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Biz & Books review: ‘Blue Collar Cash’ eschews white-collar tradition

Terri Schlichenmeyer

Special to the NNBW

Author Ken Rusk owns a construction business, and he’s a strong advocate of the trades.
Courtesy Photo
Learn more
  • The book: “Blue Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for Life”
  • The author: Ken Rusk
  • The details: c. 2020, Dey St., $24.99, 272 pages
  • Buy online: amzn.to/3l3B1e4

A fancy desk is not for you.

You have zero interest in sitting all day in a cubicle, talking on the phone, or pounding on a keyboard. Nope, there’s no fussy suit in your work wardrobe, either, no stiff dress shoes, and that’s just fine. So read “Blue Collar Cash” by Ken Rusk, and see how life can get even better.

If there’s one thing you know, it’s this: work six months ago and work today are two different things. Back then: plenty of work. Now, maybe not so much and what’s worse — there you are, with no college degree.

Before you seize on that, hold up: the lack of a college degree shouldn’t send you to an enrollment page. It should send you in another direction altogether: if you love to work with your hands in a non-office setting and you can identify what you want out of life, then maybe college isn’t, and never was, for you. 

The first thing, Rusk says, is to find that want. Draw it out on a sheet of paper if you need to, but be clear (and dream a little!). Next, remember that there is no shame in having a trade; in fact, in some cases, you can start learning a trade before you even get a high school diploma, and you’ll be paid while you learn. Bonus: no student loans for you.

Once you’ve landed a job in a trade or as an apprentice, watch for opportunities. All successful people share a number of traits that Rusk identifies; if you embrace them, there may be room for you to move up a ladder of responsibility at the job you have, or to start working for yourself as an entrepreneur.

Ken Rusk’s “Blue Collar Cash” identifies two key audiences in the modern COVID world: new grads and the newly unemployed.
Courtesy Photo

Remember that skilled tradespeople are in high demand these days (while lawyers, he says, are numerous), and opportunities for women are wide-open. There are even fellowships you can get that pay you to skip college and go to work for yourself.

Although author Ken Rusk mentions a wider audience, there are really just two groups that might get the most from “Blue Collar Cash”: new grads and the newly unemployed.

On one end of the spectrum, new grads — especially those who aren’t college-material — will find shame-free, useful advice on how to thrive, or thrive better, without four years of formal instruction. This is information from someone who walks the walk: Rusk owns a construction business, and he’s a strong advocate of the trades.

Readers on the other end of the spectrum will appreciate this book, but there’s work to do. Rusk spends a lot of time storytelling and he includes too much extraneous material, info that’s fine for older teens but may seem silly for an older adult — things like crayon drawings and tired advice from Cheerleading 101. It’s not bad, but it’s unnecessary.

If you have a willingness to read between the lines and a go-getter’s hunger, “Blue Collar Cash” is alright. Look for it: you may find that this is a book for you.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is the reviewer behind “The Bookworm Sez,” a self-syndicated book review column published in more than 260 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She can be reached for feedback, ideas and links to reviews of books on a broad range topics at bookwormsez.com.


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