Financial Management & Frugal Living: A Few Recommended Books
Around the beginning of the year, I posted a hub titled "Suzie's New Year Resolutions." The first half of my list contained all of the "oldies but goodies." You know, watch my diet, work out more, stuff like that. However, for me, one of the standard goals is to continue to work on my financial situation. You see, I bought a house a few years ago and ever since then I've been struggling to stay afloat financially. During the first few years, I fell into the trap of using my credit cards to cover some of the expenses during the "leaner" months. As a result, I built up some debt.
Fortunately, I finally broke that habit. The first step for me was acknowledging the problem. Yes, I have a small income, but falling back onto my credit cards each month wasn't helping. Instead, I was building up a debt that followed me from month to month-- plus interest. The second step was vowing to stop using the credit cards any more (except for emergency situations-- and I do mean emergencies only!). But, simply vowing to stop using the cards wasn't enough. I needed to figure out how to stretch my measly pay checks even further.
So, I did what any certifiable bookaholic would do in that situation: I went to the library.
First, I was thrilled to discover that (small town notwithstanding) our local library had a pretty good selection of books on financial management and thrifty living. Over the next sixth months or so, I read nearly every book in that section!
The following are the books that I found most helpful:
Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
The "Tightwad Gazette" began as a newsletter. Over the years, it became more and more popular. Eventually, the newsletter articles were compiled into three volumes. My library gave me the option of borrowing all three volumes individually or borrowing "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" which was a huge tome containing all three volumes in one book.
Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced "decision") is fun to read. Her articles are both informative and entertaining. She talks about raising her children in an old farmhouse. She had a large family so it was necessary to stretch every penny as far as possible. She has tons of creative ideas about ways to save money, spend less, and re-use items. Oh, and the newsletter includes some of her hand drawn illustrations.
Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominquez
This eye opening book was recommended to me by a close friend. The author talks about breaking our reliance on money and breaking away from the philosophy that more is better. In all honesty, the author is a little bit condescending. But, his overall argument is sound. Basically, he asks us to choose between our money and our life. In today's society people work long hours in the pursuit of careers and put off really enjoying our lives until "later" (for instance: retirement). The book walks the reader through a step by step program. Honestly, I didn't completely follow it. I mostly just read the book and took notes of the things that I felt were the most helpful. However, the author claims that if you follow each of his steps, by the end you'll be ready to seize your financial independence. Dominquez offers some interesting arguments about our relationship with money and gives us something to think about.
Managing Debt for Dummies by John Ventura & Mary Reed
Contrary to the title, you don't have to be a "dummy" to read this book. I've discovered over the years that the "for Dummies" and "Idiots" series are both excellent. Plus, they pretty much have a book on every conceivable topic. Whenever I decide that I want to study something new, I seek out these books.
In this case, "Managing Debt for Dummies" offers a practical, hands on, and easy to read book about personal finances and debt. The book discusses the different between "good" and "bad" debt, offers advice on which debts to pay off first, and offers advice on how to create a budget, bring in extra income, and consolidate debt.
If you're struggling with debt then this book is a must read!
The Complete Cheapskate by Mary Hunt
Although Mary Hunt is well known and popular, I didn't like this book as much as the others. However, she does have some good ideas about tackling debt and saving money. The book is well worth a read.
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Okay, so this book may be an odd fit for this particular list. However, it offers another eye opening experience. In the book, Barbara Ehrenreich went under cover as a low-wage employee in several different states as an experiment. She set several rules for herself. For instance, she held each job for only a month. The test was too see if she could makes end meet during that month and still have enough money left over to pay the next month's rent. The book provides insight into what it's like for the "working poor" and breaks some of the stereotypes against people on food stamps and other government assistance programs.
Although this book didn't help me with my goals of paying down my debt and gaining financial freedom, it was an entertaining and insightful read.
Well, there you have it! A few of this hubbers favorite books related to finances. Please feel free to leave a comment or suggest other titles below!