It’s a literal case of “small change”: Pieces of financial advice are a dime a dozen these days. It can be impossible to immediately identify which are essential—and which amount to a mess of tarnished pennies.
Andrew Schrage understands this dilemma and founded Money Crashers, a financial services content hub, to help regular people who lack financial training—a common deficiency due to a lack of emphasis within our education system. He spoke to Talking Biz News about his history with the company, what he handles on a day-to-day basis, and which topics he feels aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
Talking Biz News: How did you first get into what you are currently doing professionally?
Andrew Schrage: I’ve always been passionate about personal finance. A lot of the credit for this goes to my parents, who from a very young age went out of their way to teach me basic financial principles: spending, saving, budgeting, even investing.
As I got older, it became clearer that many people in my life didn’t share that passion—not because they didn’t care about money or providing for themselves and their families, but because we, as a society, don’t do a great job of teaching basic personal finance concepts.
I’m fortunate that I learned early on how important it is to spend less than you earn and to start investing early so that compound interest can start working its magic. And later, when I was old enough to work outside the house, my parents and mentors helped me understand the importance of financial self-sufficiency. That eventually led me to take control of my own financial life, and while working full-time at a hedge fund, I launched Money Crashers, despite the risks inherent in business ownership.
We founded Money Crashers to make this information accessible to people who didn’t learn about it in school. We’re doing our small part to increase financial literacy and help people take control of their money.
TBN: What have you learned about business writing along the way that you couldn’t have learned in a classroom?
Schrage: Authenticity is everything. People want to hear from messengers that they can relate to and whose stories resemble their own, even when the topic is really basic or fundamental. If you really want your writing to stand out, write from the heart. Include personal stories where appropriate and don’t forget to add a few dashes of humor.
TBN: What does a day in your life look like?
Schrage: We’re fortunate to cover a subject with endless possibility and potential. We’ve been at this for years and still find new ground to cover because the world of personal finance changes all the time. Our overriding goal is to increase our readers’ financial literacy and help them take control of their financial destiny, and we never lose sight of that. We treat every day as a fresh opportunity to teach our audience something new. And every day is a little different: One day might feature a backlog of reader and writer pitches to go through, another might bring some breaking news we need to cover right away, and so on. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.
TBN: What do you consider as the keys to successful financial content?
Schrage: Other than authenticity and personal connections, the key to successful business and finance content is simplicity. That might sound strange coming from someone who covers complicated financial topics every day, but it’s important to remember that no one can be an expert in everything. If we want our readers to be more comfortable making financial decisions on their own, we have to make sure they’re not overwhelmed or discouraged at the start.
TBN: How do you psych yourself up in this line of work when you’re feeling discouraged?
Schrage: We’re fortunate to have millions of readers. Every publisher has days when they feel like they’re not breaking through, or their message is getting lost in the noise. But it’s helpful to remember just how many people we’ve helped in their personal finance journeys. When I’m feeling like we’re not helping anything, I take a few minutes to read user feedback—email, social media—and remind myself that we really do make a difference.
TBN: What topic do you think doesn’t get enough coverage these days?
Schrage: The importance of a comprehensive, long-term financial plan. A lot of
personal finance content focuses on quick fixes and, worse, get-rich-quick schemes. Some topics along these lines are interesting and even helpful to the average person, if only to show them what to avoid.
In the meantime, the “boring” stuff gets lost in the shuffle or not talked about at all. Sure, creating a comprehensive financial plan that extends from the present into your golden years might not sound like fun, and yes, it’s a lot of work. But we know from experience and study that a financial plan is crucial if you want to maintain or improve your standard of living as you age and ensure you’re not a burden on your loved ones. We’d like to see more finance content creators recognize this, rather than focus on financial fads that may or may not last.