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Outline ReviewThere are plenty of heavily pedigreed personal-finance experts dishing out good advice, but not many who know what it's like to have to eat ramen all month to make a car payment. On the other hand, there's Mary Hunt, a recovered credit card addict whose free-spending ways landed her family in the middle of $100,000 of unsecured debt in the early 1980s. Pulling herself out of that morass gave Hunt the courage to strike out on her own as a writer, motivational speaker, and the brains behind The Cheapskate Monthly, a newsletter and Web site (www.cheapsk8.com) dedicated to promoting the art of living within one's means, a message that grows ever more urgent as the average American family struggles each year to pay $1,200 in interest alone on revolving, unsecured debt.
While Hunt's previous books have echoed some consistent themes--debt bad, saving good--they've addressed a hodgepodge of different areas: building financial confidence in women and kids, doing Christmas without a stack of credit cards, tips for gourmet cooking at low cost. In Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Living, Hunt finally puts together a financial primer for all--whether retirees trying to decide when to start drawing Social Security or teenagers ready to sign for their first college loans. Security, according to Hunt, is built with simple tools: tithing, saving, paying off debt, creating a contingency fund for emergencies, driving used cars, owning a home, having insurance.
Although Hunt's "been there, spent that" zeal and warmth have turned her into the Ann Landers of personal finance, she's not just an agony aunt for spendthrifts--business experts will find her a savvy marketer who's using her name and story to build, somewhat ironically, a very effective brand. That doesn't negate her sincerity, however, or the fact that her advice is sound, her formulas work, and her Rapid Debt Repayment Plan has kept increasing numbers of families out of bankruptcy. And finally, Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Living is just a joy to read--its clarity and lack of condescension make it a perfect gift for anyone just starting to understand the basics of money. --Barrie Trinkle
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