You should’ve seen it coming.

You knew the economy was bad. You saw friends losing their jobs, houses, their savings. Yet, when everybody else was slapping checkbooks shut, you didn’t worry. Your ship came in years ago and you figured you were okay.


But then, faster than a tsunami, you were drowning in debt. How did that happen? Sunk like the Titanic, your finances under water—suddenly, you’re broke.

So how can you keep your dignity, image and lifestyle afloat in lean times? Start by reading “Divanomics: How to Still be Fabulous When You’re Broke” by Michelle McKinney Hammond.

As a popular speaker, best-selling author and business owner, Mckinney Hammond was on “the diva track.” In addition to her writing, she was in demand for television, magazines and cable. She’d hired the “right” people to help manage things, and she trusted that nothing was amiss in her business or her life.

Unfortunately, she was wrong.

By the time she realized that her accountant hadn’t paid the bills and her assistant wasn’t returning phone calls to prospective clients, McKinney Hammond was in trouble with the IRS and creditors, and her business had all but dried up. She had a negative bank balance, and she was scared.

The first thing she did was to take a look at her “financial landscape.” Though it was hard, she fired many of her staff and got rid of distractions. Then, she did an assessment of her assets and debts—including small IOUs—and prioritized how she wanted to pay everything off. Now fabulously solvent, McKinney Hammond shares her ideas for living debt-free.

Obviously, never buy what you can’t afford. Set limits for yourself and understand that “budget” is another word for “empowerment.” Get a pre-paid credit card or lower your credit card limits. Declare a shopping fast for a month. Learn the difference between need and greed. Find expenses that rob you of cash flow, and eliminate them. Clean out your closet and clothes-swap with friends. Share phone plans, shopping memberships, bulk groceries and your talents. Tithe, pray and be sure to pay your savings account regularly.

While I’m not sure I completely agree with everything McKinney Hammond says to do (hang out in a hotel lobby and nibble free hors d’oeuvres for dinner?), there’s no doubt that most of the tips she offers in “Divanomics” are sound and wise.

I think, if you’re looking for a chatty, splashy-fun hints-and-tips book on avoiding debt and living well while treading financial water, this is a good one to have.

But if you’re looking for a completely serious personal finance book, you’ll find “Divanomics” to be all wet.

(“Divanomics: How to Still be Fabulous When You’re Broke” by Michelle McKinney Hammond, 2010, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. $12.99, 247 pages)

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