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Tales from a Financial Hot Mess by Frances Cook


Why save $5 on coffee when you could save $200 on rent? Frances Cook is not a financial consultant, she is a self confessed reformed money mess and this is what makes her quite brilliant!

“For years I had a problem. I wasn’t good with money. And it was affecting everything around me. This isn’t one of those, ‘I was $100,00 in debt, got out of it in one year, and you can too’ stories. I was just mediocre. Chugging along. Praying for a pay rise, getting one, then somehow not getting ahead. Not allowing myself a credit card, because I feared debt, feared my own relationship with money,” she says.

“I knew I should have been doing better. I just had no clue where to start, and I certainly didn’t realise I could have been living a much better life on the same money. The problem is nobody tells you where to start. Nobody tells you the easy, lazy ways to do it, so that it doesn’t take over your life,” explains Frances.


Frances cooked up a plan to get paid for finding out how to improve her finances. She convinced her boss to let her start what would soon become New Zealand’s popular, Cooking the Books podcast. Frances made over her own relationship with money and is now doing better, living on the money she already had.


In Tales from a Financial Hot Mess, Frances shares the fastest way to pay off debt, how to save, shop smarter, make smart housing decisions, sort your KiwiSaver, negotiate a raise, talk money with your kids, realise early retirement and more.

As a fellow reformed money mess, I agree with Frances, it’s never too late to improve your money mindset. What I like most about Tales from a Financial Hot Mess is how Frances delivers smart, proven, helpful advice based on interviews with numerous financial experts. There’s plenty of handy tips and please-don’ts, delivered with humour. There’s an excellent chapter on status symbols. After gambling, showing off to other people is one of the silliest ways to spend money, says Frances.


“The real problem is looking for status symbols to impress people who aren’t paying attention to you and don’t care what you have,” she says, adding that most jewellery and cars are depreciating assets. Comparison is the thief of all joy, she says.

Thankfully, Frances has deciphered the financial jargon and weeded out the best information!


Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Random House, RRP $35.00


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