About Tanja

“If the FIRE women have a matriarch, it’s Tanja Hester.”

— New York Times

“A female financial influencer you should be following.”

U.S. News

Tanja Hester, author of two award-winning books — 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 a broad range of conferences and events, 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.

From New York Times:



  • 2022 Nautilus Book Awards gold award for best social change & social justice book: Wallet Activism
  • 2022 Axiom Business Book Awards gold medal for best philanthropy/nonprofit/sustainability book: Wallet Activism
  • 2022 American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) award for best service book: Wallet Activism
  • 2020 Plutus Award Best Content for Women: The Fairer Cents (top honor in the personal finance media community)
  • 2019 Plutus Awards Best New Personal Finance Book: Work Optional
  • 2019 Plutus Awards Best Personal Finance Podcast for Women: The Fairer Cents
  • 2019 Plutus Awards Community Builder Award
  • 2018 Plutus Awards Blog of the Year: Our Next Life
  • 2017 Plutus Awards Best FIRE/Financial Independence Blog: Our Next Life
  • U.S. News female financial influencer you should be following
  • Forbes, one of “The 9 FIRE Blogs You Should Read”
  • The Simple Dollar Awards 2020, best podcast
  • The Balance best podcast for women and top 8 finance podcast of 2020
  • Mic, a “podcast worth your time”
  • Forbes, “podcast you should be listening to”
  • Essence Magazine recommended podcaster