There are two books I regularly see younger doctors carrying around, sneaking a chapter during a coffee break or between theatre cases. The first is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, which I reviewed here. The second is (delightfully titled) Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup by Sam Beckbessinger.
Manage Your Money first took South Africa by storm in 2018, and I stubbornly managed to resist the trend for a good 18 months. I DO know about money! I thought to myself. Sure, I may not be a CA, but we learned about compound interest in school. Isn’t that the only calculation that really affects me?
My financial planning was based on three rules, which I did not always manage to follow:
- Avoid debt
- Spend less than I earn
- Save for One Day When I’m Big (Old)
I had none of these fleshed out – no SMART framework, no penned down plans, just… those three rules, on a sticky note in my brain somewhere.
But the book persisted, and on one particularly bad budgeting day, I decided to order it online. (Yes, my response to feeling shitty about finance is to buy books.)
As it turns out, you don’t know what you don’t know. (But we all know that.)
Part of the great success of Manage Your Money is certainly Beckbessinger’s writing style – which is candid and humorous, but not artificial. Her primary work is as a writer, not a financial guru. The content of Manage Your Money is all stuff she learned and researched for herself (and for her book, I suppose).
Sam swears. Sam references Harry Potter. She even introduces some freaking cute pets, snorgles, which for some reason I keep referring to as nargles – oops. Here, this is what a snorgle looks like:
Basically, Sam writes like I speak, so I could relate.
A common interaction in my house now goes like this:
ONE: Watcha up to, babe?
TWO: Oh, just listening to Sam.
(I read it, but my partner listened to it in audio.)
Or this might come up in conversation:
“But Sam says…”
Sam is fast becoming part of our household – we’re basically on first name terms now, can ya tell? (I haven’t met her, but we had a short twitter interaction, which is basically the same thing, right?)
As I was saying, there is a LOT I didn’t know. The beauty of it is that she doesn’t delve into the depths of financial accounting. She does not use much math beyond addition and subtraction, and maybe some multiplication. You don’t need a financial calculator, and she provides links to calculators to use for more complex calcs.
Sam also has a website, where she provides a spreadsheet with every document she mentions creating in her book. I recommend actually DOING IT (the writing/planning) while you read. I even made notes, but then, I am a nerd.
A warning: If your finances are dubious (so basically, the majority of my generation), Manage Your Money will make you feel all the things. Luckily, Sam addresses this. One of the most salient points right at the beginning is that “Money should feel emotional”.
There are also some handy journal prompts to work through those feelings. Some more advice: actually answer them IN WRITING. The first time I read Manage Your Money, I answered the prompts in my head, still felt anxious, and promptly threw it under my bed for a month. The second time, I wrote them down, felt my feelings, and carried on.
Human nature, psychology, and modern society are explored in Manage Your Money, which I suspect makes it different from many other Books About Money (not that I’ve read [m]any). It also does not provide any magical “get rich quick” advice. One or two things I felt were perhaps more applicable to people living in bigger cities, but it did not detract from the experience.
One more thing, which provided the impetus for this review: Sam points out that we (society) have been conditioned not to talk about money. It’s “rude” or “inappropriate”. Turns out, talking about money could be one of the healthiest things we can do – as friends, as a couple, or as a family.
Lastly, this is not a sponsored review. I paid for this book with my own hard-earned money – because books are one of the few things I spend on lavishly (and Sam Says it’s okay to “know what you’re perfectly okay with spending on, and will never stop yourself from spending on.”)