Q&A With Simple Money Author Tim Maurer
After years of building up his knowledge base and experience as a financial planner and writer, after months of researching topics and pounding away on his laptop at his home in Charleston, S.C., Tim Maurer began seeing that far-away March 1 release date for his new book appear closer and closer. “I started to get a nervous feeling, like, ‘OK, I actually have to put it out there now. I hope it’s actually worth the effort.’ ”
Those anxious feelings Maurer had about the now-here arrival of Simple Money were calmed when some early reviewers, some people he truly trusts, came back with, “This is good stuff!”
Maurer believes Simple Money readers will also get a powerful takeaway: hope. “I want people to understand that it’s altogether possible to achieve financial health, to achieve financial peace and not be burdened. People will not be shamed into reading this book. They won’t be compelled by an outside force into reading this book to fix their behavior, to make it more like someone else’s. Instead, they will be impelled from within, to chart their own course, and to then follow it.”
Maurer shares his thoughts about his book and beyond in a Simple conversation with Kyle Veltrop, content marketing specialist for Buckingham.
Q: A key tenet of this book is the need for people to know why. You write that people “won’t really listen to what you tell them or how to do it until they understand why it’s important.” With that in mind, why is it important for people to read Simple Money?
A: So much of personal finance — on an educational level, to the consumer public — has been big and bold and brash. There’s been a lot of “here’s what to do and here’s how to do it” and very little of the why. I thought there was a hole that I could begin to fill — and not just anecdotally, but genuinely looking at evidence, at studies to get a why. The why is the glue. A lot of people have checked off all of the boxes of what they are supposed to do and not supposed to do when it comes to their personal finances, but it doesn’t feel entirely satisfying. I think that’s because the purpose hasn’t been clearly enough defined. That’s where this book comes in: having a personal mission, establishing priorities in life, having goals. Without those, even if you check off all of the boxes, it’s hard to get the level of satisfaction without seeing them all connected.
Q: Can you talk about how behavioral science goes hand in hand with what is the longtime foundation for your messaging — that personal finance is more personal than it is finance?
A: I’ve been focusing on this for many years, but over the past, say, five years, there has been so much brilliant stuff researched and written that has really begun to bolster and provide the foundation for my work. Personal finance is more personal than it is finance is not just a tagline. It’s grounded in science. Simple Money gave me the opportunity to put that behavioral finance on display in hopefully a way that’s approachable. Through my experience in personal finance, I was able to research the best of behavioral finance, of behavioral economics, of behavioral science, and then give people a lens to view it through.
Q: Why do you say that Part 1 of your book, Planning for Life, is a must-read?
A: Planning for Life is the whole realm of personal finance that has been lacking, if not missing. This is the life-changing part of the book, where we dig into behavioral and motivational science — the why. The other sections are where we get into actual dollars, but they feed off the first section. Every step along the way, we are retrenching the why: Why is this important? Why have we struggled or succeeded in a particular endeavor?
Q: Why do you recommend keeping a journal while reading this book?
A: Part of it is my personal bias. I am a visual learner. I am a visual teacher. I do a lot of writing, a lot of journaling. And though I don’t always go back and read a lot of it, it’s the act of articulation, the act of codifying the information, that’s so beneficial for me. It speaks to the nature, the personality of the book. If it weren’t for page counts, I would have included actual blank pages where people could put down their thoughts, so it could be a guidebook within a reference guide over time. But we’ll have a PDF journal available for readers online, and a blank journal will also work well.
Q: Your regular readers have come to expect references and anecdotes about your family, your personal passions and hobbies in your writing. Does that carry over to Simple Money?
A: When I was teaching (at Towson University), one of the ways I found college students would stay interested is to intersperse narratives, stories, humor. That’s the way I communicate. There’s a method to it, a design in bringing to life a topic that many find dull. So yes, you will, hopefully, see my narrative style carry over into this book.
Q: Did you have a target audience in mind when writing Simple Money?
A: Marketers will tell you that you should have a target audience in mind every time you write something, whether it’s a blog or certainly a book. Yet, the fundamental elements of this book are transcendent. I’m a newly minted 40-something, so this is written for my peers who are in that 35- to 45-year bracket. Having taught college for seven years, writing to that demographic also comes pretty naturally. There’s a lot of Millennial-inspired wisdom in this book. And as a financial planner, I’ve worked with many people who are closer to retirement or in retirement. As I wrote this book, I may have felt a pressure to find a narrow audience, but I continued to find a broad application, and even the potential for one generation to learn from another.
Q: What did you learn about your own behavior during the writing process?
A: I found that from 10:30 to 2:30, those are the hours when I’m most productive. Through research, I learned that we only have four to four-and-a-half hours of ultimate productivity per day. After those four hours, I found I was no longer producing the level of quality I wanted. As for my writing routine, I’d start my day with a particular pattern: I’d check a couple of emails; do a little bit of reading, meditating; go to the gym; have a second round of breakfast, some really strong coffee … then it was four hours of just pounding away. I shut off email during that time, turned off all notifications. I even took back my Apple watch; great product, but it was one more thing to distract me. … I would tell this to anyone: Find your best working time, 5 a.m. or whenever, block it off, and go do your best work. Then, dedicate the remainder of the workday to tasks such as emails, calls and meetings.
Simple Questions for Tim Maurer
In quick-hitting fashion, Tim Maurer shares some of his favorites:
Favorite book: Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Meal: Seared ahi tuna
Musician/band: The Beatles
Sports memory: Seeing the Orioles’ Nate McLouth hit a walk-off home run on the very first pitch of the 10th inning, vs. the Yankees, with my wife and both my sons sitting six rows from the field at Camden Yards … on a school night. It was a stretch that we were even there.
Way to spend a day off: On the water somewhere, probably paddle-boarding in the ocean
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The opinions expressed by featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of the BAM ALLIANCE. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice.
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