When I first started to plan and write my own book on debt (“Back to the Black” – see below) I naturally trawled the bookshops to skim, then buy and read, other books on the topic. I wanted to find out to what extent the subject had already been covered. Was it worth writing another book, or had the subject been done to death already?
VERY FEW BOOKS?
I found, to my surprise, that there were very few books on how to deal with personal debt problems. I bought and read most of them, because I didn’t want my book simply to rehash what had already been said. When I say there were very few books, I mean print books by British authors on the shelves of British bookshops. Of course there are far fewer British bookshops nowadays, but that’s another story.
UK / US DIFFERENCES?
I then found there were a few more that were only available as e-books, which is the way I decided to publish first. What I also found was that there were many, many more e-books by US authors. Of course that’s a bigger market (population five times higher) but there must be other reasons for the difference because it’s out of all proportion to that ratio. When I’ve figured it out I shall get back to the question in another post.
“MAKING FRIENDS WITH MONEY”
All that was a couple of years ago. Sitting on my desk today is a more recent addition to the market and I think it’s a valuable one. Its remit is wider than mine, which was simply about debt and how to handle it.
Sanni Kruger is a financial coach. She runs the local (Bristol, UK) branch of Debtors Anonymous and she’s published “Making Friends With Money: how to start feeling wealthy without waiting till you’re rich.” As the title suggests, her message is that it’s not just a matter of how much money you have; it’s also about attitude, about mind-set. Her chapter headings give a flavour of the content: feeling better about money; getting a grip on your finances; using cashflow planning to build your wealth; getting on top of debt; cashflow management from day to day; surviving the money jungle; the light at the end of the tunnel; and finally: achieving what really matters to YOU.
LEFT-BRAIN THINKING FIRST
Ms Kruger’s background is in book-keeping and accounting, so it’s no surprise that there is plenty of detail here about budgeting and cashflow planning. That’s a subject that is a challenge for many people, including me. Perhaps it should be taught in schools but that’s another question. The coverage of this subject is sound, as you’d expect. However, the advice I liked best in this section of the book was to have two bank accounts; one main one which was simply and in-and-out vehicle for one’s regular / predictable income (be it wages or salary, benefits, pensions etc) and one’s committed / predictable expenditures, which should exit via direct debits; then you work out what’s left after the regular / committed expenditures and transfer that amount to the second account, which Ms Kruger calls the “D2D” (Day-to-Day) account. That way you get a better handle on how much you have available for discretionary purchases and for any expenditure which is regular but variable if you get my drift, e.g. food shopping. Keeping an eye on the balance in the D2D account tells me when I ought to go to Lidl / Aldi and when I could afford an occasional splurge at Waitrose.
That was very useful but in the last few chapters the book gets more into the bigger picture, or longer-term goals; right-brain thinking or whatever you want to call it. I liked the final chapter on “achieving what really matters to YOU” (Ms Kruger’s capitalisation) because that includes a kind of “hierarchy of needs” approach as it applies to money. To take as an example the specific area my book covers, she suggests these levels of debt repayment:
Level 1: nothing can be repaid
Level 2: more than zero, i.e. £1+ per month: (Ms Kruger, like me, knows that paying £1 / month to every creditor still has value)
Level 3: More than £25 / month to each creditor
Level 4: More than £200 / month to each creditor
Level 5: no debt to repay – ever again.
OK, the numbers will vary according to each person’s circumstance but the principle of working one’s way up the different levels seems good to me. Similarly on transport, she suggests that one might visualise progress (“a journey”, as they say) from Level 1: “enough money for public transport; lifts from friends”; to Level 5: “new car of my dreams and the money for running costs etc etc, plus enough money in car replacement fund to change it at least every 2 years; public transport (first class) or taxis when desired.”
As you might guess from this section, the book closes with a further section entitled “living your dream.” Lots of other self-help books talk about that topic but Ms Kruger’s book gives people the practical tools to achieve it and the mindset to start feeling wealthy even before you become rich. Just as it says on the tin; or in the subtitle anyway. A worthwhile read.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
On Sanni Kruger’s book “Making friends with money: how to start feeling wealthy without waiting till you’re rich”
Go to www.holisticmoneymanager.com to order. Hard copy (comb-bound A4) £12; downloadable .pdf £7.20, or in four sections each £1.99
On my own book about managing debt, “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”.
eBook only. To sample for free, or purchase (all versions around £0.70 / $0.99):