Book Review: Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup

Sam Beckbessinger

Jonathan Ball Publishers

Review: Brian Joss

Beckbessinger is a fintech entrepreneur who has spent most of the past 10 years building tools to help people manage their money better. And she wrote the book because so many of the people she spoke to wished she would.

Written in a light-hearted and readable style it has a serious message: how not to make mistakes with money. Beckbessinger says that everything we know about money “comes from advertising or from other people who know as little as we do. No wonder we make such basic mistakes”. A note of caution: if you’re offended by bad language then don’t read it but you will be missing out on some seriously sound advice on money matters. Beckbessinger is not a certified financial adviser and if your financial situation is complicated, she advises, get professional advice, and one chapter tells you how to do this. As the economy is so fluid and information can get out of date quite quickly her website ( has all the stuff that’s likely to change. There are eight chapters chapter 1 sets the context and encourages you to think about money; chapter 2 is about assets, compound interest and diversification, the three basic principles you need to know about money; chapter 3 focuses on analysing your money situation; chapter 4 is about setting goals and how to achieve them; chapter 5 is about getting spending under control so you don’t have too much month at the end of your money; chapter 6 looks at boosting your savings; chapter 7 is about opening the right savings and investment accounts; and chapter 8 is about setting up rituals and habits to keep you motivated.

Beckbessinger has an interesting and unusual concept that turns the money business in to a game. Create Your Own Money Challenge Board. Some of the challenges include Live Without a Car; Just Say No; Spring Clean; No-Spend Weekends; Turn R100 into R500; or the R25 Dinner Challenge, to name a few. They are rated in terms of difficulty but it may just get you looking differently at what you spend your money on.

Many people won’t like her advice about downgrading their cellphone contract, but if you see how much it costs you for the latest gizmo which is not much different from the gizmo you had last week, you may get a reality shock.

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a credit report and a credit score is. The credit report is free from a credit bureau, once a year, but you will have to pay to get your credit score. And there is an illustration of what a typical credit report looks like. A credit score is a three-digit number between 0 and 999: 999 is the best score and 0 is the worst, anything below 730 is something you should be worried about. But you can fix it.

In Chapter 5 Beckbessinger tells you everything you need to know about taxes and SARS, and she tells us what those acronyms, IRP5, IRP6 and ITA34 are. And if you’ve been on holiday overseas you can claim VAT for things you’ve bought there. Declare it at customs and as long as you have the receipts you can claim and get the VAT back in cash.

Manage Your Money Like A F*cking Grownup has numerous flowcharts that are easy to understand; exercises and informative illustrations. One of the most important chapters in my view is A Money Crash Course which includes quizzes with the answers that will show how much you know, or don’t know.

There is a comprehensive bibliography and a list of useful blogs. The book is a must for everyone, if you’re just starting to earn pocket money, or beginning your career, and even if you think you know everything about money and how to handle it. The tagline on the cover, “The best money advice you never got” , says it all. Don’t leave home without it.

Incidentally, Beckbessinger, who lives in Cape Town, also writes horror stories.

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