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on September 15, 2002
The Good:
Hunt's book has a lot of great information that for the most part is clearly written. She covers everything from credit reports, to mortgages, to insurance and how to save money in these categories. The plan she leaves us with in order to get out of debt is a strong and solid one, that still allows you to have a life and actually create a savings plan wbile paying off debt. Using an RDRP calculator I designed for myself, I was pleased to see that I can pay off my $32,000 of debt in six and a half years, not taking into account and tax refunds, or raises beyond the cost of living increases I may take in.
The Bad:
As with any book that tries to get you to change your life, you need to pick and choose the ideas that best suit you and fit your lifestyle. Hunt tells us we should give 10% of our money away, in a sense back to God. Among other reasons, this is to feel more connected with the world. She states a few times how people write in saying that they'd rather give their time and how Hunt feels this runs counter to the principles of giving away money. I for one, feel much more connected to the world when I am volunteering - writing checks and putting them in the mail is what you do to those evil credit card people you're trying to get rid of.
Another GLARING frustration I had with the book was all the shameless plugs to her website. Not because I am against shameless plugs, but because in order to ACCESS the features she mentions, you have to buy a subscription! Key to the whole book is her Rapid Debt Repayment Plan (RDRP) which, as she puts it on her website, can be a very complicated thing to figure out on your own. If you have rudimentary knowledge of a spreadsheet program, such as excel (and no, you don't HAVE to be a financial whiz to figure it out), know how to use formulas and even hide columns, you can crete a RDRP for yourself and save yourself the $20 yearly subscription.
I found this caveat frustrating because it was not stated in the book that this was a subscription source (perhaps it wasn't when the book was published). So if you buy this book and can't figure out excel for yourself, you could easily spend almost $40 in no time that isn't going towards your credit payments. This issue made me question the line Hunt walks between her capitalistic enterprise (which she admits she loves) and her desire to truly help those of us out there with debt. What about giving 10% back to her readers?
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on June 8, 2005
In 2000, I left Graduate School with over $20,000 in debt from a student loan, car loan, and credit card bills used to pay for groceries during my graduate studies. ($800/month is not a lot to live on!)

I didn't learn any sensible budgeting techniques in high school, college, or graduate school. I decided I needed to learn to handle my money better and needed to get out of debt. I found this book at the Christian bookstore and purchased it. It revolutionized my financial thinking. It took about 18 months for me to get out of debt, and I have stayed out of debt since.

1. KEY THOUGHT: The Freedom Account. To this day, I still use a Freedom Account. I am married now, but my husband and I have a freedom account fully stocked for a new car in our future, health care, flood insurance, home insurance, car deductibles, etc. It is so freeing to realize you have that money set aside for things that may well/are going to happen. A great technique.

2. KEY THOUGHT: The RDRP (rapid debt repayment plan). So many people tell you you should pay off your highest-interest debts first. To me, it was motivational to start with my smallest debts. It was like a steamroller taking the money that I once was paying for debt A and sending double,triple, or quadruple payments to debt b. I really liked this technique! Currently, my only debt is a house mortgage. I use techniques I learned from the RDRP to pay down my mortgage early as well. I usually make more than twice the monthly payment so I can end my 30 year mortgage within 8 years.

3. KEY THOUGHT: Save 10%, Give 10%, Live off 80%. I really liked that Mary had her 80/10/10 rule . I think it's so important to realize that you have to save and give while still paying off debts. It was a very unique view, and refreshing!

I really think people will enjoy this book. I also subscribed to Mary's Cheapskate Monthly newsletter for several years as I got my finances in order. One nice thing there is as a subscriber you can have access to all the previous issues! I learned about many things there not covered in this book: Price Books, Once-a-month Cooking, Maximizing Food Dollar Value, etc. Fascinating reading :)

I hope I've helped someone... At the very least, you could check tihs book out from a library to read... but, you will likely find that it is well worth the price to buy it!
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on February 23, 2007
Pros: Common sense advice that anyone can follow! It WILL help you get your finances in order and help you change your perspective about the monetary side of life. They should make this a mandatory class for high school and/or college students. The website is extremely useful, as well.

Cons: For me, it was disheartening that I could not put the spending plan into immediate action. For someone who is in serious trouble, the advice she suggests may seem too daunting and too difficult to follow. I do not think this is a flaw on Hunt's behalf, but is more an indicator that people with high debt who are spending beyond their means truly need to make more serious and drastic changes to their way of living.

I have posted my personal experience with Hunt's Debt-Proof Living for you if you'd like to read about the positive possibilities that following Hunt's plan offers.

I read Debt-Proof Living two years ago. At that time, we had about $30,000 in credit card debt, we were paying nearly $3000/month on our mortgage, and my husband and I were both driving around in gas-guzzling shiny vehicles. The financial strain was beginning to take it's toll, putting strain on our relationship, our health, and on every aspect of our life. We were living beyond our means, sinking fast, and I reached for this book in desperation.

We were unable to start the spending plan right away because we did not have money to start it with. Every paycheck that came in went right out to keep bills paid just barely on time. As Mary suggested, this was a warning sign that we were living beyond our means and would need to make more drastic changes in order to get to a financially secure place.

First, we traded in my gas-guzzler for about $9000 and I bought a more economical $4000 used car. I still have it, and other than routine maintenance, we have incurred no other cost with it. It also cut our gas expenses significantly. We used the money to make some home improvements so we could put our house on the market. Unfortunately, it took almost a year for our house to sell. All the while we were now falling behind on our mortgage payments and incurring even more credit card debt maxing them all out at $50,000 before it was all said and done.

We finally sold our 3 acre, 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom home last August, we sold a lot our stuff, or just got rid of it, and we moved to a much more modest 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home, with a small back yard. (I LOVE it!) That cut our mortgage payment by more than half, not to mention cutting my cleaning time by half, too. I took on a part-time job and my husband picked up some extra hours.

This year, we finally got to the place where we could use our tax return to fuel the spending plan suggested by Hunt. It is working like a dream! No more credit cards. We pay cash. If we can't pay cash for something, then we don't get it. We have a savings cushion for unexpected and expected emergencies. This is how it should be. Everyone in my family is happier!

While we are not out of the woods yet with the debt we have accumulated, we can see the light! Even better, if we stick with the spending plan, we will have our home and all of our debt paid off in just 9 years, saving over $100,000 in interest. It will take discipline, but it will leave us with about $40,000 a YEAR just burning a hole in our savings account!

While a total of eleven years, including the two years it took us to get this far, might seem like a long time to get out of debt, had we taken no action, we would have lost our home, and eventually would die of old age and still have the debt! It makes eleven years seem easy!

By following the plan, I have learned just how materialistic and foolish I had been with money. I learned that my family is just as happy, if not happier, with much less "stuff" and space than we had. I have learned to view society in a whole new light, realizing that we are over indulgent and need so much less than we think we need.

What is most important to remember when reading this book is that it is simple, common sense advice for a long term plan. The results that may or may not be seen instantly depending on your individual situation. But ANYONE can improve their financial outlook by following the suggestions in this book.

Ultimately, this book does not give you a band-aid to fix the boo-boos. It gives you a cure!
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on January 6, 2000
I have been working on my debt for 5 years. The last 3 with the help of Mary Hunt, her books and The Cheapskate Monthly Newsletter. I can now say I have entered 2000 unsecured debt free! I did not know what I was going to do. After reading this book I have a plan and a direction. I know where to put my money for my Contigency Fund and how to better manage my Freedom Account. If you don't know what either of these two accounts are get the book! These two accounts along with your own attitude and determination will get you out of debt and keep you that way! This book is an easy read and extremely motivational, what everyone needs if they are contemplating getting rid of DEBT! Mary gives you the tools to JUST DO IT!
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on January 5, 2006
Mary Hunt's "Debt-Proof Living" is one of the books that all families should read and then put the concepts into action. We used an earlier version of this book to get our expenses in control and I used that book to teach a class about handling their money. People that were desperate about their money problems were finally able to be optimistic about how to take control. It will help you learn how to set up a "spending plan" and to maintain your money so you will have it for both necessities and for things you really want. You should read this book but also think about getting her "Debt-Proof Living" newsletter. Be an online subscriber so you can take advantage of the fantastic Toolbox and calculators. Go to [...] I used her "Rapid Debt Repayment Calculator" to first be totally shocked at how much interest we would have to pay for the credit card debt and how long it would take to pay it off. We then used it to figure out how we could pay it off much faster and we saved over $14,000 in interest plus now enjoy the freedom of being "out of debt"! Now is the time to get control of your finances and this book will tell you how to do it!
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on November 3, 2000
I purchased this book on the recommendation of a co-worker after a discussion of financial planning/money management. It was, far and away the best purchase made in this subject matter. Unlike some books of this genre that presume you have $10,000. just laying around and want to tell you what to do with it, this book is for the rest of us. It contains practical advice, mind-blowing information, and step by step instructions for attacking and conquering the debt monster. Additionally, the steps are not presented in an all or nothing type of proposition. You can follow the steps you are able to follow now and implement others later, as you choose. You will not want to borrow this book because you will want to use it as a reference for future financial decisions. You will want your own copy to highlight and tab sections. I have recommended it to everyone I care about and have even bought copies for some of them.
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VINE VOICEon May 10, 2006
With all the passion but none of the overbearing noise of the ex-smoker, the formerly indebted-up-to-her-eyeballs Mary Hunt dispenses not just advice, but a combination of encouragement and practicality to those who are being eaten alive by the modern scourge we call consumer debt.

The author is convinced there's hope, but only if the reader firmly accepts how bad things are without determined action to turn the tide. She constructs a sensible-as-nails approach based on the RDRP (Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan), Contingency Plan, and Freedom Account.

Formerly known as the `Everyday Cheapskate', Hunt has now acquired grativas. She also runs a handy subscription service, the online version of which is rich with tools and links. If you or someone you know is enslaved to debt, Hunt's books are a very good place to start the climb to sanity.
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on June 27, 2000
This is one of the most helpful book on saving and managing money that has ever come out -- and I read almost all of them.
Money is not for spending, Hunt tells us. It is for managing first. And she shows you how to manage your money, and your life, so that everything works out for the best.
A Christian writer, Mary Hunt includes the concept of tithing, giving one's first 10 percent to the church, as part of one's overall financial strategy. I appreciate the fact she does this. By following Mary's other strategies, tithers won't even miss that 10 percent.
Mary's no-nonsense straight talk debunks the hype that many advertisers give out. You'll learn the truth about student loans, leasing cars, buying new cars, credit cards, insurance and much, much more.
Need to pay a mountain of debts? Hunt has the formula. She shows you how to whittle away those loan payments and credit card bills. Once you do that, she explains how to invest and save your money.
Her best ideas concern setting up bank account for those financial "emergencies" that really aren't. We know -- but don't plan for -- our twice-yearly insurance payments, property tax, and occasional car and home repairs. And what's going to happen if you have a sudden illness or lose your job? Instead of putting such expenses on charge cards, Mary shows us how to set up special bank accounts, with special bookeeping methods, that will enable us to pay our way in cash. By having a purpose toward which we spend our money, we won't fritter away our raises.
She's blunt when she needs to be. For example, she says your car should be a means of transportation, not a status symbol. Your common sense, not your ego, should drive your vehicle purchases.
And as for students who want to go to expensive colleges just so they can socialize there, Mary gets the stars out of your -- and your parents' -- eyes. She relates some student loan horror stories that every family should know long before high school graduation. Don't take out a loan just to live off campus or buy a computer; and if you can get educated without taking out a loan, so much the better. Students who work to pay part of their college are less likely to slack off their studies.
Every time I pick up "Debt-Proof Living," I find something else I can use. This book is worth its weight in gold. Everyone should read and heed its advice.
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on February 21, 2000
I am recommending this book to all of my family and friends! It is definitely one of my Top Ten favorite books of all time. I have read many books on money management, especially debt-free living strategies. None that I have read has been as delightful, humorous, and challenging, nor have they equipped me with the tools I needed to budget wisely like Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Living. Of course, living in debt is not a great idea - we all know it's true. But, how do you get from "living in debt" to the place of "financial freedom" - realistically - especially when you are a single-income family? Mary Hunt has creatively designed and skillfully written a plan that makes sense for everyone. Her book is one I am lending to family members (as long as they promise to return it - I will be referring to it often). I am so impressed with the content of this book that I am subscribing to the Cheapskate Monthly Newsletter. I have never joined a fan club in my life, but I've definitely become a fan of Mary Hunt's. I thank Focus on the Family for suggesting her book, and for carrying it, too!
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on January 10, 2000
I finished this book at 2 am. It is such a smooth read and full of information on how to live without debt. It is a step by step, day by day solution to living within your means without giving up your life. This book adds something back to your life that was missing. Good common sense and the ability to make sound deicisions based on information rather than emotions. I recommend it to anyone who wants to gain control of their life and enjoy the ride at the same time.
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