Review of Life or Debt 2010 by Stacy Johnson (and Giveaway)

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been super-focused on paying down my debt. My goal is to be down to just my mortgage this time next year. Although all of our debt is “good debt,” the fact is it limits our options in significant ways. And that’s why the book, Life or Debt 2010, by Stacy Johnson, resonated with me.

If you don’t know Stacy, he’s a CPA and former stockbroker. For nearly 20 years, he’s been the producer and host of the syndicated personal finance news series Money Talks. And you can find him on his personal finance website, Money Talks News.

Stacy was good enough to send me a free copy of his book, which I’ll be giving away to a reader. See details of the giveaway at the end of this post.

So what’s so great about Life or Debt 2010? First, Stacy approaches money and debt in a no-nonsense fashion. I knew I’d like Life or Debt from the very first quote at the start of Chapter 1: ” Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” P.J. O’Rourke.

Should you pay off debt or save for retirement?

But it was his practical advice to all of us that really hit home. In response to the financial uncertainty we’ve experienced in recent times, here is Stacy’s advice:

So how do we deal with this new realty? Stop whining and start acting. And the actions I’ll suggest are the same as those that worked for the Greatest Generation. Trust nobody–not the boss and especially not the government–with your physical, financial, spiritual, or emotional well-being. Create your own version of joy by carefully considering the relationship, or lack thereof, between material possessions and happiness. and create your own version of financial freedom by living below your means.


But the second thing I like about Life or Debt 2010 is that it provides a step-by-step approach to tackling your debt. In this regard, the book covers familiar territory. But it does so in a practical way. First, Life or Debt 2010 walks you through a 7-day money-makeover of sorts. During this 1-week evaluation, you’ll tackle the following tasks:

Day 1: Computer your average hourly after-tax, after-work related-expenses wage–This is a great exercise that will show you the true monetary value of your work.
Day 2: Inventory your possessions–It’s amazing how much clutter we can accumulate
Day 3: Identify possession from Day 2 you don’t need–My list is still growing.
Day 4: Identify possessions from Day 2 that add meaning to your life–It’s so important to understand what gives meaning and happiness to your life.
Day 5: Set 10% of your income aside for debit–In Day 5, the book turns toward its key message of debt elimination.
Day 6: Track your expenses with a spending plan–I hate tracking expenses, but it’s a critical step in getting your spending under control
Day 7: Start eliminating your debt–Day 7 transitions to much of the rest of the book, which is focused on getting out of debt.

Should you sell investments to pay off credit card debt?

Life or Debt than walks through goal setting, avoiding more debt, paying down the debt you have, ways to save money, and repairing your credit. This last section on credit repair can’t be overstated. When you are trying to get out of debt, a solid credit score can help you in immeasurable ways. From lowering your interest rate on existing debt to lowering the cost of insurance, excellent credit is critical.

23 tools and tips to help you get out of debt fast

So if you are working to get out of debt, Life or Debt 2010 can help. It’s an easy read with practical advice.

Now to the giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment below about how you plan to get our of debt. I’ll randomly pick a winner this Saturday. Good luck!

Topics: Reviews

5 Responses to “Review of Life or Debt 2010 by Stacy Johnson (and Giveaway)”

  1. Patrick

    I use a debt reduction calculator spreadsheet from Vertex 42. That spreadsheet gives you the option of calculating for debt avalanche or debt snowball. I’m going with avalanche (highest interest first) because the time line for being debt free is approximately the same in my case, but the interest saved is greater. I’m also finding odds and ends around the house to sell and extra “side” income to use as debt snowflakes. At this rate, I should be debt free within a few years! I’m definitely looking forward to it.

  2. Dear Mr. Johnson,

    After a car hit me from behind today, as I stopped momentarily to avoid a firetruck on the lane I was in, I thought to raise a comment on an article on the Greatest Generation, posted in the AJC last February. If you are the one who wrote this article: I have a few comments. I was born in 1948, at the beginning of the Boomer era. I must tell you that I know what it is like to be homeless in Indiana. I took a job with the National Guard Army to get out of that one. Also, my father told me that I may learn how to drive a car when I was “old enough to pay for the damages”. Eventually, in my 40’s, I had to learn how to drive a car to get to a certain desired location. So 3,000.00 dollars later, I got my license, and my first car. How dare you call us Boomers a bunch of live on credit card no gooders ! Whatever I got, I had to get myself with a handful of friends, under my own steam. I pretty much had to do the growing up all by myself, although I was lucky, finally to get a job with BellSouth, which I worked for a year over a quarter of a century, before AT&T came along and scarfed it up.


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