Did you know it’s Financial Literacy month? I was just a tad-bit late realizing that, and here it’s almost over before I’m posting this. I suppose I have just a few things going on right now…
These are a Few of My Favorite Books…
Okay, so I haven’t exactly read all of them. I sort of have a habit of second-hand shopping ahead of myself. And some I read years ago and could barely summarize them for you now; they’re probably worth another look-see.
Which Book is Best?
I believe that the best financial reading is the one that works for you. Does the message ring true? Does it resonate? Did it cause you to pause and challenge your financial paradigm? Did you finally start doing things differently instead of doing more of the same?
The common quote, usually attributed to Albert Einstein, comes to mind:
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
What will you read when you are finally sick and tired of the insanity that is your finances? When you’re finally ready to hear the message?
Then that’s the best financial reading for you.
1* The Total Money Makeover
That said, Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover really resonated with me. It clicked. He holds no punches. He lights those fires. He challenges the American paradigm of debt and our love affair with credit and I Can Borrow My Way to the American Dream and tells us all to grow up.
I love memoirs, and Dave’s book reads like little memoirs that he scatters throughout the book in the form of case studies of actual people who share their financial journeys and struggles with debt and what they did to make real, lasting changes in their lives and how they manage their money. (You can breathe now.)
A couple Dave Ramsey quotes:
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
“Too many people buy things on the ‘lay-awake’ plan.”
“Act your wage!”
Gotta love Dave.
I discovered Dave in the Spring of 2009. In the following ten months we paid off $19,375.72 of debt. Nothing changed except our mission. Dave lit a fire under our boo-tocks, and we wanted to put it out.
Since then we have bulked up our savings, John has moved to California, we’ve put our house up for sale (unsuccessfully), and the kids and I are getting ready to join John in California after renting the house out to friends. We’re doing this all with cold, hard cash, baby. I think Dave would be proud.
2* Mary Hunt
I have to plug Mary Hunt, because she was my introduction into the personal finance world. Well, after my foray into personal banking, that is. I worked at a (very large bank) for a couple of years in my mid-20′s and learned all I never wanted to know about how too many people (don’t) handle their money. I hated every minute of it. What can I say? We needed the paycheck. Oh, the irony.
The Freedom Account
Anyhoo. I took Mary Hunt’s study “The Financially Confident Woman” at our church and started using some of her methods with our finances at home. Namely, her Freedom Account, as she coined it. A Freedom Account is simply Mary’s name for a separate checking account that you keep for all of those irregular payments that come up throughout the year. Instead of waiting until the quarterly insurance premium is due, for example, you divide the payments into monthly amounts and deposit that money into your freedom account until the bill is due. Then you just draw the money from the Freedom Account and, Wah-lah! No more “unexpected” bills!
That tool worked very well for us for a number of years. Especially in your younger years, or when your income is lower, it’s imperative that you anticipate irregular bills — and Christmas is included in that! It does come every December 25th, after all…
3* The Millionaire Next Door
This book will shatter any pre-conceived notion you might have about who really are America’s wealthy. Thomas Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door closely examines the lifestyles and habits of people who actually have millions in their bank accounts — not the people who just look like they do.
I was particularly struck by recognizing that high-income earners are not usually the ones with all the wealth; and that most of America’s successful entrepreneurs were mediocre students at best — something I think should be touted more in the schools and with kids who are growing up under the impression that doing well in school guarantees you success in life, or vice versa.
This is a must-read for every American, in my humble opinion.
4* Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It, and Give It
I won this book from a blogger (sorry if you’re reading this — it escapes me who you were!) and had never heard of it before then. Now it seems like it comes up everywhere! Steve Miller’s Enjoy Your Money! is perfect for anyone just starting out in managing their money. Or, ideally – before they start out! (Think “teenagers”!)
I asked my own young teenager to read this so we could discuss it together. This was about a year ago. He did start it, and we did discuss several chapters together, along with another friend of his. Then we got busy and distracted and never finished. But I plan to go back to it eventually with my son, now that he is older and is developing a more vested interest in handling his finances. Pun intended.
His friend, by the way, said he devoured the book well ahead of our scheduled talks for each chapter, and then he gave it to his older (high school) sister to read.
Just a note: At first I didn’t like the “movie script” dialogue format with the fictitious characters the author developed to hone in the messages. I thought it was cheesy. But then, this book is not necessarily meant for people like me, who actually seek out financial books. As one reviewer noted, it’s ”A readable book on personal finance for people who don’t want to read a book on personal finance.”
But the characters, and the writing style, did end up growing on me. And by the end of the book I recognized that Steve had covered absolutely every important financial topic. If you’re looking for a way to introduce your high schooler, or any young adult, into personal finance, this may be it.
5* The 4-Hour Workweek
I initially checked this book out of the library because I was interested in the traveling aspect of the author’s story. Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek chronicles his journey that enabled him to “Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, And Join the New Rich.”
I’m a sucker for traveling memoirs, and I thought that’s what I’d be getting with this book. After all, a “4-hour workweek”? Leaving the rat race? Out-sourcing your life? Travel the world without quitting your job? I’m a SAHM: I can’t quit my “job” (and wouldn’t want to!) What would all that have to do with me? It’s not like I can “outsource” my kids! Or could I…
Oh, I jest.
I just wanted to read about his travels, but I ended up getting sucked into his philosophy on working and earning an income and life in general. His view is controversial and definitely outside of the box. Instead of promoting Time Management, for instance, he tells you to evaluate your Busyness and Do Less, not more in less time. He also challenges the idea that The Customer is Always Right, a decidely American mindset. If that customer is causing 90% of your headaches, do you really need him? While his ideas may seem to only pertain to the person who works for a paycheck, I found myself applying them to different areas of my life as well in a very personal way.
Ferriss refers to the New Rich as those who don’t defer the lives they are supposedly working toward. They do what it takes to make that life possible right now. His book is so not all about traveling the world — unless that’s what you choose to do. It’s about living the life you want to live, right now.
Why are you working? What are you planning on doing when you retire? Do you really have to wait?
I bet you can guess what his answer is!
“Retirement planning is like life insurance. It should be viewed as nothing more than a hedge against the absolute worst-case scenario: in this case, becoming physically incapable of working and needing a reservoir of capital to survive.” ~ pg. 31
In other words, we don’t retire because we want to; we retire because we have to. If you’re doing what you love — why would you stop?
Remember the story about the two fisherman?
“Two fishermen are sitting in on a quiet beach. Each day they catch fish: some to eat; some to sell to make a living. They grow up together, living life and sharing stories and chatting.
Then one day, one of the fisherman says “I want to try to make something of myself….I want to become something! I’m going to do it, go out into the world and become a success!”
The remaining fisherman says, “I wish you the best my friend.”
So the departing fisherman does just that: works hard; gets a corporate / office job; climbs the “corporate ladder” and builds his wealth.
Later, the corporate fisherman retires from the corporate world…
… and returns to the fishermen village. He picks up a fishing pole and sits next to his old friend and asks, “How’s everything? I missed it so much here. I worked so hard, made something of myself, made some money, look at me!”
The long-time friend replies, “Welcome back, I’ve been enjoying life right here all along.”
6* Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
Okay, I admit it. I thought this book was going to be a bunch of hogwash written by a guy who just wants you to spend a couple grand signing up for his seminars that really don’t offer anything new but a way for him to make money from a bunch of suckers.
I was wrong.
No, I haven’t attended one of his seminars, but a cousin of mine did and raved about it to me. She and her husband are entrepreneurs, and after reading T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, I can understand how this guy would inspire them — or anyone — to work their business successfully and not limit themselves within unconscious barriers or to preconceived notions of what is possible.
I had no intention of seeking out his book. But I happened to come across it at the Thrift Store (of course!) not too long after our conversation. As I joked with my cousin, “I guess the book didn’t work for the person who consigned it!”
Eker helps you to recognize your “Money Blueprint,” which comes from the “information, or programming, that you received in the past, and especially as a young child.”
Do you understand what your financial paradigm is? Do you even realize that you have one? This book will help you to understand why it is you handle money the way that you do (for better or worse) and help you to recognize subconscious beliefs about money and wealth and success that you may not even realize that you have.
“All the statements you heard about money when you were young remain in your subconscious mind as part of the blueprint that is running [or ruining!] your financial life.” ~pg. 21
Understanding how we all develop our financial blueprints helps you to understand your partner’s beliefs about money as well. Indeed, our own “blueprint” can even determine the company we keep! Eker cites an example for couples:
“If you are a woman whose money blueprint is set for low, chances are you will attract a man who is also set for low so you can stay in your financial ‘comfort zone’ and validate your blueprint. If you are a man who is set for low, chances are you will attract a woman who is a spender and gets rid of all your money, so you can stay in your financial ‘comfort zone’ and validate your blueprint.” ~pg. 42
- How many of you decided to finally take control of your finances, then found that you had to find some new friends? Or you discovered resistance from your family and loved ones?
- How many of you — particularly spouses — thought you were on the same page financially, then turned around to discover that your loved one was saying one thing, but doing another? And not out of malice or ill-intent, but seemingly unconsciously. In fact, they handle your frustration with true bewilderment or in complete defense, shrugging their shoulders and saying, “What?” And you’re wondering if your last conversation you had was just a figment of your imagination. This book could help you to understand that. And I daresay, even change it. If you could get your spouse to read it, too… (hi, honey!)
7* Achieving Financial Freedom
25 Biblical Principles That Can Change Your Life
You may only be able to find this book in a Christian bookstore, or ask your library if they can order it. At least, I had trouble finding it online. (Obviously, since I’m not linking to it.)
I haven’t sat down and read this book cover-to-cover. Rather, I thumb through it and pause at one of the many short chapters whose theme catches my eye: “Keep Money in Perspective,” or “Learn From Your Mistakes,” or “Expect God’s Abundance,” “Seek God’s Wisdom” and many, many more.
This thin book packs a lot of punch into biblical principles that can keep us on track financially and help us to remember what’s really important and that, ultimately, we leave this earth as naked as we came into it. (Totally my words.)
My favorite thing about it is all the quotes and verses about money that are included in every chapter. If you didn’t know, the bible talks about money almost more than any other topic (except love?), with well over 1,000 verses on the subject. However, you can’t exactly plug “money” or even “finances” or “wealth” into an online search engine tool to find all the verses: most of them don’t even include those words.
This book contains a plethora of verses as well as many quotations by figures as varied as Laura Ingalls Wilder (“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.“) to Yogi Berra (“If you don’t know where you’re going, be careful. You might get there.“)
I list some favorite quotes and verses up above under my About Me tab, and many of them came from this book.
Some more samples:
“The most powerful life is the most simple life. The most powerful life is the life that knows there it’s going, that knows where the source of strength is; it is the life that stays free of clutter and happenstance and hurriedness.” ~ Max Lucado
“Success and happiness are not destinations. They are exciting, never-ending journeys.” ~ Zig Ziglar
“When a believing person prays, great things happen.” ~James 5:16
That’s exciting stuff.
What are some of your favorite books that really kicked you in the gut and spoke to you when you were ready to hear it? Favorite quotes? Verses?
Please, do share.