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We Millennials are kind of a weird generation, aren’t we? We’re known for participation trophies, hipster beards, and avocado toast. We grew up (more or less) with the Internet, cell phones, and social media, and the notion of getting any information we need with just a tap is something we all take for granted. According to our stereotypes, we learn new things quickly, don’t like asking for help, and get offended easily. We’re constantly redefining what “normal” is in our society, and “taboo” is being replaced with “transparency” everywhere you look.
So why are we still so squeamish when it comes to talking about money? Maybe it’s because with a few exceptions, we still aren’t being taught how to handle it in schools? Or because we can’t figure out how to have everything our parents have right out of college, even though they’ve worked for it their whole lives while we’re just starting ours?
Whatever the reason, Erin Lowry wants to change the conversation. Her book, Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together serves as Personal Finance 101 for anyone who’s willing to listen. There’s no financial jargon, no judgment, and no snoozing here. She uses her own experiences to talk about everything from budgeting and the basics of credit reports to retirement planning and investment strategies. She also slips tons of useful stuff in aimed directly at Millennials, like how to negotiate a salary for your first real job, what it might look like to move back home after college, and of course, the dreaded student loan beast. While not a workbook in the strictest sense, she’s got several DIY sections mixed in where appropriate to get you to run the numbers for yourself rather than just listen to hers.
Erin weaves her sense of humor in throughout the book to keep you engaged and keep the mood from getting too dry. She also puts recaps of her material in at the end of each chapter, which is nice if you somehow manage to find yourself spacing out anyway. The only thing I didn’t really like – and this is just a personal preference, you may find it helpful – is that she constantly tells you that it’s okay to flip to other chapters as you’re reading to dig more into whatever she’s talking about in a given paragraph. I get that not everyone is going to sit through and read a personal finance book cover to cover (though those people are weird), but for someone like me who has the attention span of a squirrel, it was super distracting to get through three sentences and then be told to flip ahead three chapters to finish the thought. In fact, I think Erin herself may have gotten a little distracted while she was writing it, because there were at least two occasions where the exact same paragraph appeared more than once as I was reading.
Erin and I don’t agree on everything that she advocates doing (opening up credit cards just for the points? Not for me), but it’s her book, and she does a good job of defending why she recommends the things she does, so I’ll give her, ah… credit… for that. Other than that and her strange obsession with quadruple-checking that your bank is FDIC-insured (maybe she knows something we don’t), her advice is super solid, and she’s a voice well worth listening to in a crowded space full of people who all seem to say different things. Broke Millennial reads more like a conversation between friends and less like a seminar on everything you’re doing wrong with money, and I think that will resonate well with the 20-30 year old crowd who maybe aren’t quite ready to admit they’re not doing as spectacularly as they were told they would be at this point in life.
Buy/Borrow/Pass? Buy. Erin’s combination of wit, humor, and sass is just the combination our generation needs to get interested in personal finance.
Got a suggestion for a book I need to read or review in future months? Let me know in the comments, or by sending me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to check out my bookshelf for other great stuff to read!