Book Review & Notes: Broke Millennial - Get Your Financial Life Together
You, right now, have a choice: you can let money control and define your life or you can control it. - Erin Lowry, Broke Millennial
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The title of the book can peg it as a book specifically for Millennials, but I disagree and encourage you to pick it up if you are looking to up your financial knowledge no matter what age you are. It’s not a book on investing or retirement, which I think makes it better. It’s a comprehensive on the basics of money mindset, credit, student loans and debt. The content in this book provides a good foundation for better money management and eventual wealth creation.
When I talk to financial advisers or read articles from financial advisers, it shocks and surprises me that not more of them are helping to address financial literacy. The irony in this is that financial advisers need people, especially young people to start caring about their finances early on so that they can grow into adults with assets that can and need to be managed. If the average millennial, as some statistics show, don’t start saving until they are in their 30s because of exorbitant student loans and wage stagnation, that means wealth creation will also be slow so it’s really up to individuals to take it upon themselves to educate themselves and take action on hitting their financial goals. If even picking up a book like Broke Millennial gets you into taking action on your finances, I highly recommend doing so.
The book is text heavy as with most personal finance books. In comparison to another book, The Financial Diet, which is geared towards Gen Z and Millennials, reading through Broke Millennial can sometimes be daunting, but I encourage you to press on. Side Note: My 23 year old sister highly recommends The Financial Diet with it’s bright, colorful and informative layout so it may be worth picking up both to build your financial knowledge foundation.
Broke Millennial is comprehensive and written in a way that allows you to jump from various chapters depending on what your goals are. I like that it does begin with the money mindset which is an all important factor when we start talking and learning about money. Erin Lowry, the author, does a great job weaving her own personal experiences into it and I also have to give her props for also acknowledging her own privileges along the way. An important factor I believe in allowing us to understand that not everyone starts from the same playing field. A lot of the latest books I’ve read on personal finance has been set in New York City, not sure if that is just a factor of me being in proximity to the city, but I do feel those experiences of money in a big city add a different spin to it. I’m on the lookout for a book that doesn’t have a lot of references for a big city because I think that dynamic shifts. If you’ve got a recommendation, let me know in the comments below.
Since I consider myself an older millennial, at the very tail end of the millennial age range, I appreciate that this book tries to add some lingo and references that many younger people can relate too. If you are in your 20s, you will appreciate what this book has to offer. Again, it is heavy in content, but don’t let that deter you from starting. Take note of the action item checklists too at the end of each chapter so you have a plan on what to do next. The hardest part sometimes is to figure out what to do next.
Here’s the chapter breakdown of Broke Millennial:
Chapter 1: Money Isn't the Worst! Seriously.
The moment in which I attempt to convince you that learning about money can actually be fun.
Chapter 2: Is Money a Tinder Date or Marriage Material?
Learn how to identify, understand, and overcome your psychological blocks when it comes to money.
Chapter 3: Do You Have a Gold Star in Personal Finance?
Discover how you're doing financially so far and ways to take better control of your money.
Chapter 4 Dealing with the Dreaded B-Word
The basics of budgeting and how to find the budgeting method that suits you best.
Chapter 5 Picking the Right Financial Products (aka The Chapter in Which This Book Pays far Itself)
Uncover the ways banks are screwing you over and what you can do to stop them.
Chapter 6 Credit Reports and Scores: The Report Card for Life 60
Get your credit score on fleek without taking on unnecessary debt, and learn how to handle items in collections.
Chapter 7 Wait, I Shouldn't Just Pay the Minimum Due on My Credit Card? 88
Make sure you actually understand how to use a credit card properly, and learn how to find the best one with perks.
Chapter 8 Yikes, I Already Have Consumer Debt. What Now? 98
Ditch that debt effectively with one or several tools explained in this chapter.
Chapter 9 Student Loans: How to Handle Them Without Having a Full-On Panic Attack
The title says it all.
Chapter 10 I've Got Debt, So Why Should I Care About Saving? (Pay Yourself First)
Find out why you should save and how to do so if you have debt; if you're debt free, check out the tips on saving and see your net worth skyrocket.
Chapter 11 I Can't Afford to Split This Dinner Bill Evenly!
Navigating finances and friendship.
Chapter 12 Getting Financially Naked with Your Partner 162
How to have that first awkward money conversation with your partner without you or him/her running for the door.
Chapter 13 Paying Rent to Your 'Rents: Overcoming the Emotional and Financial Battles of Living at Home After College
Living at home can be a financial windfall, but don't let it drive you or your parents crazy.
Chapter 14 How to Negotiate Salary (or Anything Else) by Learning to Ask For What You Want 186
People can't read your mind, so find out how to tactfully tell them what you deserve and why you should get it.
Chapter 15 Investing: No, it Isn't Gambling!
Decode the world of investing and team how accessible and important it is for your financial plan.
Chapter 16 Retirement: Can It Ever Happen for Me?
Yes, let me show you how!
Chapter 17 I'm Not Rich Enough to Hire a Financial Planner
Doubt it! Uncover how the modern financial planning industry works and who you should trust with your money.
Chapter 18 But My Broker Said I Can Afford This Much House
Home ownership may or may not be for you right now, but understand how to handle the process once you get there.
Epilogue: Now That You're A Financial Badass, Keep It Up!
Of course, I am not going to go through all of the chapters, but I want to highlight the ones that are absolutely worth reading. I think the great thing about the book is that it is easy to jump around and Erin will lead you to where you should be going next with some of her prompts.
Chapter 2: Is Money a Tinder Date or Marriage Material?
The all important chapter of understanding why we need to take a long-term view when it comes to money. Sure it’s OK (and maybe fun) and acceptable to be broke in your early 20s, but at some point, the broke lifestyle gets old and sad pretty quickly. Don’t buy into the myth that you should be broke in your 20s. The more you live and act like that, the more it will come true. This chapter talks about money mindset and prompts you some serious question about how you come to view money. If you want to delve in more, we also recommend grabbing yourself a copy of The Money Journal to help you document and track your money journey.
Chapter 4: Dealing with the Dreaded B-Word
Amazing and informative chapter on budgeting. Erin provides multiple options of how to budget. There is no one way to budget and by learning about a few budgeting methods, you can find one that best suits your needs and personality. There is no one way to manage your money, but having a structure in place to help you track the ins and outs of your money is an important step in managing your finances. Remember that a budget should not be about deprivation.
Chapter 7: Why I Shouldn’t Pay the Minimum Due on My Credit Card
An all important chapter in the fight against increasing consumer debt. If you have credit cards and have balances on them, this is the chapter to read. Credit card companies continue to exist and make profits year over year because majority of people who have credit cards don’t understand how they work. There’s great tips in there on how to build your credit with a secured credit card.
Chapter 9: Student Loans: How to Handle Them Without Having a Full-On Panic Attack
Probably one of the longer chapters and rightly so. Chock full of information on the various types of loans. Read this carefully to see what your options for reducing loans and repayment. It’s a sad reality that student loans are a part of all of our credit history, but it doesn’t have to be there for long with the right strategy and action item in place.
Chapter 11: I Can’t Afford to Split the Dinner Bill Evenly!
This is something I struggled with when I was in my 20s. Working in NYC and living in the shadows of the city, spending was easy, but the reality was that we all didn’t have to money to spend like we did, but we continued anyways. Talking about money was taboo then and is still taboo today (though I am absolutely changing that with this site), but had we been honest with ourselves about our financial situations, we could have been more supportive of each other in our financial goals early on. Hindsight and lesson learned.
Chapter 12: Getting Financially Naked with Your Partner
I am so glad that she has a chapter dedicated to this. It’s critical that once we all get coupled off that we have honest conversations about money early on. Majority of divorce and relationships strains are caused by money and by understanding your partner’s financial background and money habits early on, you both can work together to create a financial action plan that benefits you. If the relationship does become serious and marriage and family are in the picture, wouldn’t it be nice to have your financial ducks in a row. Here are some other articles to help you navigate getting financially naked with your partner.
Don’t let the book title fool you, pick this book up if you want to get your financial life together (#gyflt).
While much of this book is no longer relatable to me (since I’m on the older spectrum), this is a book I would highly recommend to my sister who graduates from college/grad school this year. It can make a terrific book for a new grad so think about that when May rolls around as gift option.
Have you read this book, what are some action items you took away from it?