A copy of Monika Halan’s book Let’s Talk Money with the author seated in the background. (Image: Monika Halan)

Should You Read Monika Halan’s “Let’s Talk Money”?

Well it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me. Nothing wrong with the book. To the contrary, it’s an excellent read – riding on the author’s characteristic candour and domain expertise that equips her to explain financial concepts and instruments in the simplest manner without talking down to her audience.

But Monika Halan’s “Let’s Talk Money” left me filled with regret. For all the time and effort I had not spent on managing my money better. Well, managing it at all.

At this point you’re thinking – right, business journalist for decades and she’s a money dummy?!? No I’m not. I just never got around to it. For reasons that when said aloud seem stupid. No time. Other priorities. Too complex.

There are millions like me, the book says. “The scale of the problem freezes us.”

Halan, consulting editor at the Mint newspaper and a certified financial planner, puts the aversion to financial planning down to a few common shortcomings and fears...

IM A MONEY DUMMY

I HATE MAKING MISTAKES

WHAT IF I FIND A BETTER INVESTMENT?

Halan says she’s run into C-suite executives that make money by the fist load and yet have no idea where it all goes.

Shark-Infested Waters

Which isn’t to say my assertionthat the world of financial instruments is too complexis incorrect. Halan agrees. “Remember that it is in the interest of the financial sector to make you believe that you are a money dummy,” she says in one place in the book. “The more complicated you think the world is, the more they can obfuscate.”

Another instance is this statement that captures the reason why this book should succeed...

“You need to treat the insurance industry and those who sell the same like walking through reptile-infested waters...”

No Quick-Fixes


Let’s Talk Money sells nothing. There’s no mention of top mutual fund schemes to buy or fund managers to bet on or fancy structured products that will maximise your returns or insurance products that will make you feel cuddly, warm and secure.

The author’s effort is to point you in the right direction. She advocates two important principles:

  • Build a system, rather than a single-shot solution.
  • Remember that each financial product you buy must solve a problem you have.

That sounds simple but involves hard work. There are no quick fixes in the book. No short-cuts.

At the end, I counted what it’ll take to manage my money the Monika Halan way...

Three bank accounts, five types of insurance (health, life, critical illness, accident, home), three types of investment approaches, one emergency account and one retirement account.

I wonder if like in travel, in financial planning too, the journey is the destination. Monika?