Book Review: Gold Diggers And Deadbeat Dads

I read a lot of personal finance books. They’ll talk about financial independence and budgets and saving and investing, of course. Some of them start with getting out of debt while others help you create your retirement plan. The vast majority focus on the dollars and the investment math.

You would think that the genre has been thoroughly explored by now, but we’re always seeking new ways to write about it. Authors craft their personal stories, perhaps with new extremes of debt or retiring even younger. We’ll be frugal, or we’ll negotiate a bigger salary, or we’ll try a side hustle in real estate. We’ll even start our own jobs and travel the world. We’ll be inspired by failure, or we’ll explain how to handle success. We simplify the process “For Dummies” or “Complete Idiots”, or we put it on “Automatic”, or we focus on lifestyle. Investor’s behavioral psychology is very popular, as are little quick fixes or finding new tricks to change our old habits.

We all learn differently, so we need all of these books. You have to sort through the choices until you find one that piques your interest. Maybe a book is written by someone in your situation, or the author recommends an investing method that you like, or they describe how to live an extremely frugal life. I read all the new books that I can find, and I’m always seeking one that describes the same ol’ l topics in a fresh, interesting way.

We’re all fishing for new stories to hook our readers and help them improve their own lives.

Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads book cover image |

Click to buy the book.

Valerie Rind has written a huge, shiny hook that will catch everyone’s attention. Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads made me laugh with chagrin as soon as I saw the dedication. I raced through most of it in one sitting. You’ll keep going just to see how disastrously the next story could possibly turn out. You’ll wince at the first paragraph in a chapter. The book is a voyeuristic, slow-motion-train-wreck, schadenfreude read.

I sincerely hope none of this ever happens to you, and “Gold Diggers” will show you how to avoid it. Ms. Rind even explains how it happened to her, and how the warning signs went right past her until the relationship ran off the tracks.

She writes a very straightforward account of each situation, letting her subjects tell their stories at their pace. She occasionally highlights a warning sign or an important point, and she concludes each chapter with an analysis of the problems. While you’re groaning in despair as the story unfolds, you also learn how to handle the situation if it ever happens to you.

She explains personal finance through relationships: friends, family, significant others, even spouses. Financial abuse starts with trust, moves through exploitation, and ends with a loss of money. It could result in delinquent loans or a trashed credit rating. She’s trademarked the term “Sexually Transmitted Debt“.

These relationships are really another version of domestic violence. Victims don’t want to discuss it, and they may even blame themselves while they’re hiding the evidence. Authorities are rarely brought in, and we don’t tell the world about the person who inflicted the abuse on us. Hopefully we’re wiser (although poorer) and we won’t let it happen again.

Ms. Rind interviewed dozens of people in person, on the phone, or over the Internet. She networked friends and acquaintances to find the stories, and she flipped a lot of rocks on Craigslist. A few even sought her out, hoping that sharing their tale would ease their pain while warning others away from the same mistakes.

Each chapter covers a different form of financial disaster: lies, loans, co-signing, sheer exploitation, even forced indebtedness. There are financial disasters in serious relationships, and even a Deadbeat Mom alongside the Deadbeat Dads. The final chapters deal with elder abuse through caretakers who take over the checkbook, or family members who exploit the will.

It’s not all mayhem and despair. Ms. Rind analyzes each story for the subtle warning signs and shows you how to have the important conversations before you make the commitment.

We’d all like to think that we’re way too careful, even too smart, to be exploited by these stereotypes. Yet Ms. Rind sets up each story from our own point of view, and eventually we’re forced to agree that it could indeed happen to us.

I usually recommend that you wait for a book to come to your library, but this one is worth spending the money now. It’s very frugal entertainment, and it’ll make you feel better about yourself. If you’re in a serious relationship, this will help you discuss the important financial questions with your significant other. If you’re in an abusive relationship, this will help you recognize the signs and get out.

You’ll learn new concepts in personal finance, and you’ll also learn how to take care of yourself.

Yes, I’ve already sent my review copy to my daughter!

While you’re waiting for Amazon to ship your order, browse through Ms. Rind’s other stories at the Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads website.

Related articles:
“When She Makes More”
“The Power of Habit”
“Lean Body, Fat Wallet”
“Give And Take”
“Soldier of Finance”
“All The Money In The World”
“You Are NOT So Smart”
All of the blog’s book reviews!
All of the books in the blog’s “Recommended reading” store

About Doug Nordman

Author of "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" and co-author of "Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence."
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