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“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
I’m a firm believer that, in addition to the people you surround yourself with, the books you read can change your life.
Reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey in 2008 changed my life and gave me the desire to learn more about personal finance. It has affected how I view money and how I manage it. Because of what I learned from this book, I value being debt-free and the ability to give more than status symbols and luxuries in life. I don’t follow 100% of what he teaches, but I believe his principles are effective for anyone who needs financial help.
Related blog post: Where I Agree and Disagree With Dave Ramsey and My Debt Story
I first discovered Dave Ramsey when I moved out to Missouri/Kansas for my first job. It was 2007, and I had just graduated from college. I had student loans and debt on a new car that I had just financed. I thought debt was normal. I saw all these billboards with catchy phrases like “Act Your Wage!” and decided to see what this Dave Ramsey guy was all about. I started listening to his radio show, and I was intrigued. He was giving no-nonsense advice, and people were paying off their debt and changing their financial lives. I went to the bookstore to check out his book, and I ended up reading The Total Money Makeover in one day. His teachings gave me the inspiration and motivation to not only pay off my debt but to learn more about personal finance. Because of that one book, I’ve poured hours and hours into reading books and blogs to learn more about personal finance.
For this roundup post, I asked other bloggers which book had the biggest impact on their financial life. Here are the responses I got:
Blogger: Enjoying Our Days
Book: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez and Monique Tilford
Impact: This book had such a big impact on me. It showed me that having time to enjoy my life was more important than having more money than I needed. It taught me that we do not buy things with money, but with hours of our lives that we can’t get back. My whole philosophy is based on this, and it is the message that we convey with our website.
Blogger: Mixed Money Arts
Book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Impact: I read this book not long after I started on my path toward financial independence. While the book isn’t about finance, it puts into perspective how daily habits can lead to extraordinary results. Accordingly, I’ve been able to apply its concepts to my financial habits (e.g., spending less, routine investments, etc.) as well as other similar habits like sticking to a diet or working out daily. Here’s my favorite quote from the book by 19th century philosopher William James:
“Habits, he noted, are what allow us to ‘do a thing with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all.'”
Whenever I feel “financially” unmotivated, I remember this quote and it helps me stay on track.
Impact: This book changed the way I looked at investing my hard earned money. Collins provides a no fluff book that encourages investors to keep it simple. As much as I’d love to become a day trader, I don’t have the knowledge or expertise to do so. Collins explains why most people are much better off investing in the entire stock market through ETFs and mutual funds. This book also encouraged me to continue to pursue my goals of financial independence and early retirement.
Blogger: My Work from Home Money
Book: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
Impact: I read The ONE Thing in 2013 and it has helped refocus my life in so many areas. We are inundated with so many distractions from digital media to our personal and work lives. Most people, myself included, try to manage everything coming at them and barely manage to keep their head above water. By limiting distractions, focusing on the things that are most important right now, I’ve not only become much more productive in my work life but happier and don’t feel stressed out all the time.
Blogger: Kids, Cash and Chaos
Book: Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference by Crystal Paine
Impact: I’ve been following Crystal Paine’s blog Money Saving Mom for quite sometime so I knew this book was coming out. I convinced my local library to order it and was first in line to read it. Crystal lays out what it is really like building a business from home. She talks about the hard parts and the fun parts. Her personal stories of failure and success were so inspiring! This book gave me the courage to start another online business after a failure in the past. It has helped me to build my virtual assistant business so that I can contribute to my families financial security. Having my small home business has been instrumental in keeping my family afloat some months and now is a huge part of our debt repayment plan.
Blogger: Money Smart Guides
Book: One Up On Wall Street: How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market by Peter Lynch
Impact: I was introduced to this book in high school by my economics teacher. It taught me a lot about investing and that summer I made my first stock purchase.
It ended up being a success and I tripled my money. But other investments along the way didn’t turn out so hot. But the fact that I was investing and learning from my mistakes has been invaluable.
I am now a passive investor and have grown my net worth to close to $1mm mostly because I save a ton each month and invest as much as I can.
Blogger: Millennial Money Club
Book: The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
Impact: The main message I got from the book is to take your goals, multiply them by 10, and then take whatever effort you think is required to get there and multiply that by 10 as well. When I thought about how I could apply this to my financial life, I was floored, because I realized just how small I was thinking in terms of my finances. My income and net worth goals were average at best. But by 10xing them, and 10xing my effort, I’ve blown my old financial goals out of the water have been motivated to hustle harder than ever. And a part of that hustling was the creation of Millennial Money Club.
Blogger: Go To Travel Gal
Book: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
Impact: While this book is not specifically about finance, it applies to all things in life, helping you make the most of your life and achieve your personal goals. He applies the 80/20 principle, an economic theory that says 80% of results come from just 20% of your efforts. In a very easy-to-follow manner, he shows you how to narrow your tasks and efforts down to the 20% that are having the most impact and discarding the rest. What is the ONE thing (or 20%) you can do to meet your financial goals such that everything else is easier or unnecessary? It’s a complete change in how we think and allows you to be infinitely more effective in all areas of your life while giving you back precious time.
Blogger: Maximize Your Money
Book: Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth by Nick Murray
Impact: It’s a solid analysis and convincing explanation of why investing in bonds is likely to sink your financial future. There is more risk in NOT investing in stocks than there is investing in them.
Book: The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
Impact: The Law Of Attraction isn’t for everyone, but as soon as I watched The Secret on Netflix, I knew that it was for me. I quickly bought The Magic, which has daily exercises to bring more of whatever you want into your life. The biggest thing I learned from this book was to be grateful for my current financial situation – and it has always brought me more wealth. If I worried about how much debt I was in, it didn’t get paid off. When I switched that thinking to being grateful that credit was available to me, and showing gratitude that money would be coming, my situation changed. I now practice gratitude for all my finances (and other areas of my life) and see them improving significantly.
Blogger: Effortlessly with Roxy
Book: Law of Attraction and Money: How to Manifest Money and Get Rich…NOW! by Elizabeth Daniels
Impact: Before reading this book, I thought that money was something that is hard to come by and something I had to work hard for…suffer for, really. This book taught me several practical things. The biggest practical lesson I learned is that our relationship to money as an adult is formed during our childhood years, and often we hold ourselves back financially with our limiting thoughts we learned as children! Since reading this book I’ve begun to unwind those limiting beliefs and am seeing very positive results in my bank account. There are great explanations about how to shift our relational mindsets with money, as well as meditations and practical exercises. As a spiritual person with an analytical side this book hits right in my sweet spot.
Book: The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s Book by Howard Davidoff
Impact: “The Everything Personal Finance In Your 20’s and 30s” book transformed the finance portion of my life. I learned everything that I needed to know that I did not learn in high school, even though I took the required personal finance class. Whether it be information on student loans, mortgages, retirement – this book has it all. This book is lengthy, so reading it in bits and pieces definitely helps.
Blogger: The Code To Riches
Book: A Random Walk down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton G. Malkiel
Impact: While much more designed for the reader who’s interested in investing, there are some very helpful tips that give you the highest returns for the least amount of time spent dealing with your portfolio. Plus, there are some great tips on how investors’ psychology can really hurt them in the long run, and what to do to avoid these mistakes. It’s far and away my favorite finance book, and a must have for the serious investor!
Blogger: I am Stepmom
Book: Financial Peace: Restoring Financial Hope to You and Your Family by Dave Ramsey
Impact: In order to pay off debt and increase income, he advocates for getting side hustles. Extra income can go towards wants or working towards early retirement.
Blogger: The Full Nester
Book: Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
Impact: It really caused me to think differently about how I run the accounting for my business. It talks about how if we wait to separate our profit until we’ve covered the expenses for everything, we won’t accumulate profits. Pay ourselves first with our profits, then what is left over is used to buy more inventory, etc.
Blogger: Physician on FIRE
Book: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D.
Impact: Early in my career as a physician, this book taught me about an unexpected paradox. Most people that appear to be wealthy are not. They look wealthy because they have expensive things, and they’re probably not wealthy because they’ve spent most or all of their money. Many of the true millionaires are practicing stealth wealth, blending into their communities with common tastes and sensibilities. A decade later, I have become another millionaire next door. It’s a badge I wear with honor as I ride my bicycle or drive my ’06 Chevy to work.
Blogger: Inkwell Editorial
Impact: It wasn’t a particular book — although I’m a big fan of Suze Orman’s, “The Courage to Be Rich,” (the first “finance” book I ever read) and Dave Ramsey’s, “The Total Money Makeover,” which I bought for myself, and for a friend when she graduated from nursing school once. It was the philosophy of these two gurus that had a profound effect on me. I used to watch Suze Orman’s show when it was on CNBC. I especially love the segment called, “How am I Doing?” When I started watching that show, I was in my 40s and always felt so left behind financially because people would call in with WAY more in savings than I had, and she would give them a C or a D. When she explained what they needed to do to get to an “A,” it really made me take a hard look at where I was.
I was one of those caught up in the housing crisis that started in 2007/2008. My home was severely underwater — more than 50%; I had an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM); and of course, with it being so far underwater, I couldn’t find a lender who would refinance it. Suze said something on one of the shows one night that led me to make one of the hardest financial decisions of my life — let my house go. It was an investment that was killing me financially; one I could no longer afford to throw money away on. But to look at your home as “just” an investment — that part was hard. But when she laid it out, I was like, “Yeah, it’s like an underperforming stock. Would you continue to invest in a stock that’s you know may take years to recover – and may never do so?”
So in 2013, I got rid of my house (it was eventually sold in a short sale) and moved to Jamaica, where the cost of living is cheaper – all so I could save and invest more for retirement. Yeah, it was a drastic change and all these years later I still have pangs of homesickness when I look at photos and remember the good times I had there, the fun I had decorating it, the mowing the lawn — I’m getting misty, so I’ll stop – LOL! — but financially, it was one of the best moves I ever made, so I have no regrets on that front. I plan to own again when I move back to this states. But, this time, I’m going tiny, and hopefully will have enough to pay for it in cash. I have practically no debt and don’t want to get in any ever again. However, if I do have to get a mortgage, it’ll be small one, and will be paid off in three years or less. That’s my plan. I want to enter retirement totally debt free — including my house. And, I’m on track to do just that thanks to the hard choices and big changes I’ve made.
Blogger: Millennial Money Guide
Book: The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D.
Impact: The Millionaire Mind provided me with an overview of the average millionaire and an insight into how they made their money through very attainable means. This book also provided me with the raw data and statistics behind the average millionaire, which made me feel like becoming a millionaire is no longer a wild dream but a very attainable goal.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you would like to add to this list, please email me at email@example.com with:
- Your blog and link to your blog
- The book that had the biggest impact on your financial life
- Why/how it impacted your financial life
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