Interview with Melissa Newton

How did you become a personal finance researcher and write about money basics?
Writing and research has always been a passion since I was in grade school. When I graduated from college and began a career in banking, my enthusiasm for writing and research followed me. Instead of crafting stories and history articles, I interviewed financial professionals, wrote newsletter articles, designed PowerPoint presentations for shareholder meetings, and enjoyed ghostwriting for executives.

It was in 2012 my professional writing came to a fork in the road. I was introduced into the financial literacy community. There was a lot of good information available to consumers in the area of personal finances, particularly in the digital world. But, I wanted to introduce the idea of mastering the basics of money. I also wanted to write on topics in banking to help consumers understand the industry including its products and services.

As a result, we launched MoneyBasicsU.com magazine in late summer of 2012, and we have been going strong ever since!
Is it easy being a writer?
Yes and no. Writing is definitely hard work. But, when you absolutely love what you do, it isn't work.

From a practical standpoint, although writing doesn't involve physical labor, depending on my schedule, by the end of the day I can be absolutely exhausted. I keep a fairly aggressive editorial schedule. Plus, when writing and editing book manuscripts, it can be labor intensive. It's mentally tiring. When the final manuscript for the MMG Guide to Banking Basics for International Students was complete, we had reviewed numerous drafts before refining everything down to the last comma. And, now, we have already released a second edition at the time we published the MMG Guide to Banking Basics for College Students.

I actually enjoy the writing process better now that, as a business owner, I have more control over how my time is allocated. When I worked in corporate, I was forced to schedule writing time on the weekends, days off, and in the evening. Today, I have the luxury of writing at my peak production periods. I'm in my office writing between 3:30 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. every day!
Is managing personal finances today more complex than in past years?
Unfortunately, the answer is, yes. Financial literacy advocates are telling us the complexities of the financial marketplace, managing personal finances, and making good financial decisions has grown exponentially complex. And, with that complexity it is more difficult for busy consumers to remain on top of the finer points of money matters.

I am a firm believer that if consumers want to make the best money decisions possible, they must arm themselves with knowledge about money and as early as possible. It's one reason we have been focusing our recent publications to college students.

Enjoying a healthy financial life is like making changes in your physical health. You learn everything you can about what you want to change. Using the intelligence you've learned, you can make the best decisions for your health. When you're healthy, it impacts every area of your life in a positive way. The same is true with financial health.
What inspired you to create the MMG money guidebooks line?
As a small business owner, I'm always amazed at how circumstances lead to wonderful opportunities. In the case for developing the MMG money guidebooks line, it was the result of literally reading one sentence!

While browsing through my Pulse newsfeed, I came across an article written by an international college student. She was discussing her experience opening a U.S. checking account. In context, she mentioned the frustration of many of her peers regarding their lack of a solid understanding the U.S. banking system. I reviewed some college and bank websites. Although general information was provided on most of these websites, they lacked important details. It is these finer points that would help international students manage their accounts and bank relationships more effectively.

We launched our MMG money guidebooks with the MMG Guide to Banking Basics for International Students in 2015. We published a second edition at the same time we released the MMG Guide to Banking Basics for College Students in 2016.
How did you come up with the layout for the MMG money guidebooks?
The reality is everybody is so busy today. With that perspective in mind, we decided to use a question and answer format for our MMG money guidebooks. It seemed to us the most user-friendly approach. Readers can dig deep into the details, but manage the content on their own terms.

We like the layout because it offers a variety of experiences depending on the reader. You can review all the material in one sitting, skip to topics of interest, or come back at a later time to revisit specific facts when you need a refresher. And, best of all, through our distributor Smashwords, the MMG money guidebooks are available in every digital format so you can access your guidebooks whenever and however you want. We love the flexibility for our readers!
Can you tell us about the You Can Own Your Money Life financial literacy campaign for 2016?
We wanted to do something special this year to help the 20 million college students in the U.S. To celebrate Financial Literacy Month in April and throughout 2016, we launched the You Can Own Your Money Life campaign. We truly believe that if college students have the tools to successfully manage their finances, they can get a head start on life.

Financial decisions college students make today impact their lives for decades. They need a solid knowledge about money matters so they don't derail their future before it even begins. If you start out life behind the day you graduate, you're behind on savings. You're behind on credit. You can damage your credit rating by making wrong choices. The end game is struggling financially from the get-go, and it's hard to pull back from it.
Are you optimistic about the financial future of college students?
Absolutely! College students are smart, visionary, and are ready for a financial change for their generation. I believe we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in both education and financial capability. We can see that change is inevitable in these areas because only a new direction will create a sustainable environment.

Technology will certainly be impactful in ways we can't imagine. As for being smart about money matters, I've been talking about how financial capability is a new leadership skillset that the future demands. It is these graduating college students and others of their generation who are going to solve our money problems in all areas in this country and throughout the world.
Published 2016-03-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

MMG Guide to Banking Basics for College Students
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 23,590. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Banks & banking
As a college student, master how to successfully navigate the U.S. banking system. The MMG Guide to Banking Basics for College Students gives you the steps to find a bank, manage your accounts, and tap into other facts you need to know about banking and money.
Money Saving Tips for College Students
Price: Free! Words: 7,960. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance / money management
As a money smart college student, you know making good financial decisions now prepares you to enjoy financial wealth today and into the future. Money Saving Tips for College Students gives you 108 ideas and resources on how to save money without compromising your lifestyle.
MMG Guide to Banking Basics for International Students
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 21,510. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Banks & banking
As an international college student, take the worry out of navigating the U.S. banking system. The MMG Guide to Banking Basics for International Students gives you the steps to find a bank, manage your accounts, and tap into other facts you need to know about banking and money.
5 Reminders for Money Smart Living
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 8,820. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance
Isn’t it time to make your dream of financial success happen? 5 Reminders for Money Smart Living reviews the top five money issues and action steps to jump start your new money lifestyle. Included is a bonus chapter, Advice from the Money Makers, with quotes from Warren Buffett. Start enjoying the benefits of money smart living – peace of mind, choices, and a secure financial future.
The Fiscal Cliff: Are Your Money Safety Nets Ready?
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 13,160. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance / money management
Chairman Bernanke of the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office has warned of the fiscal cliff. Are you prepared for higher taxes, more unemployment, or a recession if the U.S. “falls over the cliff?” Prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Understand the issues of the fiscal cliff and build your safety nets to protect your financial position now and into the future.
Look Smart, Be Smart: How to Create a New Image for a New Job
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,360. Language: English. Published: July 11, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Careers
Do you like your job? Is how you make a living what you thought it would be? Are you one of the millions who got caught in the wave of unemployment? Look Smart, Be Smart gives you a three step plan to create a new image for a new job. See yourself transform into the confident, smart, and knowledgeable person you always imagined.