Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Also available is a complete list of the hundreds of book reviews that have appeared on The Simple Dollar over the years.
All of these books have a similar style. They consist of (usually) 100 short essays on the topic at hand, each espousing a specific idea for success in that area. They’re all perfect for nightstand reading, when you’re just awake enough for a few entries but not awake enough to dive deeply into a complicated book.
In reviewing a book like this, I can’t possibly give a chapter-by-chapter walkthrough, so instead I’ve chosen ten chapters that particularly stood out at me. You can imagine me reading it and inserting little bookmarks in the ones that I enjoyed.
1. Anybody Can Make Money – It Isn’t Selective or Discriminatory
The only thing that’s holding you back are your own money myths. Most of those money myths involve blaming others for your lack of success. The reality is that everyone (that’s healthy) has the same opportunities to make money and get ahead in life. People will always pay for skills and talents. Companies will always offer dividends to people who invest with them. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can do it.
5. Most People Are Too Lazy to Be Wealthy
The biggest money obstacle that holds people back is their own work ethic. If you go home from work each night and do nothing to improve your situation, you will always be beaten by the people who go home at night and do improve their situation. It takes a strong work ethic to do this. If you don’t have that work ethic, it’s not someone else’s fault.
11. If You See Money As the Solution, You’ll Find It Becomes the Problem
Money never solves problems, at least not in the long term. Our money problems virtually always can be traced back to our poor choices. The solution to preventing future money problems is to work on our own decision-making processes so that we make better decisions in all aspects of our life.
18. It’s Harder to Manage Yourself Than It Is to Manage Your Money
Your behavior is the most difficult part of money management. It is so easy to make mistakes. We buy something we don’t need. We panic with an investment decision. We make moves without a clear head. We use emotions in our money decisions. All of these things are challenges that a person must overcome if they want to find success with personal finance.
34. Don’t Waste Time Procrastinating – Make Money Decisions Quickly
This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s worth noting that if you wait even a month to start making monthly investments, you end up leaving yourself worse off after a year even if you invested in something with significantly worse returns in your haste. Small returns are better than no returns at all. Plus, when you invest in a tax-deferred account (like your 401(k)), you can usually change investments later on with no penalty. Start now, not later.
41. Don’t Be Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Some Money
Sometimes, our jobs give us tunnel vision and we don’t see the opportunities around us. It took me many years to figure this out. We all have lots of opportunity to earn money in our lives if we open our eyes to them. I have a friend of mine who has a lucrative side business buying and re-selling headphones. Why? How? He’s passionate about music and music technology and he just kept his eyes open.
64. Get Some Money Mentors
A money mentor is a person that can provide money management guidance and encouragement. For a lot of you, I (and other personal finance bloggers) am a money mentor, for example. These help, big time. For me, I found additional value when I sought out people in my own life that I knew face to face to help me with my money.
80. Shop for Quality
Rather than just buying stuff on a whim, make sure that you actually have a real use for it in your life. Don’t just buy stuff – plan your purchases carefully. When you do decide you have a use for something, buy a good version of it, one that will last. Don’t just go buy a set of cheaply made pots and pans, for example – buy one enameled cast iron pot. Don’t buy a set of junk knives – buy one very well made chef’s knife.
95. Don’t Over-Protect Your Children from the Valuable Experience of Poverty
If you’re poor, don’t try to shield your children from it. Use that as part of their learning experience as they grow up. Talk to them about it. If you’re not poor, expose your children to it. Do things like working in a soup kitchen or building a Habitat for Humanity house. Exposure to the financial realities of the world can have a tremendous positive impact on a child.
62. Don’t Just Read This – Do Something
It’s great to read about good personal finance ideas, but they don’t mean anything if they’re not paired with action. Don’t just read. Do something.
Is The Rules of Money Worth Reading?
As you’re reading it, The Rules of Money comes off like reading the archives of a personal finance blog that consists of 100 short but well-edited pieces on money. There’s a bit of quirkiness in places and good ideas spread all around. If that sounds appealing to you, you’ll probably find a lot of appeal in this book.
Because of the brevity of each chapter, though, no individual topic is delved into too deeply in one shot. Often, the exploration of specific issues is spread across a lot of chapters, with specific elements addressed directly in individual chapters but without much overall coverage of more general topics. The book often feels like a collection of trees, not a forest.
This is a great book to pick up and take a quick bite out of. It is not a great book to drink deeply from. If you like short pieces, this is the book for you.