A Q&A With Jesse Mecham on Hacking Your Bookseller Salary

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    “Bookselling 101: Hacking Your Bookseller Salary,” a 2018 Winter Institute education session from author and certified public accountant Jesse Mecham, will provide booksellers attending the Memphis event with helpful tips for creating a budget that aligns with their priorities and gives them peace of mind. 

    Jesse Mecham
    Jesse Mecham

    Mecham is the author of You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want, to be published on December 26 by Harper Business.

    In 2004, to help him and his new wife, Julie, watch their money, Mecham founded You Need a Budget (YNAB), an online resource that gives users the tools they need to increase their financial IQ and make their money work for them. While studying for his master of accountancy degree at Brigham Young University, Mecham put his knack for numbers to work to develop a system to track their expenses, which ultimately became YNAB.

    YNABcoverIn “Bookselling 101: Hacking Your Bookseller Salary,” Mecham will put his business lessons to work by teaching attendees how they personally can change the way they think about their money. He will teach attendees his “Four Rules,” walking them through hilarious, true examples of money mistakes, and what they can do today to start having their money line up with what really matters.

    Mecham’s session will be held from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, in L10/L11/L12 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, where the American Booksellers Association’s 13th annual Winter Institute will take place from January 22–25, 2018.

    Bookselling This Week recently spoke with Mecham about the most common mistake people make when it come to managing their money, why his book’s advice works for people at every income level, and his admiration for independent bookstore owners. 


    Bookselling This Week: What will your session at Winter Institute be about and what form will it take?

    Jesse Mecham: We are going to tackle the root cause of money stress, why it exists, and how to rid ourselves of it at any income level. We’ll discuss some common money management pitfalls and then view our money through a lens that will change how booksellers view their money — forever.

    As far as the form it will take, light on slides and heavy on stories and audience input. 

    BTW: What is the most common mistake that people make when it comes to managing their money?

    JM: They approach money management from a view of restriction instead of abundance. They see it incorrectly as a tool of deprivation instead of a tool for achieving their life’s goals. 

    BTW: What financial advice would you give booksellers that is specific to their industry and/or typical salary level?

    JM: The advice I give applies to people at every income level because we’ve found that higher income is not a predictor of lower money-related stress. The advice is this: Figure out what you truly want in life and then ask yourself one question every time you are paid: What should this money do before I’m paid again?

    BTW: What in your own life led you to recognize the value of good money management? And what led to writing about it?

    JM: I’ve always been drawn to personal finance, ever since I started recording what I was spending as a 16-year-old kid (lots spent on tacos!). I started writing about it purely as a way to help myself and then I quickly realized that everybody needs to make sure their money is lining up with their priorities. When it isn’t, they feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unhappy. When money is behaving, you feel peace in all aspects of your life. It’s something worth getting right because it affects every other part of our lives. 

    BTW: What has been your personal experience with independent bookstores?

    JM: When I see a store, I MUST GO IN. I’m a sucker for books, but indie bookstores take that up a few levels because they’ll curate for me. I go in saying I want to learn about some obscure topic and they won’t look at me as if I’m from Mars! Instead it’s almost as if I see my own curiosity reflected back at me, and they share it instantly. I’ve had that same experience happen in multiple cities, so I think it’s common to independent bookstore owners and I love them for it.


    “Bookselling 101: Hacking Your Bookseller Salary” will take place in L10/L11/L12 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, January 25.

    Winter Institute 13 is made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor Ingram Content Group and from publishers large and smallSee the full Winter Institute program here.