The Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough is a guide for young, independent women with a tendency to over shop and not pay attention to their finances. A group of five friends gathered to form a money group, where they were brutally honest about themselves in terms of their financial standings; debts, savings, income, etc. Although the group seems to be pretty diverse, they are for the most part single, or dating with no kids, and live the Sex and the City lifestyle of shopping at expensive stores to keep up the appearance of wealth and glitz. It took me a while to get into this book, to be honest. Once I realized who the target audience was, I was better able to analyze their tips and tricks for saving money, investing in stocks and just coming to terms that women have to take financial responsibility and accountability.
The organization of the book is hard to follow, especially if you are looking for a structured plan of action. This isn’t a book you can pick up and say “In week one, I’ll do this.” The group tends to jump around with their path. They’ll have you create a spending plan early on in the book, but towards the later half, they’ll actually mention the most relevant elements that go into a spending plan. Each chapter had its own focus, and within each chapter, each of the five woman wrote a little blurb about their experience in this situation and how they got out of it. The book is also a bit repetitive, which is a shame, because there is a lot of useful and important information that I feel got lost in the jumble. There were also a lot of topics that I wish they had expanded on instead of just glossing over.
The very last few chapters actually felt like a financial self-help book when they started discussing stocks, investments, savings plans and even real estate purchases. There are a lot of good facts sprinkled through the book about financial awareness, and the secret fees and fines from credit companies. For my situation, the first half of the book was the most relevant. Sitting down and looking through 3 months worth of bills, bank statements and investments. There is a worksheet included for all this information to really see where the money goes each month. Later on in the book there is another worksheet for planning the actual budget, the spending plan. This was an especially useful tool, particularly for women who can’t seem to keep their credit cards at bay. The tip I thought was the most useful was to designate a special fund called “fun money” each week. The women would set up a certain amount to take out from the bank each week, and this would be the cap for all non-necessity purchases; such as shoes, accessories, manicures, etc. I’ve been trying to do something like that for a while, but it never quite worked. Taking out the money in cash and keeping it in an envelope is a great way to really be aware of what you are saving and on what you are spending that money.
The ladies do emphasis that saving money does not mean forgoing all your favorite stores and restaurants. When you’ve learned to be in control of your spending habits and can be confident that you can actually afford that purchase, then they encourage you to buy those jeans, or whatever the case may be. In addition to the worksheets, there are also a number of inexpensive alternatives for hanging out with friends, and co-workers.
As I said above, this book is primarily geared towards women in their late 20’s, early 30s who are mostly single and are shopaholics. This book can also be used for women recently divorced and just coming into a world of financial responsibility and awareness. If you’ve never actually been in control of your finances before, this book will certainly be the encouragement needed to pull out that paperwork and get a plan in action. There is even a section in the back that gives advice on starting your own money group, but you can still continue individually. A money group acts as a support group, someone to call when you needed to be talked out of an expensive purchase or to share ideas with.
This is book 2 for my Dewey Decimal Challenge for the 300s century. The call number for this book is: 332.024 Smart
FINAL GRADE: BThe Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough w/ Jean Barrett Delacorte Press, 2008 ISBN 9780385342445 211 pages