Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quite a Surprise of a Book

Several years ago, I read various books by Ellie Kay, Jonni McCoy, Mary Hunt, Larry Burkett, and others.  Then, I went to look at the websites for each author.  I have been struck by a singular irony about the websites.   The stated mission and goal of each of these Christian authors is to help families in financial crisis. But, most of the websites have a fee to access the information on the site.  I found the same thing last week with the Economides' website.  It seems very strange to me.  I do understand that the authors need to make a living and this is one of the ways that they earn money.  But, I wish it didn't have to be that way.  I wonder how much money they make from their books vs. their websites and whether there might be more ways these authors and organizations could share their knowledge freely (with no strings attached as a free trial offer) to help families in need.  I was thankful to find this morning that on some of the websites, there is a lot information available than others.

Here are a few things I did find:  
1) Ellie Kay's site has all sorts of free calculators on it under the tools tab.  Ms. Kay's book Heroes at Home is a financial book for soldiers and their families that I really enjoyed and agreed with.
2) Jonni McCoy's site has all sorts of information on it--recipes, tips, articles, links... and the content has free.  She's changed her site a lot from the last time I looked at it and it is much easier to read now and find information on.
3) Matt Bell is discontinuing his site and has joined Sound Mind Investing.  This is the kind of site that really bothers me.  I just took a look at it.  It took me several minutes to find how much it actually costs to subscribe to the site.  It costs $10/month.  I am saddened that Matt Bell has joined the site and is discontinuing his own site.  There is some good budgeting information on his site that will only be there for a little longer if you're interested.  It's similar to the budgeting forms I invented for my own family.  
4) Mary Hunt has no content available on her site without a membership that costs $29/year.  This seems less expensive than it used to be.  But, there were a few things that bother me about her site.  There's a lot of advertising on it.  It also uses the same gimics that secular financial advertising uses--offering "free" things that aren't really free (these kind of ads make me cringe).
5) Crown Financial Ministries (started by Larry Burkett) site has made a lot more information available online for free!  I am very pleased with this and glad that they are doing this for families.  I looked at their site a few years ago and very little was available for free.
6) Dave Ramsey's site is also $9.95/month like the one Matt Bell is joining.  Similar tools and fee, just a different person.

It was really interesting looking at all of these sites and others.  The financial bloggers I looked through have a ton of advertising on their sites.  The sites are hard to look at, because they are so busy.  Honestly, I'd rather buy a book and read it than look through one of the sites.

But, today my purpose is to review a book by Mary Hunt, Raising Financially Confident Kids.  I have read other books by Mary Hunt before.  I didn't expect to like a lot in this book.  Surprisingly, I did.  This book is about how she and her husband taught their kids about finances and raised them to be good stewards of their finances.  I would read this book--try and think of her as a regular mom.  Don't look at her website first and shield your eyes from the commercialism of her other books.  Just take this singular book on its own.  I don't fully intend to follow all of her ideas (especially the one about giving preschoolers your coupons and lists at the store--that is quite stressful when they drop that really important coupon along your trip and even after retracing your steps you can't find it!), but there were some great ideas too about how to expose your kids to financial gimics like home shopping networks.  I did like her ideas for different age children.  The ideas may help you or spur you on to come up with your own ideas that fit for your family.

What I most liked (and was surprised by) in this book was that, in contrast to the Economides book, is that Ms. Hunt brings God into the picture.  She doesn't go as far as Crown Financial Ministries does and how I feel--that our children need to understand that God has given them what they have and it is important to be good stewards of this, but she almost gets there.  I also like that at the end, she states "God's plan is for children to grow wings and fly away.  Our job as parents is to prepare them for the flight.  Building financial confidence is one important way" (p. 205).  Ms. Hunt seems to realize in this statement that finances are just one part of our lives.  They shouldn't consume us, lest they become an idol.  

A great portion of this book is devoted to talking about debt and how we debt-proof our kids--essentially how we teach them to avoid debt.  Her website is titled debt-proof living.  Debt is becoming a greater and greater part of our world and it is becoming more and more accepted.  We have to teach our kids that they need to live within their means and not expect to live beyond them.

In the end, I am glad that I read this book.  It helped me feel better about Mary Hunt's perspective on finances and what she teaches.  There were some good ideas in this book about how and what to teach our children about finances.  I obviously have my own opinions about the fee for access websites when it comes to Christian financial websites, including Mary Hunt's.  I hope someday she will consider how she can help people who can't afford her site and possibly making some content on her site available without a membership fee.  What I just realized as I finished writing this review is that for years I have been viewing people who work with Christians and their finances as working in ministry, but really these are businesses. I would be wise to remember this and see folks like Mary Hunt as business owners, not ministry leaders or parachurch missionaries.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of Mary Hunt's book from Revel Publishing for review.


  1. Ian listened to an interview with Mary Hunt about this book on In the Market around the same time that you posted this review. He really wanted to read it, so I purchased it and have read it through once and skimmed it over again. We don't have consumer debt, though we do have a mortgage. However, this book left me feeling a little inadequate. With soon to be 6 children, her allowance and salary rates seem to be outrageous to me! She does say that it's the money that you spend on them anyway, but that by age 10/11 you should be trusting them with a significant sum of money each month. However, I don't spend anywhere near 50/month on Micaela. Maaybe 20, but on her plan a 5 year old would have earned the same allowance a month. And while I would love to give the kids the opportunity to learn to spend, save, and invest with that much money monthly, I would be taking the money out of my food budget- and then they might be hungry. Do you give your children an allowance or a "salary?"

  2. Actually, we don't give them an allowance. It would be challenging. Would Autumn spend her money on her piano lessons and curriculum materials? Outside of that, I garage sale for gifts and go to book sales. She wears mostly hand-me-downs. It's been such a blessing because now we have some families in church ahead of Autumn and Sami (they wear the same size so no hand me downs between them). Just recently, I actually bought a birthday gift with the girls at the store for one of their friends (but even that was on clearance ;) ). I'm finding that there's a lot I want to write, so I think I'll write a post instead :)