Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Review: "How to get out of debt, stay out of debt & live prosperously" by Jerrold Mundis

I distinctly remember the thoughts that ran through my head as I picked up this book to read. In the (hopefully not too) distant future I plan to host and facilitate Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to as many people as I possibly can who are open to the material. In doing so I want to be on the top of my game in answering questions, providing counseling and offering real-world advice…You know, all those things that those we bestow a “fiduciary responsibility” to never do.

I wanted to delve back into the psyche and understand why we go into debt and in many cases why we stay there. Why do we allow credit card companies, Sallie Mae and auto dealers teach us about the rules of debt rather than learning on our own? Essentially, for someone head over heels in debt sitting in an FPU class, what is it that they are thinking and how can I help “facilitate” (I really mean coach and help) to show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel regardless of how much you make or how high the climb is? The course of the book lead me, like many great books I have read, to a very uncomfortable place, my mirror.

Mundis pulls absolutely no punches in making the case and points that the use of debt (whether “good” or bad debt, excessive use of if you “pay it off at the end of the month”) is addictive. Placing debt addiction right in line with addictions, pains and struggles that come along with misuse of drugs, sex and food. I can directly relate in addition to my own struggles with the uses of debt, because I too struggled with one of the aforementioned addictions.

I have very clear and distinct memories of my own personal destructive path, my recovery and everything in between. A lot of it filled with pain from destroying myself along with those that I cared about most. And a lot of it filled with love and compassion from those that stood by me, had gone through what I was going through and the unending love from an unseen force that, in the only way I can really describe it, carried me through everything. Okay, I’ll say it here, looking back on everything, in my darkest hours when I hit bottom, I’m reminded of a poem/short story that I’m sure many of you may remember from childhood.

The story goes that at the end of our lives we walk hand in hand on a beach with God. We are told that when we look back at the trail of our lives, there are generally two sets of footprints: ours and God’s. There are distinct areas though when only one set of foot prints exist, these are our darkest hours, worst times, whatever you want to call them. Irate we say to God, “Where the hell were you then? I needed you and there is proof, only one set of prints.” These prints are pressed deep into the sand to symbolize the weight of the times. God replies, “It was during then that I carried you.”

God carried me through the worst hours I have known as a human being.

In the context of what I was drew from the book, it is important for me to let those seeking personal financial counsel know that I support them 100%, no questions asked, with everything that I have. It doesn’t matter what the debt numbers are, what’s owed to who, or how long your financial adviser “thinks” it will take you to climb out. There is hope and light in the tunnel, and the tools available, though old fashioned and basic in approach, truly are the strongest and most efficient we have available, and if I can do it, ANYONE AND EVERYONE can do it too.

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