Image that has absolutely nothing to do with this post but that I thought was a nice picture courtesy of Thomas Hawk from San Francisco, USA
Mary Hunt totally understands debt.
After 12 years of shopping 'til they dropped, she and her family found themselves in over $100,000 of unsecured debt (credit card debt, that is). Over a 13-year odyssey of relearning everything they knew about money, they paid off every last cent.
Many people would have declared bankruptcy and started over without learning a thing, but Mary felt it necessary to make good on the money they'd charged--and to make some very valuable life changes, which she now shares with others. To debt-proof our lives, Mary advises living on the 80/10/10 rule: Live on 80% or less of your income, set aside 10% for savings and retirement, and give 10% away to charity. "Giving just sort of quiets that greed," Mary says.
With her unparalleled understanding of debt and how to avoid it, Mary has since then become a motivational speaker and writer, founding both Debt-Proof Living and Everyday Cheapskate.
She also has the opportunity to sometimes be on television, for which I envy her. (One of my greatest and most-likely-to-be-unmet ambitions is to be interviewed on The Daily Show. Which is probably okay because I would freeze up in the presence of Jon Stewart, anyway.)
In honor of an upcoming television appearance by Mary, I am holding a giveaway of not one, but two, of her books! Next Monday, November 26, Mary will be featured on The Today Show. (Which I will finally forgive for axing Ann Curry.) That seems like a great reason to give away some of her sanity-saving writing on debt and money.
You have an opportunity to win one of two of Mary's books: Raising Financially Confident Kids or Debt-Proof Your Christmas. Each book has a retail value of $12.99, but they can be yours for free! Just post a comment to this blog between now and noon on Friday, November 30, telling me which book you are interested in. Two winners will be chosen randomly, one for each book.
If you're not sure which book you'd most like, check out these blurbs:
Raising Financially Confident Kids: "One of the most important lessons you can teach your kids is how to
handle their money. Unfortunately, for most of us, giving our kids a
financial education is an afterthought. Where do you start? And what if
you don't feel financially confident yourself?
In Raising Financially Confident Kids,
financial expert Mary Hunt draws from solid statistics and her own
hard-won knowledge and experience as a mom who made it back from the
brink of financial ruin to help you teach your children how to handle
money responsibly. From preschool through the teen years, every stage of
your child's development is covered, including how to talk to them
about money at each age, how to help them start saving money and giving
it away, and how to avoid the pitfalls of easy credit and a culture
built on debt.
Money can't buy your children happiness. But
giving them the skills to manage their money will allow them to take
control of their future and work toward successful and satisfying lives."
Mensch here: I love that she draws on solid statistics. Maybe that's just the geek in me, but I really appreciate money writing that uses hard numbers to explain things.
Debt-Proof Your Christmas: "Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also one
of the most stressful--and most expensive. Expectations run high and
it's tempting to whip out the credit cards to create the perfect
Christmas for your family, with lavish meals, new decorations, and the
latest, greatest gadgets and fashions for everyone on your Christmas
gift list. But you don't have to overspend or go into debt to have a
Financial expert Mary Hunt shows readers how.
She helps readers assess their financial situation, commit to no new
debt, and think creatively about their gift list. With Mary's guidance,
readers will identify what has caused them to overspend in the past and
approach this Christmas with a plan and a new attitude toward holiday
spending. This just might be the best gift you can give yourself and
Mensch here: You only have to read my rant from yesterday about Black Friday to know that I agree about dialing down the money hemorrhaging each holiday season. Just say no to the all-consuming message that nothing says I love you like crippling debt.
Basically, I think Mary and I would get along just fine. I look forward to watching her on The Today Show next Monday, and I hope you'll take the time to see her, as well. And please comment to win one of her books!