Book Review: Hot Broke Messes

book review, Uncategorized / Friday, December 14th, 2012

I recently read Hot Broke Messes: How To Have Your Lattee and Drink It Too by Nancy Trejos. I checked it out from the library (saving money already!) and read through it in about a week. This book is a funny memoir of a former Washington Post personal finance writer’s financial journey.

This is the part about personal finance that I love: the personal part. I like to know how people make their financial mistakes and successes and what motivates their relationship with money. It was really interesting to read this book for that memoir feel and to read about another young professional in DC who was learning to get her finances on track.

The book also offers much practical advice that the author learns from her financial planner and along the way as she researches articles for her personal finance column at the Washington Post. She discusses student loans, mortgages, savings accounts, credit cards, and the general gamut of basic personal finance. I learned things I did not know, like the history of credit cards, and it made me think about how much I am really paying for something when I leave it on the card accruing interest. You also can learn from her mistakes as she talks about buying a condo with a gifted down payment from her mom then losing it as the result of a breakup and a downturn in the real estate market.

She also talks a lot about the emotional aspects of financial security and our personal relationships with money. Like the author, I too have had to call my parents and ask for a loan then kick myself repeatedly for making a decent salary and being an adult yet not being responsible enough to not run out of cash and rack up debt. Sadly, this happened in 2007 when I maxed out my credit card (due to roommates not paying rent and utilities, a vacation to Hawaii for my friends’ wedding, and God knows what else) and ran out of cash and had to call my folks to borrow $100 to pay for the metro to get to work and to buy some groceries. How humbling. Even worse, my folks found out about the card debt and gave me an interest free loan to pay it off so I wouldn’t have to pay all the finance charges. Then, since I hadn’t changed, I proceeded to rack up debt again. Now I owe my folks and the credit card company, who unfortunately raised my limit since I previously paid it off and now I have an even higher amount due. It’s good to know that other people, like Nancy Trejos, have been in these jackpots before and her story of how she came to grips with her relationship with money and got out of debt really helps give me hope.

Have you read Hot Broke Messes: How to Have Your Lattee and Drink it Too? What did you think? What other personal finance books would you recommend?