On Tuesday I participated in a Tweetchat sponsored by FT Press, an imprint of Pearson and publisher of books by my MSN Money colleague Liz Weston. If you missed the event, at least some of the Tweets can be found in the publisher’s Tweetchat room. A spokeswoman for the company says a .pdf summary of the questions and discussion is in the works.
To promote the chat, FT Press gave out a few copies of “Deal With Your Debt” to random questioners. (Did any of you win? Tell us!) Now it’s my turn to hand out the revised and updated version of this book, which I can happily say is written for people in the real world.
Just check the description: “Award-winning personal finance expert Liz Weston reveals why it’s simply impractical to ‘just pay off every dime’ and ‘live forever debt free’ — and why trying to do so can actually make you poorer. It’s smarter to control and manage your debt, and Weston shows you how.”
Not that Liz is giving you carte blanche to run up bills and ignore them. Instead, she tells you how to assess your debt and tackle it in the smartest possible way. Debt can be terrible, she says, but people can get so fixated on debt that they:
- Try to do too much too fast and then give up
- Fail to build in some financial flexibility in case of emergencies
- Focus so utterly on debt repayment that they neglect to save for a home, college or retirement
- Keep fighting an unwinnable battle
Re that last: One of the questions in the Tweetchat had to do with personal bankruptcy. Liz noted that while the stereotype is that people were too quick to give up, the fact is that some people wait far too long to face facts.
From her book: “Like many others, I used to think that most people could avoid bankruptcy if they really tried. Now, after writing about the issue for more than a decade, I’m not so sure.
“Bankruptcy court is meant to give people a fresh start while protecting their homes and retirement funds, to prevent them from facing a poverty-stricken old age. Bankruptcy should never be the first choice, but sometimes it’s the best of very bad options.”
To be clear: I don’t advocate bankruptcy court as the solution to all your money woes. I once interviewed a young woman who declared BK at age 20 as the result of “getting a credit card at 18 and being bad with money.” Her total debt could quite possibly have been vanquished in a year or two of hard-charging repayment. During the interview she told me that if she’d known then what she knows now, she wouldn’t have done it.
If you or someone you know is in money trouble or simply unclear on how to handle his finances, FT Press is offering 50% off all its personal finance titles through May 16. Use the coupon code FTPF.
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If you do any (or all!) of these things, please leave separate, additional comments to get credit for each entry.
The deadline is 7 p.m. PDT Monday, May 13. If I don’t hear back from the winners by 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, I’ll pull two more names.