Tanja Hester, author of Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way and Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change, is best known for retiring from her career at the age of 38, after watching her dad get forced into early retirement by his disability, which she inherited. Though her book Work Optional is geared toward nearly everyone, it was inspired by her desire to help others with disabilities retire on their own terms, rather than be subjected to our insufficient disability safety net system.

During her career, Tanja worked as a consultant on behalf of progressive political and issue campaigns, and before that as a public radio journalist, experience she now combines in her writing, her podcasting, and her activism for social and environmental justice. In her forthcoming book Wallet Activism, Tanja focuses on illuminating the many ways our financial impact choices impact others as well as the planet, urging us not to make the choices that feel “woke” but ultimately have little impact, and instead focus on making shifts that truly lead to change.

Tanja spends most of her time now tending her permaculture garden, volunteering in her community, enjoying the outdoors around her home in Lake Tahoe, California, as well as writing her award-winning blog Our Next Life, producing her podcast Wallet Activism, writing the occasional opinion piece for MarketWatch, giving talks on progressive financial topics, and pushing for more inclusivity and diversity in personal finance. Tanja previously cohosted the award-winning podcast The Fairer Cents, she has spoken at Google, Tesla and a broad range of conferences, and she has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, MONEY Magazine, Vice Media, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, LifeHacker, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, and media outlets around the world. Tanja is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Before moving to Tahoe, she spent most of her career in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Other Works

  • Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way


Awards and Recognition

  • Plutus Awards Best New Personal Finance Book 2019, Work Optional
  • Plutus Awards 2018 Blog of the Year
  • Plutus Awards 2017 Best Financial Independence Blog