Book Review: ‘More Money, Please’


There are many personal finance books out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you.

In the past, I have reviewed “All Your Worth,” “Debt is Slavery,” and “Change Your Life in 7 Days.” This week, I'm reviewing “More Money, Please: The Financial Secrets You Never Learned in School” by Scott Gamm.

Scott Gamm is the brains behind the website HelpSaveMyDollars.com, a financial website focused on helping consumers save and learn about money. Like the website, the book is primarily aimed at a college-aged audience, because he's still in college himself. He's 21 years old!

Philosophy behind the book

Gamm became interested in personal finance because he came of age during the Great Recession. His parents split up at least in part because of financial concerns, and he wanted to do everything possible to make sure that didn't happen to him. He launched Help Save My Dollars in 2009, and his book came out in April of this year.

Because the book is aimed at a younger demographic, Gamm assumes that the majority of his audience doesn't have credit card debt. This is mostly because they might not even have credit cards! The Credit CARD Act of 2009 put restrictions on how credit card companies can interact with the under-21 set.

Namely, people under 21 must either provide proof of income or a co-signer in order to get a credit card at all. There are also restrictions on credit card providers' ability to advertise on college campuses and give out free gifts. While most people kind of remember hearing about that at the time the CARD act was in the news, it's easy to forget unless it applies to you.

Similarly, Gamm assumes that for the most part his readers haven't taken out student loans, had a full-time job, or begun saving for retirement. In other words, they're blank slates! By targeting folks before they've made any financial mistakes, Gamm hopes that an entire generation can mostly avoid them. For those who don't follow his advice upon first read, or those who are slightly older when they discover the book, he does cover various debt payoff strategies. However, they're not the main focus of the book.

What I didn't like

I can't help but notice that there's a bit of class privilege going on in this book. Gamm says he grew up in “a middle-class town on Long Island,” where the median household income is about $90,000 per year. Currently, Gamm attends NYU's Stern School of Business, one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in the world.

It's obvious that his parents' divorce was traumatic and had a lasting impact on him. And hey, it was the impetus behind him wanting to pay it forward via his website and book, which I totally applaud. However, the book mostly assumes that readers plan to go to college. Further, it assumes that their academic preparation and family obligations don't preclude this as an option. In my opinion, there are large swaths of people that live a different reality.

This is a relatively minor criticism, though. After all, he's writing a book based largely on his own experience. It's impossible to write a book that will pertain to everyone, and all of Gamm's advice is pretty solid. I just wished that he would at least acknowledge that there are millions of people out there facing additional obstacles to financial security. Hard work isn't always enough.

What I loved

Because the book is intended for those who are just starting out, the advice is a bit different than traditional personal finance literature. For example, Gamm encourages readers to get a credit card if they don't have one, even if they have to start out with a secured credit card. This way, they can begin to build a good credit history. Similarly, Gamm operates under the assumption that the majority of his readers will accrue some student loan debt in order to help fund their education.

It's been observed in the comments of GRS posts about teenagers and personal finance that forbidding people from doing something practically ensures that they will do it. Additionally, the idea that it's possible to forbid something is kind of condescending and designed to rob people of agency. Gamm isn't a parent and doesn't have that authority, anyway.

Instead, he's someone near in age to his reader who is also learning as he goes. The hope is that by pointing out some strategies to keep in mind, credit card debt can be avoided and student loan debt can be minimized. Gamm also doesn't hesitate to use himself as an object lesson, telling anecdotes throughout the book of times where he made financial mistakes, even after he knew better.

I also really enjoyed that Gamm touched on other related aspects of the personal-finance process. There are sections on:

  • Why internships are important, including a timeline for applying

  • How to create a résumé

  • What should be included in a cover letter

  • How to ace an interview

  • Why a humble attitude is important when you're just starting out

This combination of maintaining a budget while still in school and planning your university experience strategically is a powerful one, and one of my favorite things about the book.

Who should read “More Money, Please”

This book really functions best as a primer for young adults who are just beginning to make major life decisions. I think it would be most appropriate for high school juniors or seniors, since it covers topics like deciding which institution of higher education to attend and how to apply for financial aid. However, those who are still in college would get a lot out of it, too.

Parents of teenagers might also appreciate the book. It might give them new ways to think about these issues, and new ways to approach them in conversation with their child(ren). Even though I in no way resemble Scott Gamm's ideal reader, I thought this book was excellent.

A note about swag: While I was provided with a free copy of this book for review purposes, I am not affiliated in any way with Scott Gamm or his publisher, and my opinions are entirely my own.

Do you have children in high school or college? How do you approach financial topics with them, particularly when they are facing decisions with long-term consequences?

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Samantha
Samantha
7 years ago

I’m surprised you read this, even though you got a free copy. It doesn’t sound like you learned anything.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

I did learn a lot about how the generation of folks currently in college have been impacted by the Great Recession and how the rules regarding financial aid and credit card have changed since I went to college.

And while I don’t have kids, there are lots of GRS readers who do. I’m happy to be able to check something out that might benefit them!

Thomas
Thomas
7 years ago

This is a great review, thanks so much. I find it really helpful

Carol
Carol
7 years ago

Thanks for the review! I am definitely checking this out for my 20 year old daughter.

Erinn
Erinn
7 years ago

Audience is always an important thing. You did a great job of describing that the best audience for this book might be young 20 somethings with an affluent background. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, everyone needs financial advice, even young folks with affluent backgrounds, but unfortunately, that’s not me, haha! 🙂

Cindy
Cindy
7 years ago

I read this book…but honestly didn’t see anything that hadn’t already been covered umpteen times already. He tells a good story (or two or three); otherwise, I’d say save your money. I do want to point out, Honey, that the credit card companies aren’t always squeaky-clean in making sure their clients are really 21, etc. Our oldest daughter lied on an application at age 17, and got a credit card, unbeknownst to us. By the time she got in serious trouble ($2000-plus), she was 18. This did not stop the company from adding on 29% interest and continuing to bill… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

@Cindy, wow! You should submit a Reader Story about that, I’m sure others would be interested in your experience.

Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa
Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa
7 years ago

I don’t think I will read this book, but your review was fantastic. Normally book reviews are all fluff, but this one had some serious substance.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

Thanks!

bemoneyaware
bemoneyaware
7 years ago

Liked the way you nailed the audience for the book gave both pros and cons. Shall suggest it!

Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com
Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com
7 years ago

Sounds like a great book for students just graduating college to get off on the right foot.

Good review, sounds like it’s not for me.

Rya
Rya
7 years ago

You know, as much as I appreciate advice books, I think we often don’t seek them out until we’ve burned ourselves with some bad experience.

The bad thing with personal finance advice is that it’s usually a TREATMENT, not PREVENTIVE CARE.

And you just can’t make a young person look for advice or read it or follow it. You just have to wait for them to make a mistake first, otherwise they are just not open for your advice.

money
money
7 years ago

Its important to also remember that stock market investing is a game of patience and it doesnt cost you money to take your time before choosing to invest

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
7 years ago

Suzy Orman is good….but I’m not sure I learned anything financially pertinent in school…but it is probably more important than half the useless things I learned in social studies.

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