Nancy Trejos has weaknesses. Fine wine. Bulgari shampoo. World travel. As a personal finance writer for WaPo, all these weaknesses didn’t always add up and left her with a double life – her day job writing about people in debt and living a lifestyle well beyond her means. “I had been in denial about my financial problems, but I couldn’t do that anymore because the recession was hitting and I was on the phone with people who were hitting bankruptcy and couldn’t pay their car loans,” she said. “I just think people would rather talk about sex than money.” So she wrote a book. Her first. It’s called Hot (Broke) Messes: How to Have Your Latte and Drink it Too. I recently spoke with Trejos about what it felt like to write such a personally exposing book. Here’s what she had to say.
1. How did you come up with the title? A friend of mine helped me come up with it. She’s a writer and she and I are around the same age. We were running around D.C. together and we were dealing with our issues. One night she turned to me and said, ‘Oh we’re just hot messes.’ Hot Messes was the title I proposed. Then it became a collaboration and they wanted to change the title and add a subtitle. Finance can be such a scary thing. I didn’t want this to be a scary personal finance book. There’s a lot of prescriptive advice, but I tell it through my story, which at times is sad, but at other times, funny. I wanted this to be a fun title with a fun cover.
2. In your book you go into almost excruciating detail about your spending. How is your spending these days and how’s the debt situation? I’m a lot better now. I used to be such an impulsive spender and an emotional spender. I’d go through a breakup and go out and buy new outfits because I’d want to look better and feel better. I’d take an impulsive trip whenever something bad was happening because I just wanted to go away. I think and I have a budget. I have been able to pay off my credit cards. I still have my car loan, my student loans. I’m so much better than I was. When you’re fixing your finances it takes a long time. I’m still a work in progress. I still have to be very careful with how I spend my money. I still have to reign in that impulsive attitude. Now I think before I spend.
Read Trejos’ remaining three answers after the jump…