Saturday, May 3, 2014

Put your money on a diet

With the rise of easy credit, many people find themselves in over their heads when it comes to their finances. The book The 21 Day Financial Fast attempts to help people reign in their spending by giving them a daily lesson on finances and a daily assignment, both in the context of being on a financial fast -- not spending money for 21 days.

The author uses Biblical principles to underlie most of her ideas.  At the same time, she incorporates a lot of common sense into her suggestions.  The main ideas are the usual ones:  set a budget and stick to it, cut out non-essential spending (after defining "non-essential" -- cable is not essential), get over feelings of entitlement, etc.  By going on a three week spending fast, the author hopes to re-condition the reader to break out of negative spending habits that have resulted in debt and financial problems.

Each of the 21 chapters that relate to one day of the fast begins with a main point and a pledge to help focus on what negative habit or positive change will be worked on that day.  Some of the topics include "the Salvation of Saving," "Marrying Your Money" and "the Curse of Credit."  There are also testimonials sprinkled throughout from people who have followed the fast and gotten their finances under control.

Most of the information was pretty obvious, but for people in dire financial difficulties, I can see how following the daily guidelines set up in the book would be beneficial (although if someone really needs to be told to take their property tax amount, divide it by 12, an set aside that much per month so they can pay their taxes, they are probably beyond help!).  I did find some of her advice to be a bit questionable.  For instance, she is very big on tithing, which is fine, but she goes so far as to suggest that people go to non-profit agencies or churches for food and clothing aid, so people don't have to tap "into your tithe to pay your expenses." So, you may have enough money to pay your expenses, but better to get handouts so you can give your own money away?  This makes no sense, especially as advice for those who are financially challenged to begin with.

Still, for people who have absolutely no idea how to control their money, this step-by-step program offers some concrete steps to take.  The back of the book includes budgeting forms and expense journals to help people keep better track of where their money is going.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for this review.

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