Synopses & Reviews
Jean Chatzky has been working with viewers of NBC's Today show for ayearlong series on how to get out of debt once and for all. Her method, both on TV and in this book, is simple yet powerful: the key is saving just $10 a day that you currently waste. It doesn't sound like much a movie ticket or lunch for two at McDonald's but $10 really can take you from debt to wealth in just a few years. And because it doesn't feel like an impossible goal, people are more likely to stick with Chatzky's plan than an extreme regimen of spending cutbacks.
Chatzky is focusing on debt because it's the single biggest threat to our financial health. The average American family has sixteen credit cards and high-rate debt of more than $8000, not even counting car loans and mortgages. They pay more than $1000 a year in interest alone. Debt makes people feel depressed and overwhelmed, leaving them without enough money for the truly important things in life education, retirement, owning a home, feeling secure.
Chatzky, one of America's most popular personal finance experts, writes in down- to-earth, woman-next-door language about how to get started right away, without giving up the things that truly give you pleasure. She offers practical, accessible strategies to help readers find the money to pay off their bills, lower their interest rates, and improve their credit scores. Featuring real-life examples of people featured on her Today show series, Pay It Down can transform debtors into future millionaires.
"The number one enemy of the American family's finances is debt, says Chatzky especially credit card debt. The average American family, she reports, has 16 credit cards carrying a debt load of more than $8,000. In this terrific little book, the Today Show financial editor and author of You Don't Have to Be Rich and other titles offers a tough-minded but workable plan for getting rid of that burden. Chatzky's program builds from one simple premise: that it's possible for most of us to get debt-free by saving $10 a day for three years. Following the wisdom of knowing a problem in order to conquer it, Chatzky advises that readers first get their credit scores; she explains clearly how to do that, what the scores mean and how to improve them. She then recommends that readers learn what, exactly, they are spending their money on, and provides appropriate worktables and steps to accomplish that. A large section of the book is devoted to resourceful ways to find the $10 a day, with Chatzky suggesting that readers make hard choices regarding everything from eliminating the cost of their wireless device (their Palm Pilot, for instance), if they have one, to refinancing a car loan and putting on a garage sale. Instructions follow on how to 'pay it down' intelligently, and the book concludes with lucid instructions on how to deal with worst-case debt scenarios and how to maintain and enhance one's debt-free financial status once it's achieved. Throughout, the text is personalized by brief stories of those who have worked their way into, then out of, crushing debt, as well as by glimpses of Chatzky's own story. This is that rare book that has the genuine ability to improve many lives. Its power lies in its simplicity and focus, and in Chatzky's caring and thorough but no-nonsense approach. It seems that even a financial naif can follow Chatzky's advice and turn night into day. If enough people do, this book may become the landmark title it has the potential to be. Agent, Richard Pine. (Sept. 2) Forecast: With Chatzky's many media platforms, including her regular stints on The Today Show and in Money magazine, plus promotional activies taking place on AOL and elsewhere, expect this title to hit national lists, possibly in a very big way." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Jean Chatzky helps you change the way you think about your money and shows that getting out of debt is not as hard as it seems." David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire
This companion book to a yearlong "Today" show series tackles the number one personal finance challenge: getting out of debt.
About the Author
Jean Chatzky is the financial editor for NBC's Today show, has monthly column in Money magazine, and is a featured columnist for USA Weekend and Time.
Table of Contents
the promise ix
Introduction: Getting Ahead and Staying Ahead xv
Assess the Problem 1
Break Your Challenge into Manageable Steps 15
Know and Manage Your Credit Score 21
Track Your Spending 43
Find the Money 61
Find the Money: Consolidating Your Debts 91
Find the Money: Spending Less 107
Find the Money: Making Hard Choices, Selling Assets, Earning More 141
Pay It DownIntelligently 159
How to Deal When Things Go Wrong 171
Staying Ahead of the Game 189
Afterword: Congratulations 211