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Book review: Hot (Broke) Messes

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Two: The College Years: Keeping Up with the Jane Hoyas
When she went to college from such a financially tight background, Nancy seemed to feel fairly unworthy when she arrived at Georgetown. In order to undo that sense of inadequacy, she turned to the abundance of easy-to-acquire credit cards, using them to buy the material things that the people who “belonged” at Georgetown seemed to have. Again, this is a story I can really identify with (and I should write about at length at some point…). She offers several solutions to running into credit problems in college; I strongly agree with talking to your parents if you find yourself getting into consumer debt issues during your college years.

Three: Oops! I Did It Again, and Again, and Again
Much like myself, Nancy’s early professional life involved a lot of upheaval and a lot of personal and professional situations she wasn’t quite ready to handle – and that included her finances, which were often used as a panacea to soothe her problems. After all, after a bad breakup, why not just go to an expensive spa to make yourself feel better? Of course, this is a trap – all it does is greatly extend the period of upheaval in your life. You’ll just pay extensively for it later.

Four: Personal Finance 101
Here, the personal finance advice begins in earnest: getting a checking account, keeping your credit score under minimal control, and making sure your income taxes are paid. For most of us, this kind of thing is obvious, but for a surprising number of folks, these basic steps aren’t basic at all. I’ve met many people who are completely unaware that they should be paying income taxes at all, saying things like, “I thought filing taxes was just for rich people.”

Five: Take My Hand
The real key to personal finance is goal setting, and here Nancy talks about her first go-round with setting goals in her own life as they pertain to better personal finances. Why set goals? A well-stated goal embodies something you want deeply in your life and provides a very clear way for getting there, leaving it up to you to focus on what you need to do each and every day to move towards that goal. Of course, you don’t have to do it alone – use the people around you or even a certified financial planner for assistance.

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