The problem with growing up without money is that I once I had some, all I wanted to do was spend it. So began my (still continuing!) adult journey from spending money, just because it was there, to becoming financially savvy and independent. Here are some books that have helped me work towards the latter.
1. How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously: Based On the Proven Principles and Techniques of Debtors Anonymous by Jerrold Mundis
I have never been a member of Debtors Anonymous, but you certainly don’t need to be a part of DA to gain knowledge from this book. First published in 1988, there are timeless principles here that you can use. Mundis tells you that you must keep an ongoing spending record (done more easily now with sites like Mint.com) of all money going out and in, and from that you can glean a spending plan, versus a budget. He also has a formula of how much to pay each creditor each month while still being able to live on your existing income. Most importantly, he encourages baby steps: just take one day at a time not to incur new debt, while reminding you that there is hope to lead a financially stable life.
2. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William Danko
I first found out about this book when my mother clipped an L.A. Times article about it for me. (Perhaps she was trying to tell me something.) This book opened my eyes when I read some of these statistics, such as a U.S. millionaire’s average income being $247,000 or that 80% of them are first-generation millionaires. Seeing things like that made me feel like wealth was eventually attainable. In my To Be Read pile now and by the same author is The Millionaire Mind, which I won in a giveaway from The Girl Next Door’s Guide to Finance!
3. Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson
Say what you will about the “For Dummies” series with its cheesy yellow and black covers, but this is a great primer. It was my gateway book for learning how to reduce my spending, taxes, insurance, and how to invest. It’s written in a wonderfully simple manner, and I think it’s fantastic one-stop shopping for covering all the basic essentials involving money.
4. Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner
This book was a natural segueway to me after Personal Finance for Dummies. After asking you to assess your financial life, it covers debt, banking, loans and home-buying. And as it is tailored to my age group, it helped me navigate a lot of “first-time” financial issues (e.g., renting vs. buying, how much insurance someone my age needs). It’s a great book that I discovered at the perfect time for me.
5. The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
I consider Amy Dacyczyn to be the unintentional matriarch of frugality, way before it was popular to do. She not only did that, but she was able to savvily market her lifestyle into a livelihood that allowed her to retire in 1996 at age 40 with her husband Jim and six kids. And she did it without the blogosphere; it’s almost unimaginable to think the only way you could get her newsletter was through snail mail for $12 per year. Because of her, I wash and reuse Ziploc bags and aluminum foil. Since I now pay my credit card bills online but the bank still includes a mailing envelope, I use those for my rent checks when I slip them under my manager’s door. She made the term “cheapskate” non-derogatory, and while I certainly don’t practice all the tightwad things she lists in her book (I draw the line at buying used shoes), it’s great to re-read every once in a while to stay motivated and in the “Frugal Zealot” mindset.
6. Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James, and;
7. Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul by Elaine St. James
A couple of impulse buys back when I mindlessly bought books (I now use the library 95% of the time!), this pair isn’t so much about personal finance as they are about lifestyle and ways of thinking. It talks about your relationship with yourself and your things. Some have criticized these books for being too simple and how they just read like a book of lists, but I think that’s the point: to encourage brainstorming. For me, they definitely stirred up some inspiration.
8. Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
A great read about achieving synergy between your finances and personal life to feel fulfilled. After all, you can pay down debt, but how do you change your way of thinking so it doesn’t happen again? Employing the philosophy that “time is money,” the authors have you quantify things not only in dollars, but through “life energy.” It’s a great book about having self-awareness in order to get the most value, monetarily and non-monetarily, out of everything that you do.
What are your favorite titles that influenced the way you think about money? I’d love to hear other book recommendations!