Money at 30: My Favorite Personal Finance Reviews of 2019 Money at 30: My Favorite Personal Finance Reviews of 2019
Book covers and app logos for top reviewed items in 2019

Money at 30: My Favorite Personal Finance Reviews of 2019

For Thanksgiving, I shared a list of some financial tool “turkeys” I encountered throughout the year. However, the truth is that I happen to enjoy the majority of the apps, books, credit cards, etc. that I get the chance to review. Given this fact — and considering that the year’s end is just over a week away — it seemed only appropriate to spend this Christmas Eve looking at some of my favorite personal finance reviews from 2019.

Work Optional by Tanja Hester

Back in February, I was given the opportunity to read Our Next Life blogger and The Fairer Cents podcaster Tanja Hester’s book Work Optional. What I found was an enjoyable and motivating read that made FIRE (financial independence, retire early) seem far more feasible than anything else I had consumed up to that point. Notably I also appreciated Hester’s slight rebranding of FIRE as “work optional,” as I thought it better explained the allure of financial independence than “early retirement”… although the full name of the book includes the subtitle “Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way” so what do I know?

Funny enough, a few months after reading the book, I got to see Hester deliver a keynote at FinCon 2019. Just like in her book, Hester was funny, informative, and inspirational. Therefore I not only recommend picking up Work Optional but also suggest checking out her other work as well.

SoFi Money

As someone who wants to get as hands-on as possible with everything I’m reviewing, I have far too many bank accounts these days. Ironically, in most cases, there’s not even that much to say about these accounts aside from the basics. Yet, in the case of SoFi Money, I found something that seemed special to me.

First, while I was a bit skeptical of SoFi’s hybrid account approach, I realized that I actually really appreciated the combination of a savings and checking account. Perhaps I’d feel differently if I were locking away cash in a savings account to keep it safe from myself but I think the idea of having access to my money while still earning a strong APY is a winner. What’s more, traveling with my SoFi Money debit card has been great as the account reimburses any ATM fees I incur when taking out cash and doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. That latter feature especially came in handy when, for some reason, my credit card accidentally got locked while abroad.

For those reasons and more, SoFi Money has quickly become my most-used bank account outside of my primary Wells Fargo checking.


Just as there’s not a lot of variety when it comes to bank accounts, I sometimes worry about reviewing new personal finance apps as I fear that their functions will just prove repetitive. It was to my surprise then that Emma managed to build a number of unique features into their budgeting tool. From its aesthetically pleasing design and helpful analytics to its fun weekly quizzes (that I still have yet to win), Emma definitely gained my respect — and has continued to impress me as they roll out regular updates.


These days, there are a ton of peer to peer payment apps, from Square Cash to Venmo to PayPal and beyond. Despite that, Mezu has managed to come up with something that does things a bit differently. Using taglines such as “The Undersharing App” and “Just Like Cash. But Smarter,” Mezu puts an emphasis on its private money-sending options.

Among the clever features Mezu offers are the ability to send money just by having the recipient enter a four-digit number and the option to anonymously drop money into a MezuBox. Additionally the app offers a digital debit card that users can generate in seconds and use via mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. I’m also a fan of their Mezu MoneyTime broadcasts that enable viewers to win cash — although these are sadly on hiatus for the moment.

While Mezu might not be the most well-known P2P app, I definitely think it has a lot of potential and serves an important function. For that reason I’m all too happy to give it another shout out.

Broke Millennial Takes on Investing by Erin Lowry

This year I actually made a point to review Erin Lowry’s Broke Millenial book in anticipation of this follow-up hitting store shelves. As a newbie investor, I was really looking forward to gaining more insight into what I should be doing with my money and demystifying things like index funds a bit more. Thankfully Lowry delivered.

Like her previous book, Broke Millennial Takes on Investing also sports a “choose your own adventure” intro that directs readers toward the chapters that will be the most helpful to them. Beyond that ingenious set-up, I also appreciated Lowry’s humor, anecdotes, and knack for explaining complicated concepts in accessible and interesting ways. The result is a book I not only enjoyed reading and learning from but one that I also loved reviewing.

Sure, this post might not have much to do with the holidays, but let me leave you with a few takeaways. First, if you’re still searching for a stocking stuffer (or perhaps a gift for yourself), maybe consider grabbing a copy of Work Optional or Broke Millennial Takes on Investing. Next, if you’re looking to get back on track budget-wise after the shopping season, Emma might be a good option for you. And lastly, if you’re in need of some better ways to stash and transfer your cash in 2020, SoFi Money and Mezu may just appeal to you. With that, Merry Christmas!


Kyle Burbank

Head Writer ~ Fioney
Kyle is the head writer for Fioney. He is a personal finance nerd, constantly looking for new apps and services to test and incorporate into his own financial game plan. In addition to his role at Fioney, he's written for other publications including Born2Invest, Lifehack, and Laughing Place, as well as his own site Money@30. He also creates personal finance and travel-related videos for Money@30's YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 2 million views. Currently, Kyle resides in Springfield, Missouri with his wife of 10 years. Together, they enjoy traveling (including visiting Disney Parks around the world), dining, and playing with their dog Rigby.

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

A Practical Renters Guide From a Lifelong Renter

For those of us who can’t afford to buy a home, just don’t want to buy a home, or who enjoy the freedom to move around as we please, renting can be a great option. According to Census Bureau data, 35% of U.S. households rent — including 61.5% of those living in apartments and 26.7% of those in houses.  This means that, for a huge portion of Americans, renting is...
Varo logo

Varo Bank Introduces "Varo to Anyone" Payment Feature

FinTech-turned-bank Varo has unveiled a new feature that gives customers another option for sending money to friends and family. About the feature: Varo Bank has announced the launch of its new Varo to Anyone feature. As the name implies, this addition will allow users to send money to anyone who has a debit card. This feature replaces Varo to Varo, which was limited to those who already had an account...
Equifax, Experion, and TransUnion logos

Credit Bureaus Make Free Weekly Credit Reports Permanent

The three major credit bureaus in the United States have announced that consumers will be able to access their credit reports for free going forward. What's happening: This week, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion confirmed that the pandemic-era feature that allows consumers to obtain their credit reports up to one time per week will now be permanent. Originally rolled out in 2020, this capability has since been extended multiple times and...
The "Email" field is empty, you must enter some text to proceed.The text you entered in the "Email" field appears to be invalid, please edit it and try again
Get the Latest News Delivered to Your Inbox

FedEx Announces Winners of 11th Annual 2023 Small Business Grant Contest

Nearly three months after the entry period ended, FedEx has announced the winners of its 11th annual Small Business Grant Content. This year's event saw more than $300,000 in funds going to a variety of small businesses across the nation. Last month, the company revealed 100 finalists, with that list now being narrowed down to just 10 winners. This year's grand prize winners included KindVR, The Cupcake Collection, Up In...
Summer app

Student Loan Benefit FinTech Summer Raises $6 Million

For years, student debt has been one of the most talked about financial topics. What's more, while the debt itself has become a major part of many Americans' lives, discussion of student loans has become political due to efforts to forgive certain loan repayments. However, while we wait for resolution on that front, a FinTech that brings student debt benefit solutions to employers and consumers has raised a new round...
Melissa Urban holding a Ness card

Health and Wellness Rewards Card Ness Partners with Whole30

In recent years, several unique rewards cards have come to market. These include offerings from FinTech startups as well as brands looking to do something special for their loyal fans. On that note, a recently-announced rewards credit card offering is now working with a popular brand to introduce new benefits for customers. This week, the Ness Card (which is issued by The Bank of Missouri) unveiled a new partnership with...
Choice Privileges Select Card

Choice Hotels, Wells Fargo Debut Choice Privileges Select Card

With spring well underway and the summer travel season now just around the corner, Choice Hotels and Wells Fargo have unveiled their latest co-branded credit card offering. Today, the two companies announced the Choice Privileges Select Mastercard. Carrying an annual fee of $95, this card will serve as the premium option in the hotel brand's new lineup. Looking at the Choice Privileges Select, it offers a mix of rewards categories....
H-E-B and Central Market  credit cards

Imprint Launches Credit Cards from H-E-B and Central Market 

The FinTech Imprint is partnering with the popular Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B for a pair of new rewards credit cards. This week saw the launch of the H-E-B Visa Signature Credit Card as well as the Central Market Visa Signature Credit Card. With these two (nearly identical) options, customers will be able to earn rewards on groceries and beyond. First, both versions of the card earn up to 5% back on select...