Why Do People Think They Can Read Themselves out of Debt?

Today on one of the personal finance message boards I read, a user posted this “how do I get out of debt” question:

I have been reading this board for a while now and enjoy learning from everyone’s experiences.  I have been interested lately in reading more books about getting out of debt/budgeting, etc.  I wanted to get opinions on the best books to read for this.

So, this poster wanted to read a book to help her get out of debt.  One of the posted responses to this question was quite interesting (or plain goofy – you decide):

you prompted me to get out an old textbook  — i wanted to be accurate in describing the Stages of Change (called the Transtheoretical Model; defined as: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance). inside these 5 constructs include the Processes of Change, including (but not only): consciousness raising, experiencing negative emotions that go along with current actions (called Dramatic Relief), and self-reevaluation.

After I read this touchy-feely, psycho-response, my first thought was “what the …. does that mean and how will it help pay off debt?”

My second thought was why this reader wanted to spend more money (on books about getting out of debt) instead of applying that money to the debt.

Finally, I just could not help myself.  Mr. ToughMoneyLove posted a reply to the “I want to read to get out of debt” thread.  This is what I wrote:

I once picked up a book on getting out of debt.  The book started out with “Spend less than you make.”  The next sentence said:  “Don’t buy stuff you do not absolutely need.”  The third sentence said:  “Use the cash that you do not spend on stuff that you don’t need to pay off your debt.”  All of that sort of made sense so I stopped reading.

Now I haven’t actually read a book like that but I hope you catch my drift.  Anyway, Mr. ToughMoneyLove has posted many replies like this on personal finance message boards before.  Often, the message threads come to a screeching halt after my post is displayed.  As I write this, the same thing has happened to the “what can I read to get out of debt”  thread.  I can only conclude from this frequent reaction that (a) people in debt don’t like to hear or read logic, hard truth, or tough love commentary about their bad money habits and (b) they don’t even want to debate me about it.  

OK, maybe I am being a little harsh here.  There are probably some folks who are in debt who could benefit from reading a guide on how to set up a budget, how to track expenses, and how to save money in specific expense categories.  All of that can be learned from reading some of the excellent personal finance blogs written by people who have gone through the “get out of massive debt” process.  AND ITS FREE!  You can find some very good ones at the Money Blog Network.    But, if you are going to ask for reading help about debt, ask this question:  “What books can I read to keep me from getting in debt?”   Those are the books that need reading, don’t you think?

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2 Responses to “Why Do People Think They Can Read Themselves out of Debt?”
  1. MJ says:

    For people struggling to fight their way out of debt the detailed information & tools of some budget planning books may be useful. However, rather than spending money on a book or books that may not have an appropriate financial approach for an individual go to your local public library. Your local public library is free & and most have or can order a book or books that you may find helpful. The money saved by using the public library -AKA- your tax dollars working for you can then be applied to your debt reduction.
    Most libraries have online search & book summaries on tjeir website or have onsite computers for searches if you do not have access to a cpmputer.
    Remember when working down your debt load -every little bit helps.

  2. DoctorS says:

    If it was so simple to just read a book and be out of debt, then this world would be a whole lot simpler. I have been trying to ge tout of deb the last 2 years since I graduated college, I ahve been reading books and they help give me perspective of where I have been and where I want to be. However, it takes action on my part to get the ball rolling and make moves. People need to hold themselves accountable for every penny they spend if they want to get out of debt. It all matters from small to big.

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