Fiancee S. recently finished reading Karen Bosnak's book Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back. You might remember Ms. Bosnak as the creator of the web site www.savekaryn.com in which she asked for web surfers during the summer of 2002 to help her retire her $20K+ credit card debt. Since that effort was a success, we now get to read in detail how Ms. Bosnak racked up all that debt after moving from Chicago to New York City... and give her yet more money, this time in the form of book royalties.
Let me preface any further comment by saying that I had some experience with credit card debt as a I was finishing graduate school. I therefore feel that I have some clue about what to do when there's "too much month at the end of the money". Likewise, Fiancee S. is also still dealing with some credit card debt she incurred while going to graduate school to become a teacher. Based on these experiences, neither of us had much sympathy for Ms. Bosnak before her book came out because if we could deal with it, why couldn't she?
I have to say that I have less sympathy for Ms. Bosnak now that I did before. She obviously has NO clue about to how to handle money. When Fiancee S. would read me a passage describing her latest act of fiscal IDIOCY, I would usually plead with her to stop after just a few sentences. Why plead? To listen any further would force me to pick up a nearby sharp object and attempt to give myself a homemade lobotomy.
Rather than describe the fiscal downward spiral Ms. Bosnak was on myself, I will rather take a quote from the Amazon review of her book. Let me preface this by saying that a) Ms. Bosnak was paying for everying thing with American Express, and b) she was already about $5K in debt to American Express when she made the purchases described in the review. Here is part of what Amazon had to say:
After moving to New York from Chicago for a lucrative position at a new television court show, Bosnak digs herself into a more than $20,000 hole in less than a year. With stars in her eyes, she blindly plunks down $778 on lingerie here and $387 on a cut and color there. She justifies her frivolity as "emergencies" and "investments" in herself. "I was twenty-seven years old and I wasn't going to be a spring chicken much longer. So I needed these nighties to look as sexy as I could because I needed to land a man. So they were kind of like an investment. An investment in my sex life and an investment in my future." ... Each chapter opens with a spread of her credit card statements, outlining her month's purchases. This detail would be sufficient, but this self-absorbed book is filled with the overwhelming minutiae of Bosnak's shallow extravagance, making it hard to empathize with her during tough times or celebrate her escape from debt.
I suppose my primary objection to Ms. Bosnak's solution to her financial problem is I wonder if she's really learned anything or developed any notion of common sense. Faced with mounting debts, I know that the first step to recovery is to reduce costs. So what would tell her to do? Rent a cheaper apartment. Live with a roomate. Don't shop for Gucci at Saks Fifth Avenue. Don't buy over $700 in lingerie so you can sleep with a guy once. Color your own hair. Join the YMCA instead of a private gym to exercise. None of this even occured to her, as near as I can tell. Yet she gets to walk away from all of this thanks to the kindness of strangers. I wonder if she appreciates the second chance.
on 2004-04-13 at 3:46 p.m.
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