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'Start early,' 'Avoid the 2-income trap,' and more money advice from experts at FinCon

Ivana Pino@ivana_pino
Aditi Shrikant@aditi_shrikant
Twenty/20

Grow writers traveled to Washington, D.C., this week for FinCon, a convention for personal finance bloggers, podcasters, journalists, and authors, and talked to money experts about the best financial advice they have ever received.

Here's what they said:

Talaat McNeely, His & Her Money

McNeely, who runs His & Her Money with his wife, Tai, says the best financial advice he ever received helped set the couple up for a successful life together: "Avoid the two-income trap."

That, he explains, is when you get married and base all your spending and borrowing decisions on having two incomes. That gives you less room in your budget to handle unexpected expenses or allow for one person to leave a job to start a business or stay home with the kids.

"From the inception of our marriage, we never built a lifestyle based on two incomes," McNeely says. "When we went and got our first place, it was based on one income. We didn't have any car [debts]. When life changes happen, [a one-income lifestyle] gives your more flexibility and it doesn't put you inside of a box."

Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You to Be Rich

Ramit Sethi, founder of I will Teach You To Be Rich.
Jemal Countess | Getty Images

"Start early," says Sethi, who is known for his site I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the book of the same name. "My dad helped me open up a custodial IRA and that helped me understand the power of compound interest, starting early, and how much you can grow over time."

Chris Browning, Popcorn Finance

"It's OK to spend money on the things you really enjoy if you're willing to sacrifice in other areas," says Browning. Each episode of his podcast covers money topics "in about the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn."

His reasoning: "If you deprive yourself completely in all areas, you're destined to fail."

"It's too hard and too long of a journey to say, 'I'm never going to spend money on anything I like for the rest of my life,'" Browning says. "Give yourself grace to enjoy money in responsible ways. I think it makes it that much easier to be diligent in areas you need to focus on."

It's too hard and too long of a journey to say, 'I'm never going to spend money on anything I like for the rest of my life.' Give yourself grace to enjoy money in responsible ways.
Chris Browning
Host, Popcorn Finance

Stephanie J. Davis, Finances On Point

"Start early, and make sure you put aside at least 10% in your 401(k)," says Davis of Finances On Point. The Army veteran got that advice when signing up for the government's Thrift Savings Plan, aka TSP.

You won't miss the money from your check, she says.

Erin Lowry, Broke Millennial

Erin Lowry, the creator of the personal finance blog, Broke Millennial.
Photo: David Rodgers

"The most important money lesson I ever learned was just about the importance of having those uncomfortable conversations" in relationships, says Lowry, who runs the site Broke Millennial. Her latest book, "Broke Millennial Takes on Investing," came out earlier this spring.

It's key to learn how to discuss money topics like student loan debt and spending habits, she says: "You have to be able to talk about it and share with one another."

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