Broke Millennial

Full disclosure: I am a broke millennial. So it should come as no surprise that, upon seeing this aptly titled self-help book, I was drawn to it and all the financial woes I hoped it would solve.

I actually first bought Erin Lowry’s Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together as a gift for my younger sister, an even broker millennial than myself. But as I held onto the book, before wrapping it up with a bow and tag, I found myself flipping through it more than once. Instead of rushing through it before giving it to my sister, I decided to buy my own copy.

The question on your mind is likely, “So did it help you? Did you get your financial life together and graduate from broke millennial to rich millennial?” That is, of course, the point of a self-help book about personal finance.

With Broke Millennial, I think its helpfulness really depends on the age and experience of its audience. My sister found it to be tremendously helpful in navigating her finances, and she’s already put many of its tips into practice. For me, though, it wasn’t nearly as useful. For all the financial tips and wisdoms here – many of which truly are useful and I plan to utilize – they don’t solve the major issues that cause me the most stress (namely, crippling student loan debt and a job that doesn’t pay well enough). In my case, the book was a bit too basic or entry-level.

Broke Millennial does offer a ton of useful and smart advice, and younger readers will likely find it greatly informative. But for me, up through the 14th chapter, I already knew the majority of what Erin talked about. I have a budget that works for me, I know credit cards as well as she does, and I know all the tricks and dangers in navigating life with student loan debt. I know how to stick to a budget despite friends and family, and my husband and I fully trust each other and know all about one another’s finances. The first three fourths of the book didn’t feel super helpful – perhaps because, at 28, I’m a more experienced and financially savvy millennial than younger readers may be – but they did make me more confident in what I’m already doing.

The chapters from which I learned the most came later in the book. Namely, I am now more prepared to take the leap into full-on #adulting and start saving for retirement and investing. Investing has long felt like a scary leap, as has navigating retirement plans, but Broke Millennial assuaged my fears and has provided the information I need to finally dive into these daunting financial realms.

Beyond the actual advice and tools offered in Broke Millennial, the book is also an accessible and enjoyable read. Erin Lowry writes in a way that is light and sometimes funny, but still informed, intelligent, and helpful. Topics like finance can be hard to digest, and much writing on the subject is difficult to understand, mind-numbingly boring, and intimidating to those not already familiar with the subject. Luckily, Erin avoids these common pitfalls, instead offering up a useful guide that anyone can understand and put into action. It’s also refreshing to get advice for millennials from a fellow millennial. Who understands us better than one of our own?

The only drawback here is one that is out of Erin’s control: She seems to have come from a rather privileged family. She never suffered from crushing student loan debt, as her parents were able to pay her way through college. She never accrued credit card debt. She never struggled to find a job – any job – that would pay a fair wage given the degrees she’s earned. On the one hand, it’s good to get advice from someone so financially sound. But coming from my lower-class background, it’s hard to take her seriously when she gives advice about things she never went through. It’s hard to believe that she understands just how difficult it is to be poor, and how difficult it is to save and pay off debt when you don’t earn enough.

Overall, Broke Millennial is a well-written, helpful, and, at times, amusing book. It’s approachable to its audience, and depending on how young or inexperienced with money they are, it will be a valuable aid in navigating adult life. My 25-year-old sister found it extremely helpful and she learned a lot from it. I already knew most of what was in the first 14 chapters, but found the last few chapters very useful. It’s a book that can be referred to again and again as different financial scenarios come up. Broke Millennial isn’t perfect, but it is among the best financial advice books for millennials that I’ve come across. I fully recommend it to anyone who wants to get a better handle on their own finances.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


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