Do you have a friend who always needs to “borrow” some cash? Does your friend always seem to be experiencing some type of financial hardship and frequently promises to “get you next time” after you’ve treated him to yet another dinner, lunch, or some other favor? Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from people like this. In fact, you should pay attention to everything they’re doing wrong so that you can make sure not to follow suit. This is exactly what author William S. Matthews did, and he shares his advice in the forthcoming book, Everything I Needed to Know About Money I Learned from My Broke @$$ Friends. Matthews took some time to chat with The Cheat Sheet about the book and how paying attention to the financial missteps of others can save you a lifetime of heartache.
The Cheat Sheet: What prompted you to write this book?
William S. Matthews: After countless discussions with friends, I was amazed and saddened by the money decisions many were making. The majority were living paycheck-to-paycheck. I thought it would be cool to compile some of the most interesting conversations into a book with tips in hopes of helping anyone making the same money mistakes. Money and finances are very sensitive subjects, but if [the book] was humorous, light, and offered knowledge, it would be great ingredients for a beneficial and fun read.
CS: What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned from your broke friends?
WM: Image is not everything — do not compare yourself to others. For years I struggled with friends making more money than me or having a fancier car or a corner office with an assistant, but I realized that perception is not everything. The same people I was envious of were miserable trying to maintain “status.” People who appear to have so much are often unhappy. Protecting and maintaining status is a full-time job.
The Cheat Sheet: What are some ways to have that “something new” feeling without spending a lot of money?
William S. Matthews: Spend half the day at the spa; often you can take advantage of promotions and specials if you sign up for the mailing list. Shop at consignment and thrift stores in elite neighborhoods, or take a staycation. Making yourself feel good or having something new does not involve spending a lot of money. Think outside the box and find new ways to spoil yourself without opening your wallet.
CS: What lessons do you want readers to take away from your book?
WM: There are options available if you run into hard times, but most times people are too embarrassed to ask. In the book, I provide sample letters, and content to use when dealing with a debt collector or creditor. There are tips for recent college graduates, singles, married couples, and empty nesters. I have written the book with an open heart. I hope people will read it with an open mind.
CS: Why do some people stay broke?
WM: Money management is about choice — choosing how to spend and save your money. Often, people’s material needs meet or exceed their income. Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a luxury car, designer labels, and enormous debt).