July 07, 2009

My Two Personal Finance Gurus

Mary Hunt

When I became disabled in 2001 I was in debt up to my eyeballs. I thought I was going to have to file bankruptcy because I had no clue what to do. I had already filed bankruptcy once in my life and it really, really messed up my credit. I did NOT want to have to do it again.

So I started researching on the web. There weren't quite as many personal finance gurus out there then as there are now but there were lots of them. I think I went through them all until I found my savior, Mary Hunt. Her book The Complete Cheapskate gave me step-by-step directions on how to get out of debt and stay out. It's not available at Mary's site anymore but you can still find it at Amazon.com.

Mary has revised her guide over the years. It's now titled Debt-Proof Living and can be purchased through her bookstore at her website, aptly named Debt-Proof Living.

I haven't purchased the new book; the old one has stood me in good stead. Even though my husband and I have been living hand-to-mouth since 2001, we're now almost debt-free and we actually have savings in the bank. To keep motivated and to learn all sorts of new tips & tricks for living frugally I subscribe to Mary's newsletter.

Mary's website has some free access pages, but most of it is reserved for paid subscribers. I haven't subscribed so I can't comment on what's there - you'll have to visit and see for yourself.

In summary, Mary was a godsend to us. She continues to provide us with simple, concrete things we can do to save money on living expenses. She gives good financial advice for people who are at the low end of the income scale by answering readers' questions in her newsletter. She also publishes lots of reader submissions and her own tips for living frugally. Here's one of my favorites: make your own laundry detergent. It's quick, easy and best of all, it's waaay cheaper than buying commercial detergents that are mostly water anyway. Why don't you visit Mary's site and see if you can find her recipe?

Trent Hamm

I found Trent last year. I read one article and I was hooked. He writes a blog called The Simple Dollar which focuses on frugal living and personal finance, and he writes more broadly than Mary does. Trent writes about subjects like personal finance, motivation, organization and time management (among many others). He's always publishing reviews about books pertinent to his topics, too. Like Mary, he answers readers' questions but unlike Mary he has responded to me personally a couple of times! Every single one of his articles has been thought-provoking in some way; most are helpful in very discrete ways. And often there's a lively discussion of his articles via the comments.

The Simple Dollar's website is great. It's easy to navigate and you can find links to the important stuff on every single page, including the archives. (When I first found Trent I spent hours reading through the archives, that's how fascinating I found his writing to be.)

Trent's advice is most frequently geared towards changing attitudes and behaviors. He writes a lot about how we got ourselves into debt and what we need to change within ourselves to get out. But he's a hands-on guy too - there are lots of discrete, how-to tips and tricks in his writings, like his article on Ten Great Ways to Make Powerful Visual Reminders of Your Personal Finance and Other Goals. I subscribe to Trent's newsletter; he writes at least once a day and I usually read him first thing in the morning. I also follow Trent on Twitter (trenttsd); he's always tossing out interesting quotes and links to interesting stuff.

I'm sorry to say that I haven't read Trent's book, 365 Ways to Live Cheap, but I plan on buying it in the next month or so. He also offers some very low-cost ($2) ebooks such as 31 Days to Fix Your Finances, "... about figuring out what you want out of life and reorganizing your finances so that you can have it". He also offers a wonderful FREE ebook titled Everything You Ever Really Needed To Know About Personal Finance on One Page. It's a terrific introduction to the basic concepts of managing your money and I highly recommend it.

Here are a couple of my [current] favorite articles from Trent: Trimming the Fat: Forty Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Required Spending (notice the word "required" in there), and Is Suze Right? Do Emergency Funds Now Trump Debt Repayment?

Trent also offers a step-by-step-with-pictures guide to making your own laundry detergent, but I prefer Mary's recipe. (Sorry, Trent.) Why don't you go check out The Simple Dollar? I'm betting you'll be very, very glad you did.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story! I'm glad I was able to help you get back on track!