development of Palmer’s Planners and how are they different from traditional planners?
I was browsing Etsy one day, looking at some of the calendars currently offered, and I suddenly realized that I could create money-themed planners, that help people reach specific financial goals, from preparing for a baby to paying off debt to launching a business. I realized it was a niche that, with my background in writing about money, I could fill. That idea hit me like lightning and within two weeks I had launched my shop.
In your expert opinion what is the biggest financial challenge facing twenty somethings? Thirty somethings? Forty somethings? Is there hope after forty?
Twenty-somethings are facing a lot of under-employment right now and many people are forced to take jobs they don’t love. That’s why launching a side-business – which one in three millenials do – is so essential to building a full career. They get more experience and also more money. For 30- and 40-somethings, which is my demographic, we’re in crunch period. Our costs are climbing while often our paychecks level out. So we need to find a way to augment those paychecks while also still feeling creative in our careers – launching a side-business can do this for us. For the after-40 crowd, the biggest challenge looming is retirement. How will you continue to make some money and also find some satisfaction? A side-business based on your vast wealth of experience and skills is a great place to start.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest financial mistake most people make?
Failing to think about your money enough. I made this mistake myself when I was younger. I grew up thinking money wasn’t important, and that it was selfish or even wrong to think too much about earning more of it. But the fact is, if you’re not spending time on your own money management and maximizing your earning power, you’re leaving yourself financially vulnerable. If we all spent a few hours a month on our money, we’d be better off.
A bit about Generation Earn, please?
I wrote Generation Earn as a guide for young professionals looking to get on top of their money. I was tired of the condescending talk aimed at my generation from more experienced money experts and I wanted to offer an alternative – a feel-good, empowering way to think about money.
What, exactly, is a micro business?
A micro-business is a small, even tiny business that often starts off as a hobby and turns into a serious money-making venture. Even if you’re earning a modest amount, say a couple hundred dollars a month, it adds up over time, and even more importantly, proves that you can create something of value that other people find useful.
I like to think of it as a the reverse Latte Factor effect. The Latte Factor was made famous by David Bach, who warns that spending a few dollars a day on a latte can add up to a loss of over a million dollars over the course of their lifetime. Well, the same thing is true in reverse: Earn a few dollars a day and you’ll make yourself a million dollars richer over time.
What prompted THE ECONOMY OF YOU and what sets it apart from other hobby/interest how to’s?
The Economy of You gives readers a game plan for building their own side-business – one that will not only give them extra financial security, but also a great sense of meaning and satisfaction by launching their own business. I cover how to get the perfect idea for you, how to flesh out your business plan, where to find your first customers, and how to build your online tribe. It’s perfect for people looking to add some creativity to their careers through a new entrepreneurial venture.
How difficult is it to put THE ECONOMY OF YOU into action?
It’s always challenging to launch a new business and there is going to be some setbacks and even failure along the way – a bad customer reaction or slow sales period. But as long as you are prepared for that and ready to work at it, it’s so easy. It really is. Given the existing e-commerce sites out there, like Elance, Etsy, Freelancer and Fiverr, you can literally set up your shop this weekend and start earning money this month.
Do you have a WIP you can share any details about?
I’m currently expanding my Etsy shop to focus more on custom planners, which include half-hour coaching sessions, so I can make the planners as individualized as possible. I’m really excited to build that out.
Thanks for visiting, Kimberly. It’s been very informative.
Fortunately Manic Readers has a print copy of THE ECONOMY OF YOU to give away to one (1) lucky commenter (sorry, U.S. only). If you started your own micro business, what would it be?
The biggest trend in business is the microbusiness! Handcrafted jewelry, artisanal eats, life coaching, app development, you name it—entrepreneurial side ventures are everywhere. Weary of pink-slip anxiety and the endless money squeeze, millions of people are taking the leap. They’re adding to their incomes and creating safety nets in case the ax falls at work. In the process, they’re unlocking their creativity and finding a sense of fulfillment they never dreamed possible.
Financial columnist Kimberly Palmer illuminates the everyday faces behind this growing movement, starting with her own journey. Recognizing that journalism offers little job security these days—and with a baby to provide for—she decided to develop a series of financial planners. This supplemental business was soon providing a reliable income stream.
The Economy of You recounts story after story of people who—like Kimberly—are liberating themselves from financial strain. A deli employee who makes custom cakes at night. An instrument repairman who sells voice-overs on his website. A videographer who started a profitable publishing house on the side. Interwoven in the profiles are concrete guidelines for readers looking to launch rewarding businesses of their own, including:
• Tips for figuring out the ideal side gig
• Ideas for keeping start up costs low
• Advice on juggling a fledgling enterprise and a full-time job
• Strategies for finding your “tribe” and building a social network
• Branding and marketing basics that bring results
• When and what to offer for free
• And much more
Companies guarantee nothing but today’s wages. It’s up to YOU to build stability by becoming a money-making engine. It’s empowering, gratifying, and easy to do with The Economy of You.
Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” and senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report, where she writes the popular Alpha Consumer blog. In addition, she is the creator of Palmer’s Planners, her own line of digital financial guides and money organizers for major life events and goals.