Jerrold Mundis’ HOW TO GET OUT OF DEBT

Freelance writer Jerrold Mundis wrote my favorite book on how to deal with writer’s block, BREAK WRITER’S BLOCK NOW, which I blogged about last year.   Well, he also wrote my favorite book on how to deal with debt and cash flow, called HOW TO GET OUT OF DEBT, STAY OUT OF DEBT, AND LIVE PROSPEROUSLY, Revised Edition.

I’ve heard it said that a writer needs to pay off all unsecured debts (such as credit cards) and save up a year’s salary before quitting a day job.   HOW TO GET OUT OF DEBT can help with any debt problems and also provide guidance on tracking monthly expenses to start saving.

The methodology of the book is based on the principles and techniques of Debtor’s Anonymous (DA).   Mundis was a counselor for DA for a number of years before he wrote the book.   So the book focuses on keeping it simple–the psychology of debting, taking care of debt, and making budgets.  If you’re looking for a book on investing, this isn’t it.

I read the book over a year-and-a-half ago, and tried out the techniques.  They worked very well.    All our unsecured debts are now paid off, for which I’m very grateful to DA (for developing the methods in the first place) and Mundis’ book.

The one part of the book I disagreed with was completely getting rid of all credit cards.  I kept just one credit card, locked away, and learned to save up the money to pay for a purchase before putting it on the credit card.  However, if someone cannot keep from abusing credit cards, I can understand why Mundis urges all credit cards must be canceled.

The book is also interspersed with tales of Mundis’ life as a freelance writer (writing both novels and non-fiction).  Since he’s made his living that way for almost his entire career, these brief asides made for fascinating reading.  Here’s an example:

… I spend the morning developing an idea for a magazine article, type up a proposal, and send it off to an editor.  That is an action I can take, that part is mine.  What happens afterward–the result–is totally beyond my control.  The editor may give me the assignment.  She may ask me to rework the idea and submit it again.  She may reject it but ask me to submit others.  Or she may reject it without comment….

It is the very concern with results–usually played out in an imagined negative scenario–that inhibits most of us from taking action in the first place…. Thus, paradoxically, we eliminate any possibility of a positive result because of our fear of a negative result; we never achieve what we desire because we don’t take the action that might turn that desire into reality….

The above two paragraphs are a handy quote to share with anyone who has had trouble with submissions block.

There are other behavioral techniques that Mundis briefly discusses towards the end of the book that can be used to improve one’s productivity as a writer.   An unexpected fringe benefit.

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