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Here's what I learned.

Econ Nerd Book Review: The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan

Listen, it’s no secret we’re hardcore BFFs with The Financial Diet. They epitomize all that is good and just about financial blogging for millennial women, and they were one of our early influences in creating BGR. Plus, we have a monthly syndication deal.

What I’m saying is, if you’re looking for an unbiased review of Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage’s new book, The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money, based on their amazing website… you can fuck right off because this is not that review.

The Financial Diet The Book is a gorgeously designed, delightfully written boost of financial inspiration and motivation. Each chapter is a mix of personal narrative by Chelsea, interviews with experts, and super useful resources like checklists, recipes, and how-to guides.

While the website serves as an exhaustive resource for all financial topics under the sun, the book functions as a primer. It’s a shiny golden key to a mysterious door in the garden wall of all things #adulting and #girlboss.

Here’s what I learned.

The career lattice

Throughout the book, Chelsea refers to one’s career not as a ladder, but as a lattice. For while a ladder evokes the image of a straight path to the top, with no flexibility or room for deviation, a lattice is less rigid. It allows for unconventional career journeys. So, you know: reality.

Chelsea’s own path to financial solvency and career success was less straight shot and more long and winding road. Time and time again in this book, she not only gives the reader permission to make change and climb sideways on the lattice, but she provides forgiveness for the sideways steps they’ve made in the past.

And she does it all while bravely (and hilariously) revealing her own past.

Life is not an Instagram feed

Some of my favorite TFD articles are the ones where Chelsea and the staff rip societal norms a new one. Minimalism, an Instagram-worthy lifestyle, the bootstraps narrative, the latte factor… none are safe from their withering social commentary.

So I was pleased to find that the book is no different. TFD The Book ain’t got no time for Instagrammable, aspirational foolishness. Life is a practical challenge to be dealt with, not a perfectly plated brunch to be hashtagged and thrown up on social media to disguise all your shortcomings and inspire feelings of inadequacy in your peers.

Pictured here: definitely not reality.

Question the photo-perfect lifestyle of capsule wardrobes and white-on-white-on-white décor. For appearances are deceiving and probably have nothing to do with real financial health.

No shame, no blame

It wouldn’t be TFD if it wasn’t speckled with self-deprecating humor. Some real knee-slappers in here, kids!

Through her own brutal self-examination, Chelsea shows the reader that it’s ok to fuck up from time to time. Spending money on gawdawful curtains and oppressive blue paint (really gurl what were you thinking?) and skating by at work instead of working to advance your career prospects are both mistakes… but that’s ok.

Learn from your mistakes. Own them. Maybe even laugh at them. And then move on. The giant credit card bill you racked up on brunches does not define you, nor does it determine your future financial success. The job you quit because you were bored does not mean you won’t have another chance to prove yourself a responsible and dedicated employee at a better job later on.

The official Bitches Get Riches seal of approval

Some jokes never get old.

A friend caught me reading the book a few days ago. She commented, “Ugh, I’ve fallen off the budgeting bandwagon. My finances are slipping into disarray and I’m not sure how to fix things. Will this book help?”

Yes. It most certainly will. And not just in the way you think.

For while the book is jam-packed with useful tools and information for getting your finances on track, its real value is something less tangible. The Financial Diet succeeds at making money management as accessible as it is enjoyable, as welcoming as it is forgiving. This is not the dry and judgmental screed of a career financier raining condescension and shame down upon the novice who has made a few stumbles along the way.

Instead, The Financial Diet is your best girlfriend, sitting you down over ice cream and surprisingly delicious box wine to say “We’ve all been there. And it’s not too late to make a change.”

To get yourself a copy of TFD The Book, head over to their main site for many fine purchasing options. Tell them I sent you.

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