Hot (broke) Messes: How to Have Your Latte and Drink It Too - Nancy Trejos Glancing over many of the two- and three-star reviews, I can see where many readers are coming from. However, I can safely say I enjoyed this book on multiple levels and can comfortably give it 4 stars.

Yes, the title is bad, bordering on embarrassing, as is the cover design. For these reasons I never brought this book in to read at work, like I do with most of my reading materials, on or off the kindle. However, it does provide an accurate cue as to what is inside: this book is half financial advice, half quarter-life-crisis memoir and I think, in this rare instance, those two things go together quite well.

Being in a bit of a financial pickle myself, thanks to a very early plunge into the adult realms of marriage and loan debt before the age of 21, this book has a particular appeal for me. Granted, Trejos lives a very different life from me, as a single woman in her early 30's (when this was written in 2009) working for a prominent newspaper in the expensive city of Washington, DC. Compare that to a married, expectant mother in her late 20's who works in marketing for a small, relatively unknown company and living in a small town. The differences can seem bigger than the similarities, but the feeling is the same, since we both want to get rid of debt, improve our credit, and put away some money for the future.

The bottom line of the narrative: money is a tough responsibility and it is pretty damn easy to let spending get out of control, no matter your social or economic situation. Trejos, like many young 20- and 30-somethings living in the city and free from most family obligations, likes to go out with friends and have a good time. She also likes expensive shampoo and drinking at bars, two money sinks that can really get you when you least realize it. My weakness has always been buying books (duh), and to a lesser extent clothes. Granted, I've always been a thrift store kind of gal, but unnecessary spending is dangerous in any amount.

I especially appreciated Trejos introduction of other peoples' money situations; she selected from a decent range of "types" , although "young, single professional" still takes precedence in most cases. But seeing the variations in each situation and how they were solved (or not) was helpful in a way that straight forward how-to advice is not. You can tell me to make a budget or stop buying Starbucks until you're blue in the face, but seeing it in action is much more helpful. Her style is sympathetic and engaging, and she incorporates plenty of personal experience into each scenario.

I have a lot of respect for someone who is willing to expose their own financial mistakes- for some reason, this sort of revelation is still very taboo in America. We can talk about money only in the positive- what we make, what we own, what we want to buy next. We talk about failing marriages, bad diets, and all of the intimate details of child rearing, but people are afraid to admit when they've made financial mistakes. But since we grow up in an educational environment that teaches us NOTHING about money, how are we supposed to know what to do? I wasn't even aware of the existence of a credit score until halfway through college when I needed to buy a car.

I've been immersing myself in books about finance, credit, and budgeting for a few weeks now, and while this is not the best how-to manual in terms of making a plan, I think I still found it to be one of the most useful and engaging. Sometimes, just hearing someone's personal perspective is more helpful than dry step-by-step instructions and Excel spreadsheets.