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7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life: How to Live Well with the Money You Have Hardcover – December 16, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"If it's on your ass, it's not an asset"; "Sweat the small stuff"; "Priorities lead to prosperity." Singletary's no-nonsense approach to personal finance is inspired by her own experience, the advice of a thrifty grandmother and the knowledge of financial experts, which she encapsulates into mantras she says readers ought to tape to the dashboard "of that luxury car you can't afford." Doing without and saving are the keys to prosperity, she says, not fancy financing or investments. Such advice isn't unique (nearly every personal finance guide boils down to the same basic principles), but her spirited voice is. Raised by her grandmother, Big Mama, who brought up 5 grandchildren on $13,000 a year and still managed to save enough for a comfortable retirement, Singletary draws on homely examples of frugality to illustrate her points. She also speaks to financial issues she says are particularly relevant to other African-Americans, such as the need to support extended family members (one study found that 27% of black households supported friends and family under other roofs) and the risks of foregoing health insurance. Refreshingly, Singletary eschews wealth-building formulas that rely on consistent 10% returns over 30 years and instead concentrates on ways to sock money away. This is probably a more realistic approach to retirement for most Americans, particularly given the recently revealed riskiness of 401(k) and pension plans. Singletary's emphasis on simplicity and common sense make this an excellent primer for the novice financial planner.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

The best financial planner Michelle Singletary ever knew was Big Mama, her grandmother. Big Mama raised Michelle and her four brothers and sisters on a salary that never reached more than $13,000 a year. Yet at her death, Big Mama owned her own home, had paid off a car loan, and had a beautiful collection of Sunday-go-to-meeting church hats and a savings account that supplemented her Social Security check and small pension. Most important, she had taught Michelle ?7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life.? Those mantras serve as the inspiration for this straight-talking book of practical personal financial advice that really works.

The 7 Money Mantras are:

1. If it?s on your ass, it?s not an asset!
2. Is this a need or is it a want?
3. Sweat the small stuff.
4. Cash is better than credit.
5. Keep it simple.
6. Priorities lead to prosperity.
7. Enough is enough.

Michelle Singletary is a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post whose popular personal finance column appears in more than 120 newspapers. She?s also a mother of three children who understands what it?s like to live on a budget. In a plainspoken, sassy, no-nonsense voice, Michelle provides answers to the financial issues that confront almost every household: how to teach children the value of money; how to address money issues in a relationship or marriage; household saving tips; getting the best loans; and much more.
?This book is about saving enough money to have choices,? she writes. ?It?s about feeling free to be cheap if you can?t afford to buy a ton of gifts at Christmas. It?s about eliminating wasteful spend-ing so you can begin to save and invest. It?s full of uncommon commonsense lessons and guidance on the way people should use their money.?
With humor and down-home financial wisdom, Michelle Singletary offers practical and realistic advice that will help you live well with the money you have.

Michelle Singletary on . . .

Romance and Money
?It?s okay to say: ?Honey, I love you and everything, but if you need money, ask your mama.??

Credit Cards
?We are minimizing our financial potential by making minimum credit-card payments.?

Car Buying
?If you want to save money, keep your car until you?re on a first-name basis with the local tow-truck drivers.?

Leasing a Car
?You, too, can drive a car you can?t afford and then have to give it back. It?s crazy.?

Gift Giving
?Generosity isn?t about how much you spend. It?s about how much thought you put into the gift.?

Penny Pinching
?I once bought a stick-shift car because it was $1,000 cheaper than the automatic in the same model. There was just one little problem. I couldn?t drive a stick-shift. But at least I saved $1,000!?

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (December 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507533
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michelle Singletary is a nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post. Her column, "The Color of Money" is an award-winning column, which is now carried in about 100 newspapers across the country including the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Tampa Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 2003, she published her first book, "7 Money Mantras For A Richer Life: How To Live Well With The Money You Have (Random House). The paperback was retitled "Spend Well, Live Rich."

Her second book, "Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich" was released in January 2006, also published by Random House. The paperback was released in February 2007. Her third book, "The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom," was released in January 2010 by Zondervan, a HarperCollins company.

In Jan. 2014, an updated and expanded book of "The Power to Prosper" was released. It was retitled "The 21 Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom." It was also published by Zondervan.

In January 2006, Singletary launched her first national television program "Singletary Says" on TV One, owned Radio One and Comcast. "Singletary Says" is a half hour personal finance reality show in which Singletary visits people in their homes to help resolve various financial issues. The second Season of Singletary Says debuted in November 2006. Following her second season, she hosted a personal finance special for TV One, "Real Estate Realities: When the Boom Goes Bust." The special, which aired in 2008, focused on how the real estate crisis impacted the African-American community.

Singletary was a regular personal finance contributor for National Public Radio's afternoon program "Day To Day." Although NPR eliminated the program for budgetary reasons, you can still hear Singletary on various NPR shows including "All Things Considered," "Talk of the Nation," "Here and Now" and "Marketplace Money." She was an AOL money coach having produced a series of workshops on love and money.

She is frequently asked to appear on local and national radio programs including the "Diane Rehm Show" and the "Yolanda Adams Morning Show." She has appeared on all three major networks, NBC, ABC and CBS. She has prepared personal finance segments for local and national news programs, and for a number of network and nationally syndicated programs, including "Oprah," "NBC's Today Show," "The Early Show on CBS," "Nightline," CNN, "The View," and "Tavis Smiley" on PBS. She has appeared on "Meet The Press" and other national news programs, including CNN. In 2000, she was recruited as a regular contributor to do live financial segments for MSNBC.

For nearly a decade Singletary was also a regular contributor on Howard University's evening news radio program, "Insight." During the 1997-1998 television season, Singletary was a regular correspondent on BET's "Real Business." She has filled in for nationally syndicated radio host Clark Howard on his local program on the top-rated News-Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta.

Singletary also hosted her own radio call-in program on XM 169 The Power in 2007. Radio One programmed the African-American news/talk channel. Her personal finance program along with several others was cancelled after Radio One ended its relationship with XM Satellite Radio for business reasons.

Singletary has written for the flagship "O, The Oprah Magazine." For a brief stint she was the personal finance columnist for "O at Home magazine replacing Suze Orman." The quarterly magazine was a spinoff of the monthly "O, The Oprah Magazine." Due to the recession, the Hearst Company shut down the magazine in late 2008.

In July 2008, she began writing a weekly Q&A column for radio and television host Tavis Smiley on his popular PBS Website.

Singletary is currently the host of a live online chat on the Post's Web site, She also has a widely read electronic newsletter distributed by The Washington Post. Her e-letter is one of the more popular newsletters distributed by The Washington Post. In her column, chats, newsletter, television show and books Singletary delivers advice on personal finance issues that range from lending your honey money (don't do it), to raising money smart kids to the importance of saving and investing.

Singletary is frequently requested to be a keynote speaker. She has given workshops or presentations for Georgetown University, Essence, and Simmons College School of Management in Boston. She has also conducted personal finance workshops for the National Football League's annual Rookie Symposium for incoming freshman players. In the religious community, she has been invited to speak numerous times at her home church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden under the leadership of Pastor John K. Jenkins Sr.

At First Baptist, she has led a major Bible Study session, been the keynote speaker at several Women's Conferences and a frequent workshop presenter. She has given keynote presentations at World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in Memphis, Tennessee under the leadership of Apostle R. Williams, Senior Pastor and at The Saint Paul's Baptist Church in Richmond, VA., which is under the leadership of Rev. Lance Watson. Saint Paul is one of the largest African American churches in Central Virginia with more than 10,000 members. Other churches she has delivered biblically based personal finance presentations include Christ is King Worship Center in Baltimore, Md. under the leadership of Pastor Lois Bethea Thompson, and Bethel Christian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. under the leadership of Co-Pastors Jerome and Katina Holmes

In her spare time, Singletary is the director of "Prosperity Partners Ministry," a program she founded at her church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, in which women and men, who handle their money well, volunteer to mentor others who are having financial challenges. Once a month, Singletary conducts a workshop for the ministry group on topics that range from tithing, to developing a budget to getting out of debt. She also volunteers at prisons teaching inmates about personal finance.

In 2009, she was selected to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from The Johns Hopkins University. She also received the 2009 Matrix Award for Professional Achievements from The Association for Women in Communications.

Singletary's book, "Your Money and Your Man" was a finalist in 2006 for "Books for a Better Life," which honors the best self-improvement books. This highly regarded award promotes the importance of one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the book publishing business.

Just a year after starting her column, The Washington Post nominated it for a Pulitzer Prize. Most recently, her column won a prestigious award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She won Best in Business for a series of columns that ran in 2007. The judges wrote: "Michelle Singletary's work illustrates a range of writing that's both approachable and explanatory."
"The Color of Money" has placed first in the major newspaper category of the ICI Education Foundation/American University awards for Excellence in Personal Finance Reporting. The column also earned a first place for business writing from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Prior to becoming a columnist for The Washington Post, Singletary covered local and national banking for the Post. She joined the paper in 1992 and was assigned to cover bankruptcy. In 1994, she was awarded a fellowship by NABJ to write about small women-owned businesses in West Africa. While in Africa, she helped cover the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela, and shared the lead story on Election Day with the Post's foreign correspondent, writing about a Soweto family's day at the polls.

Before going to the Post, Singletary was a business reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun, where she also covered police, religion, politics, and zoning. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, and The Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a master's degree in business and management. Singletary and her husband reside in Maryland with their three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've considered myself a frugal spender, but Singletary puts me to shame! This book can be an eye-opener.
7 Money Mantras ("MM") offers such a unique perspective it's not a stand-alone. I recommend reading 7MM in conjunction with other books on money management, to get a well-rounded perspective. Singletary speaks to a specific target market: those who have run up credit card debts and developed unhealthy patterns that have spun their lives out of control. If her first person accounts are true (most authors exaggerate at least a little!) then she's determined to eradicate seeds of financial destruction before they take root and grow.
The best parts of 7MM are the parts dealing with family and setting limits with adult children. I never had the luxury of moving back home and have no children, but I watch neighbors and friends make huge sacrifices for kids who have no motivation to move and grow. Some of these sections are hilarious -- I laughed out loud at her response to her nephew's question, "Doesn't rent include food?"
"Well," she answers, "when you're on your own, ask your landlord when you can expect him to drop by with a bag of groceries."
Some suggestions will have to be adapted for specific lifestyles. I *love* doggie bags and enjoyed her support as I often get teased. Most restaurant meals are too big and I take half home for next day's lunch.
I choose not to have cable, which she would applaud, but I do have a DVD. As she points out, it is tempting to buy DVD's but you don't just get a better picture: the director's cut adds significantly to enjoyment, if you're a film buff.
And while she's right on the money (!) about families, she misses the mark on singles. Sure, a home-cooked meal is a welcome gift...
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By James Sadler on February 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit, I am often a sucker for financial advice books of the "learn to manage your money" ilk, rather than "hey, here's how to get rich and never worry about money again" variety. A few weeks ago I heard Michelle Singletary (who is also a newspaper columnist at the "Washington Post," where she writes a column-"The Color of Money") in an interview on the Diane Rehm show on NPR a couple of weeks ago, and I quickly picked up her book. She is brash and funny and she definitely is no holds barred in "7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life," and that's a good thing.
So what are the seven mantras? They are: (1) If it's on your ass, it's not an asset!; (2) Is this a need or is it a want?; (3) Sweat the small stuff; (4) Cash is better than credit; (5) Keep it simple; (6) Priorities lead to prosperity; and (7) Enough is enough. some of those are self-explanatory and some aren't, but the general gist of the advice is: pay attention to where your money is going and don't get wrapped up in material possessions.
Now this isn't necessarily new advice, but Singletary's presentation goes a long way toward making all the advice memorable and useable. Much of the advice was handed down from her grandmother, Big Mama, who is referred to throughout the book. Big Mama brought up Singletary and her four siblings in Baltimore on a salary that never reached more than $13,000 a year. Singletary notes that "Big Mama knew the difference between buying things that improve your net worth and stuff that just makes you look wealthy." Clearly, in the area of finances Big Mama was far wiser than myself and many others.
Singletary offers some of her wisdom and experiences along the way. For example, say no to lunches out during the workday. But if you do, skip appetizers and desserts.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Linda Painchaud-Steinman VINE VOICE on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is NOT a complicated or sophisticated guide to finance.
I agree with some other reviews here that Singletary's advice is somewhat simplistic. Still, in my opinion, her easy, conversational writing style is what "saves" this book.
Though the 7 Money Mantras are really nothing more than common sense, how many of us can say we actully use good common sense when dealing with our money? (Especially our use of credit.)
It doesn't hurt to be reminded, every once in awhile, of plain and simple ways to save money, limit credit use, save for the future, and so on.
The author gives us those reminders and the book is a good place to START learning about handling your personal finances.
Reviewer: Linda Painchaud
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kacey Morrow on September 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is what I wish I had read when I was in my 20's starting out in my career. It should be required reading for college freshmen who are being bombarded with credit card offers. I'm now 51, and as I read the book, I could hear all the things my parents tried to impress upon me when I was younger. Did I listen? Not enough. Would I have listened had I read this book? Maybe so, but I could kick myself for not listening back 30 years ago.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Unlike the two listed reviews I feel this book is wonderful and has a unique voice. It's a fun read. It's funny. It's a book anybody can read. IT'S NOT AN INVESTMENT BOOK! So, if you're looking for a book on how to buy stocks or mutual funds or bonds with some stupid formula or system then you should look elsewhere. But if you're in debt, if can't manage to save any money, if you're wondering how to talk to your children about money then this is the book for you! Ms. Singletary continues in this book the great common sense advice she passes along in her syndicated column. In fact, Better Investing magazine gave it a great review in it's Jan. issue. The writer said this book was just what the everyday person could use right now!
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