More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom
In MORE THAN JUST MAKING IT, author Erin Odom provides some useful tips on avoiding financial calamity. Unfortunately for her, she had to learn these tips the hard way: “Our financial hardships were a perfect storm: the effects of poor decisions from our newlywed days, marriage trials that had led to job loss, and a nationwide recession.”
For starters, Erin provides useful information on setting up a budget, as well as some big mistakes to avoid. She calls these, “Three Spending Mistakes We Wish We Hadn’t Made:”
- We didn’t live on a strict budget;
- We didn’t save my salary;
- We didn’t wait to buy a home.
The author provides some good tips on financial planning--but I think the real strength of this book something a lot bigger. Erin offers more than just good ways to save money, or improve your income. She learned what it’s like actually being on the receiving end of welfare. She learned firsthand what it's like being in the checkout lane, embarrassed to be paying with food stamps.
Prior to being on government assistance, the author tended to scorn people who were on aid. Now the tables were turned:
“I was ashamed, thinking anyone who discovered our secret would think poorly of us, that we were scamming the system. . . Hiding the fact that we were on welfare made me feel like we were living a lie.”
The author learned a lot about families trying to make a living:
“Our experience taught me that many Americans— regardless of the current economy— are often just one paycheck away from financial ruin.”
Being on government aid, Erin was forced to modify her view of welfare recipients. Of course, now she knew how important the aid could be. She also realized that her prior opinion of welfare was not very accurate.
“Our time on government aid helped me see others for who they are— people just like me.”
Besides being on government aid, the Odom family was in for another big lesson. The last part of the book covers their bankruptcy filing. She and her husband had reached the bottom, and they simply had no more options. They were humiliated and confused. On the way to see the bankruptcy judge, they quickly slinked inside, hoping no one would see them.
So all in all, I found MORE THAN JUST MAKING IT to be a valuable tool for financial planning—but that’s not all. Beyond the money tips, this book provides some important lessons for Christians who do NOT have financial problems. It seems to me her message is also one of compassion for those in desperate straits.
I thought this nicely summed up the author’s experience:
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Scripture is unmistakably clear: We are to give to those in need.”
Well stated. I appreciate the author reminding us.
Note: For readers interested in fun ideas on saving money, my favorite money-saving book of all time is The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. It’s full of imaginative money-saving tactics. I bet you would find it a fun and practical read.