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The Skinny on Credit Cards – Review and Giveaway

I was recently sent a fascinating little book to give away: The Skinny on Credit Cards: How to Master the Credit Card Game. At first, the subtitle put me off a little bit. The word “game” made me feel like the authors were making light of the serious problem of credit card debt and the complicated process that getting and using credit has become in our culture.

Once I started reading, however, I found the book to be a light-hearted mix between humorous stick-figure drawings and serious information. The “Skinny On” series attempts to help people understand complex matters in an accessible fashion.

The Skinny on Credit Cards combines storytelling and information–we follow Billy and Beth, two otherwise-smart people who’ve managed to get themselves into a deep credit card debt. The book talks about how your financial story affects your outlook on spending and finances.

I found the book to be incredibly informative and yet easy-to-read because the information was broken up by panels and stick figure illustrations. There’s a lot to say about credit cards and getting out of credit card debt and they say it. In some ways, the book reminds me of a blog doing a topical series–there’s even a great “wrap up post” at the end recapping the main points.

At times the story part seemed a bit silly and simplistic, as such stories often do. But I was so impressed by the content overall that I was able to see the story as a way of helping readers identify with someone and see examples of the book’s principles.

If you’re trying to get fully-educated about how credit cards work and best practices for using them, I highly recommend The Skinny on Credit Cards as a way to find all the information in one place.

And good news! I’m giving away a free copy of the PDF version of The Skinny on Credit Cards! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below sharing when you got your first credit card and whether or not you think you were ready to have one at that point. To start us off, I’ll say that I got my first card at 22, I think I was ready because I had a good financial track record and had been blogging and educating myself about personal finance for nearly a year.

Contest closes on Sunday May 17th at 10:30pm EDT. Winner will be notified through e-mail. Valid e-mail is required so I can send the winner their copy of the book. Contest is void where prohibited, winner will be chosen at random from valid entries using Choice of winner is at my sole discretion.


Miranda May 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

I got my first credit card at the age of 18. I definitely wasn’t ready. It only had a $500 limit (I applied at a booth on campus three days after I arrived), and I had maxed it out within 2 months. Then I paid it down, and they increased my limit to $1,500. Yikes!

Jason May 13, 2009 at 9:22 am

Great review! I also am a fan of The Skinny On book series. Make sure you check out their website for the other books in the series and future books to come.

Small Steps to Health May 13, 2009 at 9:42 am

I got my first credit at 18, freshman year in college, just like Miranda. But my limit was $300. At the time, I thought it was a lot of money.

I never maxed out my credit cards, but kept applying for a new one every year to get the free stuff they gave out on campus.

Identity theft never even crossed my mind even though I was handing over my driver’s license and social security number to the person behind the booth who was only a few years older than me.

Small Steps to Health’s last blog post: Gilad Quick Fit System 12 Week Rotation Schedule

Angela May 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

I got my first one at 19, with a $300 limit and within 2 months, they raised the limit by $1,000. I DEFINITELY wasn’t ready.

Bonni May 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

I was 18 and so not ready. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Kymm May 13, 2009 at 10:30 am

I got my first credit card at 16! My mom said she was going to teach me to use it correctly but I didn’t listen. I was pretty good at first but then I got pregnant and I charged a lot to it and had it maxed out before my son was born (I was 18 by the way). I now have just under $7,000 in credit card debt but I’ve found the light and am paying them down even with a 10% paycut and saving for a vacation (and other stuff!). I’m teaching my son money managment and he’s only 6. I don’t want him to make the same mistakes my family has made. I’d also like the book to share with my sister who just filed bankruptcy and is complaining about not having a credit card!

Kymm’s last blog post: Housing

Little Miss Moneybags May 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I got my first credit card when I was 24. I actually think I waited too long, because by that point I didn’t have any credit history and I got turned down even by store credit cards. I had to go with a fairly shady secured card company, who took my $500 deposit and wouldn’t give it back until I threatened legal action several years later. I had to close the card when I switched to a “regular credit card”, so I lost the two years of credit history that I did have. I would have been responsible enough to have it earlier, but I was wary–too wary, it turns out.

Little Miss Moneybags’s last blog post: success!

Diane May 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I got my 1st credit card at 21. I was working and on my own, paying my own bills and I handled the card responsibly, so I think I was ready.

It wasn’t until much later that I got into credit card debt, after I was married. This was a direct result of marrying someone who had different financial values.

We still handled the debt responsibly until his business failed, at which point he fell apart, refused to deal with anything, we divorced and I was left holding the bag. (Community Property state, so I was responsible for HIS debt I didn’t even know about…)

Lesson: Be sure you marry someone who has the same values that you do when it comes to money, among other things!

J. Money May 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm

yeah, i’m digging it too so far! 3/4 the way there 🙂 Just finished up their “Skinny on the housing crisis” or something to that affect too…..REALLY cool reading it in such comic-book style.

and btw, 24 hours ’till PF Happy Hour!

Kathryn May 13, 2009 at 8:42 pm

My first credit card (a Visa) was joint with my husband just after we got married (at 23). We did OK for a while, then we had car trouble or something and a balance started building up. We went back and forth with trying to pay it down, transferring back and forth to get teaser interest rates….and finally got it all paid off after several years. Since, then we always pay the cards off each month. An interesting side story is that after 20 years of joint credit card accounts-building up balances and paying them off, keeping 3 or 4 accounts open and having credit limits in the $10,000 plus, and both of us working–when I went to apply for my own credit card in my own name, I was offered a provisional card with a $300 limit! I was so insulted. All that time I thought I was building a credit history…but I guess not. Moral of the story for women…establish your own credit accounts (before you need them.)

Diane May 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Kathryn – Excellent Advice!

“Moral of the story for women…establish your own credit accounts (before you need them.)” – That might actually be Lesson #1!

I was fortunate to get that advice from one of my early bosses, which is why I got my 1st credit card at 21. She also told me to always maintain accounts in my own name, even after I married and I did follow that advice – it was a lifesaver.

Mrs. Nathan May 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Hey Mrs. Micah,

I got my first credit card last year, at age 25. We charge all purchases over $10 on our credit card because we know we’ll be able to pay it off each month and because we get 1% cashback rewards. We only charge things that we know our monthly budget will cover, so temptation is low. We got our credit card through the credit union we belong to, so it’s essentially no different than a debit card for us – I just transfer money from checking to the credit card each month to clear the balance. It works great for us!

Zella May 13, 2009 at 10:40 pm

18. But I also purchased my first house at 18, so I suppose it was fine for me.

Zella’s last blog post: Missing things

Ksquar May 14, 2009 at 8:55 am

I got my first CC at age 17 with my parents as co-signers. I went off to college after that and kept signing up for cards for free things! Over the years I have had limit increases and kept trying to keep up with the jones so I could hang out with friends – by using my credit cards. I am paying for it now. I have been educating myself on debt and how to eradicate it. I was up to $55k in debt and am now down to $49k… slowly but surely, I will get there thanks to the advice of all you PF bloggers out there showing me the way!

Keep it up and keep us inspired! Thanks!

Heidi May 14, 2009 at 11:55 am

I got my first credit card Mastercard at age 18 when I left home and started university. I had already been working part-time during high school and saving money so I managed to be quite disciplined with credit card use, despite having a limit of close to $1000. To this day I am glad to report I am still careful with credit card use.

texasgal49 May 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

I got one while my husband wass away in the service. Yes I used it responsiblily. Though looking back, I wish we never got into the “hole” of using debt. If the young people of today learn nothing else from this downturn in the economy, “don’t use credit, pay as you go. Save and have a rainy day fund set aside.

Best June 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

I got my first one at 24, with a $500 limit and within 5 months, they raised the limit by $1,000. I wasn’t ready.

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