Author Erik Wecks, who has experienced financial hardships first hand, has written a book for those who want to make a lasting change in their belief about and the way they view and spend money. In order to do this, it is important to not only look at our financial situation, but the financial thinking of our culture. Only by doing so can people reclaim financial control of their lives and their self-respect.
Wecks reveals aspects of people’s behaviors that get them into debt and makes it hard for them to regain financial control. Some of these behaviors and thought processes include: the need for social and self-approval; impulse spending rather than planned, disciplined spending; the use of plastic versus cash and having unclear boundaries of needs versus wants: “our culture of status and luxury has warped the meaning of the word “need” like no other.”
Wecks also puts a great deal of responsibility for today’s financial crisis on advertising and businesses that take advantage of people’s ignorance, trying to keep up with materialistic social pressure, trying to buy their way into a distorted American dream or their desperation to pay off debt. Wecks states: “we must recognize we cannot change our financial situation until we own up to our beliefs and choices. What the banks and the advertisers did to get us to this place really doesn’t matter…we have given away much of our financial freedom through the decisions we have made.” Wecks asserts that poor financial thinking is in our culture therefore, “we will have to learn to recognize when our current culture gets in our way.”
Wecks’ comment that: “no individual has a moral obligation to pay any of their bills” might strike some readers as quite controversial. Wecks does expand on this point, explaining that consumers should by all means pay their debts, however “the moment that mortgage interferes with your duties to your partner or your children you have a much higher obligation to put their interests above those of the bank.” Wecks further elaborates that credit card companies and banks feel no moral obligation when the consumer falls on hard times, and makes the case again for the culture of thinking that drives financial ruin for many families.
Though Wecks uses some military metaphors and what he calls the “classic military model of war planning” to demonstrate his financial advice and planning; however the metaphors are a little confusing at times, ironically when Wecks attempts to simplify them by explaining the metaphors. An example of this is when Wecks compares a credit card to a nuke, then explains the kind of thinking that makes weapons tactical verses a nuke. The use of the military metaphor in addition to the use of other metaphors, such as a leaking boat and the numerous personal stories and examples of other families to elaborate the points of each chapter can be overwhelming and take away from the clarity of some chapters.
The author’s tone and the strategies offered are encouraging and make sense, though some reorganization of the chapters and writing could make the plans a little more concise and clear for the readers. The advice and strategy can sometimes get lost in the endless examples and stories that Wecks provides for the readers to really drive home his points about getting into debt and making a change.
How to manage your Money when you don’t have any: A Guide to Surviving Rough Times offers some convoluted but mostly enlightening observations and reassuring advice about becoming aware of and gaining control over our finances in spite of the hurdles presented by today’s culture towards money.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader