You should’ve seen it coming.

You knew the economy was bad. You saw friends losing their jobs, houses, and their savings. Yet, when everybody else was slapping checkbooks shut, you didn’t worry. Your ship came in years ago, and you figured you were okay.

But then, faster than a tsunami, you were drowning in debt. How did that happen? Sunk like the Titanic, your finances under water–suddenly, you’re broke.

So how can you keep your dignity, image, and lifestyle afloat in lean times? Start by reading “Divanomics: How to Still be Fabulous When You’re Broke” by Michelle McKinney Hammond (c.2010, Tyndale House Publishers Inc., $12.99 / $14.50, Canada, 247 pages).

As a popular speaker, best-selling author, and business owner, Michelle McKinney Hammond was on “the diva track.” In addition to her writing, she was in demand for television, magazines, and cable. She’d hired the “right” people to help manage things, and she trusted that nothing was amiss in her business or her life.

Unfortunately, she was wrong.

By the time she realized that her accountant hadn’t paid the bills and her assistant wasn’t returning phone calls to prospective clients, McKinney Hammond was in trouble with the IRS and creditors, and her business had all but dried up. She had a negative bank balance, and she was scared.

The first thing she did was to take a look at her “financial landscape.” Although it was hard, she fired many of her staff and got rid of distractions.

Then, she did an assessment of her assets and debts–including small IOUs’–and prioritized how she wanted to pay everything off. Now fabulously solvent, McKinney Hammond shares her ideas for living debt-free.

Her rules:
Obviously, never buy what you can’t afford. Set limits for yourself and understand that “budget” is another word for “empowerment.” Get a pre-paid credit card or lower your credit card limits. Declare a shopping fast for a month. Learn the difference between need and greed. Find expenses that rob you of cash flow, and eliminate them. Clean out your closet and clothes-swap with friends. Share phone plans, shopping memberships, bulk groceries, and your talents. Tithe, pray, and be sure to pay your savings account regularly.

While I’m not sure I completely agree with everything author McKinney Hammond says to do (hang out in a hotel lobby and nibble free hors d’oeuvres for dinner?), there’s no doubt that most of the tips she offers in “Divanomics” are sound and wise.

And yet, I found this to be unique as a business book. McKinney Hammond is wonderfully sassy, and reading “Divanomics” was like talking to a friend who just discovered frugality. And although there’s very little outward indication of it, this book contains an abundance of Bible stories and faith-based teachings. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it caught me somewhat unaware.

I think, if you’re looking for a chatty, splashy-fun, hints-and-tips book on avoiding debt and living well while treading financial water, this is a good one to have. But if you’re looking for a completely serious personal finance book, you’ll find “Divanomics” to be all wet.