on May 22, 2000
I first read this book almost by accident in September of 1997. I was browsing through a bookstore out of town, and there it was. I thought $7 couldn't hurt. I've tried everything else. Why not this book?
Well, 2 1/2 years later, I've been able to pay off more debt than I care to mention. ($20,000+ comes to mind as a fairly accurate figure). I have often wondered what makes a self-help book really helpful. There are several things about this book that I really liked.
The first is that it is not a book about investments and how to get rich quick. It's not about depriving yourself either. It really doesn't give any specific financial advice which is why I liked it so much. There are other books for stuff like that.
Probably the single most important lesson in this book, and one which has changed my life immensely, is stop borrowing money. Just stop. Do it one day at a time. When I started on my debt repayment plan, I didn't worry so much about paying off my debt as much as not taking on any new debt. If that sounds simplistic, well it is. That's the whole point of this book. It's simple. It's not easy. If you want to heal, stop the bleeding. People who are in the rat race of juggling credit cards are bleeding cash every month. Stop the bleeding first, and then you start to heal.
Another lesson I learned is the monthly spending record. My friends howl when I suggest this. Keep track of every penny, yes every penny, that comes into your life and out of your life. I can say with conviction that that suggestion alone, coupled with not taking on new debt, will make your life so much different, you'll wonder in amazement. The author suggests keeping a weekly spending record and transferring it to a monthly record. I keep just a monthly record. It takes up very little time. It's also very eye opening how much money flows right out the expense column every month. The benefit of this is it allows you to make adjustments and find out where you are bleeding. It's not enough to guess. Until you write down everything, you will never fully understand where your money problems are. You can use a computer spreadsheet or you can do what I do which is write it down on old fashioned paper.
Another lesson this book taught me is that you don't need a credit card. Now there's a revolutionary concept. If you really think about it, how many people in your life including yourself say, "I need a credit card for emergencies." Hogwash! I've had two genuine emergencies in my life where I needed money and needed it fast. Well guess what? I had two choices, I could pay with a credit card or I could pay with cash. I paid with cash. Funny how many people accept cash as a payment these days. If you want to get out of debt, get out of the credit card habit. Use a debit card. I use my Visa debit card for all my amazon.com purchases, and it works beautifully. Same as cash.
One more thing, if you use credit cards and you pay interest every month, do you realize you're making the bank rich? Do you realize you're working for the bank? Whether you like it or not, that's true. Here's another lesson. Look over your credit card balances right now and ask yourself out of all the money you owe, how much stuff do you have to show for it?
Why do I give this book 5 stars? Well, I can divide my life into two time periods. The first time period was everything that happened up until september 14, 1997 which is the day I bought the book, and everything that has happened since then. I have no credit card debt at all since reading that book. I do have a credit card (okay, I cheat) with a $350 limit only to rebuild my credit. I pay it off every month. One word of caution, reading this book can be frustrating at times because you will come to the full realization that your attitude about money is completely wrong and that you are overwhelmed with debt that will take a long time to pay off. Relax. Once you start paying off your debt, it's all downhill. It picks up speed as you go along. I know, I've done it. Thanks Jerrold Mundis for writing this book. I've saved thousands of dollars in interest because of it.
on February 17, 2004
Mundis has been where you are. He's struggled with massive debt, considered bankruptcy, felt despair over low income and climbing credit card balances.
After years of struggle, he found the way out. His method is based on the principles of Debtor's Anonymous, and the keys to the method are these three steps:
1) One day at a time, you don't incur any new debt.
2) You keep an accurate daily spending record.
3) You stick to your spending plan.
Notice I didn't say "three EASY steps." People struggling with debt often find the steps difficult, maybe even impossible, to implement. Why? Lots of reasons, it turns out. The good news is, Mundis helps you understand what those reasons are, and then he shows you ways to find the resolve to stick with the steps.
He offers hope and then some practical help. Truly, I think this is one of the best books I've read on beating debt. I think it will feel like a Godsend to anyone who knows the hopelessness that accompanies crushing debt.
Mundis also has a website. Get the book first, though. If you're a debtor/spender this book is a WORTHWHILE place to spend a bit of cash.
Reviewer: Linda Painchaud
on June 20, 2003
In deep debt and in the dark about what to do? Buy this tape! I've just begun my climb out of the mire of debt but I feel rejuvinated, hopeful and confident that this -- my third time -- will be the last time I let my debt quietly creep up to unmanageable amounts. If you're ready to "surrender" to the fact that you have a problem and want help, the narrator provides it in a way that is non-judgemental and without condemnation. I was genuinely touched by the sincerity, clarity and compassion of the narrative. I was emotionally moved by the fact that the guidance I really needed had arrived. On the other hand, the author, at times, is hilarious as he takes you down a very entertaining and extremely helpful path toward solvency. Thanks to this tape, I'm on my way out, and done with debt for good!
on April 6, 2002
I majored in accounting in college, so I should know better, but I managed to graduate with a ton of credit card debt and then financed a new car. This book gave me the practical advice I needed to make a debt-reduction plan and stick with it. It also gave me some great ideas about how to stop being tempted to use my credit card all the time. I had all the credit card debt and car debt paid off in about 2 years and have never carried a credit card balance since then.
I have recommended this book to lots of people who are having debt problems but don't know where to start for help in fixing them. I have also recommended it to people who have their heads in the sand about their debt problems.
on December 8, 2003
this book is a must have if you are tired of passing out all of your money to everyone else but you. If you have bill collectors calling your home and job you need this book. If the student loan people are calling your relatives cause you refuse to answer your phone.... you need this book. If you toss all of your bills and "pink" bills into a corner and never open them you need this book. If you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck get this book. If you keep asking yourself where did my money go? get this book. if you find yourself at the bank right before opening to deposit a check to cover for a check you wrote that might bounce. getting this book is a good idea. oh and one more if you have relatives that never seem to have enough money and you think to your self hey these are my parents i should be borrowing from them not visa versa... get them this book. I liked it so much im going to a debtors anonymous meeting today.
on February 13, 2002
This book made a huge difference in my life. I had problems with debt for 20 years and was heading into serious trouble when I found a copy of this book. I remember finding the book in a bookstore (before Amazon.com existed) and I was embarrassed to buy it- that was the shame of being in debt. I was very scared because I was getting deeper into debt and not able to make even the minimum payments on my credit cards. I was borrowing (getting cash advances at ridiculous rates) from one card to pay the other. I sat down and read this book and it was tremendously comforting. I also found a local Debtor's Anonymous meeting and attended the meeting the same week. This book and DA changed my life and after 5 years I have nearly tripled my annual salary and have eliminated my unsecured debt. Jerrold Mundis teaches you that those who work this program obtain a great deal of "abundance" in their lives. Mundis writes about the "miracles" that occur when you work this program and I have experienced them first hand. It is not a Debtor's Anonymous sanctioned book, but everyone in DA has heard of it. I would have to say though that this book is not for everyone. The principles you learn in this book regarding the concept of not carrying any unsecured debt are excellent and everyone with a credit card should learn them. But this book was written for those who are in a crisis due to their debting. It will benefit problem debtors the most or anyone who is going down the road to deeper debt. Mundis is adamant about not giving up on yourself and not declaring bankruptcy. He guides you through all the consequences you may face due to your debting, such as judgments and court appearances. It is very comforting to learn about all these issues and how to deal with them, rather than live in fear of having collection agencies phoning day and night.
I've read some other reviews here that were critical of this book. As I stated before, this book is for those who are in a crisis due to their debt. This book was written in the 1980's and has not been revised so the writing style may seem dated, but the principles are rock solid. There are excellent books available on subjects relating to investing and personal finance, but this book is a special book for debtors in crisis.
I am still using the principles that Mundis lays out in his book such as the spending record. I know exactly where every cent of my money is going and where I have a tendency to over spend. Even though I no longer debt I still have a tendency to be a spendthrift and the techniques I learned from this book help to keep me in check. I also have a spending plan- not a budget- that I update every six months and follow consistently. As Mundis points out, it is not about doing without and sacrificing. You will learn that you can take the vacation you want and pay cash for it. You can have everything you truly desire and not go into debt. You will develop an incredible sense of freedom that will enable you to live fully and successfully because you won't be burdened by debt anymore. I'm sure all this sounds too good to be true, or even magical in a way, but it isn't. If being in debt is causing a problem for you, you should get this book and read it and then follow the advice closely. Mundis walks you through all the difficult tasks you must face, such as totaling up how much you owe, contacting creditors to work out a payment plan, and not going one cent further into debt. I felt like I was the only one going through the hell of being seriously in debt, but he made me realize I was not alone and I could one day be debt free, too.
This book will teach you so much and it will also restore your confidence in yourself. It gives you the courage to face up to dealing with the mess you've made of your finances and it gives you hope that you can one day truly be debt free and living prosperously.
on September 26, 2001
Ok, I have to confess. I just recently got out of debt. I still need this book though. Why? To prevent it from happening again. This book gives simple reasons, that many of us never actually reflect upon, of why we get in debt. It gives psychological reasons without putting all sorts of jargon in your face. It also helps that this author was in debt. Perhaps he is one of the few who actually admit this. Many financial books I read, though very good, come from where it is an "expert" or author who never states if they ever were in debt. It's good to think this comes from someone who had been in my shoes and vice versa. I got the book from the library, but also want to buy a copy for my own personal library. It also seems timeless enough where he would have to do very little updating. Don't beleive any negative reviews (only one so far, so that should probably tell you something) and invest in this book. The change is within you, but sometimes you need help to bring it to the outside. Good luck on your journey. Use this book as a tool, on that first step. You won't look back.
on December 26, 2000
Jerrold Mundis' practical book "How To Get Out Of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, And Live Prosperously" not only describes handling money properly, but what power money can and must not provide to those having or needing it. Mundis' precepts are easy to understand if not swift to accomplish. He acknowledges this in writing, "Anyone who has taken grade-school arithmatic or who can push the buttons on a simple calculator has all the technical mastery he needs to understand his personal money."
His steps: write each and every incoming and outgoing transaction into a weekly, then monthly account. Use those figures to create a budget to fit your lifestyle and repay your creditors, without hard-core sacrifice that only proves self-defeating. Know to the penny what you have, spend and owe. Do not debt, at all, just for today. Or, to quote Teddy Roosevelt, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
The most interesting sections concern psychological and social implications associated with and leading to problem debting, and how to overcome and prevent them. Mundis encourages figuring out creative ways to handle money emergencies other than with a credit card. He encourages meditation, visualization, planning future successes beyond momentary highs or relief credit seems to provide. He explains how to handle the collection agency, lawyer, courtroom.
To achieve this, he encourages creative list making, re-evaluation of supposedly nevessary material things (his section, "Keel The Bool" most notably here) or ideas that seemed zany. Most of all, he encourages dismissal of any emotions associated with money: it's no mood changer, nor love declaration when spent, nor sell-out to materialism and selfishness when saved.
His opening chapters, describing the types and warning signs of problem debting, were chillingly accurate and uncompromising. ("And everybody bounces a check now and then, don't they? No. Most people without a debt problem hardly ever do.") Mundis writes with the compassion and reassurance of someone knowing the issues of problem debting. His three things to remember when debt worry becomes overwhelming are among the most useful worry defusers I have heard. Yet Mundis also speaks with the zeal of the recovered addict, knowing the road to and from disaster and letting no one cross or return. His personal stories and case studies from Debtors Anonymous (including that of the young woman who tearfully gave up her American Express card), are sweepingly sad.
Like all self-help books, "How To Get Out Of Debt" can only be judged successful if those reading it apply its precepts and achieve its promised conclusion. (Obviously, those for whom debting is not an issue probably do not read or review, these books.) Suffice it to say that Mundis has provided possible emotional and practical tools to achieve financial freedom, and has done so in re-readable, instructional style. Debtors Anonymous, quoted liberally as inspiration and support source, would do well to endorse this guide in its program.
on December 23, 2000
At age 35, I felt like I never learned how to have a healthy relationship with money. This book helped me understand how to develop a healthy relationship with money, spending, saving, and earning it. My salary is 20% less than two years ago (chosen life style change), and yet I have more money now than then!
This book is geared toward those with very large debt who have creditors knocking down the doors. However, even those of us who can still manage to juggle the debt around (you know who you are), without having a late payment (yet) will greatly benefit from this book.
My financial advisor gave me this book when we began working together. After only 30 minutes with her, she told me that my net worth was badly in the red (yikes!) Gently, she recommended debt reduction BEFORE investing. This book opened my eyes to my relationship with money and spending. Only 4 months later, I have not incured new debt (credit card is in a jug of ice in the freezer - there for emergencies, but takes time to get to it - great for taking time to change your mind), I pay more than the minimum on my credit card, I'm paying off my student loans, putting money aside monthy to create a next egg, and able to invest in my 403b plan at work for the first time in 4 years! This on less money than two years ago!
This book is based on the principles of Debtor Anonymous, don't let that scare or intimidate you!, The premis is simple; Today, I will not incure new debt. It goes from there to include keeping close track of all spending, creating payment plans you can afford (not what the loan/bank is asking for), spending money well for yourself, and most of all, about impulse control skill development. That was essential for me!
If you are ready to change your relationship with money, spending, saving, etc. Then try this book. What's $7 when your debt is as big as yours?
BTW, this book also helped save my relationship with my fiance. I would get into panic attacks over my finacial situation and freak him out. Now, I'm calm about my money and he sees me with new respect and admiration for my desire to change and improve that aspect of my life. He has begun to review his relationship with money as well and we have become so much more secure with each other as a result!
on December 15, 2000
I have purchased several copies of this book for friends. I read this book while in the depth of financial despair and with the practical guides I was able to get out of debt. There is no "debt fairy" that will jump out of the book and make you debt free, but if you follow the advice, as I did, then you will prosper. In four short years I went from being out of work/broke/house in foreclosure to a whole new life. I have repaired my credit and have recently applied for a mortgage. I have money in the bank, I have replaced the things I lost, and most important I feel good about myself. What a relief not to be afraid to answer the phone, to have an emergency fund and to not panic when you get a flat tire or something minor goes on. To the people who didn't get it, you probably never will, because you may be laboring under the idea that Mr. Mundis should wave some kind of magic wand over your head, the "how to" is in the book, keep the spending journal, learn from it and you will prosper. I did. Thanks, Mr. Mundis.