On occasion some kind publishers send me books for me to review and read. So far most of these books have been a little out of my league, or a little obtuse (financially) for me, however, I got a call a while back from the Penguin Group and they asked if I’d like to have a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Out of Debt (by Ken Clark CFP) and I said I would love to read this.
I am a big fan of The Complete Idiot series of books, because they are usually an excellent introduction to the topic at hand and covered a large area of the topic so you had a good grounding on the topic (I have read a bunch of the books on High Tech topics), so I was curious to see what a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Out of Debt book might be like.
Overall Review: Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting out of Debt is a Good Read
The book is what I expected a good general view on the topic of how to get out of debt (for my Canadian readers, it has a more yankee angle on some specific topics, but most of the topics are very good no matter which side of the border you live on).
The author takes the time to try to put his reader at ease about being in debt, since that is one of the biggest problem with debt, a lot of people think it is impossible to get out of it, so they don’t even try, but Ken Clark CFP wants you to try, and he gives you some very helpful ideas.
In Part 1 Mr. Clark talks about how debt works, which is a good introduction or refresher for folks who may need some helpful hints about how they got where they are. An important review of the author’s opinion of what Good and Bad debt is, while a little general, is informative. Mr. Clark does point out that Pay Day Loans are, “… a ridiculously bad idea…”, which I concur and resonate with. After reviewing the math of compound interest (and how debt grows quickly), Mr Clark talks about Debt Denial and the steps to fight against it (de-nial is not just a river in Egypt), and the sooner you accept your debt and plan on how to get out of it, the happier you will be.
The book runs through the important steps of getting out of debt:
- Creating a debt reduction plan ( a realistic one that you can stick with)
- Controlling your cash flow (not spending more than you make, in fact spending much less so you have funds to pay back your debt).
- How to make and stick to a budget (the B-word scares a lot of people, but remember a budget is just a plan).
- How your budget can fail, and how to get back on track, if you have a bump in the road.
Mr. Clark also covers some getting out of debt ideas that can backfire if you are not careful. I think it’s important to point these areas out, so that folks don’t simply latch onto any and all ideas thinking there may be risks involved.
There is a section about the other B-Word (Bankruptcy) that is very American explaining how this procedure works in the U.S., but still interesting to read about how the process works down south.
The book ends with an optimistic and important section about how to live after you get out of debt. There is a real danger to go back to old habits once you have succeeded getting out of debty (much like weight loss plans), so staying out of debt is an important skill to develop as well. I really like the section about the importance of teaching your children good financial skills, so they don’t make the same mistakes we made.
All in all a very fun read for me, and an excellent refresher on the tools and tactics for debt reduction. It is well written and the topics flow in a good order and I enjoyed Mr. Clark’s attempts at personalizing the issue of debt (with his own experiences and other folks). I would strongly suggest folks read this book if they are in debt, and feel like there is nothing they can do about it, this book will help get them moving forward.
Thanks to Penguin publishing for sending me this informative and helpful book.