Ask The Readers: What is Your Personal Finance "Story?" (A Chance to Win $10!)

By Linsey Knerl on 11 August 2009 (Updated 14 August 2009) 38 comments
Photo: Kate Weber

Everyone is writing a book these days (even a few personal finance blogs we know.. *ahem*).  Even if you don't run out and buy every one that comes about, it's fairly obvious that many of them contain some of the same information.  Why?  One reason is because the universal truths of personal finance haven't really changed much.  The other is...  well, there isn't another.

So, does this mean that just anyone can write a book? Perhaps (although selling it is an entirely different ball of wax.) If you could, what would you call it?  What would you cover?

We're asking you to share the name of your book.  It can be a tale of woe, inspiration, or matter-of-fact statistics.  And don't worry -- we won't steal your ideas.  (We hope to have the book thing covered.)  Comment on this post or via Twitter to give us the scoop on your personal finance "story."  All entries will be eligible for a chance to win one of two $10 prizes. 

Those of you who aren’t familiar with the “drill,” read below for full details:

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways -- one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer.  Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Thursday, August 13th at 11:59am CST. Winners will be announced after August 13th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

 Good luck!  

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Guest's picture

Both of my roommates failed out of the last college that I attended leaving me stranded in a home with two open rooms and barely enough money to get by before that after being cut from my job waiting tables since it was the off season. Wow long run on sentence there.

What this taught me however was first really determining what I need and what is just material that I can do without. It was painful for a while not going out with friends but I got really involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and found myself going to practice on Friday night rather then out to the bars.

More importantly however, I learned that these unexpected things can happen in life and its best to be prepared for anything. Since my experience I have set up a private emergency fund that I deposit into every week for the next curveball that life throws me. Unlike the Dos Equis most interesting man in the world though I am saving it for a rainy day.

Guest's picture
Emily

My book would be called "IRA - I'm Ready for Anything. Being a teen with a retirement account."

It'd be about how I learned to save prior to going to college and how I managed to build my net worth and portfolio throughout college and early professional years.

Guest's picture
Trang

My book would be called Dealing with Professional School Debt. Sounds really dull, but that's my life in a nutshell for you.

Guest's picture

"Will work for money" because I'm looking for a job! ;)

Guest's picture

I made a mess of my finances when I was in my thirties, but have carefully rebuild my credit and managed to set aside some savings, too. I actually have a good credit score now. So, mine would be called "Back from the Brink."

Guest's picture
Lori Bradley

My book would be called Frugal Wealth.
That pretty much sums it up.

Guest's picture
GT0163C

"Following Grandma's Footsteps"
My dad's parents grew up during the depression and learned frugality and money management as basically a survival skill. They passed those skills on to Dad who, in turn, passed those skills on to me. Maybe it goes back farther than that. I didn't know my great grandmother as well other than to know that she loved chocolate, drank her coffee black and finally decided to die mostly because she got bored.

Guest's picture
Connie

If you AREN'T Watching your Money, Someone Else Gladly Will

We were defrauded out of 200,000 and we are continuously seeing similar fraudsters out there trying to do the same to others. We take full responsibility because if we had been more discerning we would have seen there was more veneer than substance.

Guest's picture
Satsuki

"Voting With Your Two Cents: How Every Penny Earned Can Bring About The Change You Want To See"

I've been frugally minded ever since my daughter was born and I learned just how much those diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, and creams would add up to be. It's only recently that I've tried to find deals that would benefit others in addition to myself. Back to school sales can be great finds for school & nature center donations. CVS & Walgreens personal care products can be donated to shelters for battered women and people who have lost their homes. There are always deals to be found at the local farmers market or the CSA. If that's not around then just buy direct from the farmer and see the conditions your food is coming from. You can find sales on organic foods then combine coupons, bringing prices down below generic non-organic brands.

The way I see it my dollars and change can do double duty. They can be spent frugally and mindfully while serving even greater purposes. Every little bit counts.

Guest's picture
Patricia

Years ago my husband and I moved to Missouri to some owner financed land we found by searching a nation wide real estate listing book. We had determined that this was where more cattle could be run on less acreage than any where else. The land only had a well on it.

Years later we own 949 acres of grasses, valuable walnut, white and red oak timber, barns and a beautiful 4000 sq foot home on the land.

I would love to show you how to do something like this. Keep in mind it does not involve living with the attitude "I want it all now." but the rewards are great.

Guest's picture
Melvyn

Mine would be called "Shopping Around - Never Pay More Than You Have To"

Comparison shopping has been ingrained in me from a very young age and ensuring value on every purchase was something my mother really pushed back when times were tougher.

Today's hyperconnected world where all the competitors are, to use a horrid cliche, only a click away, it simply makes no sense to pay the first price you see for something.

I think the story gets interesting when you start to rationalize why cheaper isn't always better even for the same article. For example, factoring in the convenience, experience, and peace-of-mind when buying from Amazon.com instead of BillyBob'sBookEmporium.info.

Guest's picture
Carole

"My Frugal Tips" by Carole

Guest's picture
ryan

I am not creative, so i dont know what to call my book. Something like "isn't there another way?"

it would pick up where personal finance 101 lets off. it would not really discuss investing in a 401K or CDs. It would delve more into stepping off the beaten path, but look at multiple options in good detail.

something to provide enough basic detail to get someone started, without focusing too much on any one avenue.

discussing lifestyle design and how one can design their retirement investments as well. achievement of balance.

Guest's picture
Kristin

"Socially Libera, Fically Conservative". I don't believe that the two are mutually exclusive.

Guest's picture
kookie

Mine will be called: "Adapting to western lifestyle with eastern habits"

This may be cliche ... but I can truly say that I came to America with $700 in my pocket, no credit history, no job - right out of college.
Now after 7 years of living in the country - I have a great score, good job and plenty saved.

I have adapted well to the country and the lifestyle ... but have not forgotten the ways to save, lifehacks learnt from mom/dad and frugal habits.

Guest's picture
Teresa

My book would be called "Happiness & Money: Finding the Right Balance"

Guest's picture
martha in mobile

Shockingly, You Will Grow Old & Want to Stop Working Someday

Guest's picture
sbm

No silver spoon here

Guest's picture
Sally

It would be about going through life, trying to find ways to make more money and save more money.

Guest's picture
Guest

I was born and raised in the metro area of a big city, by a frugal single mom, and I'm a redhead, hence Urban Squirrel.

Guest's picture
Coco

I'd title it, "You're Not The Only One" I would take personal stories from the 2008/2009 and share lessons learned. We all made mistakes (not choosing 'safe' mix of 401k, letting the CCard companies run amok, spending unwisely, etc.) Since a lot of people have hit the bottom (whatever that is for them), I would guess that their pride might prevent them from seeking sensible financial help. No quick fixes, just a little hand-holding and the fact that it will get better.

Guest's picture
Danielle

I feel like I am ripping me off since this is already the title of my blog, but it would be The Frugal Lawyer: Former Nobility in the Land of Financial Irresponsibility.

Guest's picture
MAJ

Prodigal Frugality

Guest's picture
Kelli

I'm torn between "To Hell and Back" about the many money mistakes I've made and how I racked up quite a bit of debt yet worked my way out of it and "Living on the Cheap and Loving It" about my daily life now and all my frugal escapades.

Guest's picture
Lucy

Title: Financial Independence Via Barnes and Noble

I was on fire after reading Terhorst's book, "Cashing Out..", Robins & Dominquez's "Your Money or Your Life", and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad", as well as all of Amy Daczsyn's (sp?) stuff: I paid off my mortgage, set up passive income as outlined by Dominquez, did everything " by the books" and was able to go to a celebratory luncheon when I was laid off from my job, go back to school to "finally" get my degree,( just for myself), drop in and out of the job market when I was interested in a particular project (software engineering), take care of my mother's needs in her final decline, and just in general lead a very flexible, low-stress life -

Guest's picture
Olivia

Bohemian Flair on a Budget

Growing up in an artist's family meant I was surrounded by financially strapped folk who lived imaginatively. They pursued what they loved, interacted with stimulating people, and created beauty around themselves. Many consider this life the prerogative of the rich. Not so. It's a matter of discovering and embracing the possibilities.

Guest's picture
Peggy

My book title would be "Pay Your Bills On Time!" but it would be a very short book since I am not one to mince words. I wish people would just use common sense sometimes...

I would also love to write the "anti-Shopaholic" book since I'm sick of that sort of chick lit but that's another story.

Guest's picture
Jenny

"Find a Penny, Pick it Up"

Guest's picture
Christina

The book would be titled "Financing Fun and Adventure" and it would discuss being a kid with a credit card and the dangers of racking up debt young as well as living abroad and finding the balance between the value and cost of exploration.

Guest's picture
dawn

Flying Solo to the Finish Line

The book would be about how to secure your own financial future as a single person. I''m a big believer in controlling your own destiny. topics would include starting saving early, buy and hold strategies, low-cost index mutual funds, envisioning your retirement early and eliminating debt asap.

Guest's picture
Stephanie

Well the book i am writing is a travel tips book, dedicated to helping save money when visiting costa rica. Its called Tips for Costa Rica and my husband and I were inspired to write it when travelling this beautiful country. We both live in Costa Rica, and we have a lot more insight and inside info than the other travel guides, because we have to be careful with our money every day.

thanks for this post!
http://www.tipsforcostarica.com

Guest's picture
Debbie M

What about a book that gives the reader an "oh yeah? I'll show you!" attitude, thus motivating them to improve their finances.

Some chapter titles might include:

* Real men don't cook.
* Americans are too spoiled to live without consumer credit.
* No one in their right mind would buy a ten-year-old car.
* You're too old to have a roommate.
* Thrift shops are for losers.
* Budgeting: you can't handle the truth.

(You know, all those things that sort of feel true sometimes or are kind of true, but they don't have to be.)

Guest's picture
Poor Child

My book would be titled 'Ask Your Mother'

As a recent college grad, I've slowly but surely been taking charge of my own finances. Although I am lucky to have parents that don't charge me rent to stay in my childhood home, or ask for money to help pay for the food, it's time I started to pay for some of my own bills i.e. phone, auto insurance. Completely okay.

The problem came in when I received my student loans. From day one of college, my mom had said to me 'now, I will be paying for your college but you will be graduating with a few loans you'll need to pay off.' Light conversation. I was a kid, I hardly knew what that meant nor did I think about it after that one day conversation.

To my surprise, I'm about 30 grand deep in debt. It's nice that parents want their children to stay happy and go to college, but it is just not right to sign off loans under their name and not properly explain to them what is going on. I would have saved more and reconsidered many choices had I known I'd be this much in debt.

So, ask your mother!

Guest's picture
Fee

1. Surviving Detroit's "New" Great Depression
We relocated for a job at the start of the auto last bust; lost said job a year later and climbed out of the whole, sold a house in the down market (in less than five months), and are managing a debt repayment (from being unemployed for 2 years) and still saving....

2. Child of Hip Hop - You Actually Have to Work for BLING?
This one I would write for my nieces and nephews to pass on my wisdom from my years in "the school of hard knocks".

Guest's picture
Mariel Martinez

I would include 7 chapters, and seven days on them... I will start on SUNDAY, in which I realized many people around me were expecting more of my life, in the sense that I need stability, get rid of clutter, and so on... MONDAY will be the day I actually make a list of the things I need to do, create a budget and prepare emergency plans; TUESDAY would be a day for checking my home, checking the books and the information on some of the topics (preparation); WEDNESDAY would be the day I recall WHY I am doing (or not doing) some of the stuff I do (or don´t) and visualise my new life and my new job, and my perfect home, partner, family, etc. THURSDAY would be the day I would check WHERE I am compared to where I want to be, creating several SMALL, EASY goals to each targeted area; I would use the ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE for doing that. FRIDAY would be the day I call someone special to me (may be my partner) to make an arrangement to talk to me about how I would advanced each day and start my rebirth by recycling ideas and food for the whole week, and do laundry and checking all of the devices I use, taking note of the mainteinance they need and when. SATURDAY I would rest, go to the park, meditate about space and use of things, and I would get rid of several items I wish someone else could enjoy as much as I did, or even more... Because, if I take out stuff, I will have more room for me, or for other stuff I actually use or need... Now that I know what it is, why it is, and how I can get there by simple actions, I am completed RECYCLED yet, good as NEW.

Guest's picture
Lain

"Poor and Peace."
We are making 2/3 what we did a few years ago, but we're coming to terms with it and in many ways are happier as a family.

Guest's picture
Carol

or Digging out from Mental Illness: The mistakes I made, and what I'll be doing different from now on.

Like....even though you married a hard-working, college educated, amazing person, you cannot predict their mental stability.

Like....don't assume that your mentally ill spouse can't get credit because he no longer has credit cards!

And....don't ever sign an open ended loan agreement requiring only one signature for a joint loan, no matter how much you trust the other person!!!

And....don't stop at one backup plan, two or more is better, because some of them might not work the way you thought.

And....don't be so afraid to tell people what is going on...sometimes they can help....sometimes it just feels good to "get it off your chest"...

And....every payment gets me closer to normal :-)

Guest's picture
allison taylor

"How to make a million dollars and have absolutely no money left at all." I actually did this. I also started with nothing as well, just really good credit, and the ability to make large chunks of money in more than one profession quickly as needed, plus a bank that believed in what i was doing. It was the eleventh bank, after i was turned down by ten other banks before that. lol. I didn't go bankrupt at all, however, i was consistently cash poor because i kept putting about 90 percent of my money into more enterprises and leaving about 10 percent for me to live on.

What got me down in the end was corruption, which you don't expect when you are young and full of hope and faith and belief in the system. haha. In school, they leave out the corruption part. That there can be a president of a different bank redirecting your funds into his bank and moving the funds around for his own use; that there is identity theft and people showing up even at banks saying they are you in order to steal your money; that there are people who pay off security guards even if you live in a high-end secure building and go into your condo and steal your personal things, that security guards can be so corrupt that they put in extensions to your phone line at the security desk and steal and sell your telephone messages; that there are companies that are run by corrupt individuals who will switch their books around in order not to PAY their employees, one of whom is YOU when they owe you money and even if you have copies of the invoices that they owe will break into your house and steal your copies which are the only proof of what they owe; that there are entire police forces (some of whom get busted but this takes YEARS and life is too short to wait) WHO won't write up a proper police report even when multiple people are being robbed in the luxury buildings where all of you live, because the police themselves are receiving a piece of what is stolen (i saw this happen in two different towns before i basically gave up).

That if they can't get you in all of these ways, they will inject you with drugs, while you are out and about or walking down the street (biological warfare drugs that aren't even legal and don't have ANY positive to them at all so shouldn't even be in existence or any poison they can get their hands on) and no one can fight off drugs. So you find other ways to live besides "in the system." This isn't even all of it, i could write more...so its not just succeeding in the system and finding ways to improve life for many people, its also a matter of fighting off corruption and then it becomes do you want to bother with that. personally, i don't, thanks, life is too short and i don't feel any of it makes a difference. what good is it to come up with a legal solution, when in the next election the new law can be cancelled and won't exist anymore. all that fighting for nothing.

but hey, if you want to make a million dollars (which today isn't even that much anyway) and have absolutely no money left at all, i can tell you how to do it. lol.