Home > Personal Finance > Want To Know Where Candidate Elizabeth Warren Stands? Read Her Books

Comments 0 Comments

Elizabeth Warren announced her candidacy with a video message last week. In her frank and what some call “folksy” way, she reiterated her concern for the middle class and her desire to help them as a Senator. Anyone who hasn’t followed her fight for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and formed an opinion about her as result, need only read her books to find out what kind of candidate—and person—she is.

Before the housing boom and bust, and before the Great Recession, she shared her concern for the middle class in her groundbreaking book, The Two Income Trap. It’s had more of an impact on me as a financial writer than any other book I’ve read.

[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]

Though well-written, it’s not an easy read. It starts with a gut-wrenching story of a typical couple who filed for bankruptcy after the husband/father lost his job. And it is filled with facts that spell out in raw detail how close so many American families are to the edge. Take these passages:

  • This year (2004), more women will file for bankruptcy than will graduate from college.
  • This year, more children will live through their parents’ bankruptcy than their parents’ divorce.

Or this one:

  • Having a child is the single greatest predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse.

Again, this book was written before the financial meltdown, and if she and her co-author and daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, were to write this same book today, the outlook may be even more bleak.

What makes Elizabeth Warren’s concern for the American family so real and believable is that it’s backed up by solid research from an extensive study of consumer bankruptcies. She tells the story of having seen the first set of data and dumping it in the trash because she thought it couldn’t possibly be accurate.

But it was, and she’s been standing up for the individuals and families represented in that study ever since, both in her writing and in her work as a tireless advocate for stronger consumer protections.

In chapters like “Mom: The All-Purpose Safety Net,” and “The Myth of the Immoral Debtor,” she exposes tired clichés that portray Americans as nothing but reckless overspenders who deserve whatever financial hardships they may encounter as the price of their profligate ways. (Her book came out the year before Congress tightened the bankruptcy laws in an effort to keep more people out of bankruptcy—and as some say—in debt longer.)

[Featured Product: Need credit monitoring options?]

In the second personal finance book she wrote with her daughter, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan, Warren and Tyagi start with a virtually heretical view of what it takes to be financially stable now:

You can’t count on good old-fashioned hard work the way your parents did. Go to school, get a good job, do your work, don’t go crazy with your spending and everything with work out, right? Not anymore.

There are those who will take issue with this view of the American dream, but Warren has the professional chops (and data) to back up her claims, and she pulls no punches.

Warren also briefly recounts early years with a family that just got by in Oklahoma; she got her first job at age 9, married at 19 and had her daughter three years later. She shares:

We lived on a budget so tight that I remember crying in relief when my mother-in-law offered me one of her dresses to wear to a job interview. (She was seven inches shorter than I am so you can imagine how ungainly I looked!)

Despite the fact that she became a tenured law professor at Harvard, and has had the ear of members of Congress and even Presidents, she remains true to her commitment to preserve the struggling middle class and it shows in her compassionate but realistic advice. How many other personal finance writers recommend a “Financial Firedrill?”

Warren has also authored/coauthored two more academic books for law students and attorneys: The Law of Debtors and Creditors: Text, Cases, and Problems and Chapter 11: Reorganizing American Businesses (Essentials). I have not read those.

It’s not unusual for political candidates to write vanity books to promote their cause. But here, Elizabeth Warren, the candidate, candidly shared her views on the challenges facing her future constituents long before she decided to run for office. If you want to know where she’s coming from, she’s an open book.

[Related article: Warren Announces Run for Senate]

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team