Have you ever felt like the personal finance genre was filled with books that took weeks to read and failed to help you retain any of the information contained in them? I was recently made aware of a new series of books, available both in eBook and hard copy format, that promise to change the way younger generations interact with and learn from the written word. When I was given the chance to review “The Skinny on Credit Cards”, my curiosity kicked in.
What is The Skinny On…?
“The Skinny” is not your typical personal finance book. In fact, it’s not a typical book at all, but the author makes no attempt at hiding that. Based on the Japanese writing style known as “manga,” the contents could perhaps best be described as a mix between narrative, comic strip, a graphic novel, and live classroom instruction. The Skinny takes a highly condensed, often funny, and amazingly thorough look at the basics of credit cards today. All in under 2 hours (I’m a fast reader).
Jim Randel, an attorney and entrepreneur who has studied topics of financial literacy and personal achievement for thirty years, acts as the moderator and personal finance coach within the book’s illustrated story. The book interweaves lessons about the basics of credit cards with a story about a fictitious couple (Billy and Beth) who have fallen deep into credit card debt. It is structured around Jim’s attempt at teaching Billy and Beth the basics of responsible credit management while giving readers detailed lessons on each major topic.
What Makes This Style Effective?
What struck me most about The Skinny on Credit Cards was how incredibly easy the information was to read and absorb. Because of the alternating dialogue, lessons, jokes, and tidbits, I never felt like I had to stop to take a break and made it through the entire text in one sitting. That’s pretty incredible if you think about the average attention span someone is able to hold. The information is also very relevant, current and well-condensed to the point where the only excess information is really that which is designed to help maintain your attention (as described above). Jim writes in the foreword:
“Today, people have less time to read than they did 100 years ago. The real substance in most nonfiction books can be conveyed in far fewer pages…We do the homework for you and prioritize what is most important for you to know.”
I would say the book does a great job at prioritizing information. When I finished reading, I had an odd feeling of having missed out on something, probably due to the atypical style in which the book was written. But when I actually looked back on what I had learned, I realized that every major credit card topic had been covered, and covered in quite a lot of detail – but each detail presented was relevant and useful. And that is the beauty of this book’s writing style.
The Importance of Follow-Up
The Skinny on Credit Cards also places a strong emphasis on follow up. The company’s website is promoted throughout the book as a resource for updated information:
“We provide free e-mail updates to anyone wanting further information on trends, laws and protocols on the subject at hand.”
You can also email with the people behind the book directly to discuss the content and ask questions. That is a relatively new level of access for today’s book consumer.
What Will I Learn?
The topics covered in The Skinny on Credit Cards include:
- Credit card “lingo”
- Reasons behind people’s financial choices
- How credit card companies view their customers
- The basic components of a credit card “cycle” – purchase, payment, balances, etc.
- Compound interest
- Why credit card companies love college students
- A three-point plan for reducing card balances
- Credit card terms and conditions
- Credit scores
Overview & Purchase
The Skinny offers a great read for anyone looking to learn the basics of credit cards, those who already own credit cards but know very little about them, as well as those who may have misused credit cards in the past and have found themselves in trouble. While it’s most certainly targeted at a younger generation, I think the book would appeal to almost anyone with a mind open to an alternative style of learning.
I am happy to recommend The Skinny on Credit Cards. At $9.95 for the eBook format and $14.95 for the print version, the price is reasonable and a good value. The Skinny on Credit Cards is available for purchase at Amazon.com. Yes, that’s an affiliate link that will make me some much-needed cash to keep the site going. 🙂