Review: Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cary Siegel

Quick review for a very quick read. Literally, there are 99 tips in this book with relation to personal finance and the author delves into each notation with precise and somewhat helpful advice. I’ll admit what made me pick up this book was a combination of different things – the promise of a quick read, the expansion on personal financial management, and the quirky title. (True, there are many people that ask why people aren’t taught money management through their schooling, regardless of level.)

The book is divided into several sections:
1. Life Lesson
2. Budgeting and Saving Lesson
3. Spending Lesson
4. Debt and Credit Card Lesson
5. Investing Lesson
6. Housing Lesson
7. Quick Tips

There were definitely many helpful tips in each section to peruse – I though the “Spending”, “Debt and Credit Card,” “Investing” and “Quick Tips” were the most helpful and practical, though some state the obvious. (i.e. “Debt is Bad”, but the author gives the rationale that this bears repeating because of how many will give advice on how it is helpful to carry debt – which he notes is not true.) It’s a quick read, and there are things that are useful to pick up for each topic and section given in the narrative.

Yet, I was really bothered by the assumptions and blanket statements made throughout this book, which prompts me to say there are much better, more inclusive narratives on personal finance than this, despite some turns of useful/practical advice. Such assumptions could be found – for example – in the “Life Lesson” section – such directions don’t necessarily translate to everyone’s lifestyles or practices. (i.e. “Marrying well” isn’t an option if there are single people who wish to stay single or live in a lifelong partnership. Also…gender assumptions when it comes to relationships and money – not cool at all.) The “soapbox” comments are one too many, judgmental, and tangential, they detract from the overarching value of the narrative.

Overall, I don’t regret the quick read, but it’s not a narrative I would return to when there are other turns of literature that are more thorough, thoughtful, and informative.

Overall score: 2/5 stars.


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