12 September 2008

You're Broke Because You Want To Be

One reading genre that always sucks me in is the financial advice book. I'll admit that I am guilty of looking for a magic bullet in these books. I keep thinking that there is something I haven't thought of yet that will improve our finances. This attitude led me to pick up You're Broke Because You Want to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead by Larry Winget. He is the plain-talking host of a show on A&E called Big Spender, where he tries to turn around people's finances through tough talk and exposure to budgeting basics.

The language in the book matches the way Winget talks in the show. I could hear his voice in my head as I read it. Whereas Suze Orman sounds a bit New Age to me at times, Winget reminds me of the high-school dropout who works at the mill and obtained all of his knowledge through life experience.

While the writing style makes the book accessible to a wide range of people, the advice Winget gives is also very basic. This is not a book you pick up to learn about money market accounts and IRAs. Winget is talking to the average middle-class person who has gone nuts with credit-card spending and now can't seem to get herself out of debt. So if you have already paid off your debts and are looking for the next step, this book is not for you.

Since I have read several financial books, there wasn't much that was new to me within the covers of Winget's book. However, I did appreciate his attitude about a few things. Right off the bat, in the introduction, Winget made sure to expound on the difference between "poor" and "broke". The truly poor folks aren't the ones that he is aiming his advice at, and there are a lot of people who cry poverty when they are just broke because of their own bad decisions.

Winget is also an advocate of self-education and self-improvement. In several parts of the book he advises people to turn off their TVs and cancel their high-speed internet access in favor of reading and exercise. Most of the non-work-related skills that I've learned have come from books, so I'm a big believer in teaching yourself new things. I just wish he had given more examples of how to translate reading into earning money.

Overall, You're Broke Because You Want to Be won't teach most people anything new. It is useful as a pep talk, though. The stories of how hard Winget and his friends worked to get what they have reminded me to quit my whining. I wouldn't mind having this and his other books on my shelf just for a periodic kick in the pants.

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