Sherri Burr discusses her book "A Short & Happy Guide to Financial Well-Being" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27 at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW.

By David Steinberg
Businesses aren't alone in downsizing. By necessity, so are individuals.
Sherri Burr devotes a chapter to how you can cope with forced and voluntary downsizing in her new book "A Short & Happy Guide to Financial Well-Being."
"Look on the bright side," Burr concludes, "and grasp that the new reality brings fresh possibilities.  The only thing that is guaranteed is that things will change so embrace the shift."
Burr cites an example of a woman who was pulling in $6,000 a month as a tenured professor and department head at a California university. A freak accident left her disabled, without a job and  a monthly income of $800.
What did the ex-prof do? Burr reports that after working through the grief and anger, she snapped to her dream: Move to New Mexico and write. She did, and has sold her first historical novel.
Burr's book lives up to its title.
Short. It's only 164 pages.
Happy. It is spilling over with optimism and pragmatism.
Guide. It gives you sound ideas for managing your money so you can stay in financial health whether the economy is strong or weak.
Burr uses the concept of "tips" as guideposts in every chapter.
Here are some. Tip No. 5 in the first chapter declares "Pay Off Your Debt." The author tells you how and why you should.
Tip No. 1 in the second chapter advises you not to destroy friendships or family relationships by loaning money.
The author's tips on spending money are direct, like paying with cash. Also, be frugal, not cheap. Frugality lets you live comfortably, cheap doesn't.
Buying a used car? One tip Burr has is to have a mechanic check out the vehicle before you buy.
A chapter on the best ways to save money also urges you to be a savvy investor or have a professional fund manager invest for you.
The matter of bankruptcy is covered in another chapter. Bankruptcy, Burr writes, may be the best option if you can't pay off a mountain of debts.
The penultimate chapter, "Free or Nearly Free," has tips for such deals as finding free food (cheese and wine at art receptions), free exercise (walking is Burr's favorite), free music (concerts in the park), free movies (at the public library).
The final chapter segues into the broader subject of living a happier and healthier life. Some of her tips here are: Rid yourself of the clothes and household items you hardly wear or use. Spend more time with friends and family (the ones you haven't lent money to?). Show your gratitude. Practice random acts of kindness. Volunteer.
Burr is Regents Professor Law at the University of New Mexico Law School where she's taught since 1988.
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