Finances & Money

“The Skinny” Books: What Can Stick People Teach Us? (plus a Giveaway!)

I’ll admit, I’ve had these books to review for a long time, but I’m just getting around to reviewing them. Sorry Mr. Publisher!

The Skinny On” series takes the Dummies and Complete Idiots idea and makes them even simpler to understand in the form of comic books (with stick people as the main characters). From their website:

Inspired by the widely celebrated Japanese literary form, Manga, The Skinny On is quickly gaining popularity for its comprehensive analysis of topical subjects, told in an entertaining story format.

Illustrated and easily read in 1 hour, each subject is explored through the lives of Billy and Beth; normal in all respects except one: they just happen to be stick people.

The Skinny On is the brainchild of best selling author, investor, attorney and entrepreneur Jim Randel. Realizing that the traditional book publishing business model was outdated, Randel sought to create a new breed of books, aimed at disseminating information to an audience increasingly used to consuming content on the internet and cell phones. Their quick-read, story format, and short lead publishing cycles allow the series to provide The Skinny On current events and topical subjects while keeping readers informed and entertained.

Personally, I can attest that they’re readable in an hour or less, but who is the target audience here? Busy people? Teens? Professionals? College kids?

The books are great for anyone new to the topic, whether it be Credit Cards, Willpower or the Financial Crisis. But with any topic, you have to be interested in it to want to learn about it. Therefore, if your kid (or you for that matter) doesn’t care about finances, they’ll probably think even the stick figures are trying to lecture them. But at least it’s one more way to try to teach someone, so I’m all for the concept. Now let’s check out each book, and the get to the giveaway!

The Skinny on Credit Cards

The Skinny on Credit Cards, How to Master the Credit Card Game was probably the best of the bunch in that it taught all the basics about credit cards including interest, budgeting, taking responsibility, avoiding/handling fraud, and more.

The book follows Beth and Billy, a couple of stick figures who don’t always agree on financial practices. They kind of mirror my wife and myself in that Beth is the more responsible one and Billy wants to just go spend money. Beth is careful, while Billy wants to buy a Harley.

The book inserts the author as an “educator” to teach each about credit and credit cards. I didn’t feel like the book was talking down to me at all, and it simplified the concepts into an experience I can use to instruct others in my own personal life (such as my cousins who I KNOW are going to be in big credit trouble when they get their first cards!).

Would I recommend this book? If you’re still trying to figure out the mess of credit cards, or know someone who is, then yes, I would recommend it. If you already understand credit and are pretty responsible with your money, then you probably wouldn’t learn much more from the book.

The Skinny on the Housing Crisis

The Skinny on the Housing Crisis, What Every Homeowner and Homebuyer Needs to Know teaches a different kind of lesson. While some of the lessons are now considered “historical” in that they are meant to reveal what went wrong during the housing boom and bust, the book also teaches good lessons on the importance of understanding mortgage applications, home values, home inspections, credit scores and weird mortgages (the ones they mostly offered to borrowers to get them into a house they really couldn’t afford).

Again, the book follows Billy and Beth, but this time in their effort to buy a home. Again, Beth is the careful one, while Billy wants to jump into the housing market after watching a late night infomercial. They get caught up in the whirlwind many of us (including myself) did and thought they HAD to buy NOW or they would lose their opportunity forever.

Would I recommend this book? While I think everyone needs to understand credit cards, when it comes to the housing crisis, there are videos that explain the whole credit fiasco pretty well. But if you’re considering buying a home, and feel pressured by friends, family, coworkers, or even mortgage lenders and realtors, I would recommend reading the warning words this book offers.

The Skinny on Willpower

I actually just read The Skinny on Willpower, How to Develop Self Discipline as I was writing this article. It took me about 30 minutes to finish, but I’ll admit I skimmed over some of the recaps at the end.

In this story, Beth wants to open a store and Billy wants to lose weight (yeah, funny for a stick person). The author, Jim Randel, makes quite a number of appearances to provide his insight from years of learning about willpower, commitment, goals, and positive thoughts. It’s actually a pretty good book to provide the fundamentals to setting goals and sticking to them, and recognizing things that will distract or deter you from achieving them.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. Although I’ve recognized some of the concepts recently as I try to finish my masters degree, work full-time, manage a home and run a few side businesses, I honestly missed some simple things like breaking big tasks down into manageable chunks. Some of it is common sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s apparent to us without someone mentioning it.

And Now for the Book Giveaway!!!

I haven’t given away any swag for quite some time, but as usual I’m going to make it pretty easy for you to enter.

The Prize: All 3 books!

How to Enter:

Contest has ended and winner has been drawn and notified. Check back to the site to find out who won!

Leave a comment on this article by 5pm EST on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009. I’ll use a random integer generator to draw 2 winning number, and then email the winner to make sure they’re willing to claim their prize (i.e. send me their mailing address). Once confirmed, I’ll announce the winner in a new post.

Feel free to subscribe to my RSS feed or email newsletter to learn when the winners are announced and when I post another giveaway.

Contest Rules

  • I only ship to the continental U.S. states (sorry Hawaii and Alaska) – Don’t complain, it’s on my own dime.
  • I will ask for your name and address for shipping, but I promise to destroy the information and never sell/share it
  • Void where prohibited by law
  • You can only enter ONE TIME. If I draw your name and see you’ve entered already, I’ll delete your entry and redraw.

Now comment! This is the most frugal way to get this books. It’s even delivered right to your doorstep (at my cost)!

About the author

Clever Dude