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The Simple Dollar

Book review: Hot (Broke) Messes

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest.

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Six: The Kiss of Debt
Debt can feel overwhelming, especially when you see that you’re in debt far, far over your head. When you see balances that compare to your annual salary and interest being dumped on top of that, it feels impossible. What you need here is a plan – one that distinctly states what you need to do each and every month to move forward on that goal. It seems long and painful, but by having a plan and then utilizing every good thing that comes your way to further your progress towards that goal, you’ll find that it’s easier than you thought.

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Seven: Love and Money
Financial dependence is a dangerous thing, especially outside of a marriage. If you have a relationship that isn’t based on a long-term commitment and you’re financially dependent on your partner, you’re in a precarious situation that you should avoid. If you’re in a relationship with unequal finances, do not adjust your personal spending to a higher level because there are more resources available because, when the relationship ends, you’re likely to continue those habits and find yourself in a big financial hole.

Eight: To Have or Have Not
Everybody wants some material things. The route to success is to have a grip on your spending habits (meaning you clearly understand how much you can actually afford to spend in a given month) as well as some sensible shopping habits (meaning, for example, that you shop for clothes first at consignment stores and low-end shops instead of heading to a shop where you spend $800 on a tank top). I achieve this by having an allowance, researching my purchases, and waiting around for bargains instead of “needing” something now.

Nine: You’re So Vain
One big step is to stop worrying so much about what others think of you. The next step is to focus on less expensive ways to make yourself look and feel good. You don’t need $50 bottles of shampoo when a $5 one will get your hair perfectly clean (and, in my case, I’m talking a jumbo bottle for that $5). You don’t need tons of expensive makeup when just the basics leave you looking vibrant (or none at all – so many people look better without the makeup they wear). Stop getting your beauty advice from salesmen and those who just repeat the advice of salesmen.

Ten: The Price of Fun
It is far, far less expensive to entertain at home than it is to go out for entertainment, even if you’re consistently the host. That doesn’t mean you need to become a homebody per se, but it does mean that your wallet will thank you for changing up your entertainment a little bit instead of just doing the same things over and over. Explore some new things – potluck dinners, board games, and movie nights are highly recommended by me.

Eleven: Hot Wheels
Your car is not an expression of who you are. It’s an expensive device that helps you get from point A to point B efficiently. Once you grasp this idea – and then ask yourself if you need a car at all, and if you do, what features you actually need – you’ll find yourself buying much more appropriate vehicles, which means much less financial burden and debt just for that device that helps you move from point to point. To put it frankly, I would not own a vehicle if I lived in a place with mass transit.

Twelve: Good Debt, Bad Debt
Here, Trejos makes the typical “good debt, bad debt” comparison, where she identifies some types of debt as good (student loans, a fixed rate mortgage, your first car loan) and others as bad (credit card debt, mostly). I agree with this dichotomy only to a certain extent, mostly in a sense, for example, that some types of guns do less damage than others (pellet guns versus fully automatic rifles). No debt is really a good thing in the end.