Book Review Broke Millennial - pic

Book Review: Broke Millennial By Erin Lowry

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Broke Millennial – Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together is full of smart money tips for the young professional.

Erin achieves what’s often missing from personal finance books – a well written, articulate, relatable and personal anecdote. Erin makes it very clear early on in Broke Millennials that she is no perfect finance gal and she genuinely wants to help every person that’s reading this book.

You’ll find less “how to” specifics than you would in a more established or traditional personal finance book. But what she lacks in specifics, she certainly makes up for in puns and sass, which plays well for the intended audience – Millennials.

Who’s this book for? Those who want:
  • A thorough perspective on understanding the psychology that affect money behaviors
  • Guidance on hot millennial finance topics
  • Targeted, action oriented advice for getting your finances on track

Understanding Your Relationship With Money

Erin denotes the entire first part of the book to helping the reader understand the psychology behind their approach toward money.

She believes the way you handle money is related to three things: 1) how you perceive your future financial self, 2) how your parents treated money when you were a child and 3) your financial fears.

When it comes to each person’s relationship with money, Erin groups them into one of three categories:

  2. Team Guarded Optimist
  3. Team Dreaming About Retirement

If you’re like Erin, you grew up in a family that was open and honest about money. Your parents helped you understand the relationship between hard work and the money in your pocket. They taught you to get a job when you wanted to buy something, helped you figure out a way to pay for college, etc.

If you didn’t grow up in that type of environment, Erin believes one of these three relationships with money as a child probably existed:

  1. Your parents constantly argued about money
  2. You were scolded for bringing it up
  3. You thought everything fine, but it wasn’t

Do you feel that you fit into one of these categories? Check out Broke Millennial here book here:

Through this self-reflection, you begin to understand why you’re the type of spender or saver that you are.

Advice On Millennial Personal Finance Hot Topics

What Are Your Priorities?

I love the way Erin breaks up the topics in this book. She makes it a point to call out the fact that you can hop around in the book and still get the takeaway messages. From those who care mostly about experiences today to those who care mostly about living in the future, and anything in-between. Based on where you fall in this spectrum, Erin recommends chapters and specific topics throughout the book that are targeted that them.

She gives advice on a variety of topics based on the priorities you put in place. And unlike some personal finance professionals she doesn’t make you feel bad for having your own priorities.

How About Your Current Financial Situation?

Do you know how you stack up financially to your peers? Here are a few highlights base your financial situation on:

  • There’s a sliding scale for the amount of money you should have saved in relation to your income, based on your age (example: 30-year old’s ratio is 0.6-0.8:1, meaning on a $50,000 salary you should have between $30,000 and $40,000 saved)
  • Emergency funds – 3 to 6 months of living expenses
  • Financial Protection Bureau – keep your DTI (debt-to-income ratio) below 43% or say goodbye to any potential mortgages
  • Figure out of budgeting method and stick to it (cash, envelopes, zero sum – it doesn’t matter what you choose)

Common Financial Products

The world of financial products, especially for millennials, is hard to understand and the products are even harder to pick from.

Again, a few highlights:
  • Member FDIC – This is federal insurance on the money you put in that bank. You’re covered up to $250,000. So, if a bank were to fail, you’re guaranteed that money back.
  • STOP PAYING FOR BANKING FEES!!! There’s just no reason to pay for a checking or savings account with all the free options out there.
  • Sign up for online banks with at least 1% APY to fight inflation
  • Credit – you want a credit score about 650, but above 700 is better. Don’t pay to pull a credit report, there are free options out there. Pay your debts on time and in full.

Millennial Debt –  What To Do?

Having debt doesn’t make you special so there’s no reason for you to feel shame about it. In fact, you’re so not alone and that’s the point.

The first step is to understand what your finances look like. What is your income? Know your expenses. How about your debt situation look like? Get organized so you can tackle your debt.

Paying Off Your Debt

  1. Understand what your debt looks like (i.e write it down)
  2. Decide on a debt payoff method – Snowball or Avalanche
  3. Aggressively cut your expenses
  4. Pay as much towards your debt as fast as possible

These steps can be sped up through refinancing or consolidating student loans, using a 0% interest rate balance transfer credit card and other methods. As you’re working through debt payoff, Erin suggests setting up an emergency fund with a minimum of $1000. Start with a little, then steadily increase it. Eventually, you won’t even realize that money is available each month.

The Fuck Off Fund

As a millennial myself, I very much identified and appreciated this approach to savings. Sometime, life can deal you a shitty hand and you feel stuck. Maybe your parents don’t create a healthy financial environment at home. Since you’re living at home this is a problem. Maybe you’re in a relationship with someone who is abusive. Maybe your stress levels and anxiety are at an all-time high because your boss or coworker is sexist, harasses you or otherwise is just inappropriate. Without a Fuck Off Fund, you’d likely feel stuck. This fund gives you the confidence to make the right choices for you and GET OUT.

Money shouldn’t be a form of control, so don’t let it.Click To Tweet

I Can’t Afford This Right Now

Sticking to your values and goals is priority number one. You’re on your own financial path and you have a plan. Sometimes friends or relationships can get in the way. Erin suggests sticking to your values and don’t let other people tell you how to spend your money. Be open and honest with people about what you’re willing to spend, or if you can’t afford a certain activity. Often, people will understand. If they don’t, maybe they aren’t the best person to be spending time with.

Relationships & Financially Naked

You’re in a relationship and it’s getting serious. Maybe you’re moving in together or there’s a proposal soon. STOP RIGHT THERE. Have you talked about money yet? Possibly not.

Eeek! Finances aren’t sexy, especially when you’re getting naked the first time. Erin likens the “finance talk” to getting naked with your partner the first time. It can be scary, but you’re probably glad you did afterwards 😉

Shame is likely to enter the situation again as you’re divulging an incredible personal aspect of your life. The goal of this conversation is to lay it all out on the table and discuss priorities and future actions. You won’t be able to do that in a productive manner if your partner is passing judgment.

This is about creating a future for the two of you. Be honest, be open, be willing to talk. Setting the foundation for a healthy financial relationship should help create a safe space for discussing finances and other things in the future. If you can talk about money, you can talk about most things.

Book Review Broke Millennial - pinterest pic (2)

Erin – The Millennial You Want To Learn From

If for no other reason, grab a copy of this book because it’s a relatively easy read and one that fosters an internal dialogue that you can relate to. Erin’s tone and approach to communicating otherwise difficult topics is refreshing and uplifting.

While personal finances can seem overwhelming and like they’ll never end, Erin provides a glimmer of light and hope.Click To Tweet

More of my favorite books:

Must Read Books For Every Personal Finance Beginner

Set For Life by Scott Trench

Coffeehouse Investor

Have you picked up Broke Millennial yet?

-My Strategic Dollar

Comments 11

  1. I love the concept of a sliding scale for the amount of money you should have saved in relation to your income. I feel like it can be a bit too easy to get caught up in the PF world of “I saved 80% of my income and I’m 26.” It’s not something that’s feasible for all of us! I feel like the sliding scale is a MUCH better way of looking at how much you should save, because you should theoretically make more as you get older.

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      Totally right! I don’t think setting a savings threshold for the rest of your life and expecting to meet it is realistic. It has to adjust to your income, expenses, and stage of life. However, I’d always aim for the highest possible!

  2. Such a great book! I really enjoyed the approachable nature of Erin’s writing. It is now on my list of “books to give high school/college grads” along with “The Millionaire Next Door” and “Simple Path to Wealth”.

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  3. You did a great job reviewing the book. I have seen this book advertised, but have not read it. I will add it to my growing list of must reads. Even though I like to refer to myself as a young Gen-Xer, I can relate to many of the struggles that the milenial generation faced on a financial level. Based on your review, this sounds like a good book for any generation to read.

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      Heck yes! I think anyone struggling with balancing life, debt and the pursuit of financial freedom would benefit from this read.

  4. Sounds very comprehensive yet easy to read. We’ve heard Erin on several podcasts and she seems like a very no-nonsense, approachable gal. I’ll need to add this to my library list, keeping our nieces and nephews in mind when I read it.

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  5. Thanks for the review Lance, I’ll check it out. I agree about having an F off Fund. I’ve always heard it as having enough “F U” Money though 😛 And based on that sliding scale of what one should have by now, I’d say I’m doing ok! I also have enough in my F off Fund as well. So I can attest to the fact that it takes off a huge burden, even though if it’s just mentally.

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