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on January 17, 2000
I was unfamiliar with Mary's work prior to purchasing this book. Her thoughts on debt and money management hit me right between the eyes. We are giving ourselves a money makeover using Mary's ideas to get out of credit card debt.
This is an easy and enjoyable read (despite the subject matter). Mary has conquered a personal debt of $100,000 without declaring bankruptcy and it is nice to hear from someone who has "been there, done that". Her tone is non-judgemental, her ideas practical and her approach non-threatening even for financial novices.
I highly recommend this book!
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on December 4, 1998
Thank God for Mary Hunt! She hit me right between the eyes with reality. We started in Spring 1995 with $70,000 in debt. It has taken 3 1/2 years of hard work, but in 4 months we will be completely debt free except for our mortgage, and will be in the black for the first time since 1985. She saved our marriage, gave us back our sanity and ensured that our son will have a great future. Read this book!!!
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on January 28, 2000
"The Complete Cheapskate" didn't sound like an answer to debt to me when I first saw the title. But I assure you,Mary Hunt has learned the hard way how to value every penny and invest - not spend - it wisely. I like to read advice from those who've been there, and Mary Hunt made me feel thrifty! Funny, sincere, and to the point. There's hope!
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on July 15, 1998
The book should be required reading for anyone who uses credit cards (especially those who don't pay them off each month.) As someone whose "been there" Mary Hunt gives practical suggestions about how to work your way out of debt--and love the person you become as you do. The book has good tips for us all. Bravo!
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on July 25, 2001
I found out about this book through a friend of mine. Five years ago, she was in debt, driving a 9 yr old car, and having some problems with finances. Last year, after paying off her new car with cash, she purchased a condo. I asked how she changed so dramatically. She told me about this book.
Last year, I sent this book to my sister who was 20K in debt. She was worrying about her finances every time we talked. Within a week of reading this book, her whole attitude changed and her worry was gone. She started the system in the book. Today, her debt is reduced to 14K and she is very confident in eliminating her debt in the near future. The results I have witnessed have been phenomenal!
I have always been a saver but have always wanted to help my sister who was troubled with her finances. I tried to help her but the only result was more frustration. Sending this book to my sister was the best thing I have done for her. And I won't hesitate to send it to anyone else in my life that needs this type of help.
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on October 2, 2002
Simply put: this book changed my life. I couldn't put it down once I started it. I have since begun my money makeover and things are looking better than they have in years. The book is a Godsend for those like me who found money disappearing every month. She uses common sense techniques, but the key is the way that they all work together. Also, don't discount this book if you're not a religious person. Even though she emphasizes God and tithing, you can give your money to ANY charitable organization and still follow her program.
This book is not perfect, and although my complaints are minor, I do have a few.
1. My main complaint was that she ignores past-due debt when doing the money makeover. I had MANY past due bills and they just didn't fit into the makeover anywhere. My solution was to postpone opening my Freedom account for 3 months, and use that money to pay off as many past due accounts as I could. I also started my savings & giving at a lower percentage at first. It will work, just be VERY careful not to let total outgoing money exceed total income. Open your Freedom account as soon as possible, it is wonderful and essential to keeping on track.
2. She recommends dealing with cash. I found that dealing with cash was one of the reasons my money kept disappearing. I am electing to deal with as LITTLE cash as possible, so it's much easier for me to keep track of where I'm spending my money.
Even with complaints, I still rate this book 5 stars because of the radical positive impact it had on my finances when I followed her program. I highly recommend it.
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on March 26, 2006
The tile of this book is somewhat misleading - The Complete Cheapskate is not really about how to be "cheap" or get the best deal on something. In fact, the book's subtitle describes much more accurately what it is really about: "How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out, and Break Free from Money Worries Forever!" In short, The Complete Cheapskate is a concise and down-to-earth guide to getting out of debt and getting one's finances in order.

Speaking from her personal experience, Mary Hunt describes the struggle with debt that she had gone through. Even though it was a difficult time for her and her family, she was able to overcome it and learned a lot in the process. Since then, she has dedicated her career to helping people in similar situations overcome their dependence on material things and get their financial lives on track. This book outlines her step-by-step process for getting control over one's finances.

It all begins with developing the right attitude towards money and spending, and being committed to this new financial journey. Then comes the hard part: getting a realistic assessment of your debt situation and begin taking some basic steps to get out of it. After that, Mary tackles subjects ranging from Giving, to Saving, to starting a "Freedom Account" (a powerful concept that, once applied, will help you always be prepared for any unexpected expenses, as well as save for some fun things). She then helps you figure out how to live within your means by using some basic budgeting, and offers a long list of money-saving tips in a separate chapter. Once you have committed to getting out of debt and taking control over your finances, Mary's system is easy to apply. She outlines very specific steps and given gives you examples of worksheets that you can put together (either with Excel or pen and paper), so that it's easy to manage and does not require much time - until after a while, it becomes your second nature. The bottom line is, this system works, provided there is commitment and strong desire to change.

I can speak from personal experience that I have used many of Mary's principles to get a handle on my financial situation. Even though I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Finance, I needed some help tackling my spending habits and large amounts of student debt. I began my journey towards financial freedom almost nine months ago, having read Dave Ramsey's book. While I came across Mary's writings only relatively recently, I saw a lot of similarities in the overall approach and philosophy - and I have already taken several of her concepts and tools and incorporated them into my personal financial management process.

The Complete Cheapskate is a short book. The actual content is only 169 pages (including about 35 pages of money-saving ideas); the rest of the book (another 60-some pages) contains some of "The Best of Cheapskate Monthly Articles" and some more money-saving ideas (suggested by readers of Mary's column). I didn't find these additional materials quite as engaging as the rest of her book - mostly because they seem neither complete in themselves nor do they fit with the overall narrative. It seems that they were thrown into the book almost as an afterthought, just to bulk up the content.

Overall, I would recommend reading this book to someone who is struggling with debt and cannot see a clear way out. Even if you've already read other books on the subject, it may just be that this is the one that will make it all "click" for you. I would also recommend it as a useful reading for someone who is not in debt (yet), but who would like to know how to avoid it in the future. It is both a cautionary tale and a user's manual to one's finances, and its common-sense approach can be applied by almost anyone. The best thing is, it's a quick read and can be easily put into practice, even if you just rent it from the library (like I did). This way, you will already be on your way to becoming a "cheapskate". (Sorry, Amazon!)
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on June 12, 1999
I read the book and I'm now on my second month of a 39 month "Rapid Debt Repayment Plan". This is how long it will take to pay off $25,000 of unsecured debt, by simply making CURRENT minimum monthly payments. The strategy is also shown online at "Cheapskate Monthly". Check it out, use it and start a new life!
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on June 20, 2001
This book is wonderful! I read it last night, and have already begun some of the steps she recommends. Between credit cards, personal loans, and student loans, we owe nearly $48,000. I have been attempting to do my own version of a debt reduction plan, but by making sporadically large payments, amid minimum monthly payments--now I understand that it makes more sense to gradually increase payments on one debt until it is paid off, then to add that amount to the next debt, and so on...My husband and I will be completely debt-free--including Student Loans!--by the end of 2004!
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on October 6, 2000
You know the things you should do but where do you start? Mary Hunt uses plain language to show you exactly where to begin and how to recover from debt. A must read for anyone struggling to "get by".
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