GET THE HELL OUT OF DEBT

“If you carry consumer debt and you feel trapped in the cycle of minimum payments and maxed out accounts,” writes Kelly in her book, “you are right where the system wants you to be.” Setting aside the old advice of always having six months of rent and expenses in a savings account (and noting how inadequate the pandemic showed that counsel to be), the author seeks in these pages to show her readers some new ways to think about personal finance and the elimination of debt. The recurrent theme running through all her recommendations is the value of knowledge: Readers are urged to review their financial numbers until those figures are familiar rather than intimidating or depressing. “I want you to have comfort and ease with your numbers,” she writes. “But that comes from first getting acquainted with them, and then getting intimate.” Throughout the book, she’s unflinchingly realistic, acknowledging that once her readers have totaled up their entire net worth, they may likely realize they are very, very broke. To address these and other cold realities, Kelly provides a recovery strategy in three phases: planning, paying off consumer debt, and, most importantly, following up these two by investing and building wealth, so as not to fall back into the debt cycle again. The author has been on both sides of the problem she’s describing, having once been over $2 million in debt and having also taught budgeting for many years to clients whose personal finances were a mess. This depth of experience, combined with her friendly, completely encouraging tone, gives her manual an approachability often missing from books of this kind. Readers in all states of financial disrepair will find sound, helpful, and illuminating advice in these pages.

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