This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices.
I’m going to start off the month by suggesting that you check out a book from the library. Not just any book, mind you, but one of the really worthwhile books on personal finance. Check it out, put it on your nightstand, and read a page or two each night before you drift off to sleep. Here’s the game plan.
Go visit your local library. First, find one – this is pretty easy to do with Google. Generally, the larger the library, the better – I don’t use the library in the town where I live, but patronize two libraries in the two significantly larger towns where I do most of my grocery and supply shopping. When you get there, you’ll likely have to sign up for a library card, which are usually free – this means bring a photo ID with you.
Find the personal finance section and browse. Look for a book that seems interesting to you. Here are four recommendations from me that I’ve reviewed here on the site before, though there are many books in this section that are well worth reading.
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
This book is my favorite personal finance book of all. It focuses heavily on finding the central values in one’s life and then realigning one’s finances to match those values. If you ever feel like you don’t fully trust the choices you make and are perhaps trapped in a financial lifestyle that doesn’t match your values, this is an essential one to read. Read my full review of Your Money or Your Life.
The Bogleheads’ Guide To Investing by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, Michael LeBoeuf, and John C. Bogle
Thinking about putting your toes into investing, but have no idea where to start or even what options are really available to you? This is perhaps the best all-around book for conservative investing that I’ve ever read and a very clear illustration for people who are just beginning to think about investing. Read my full review of The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing.
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Of all of the books I’ve read about managing a debt situation and eliminating that debt, Dave Ramsey’s book takes the prize. It presents a very clear plan that anyone can follow for escaping debt and getting your financial house in order. His tone is very inspirational and occasionally borrows from Christianity and the Bible, but that doesn’t affect the quality and truth of his message. Read my full review of The Total Money Makeover.
The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
Another valuable tack to take in seeking a better personal finance path is to look for ways to save money through living frugal. If that’s your interest, there is no better guidebook than this book, which is like drinking from the fire hose of frugality. Almost a thousand pages of frugal ideas and discussions broken down into short articles roughly the size of a blog post makes it a wonderful bedside read. I checked this out from the library, but eventually bought my own copy because of the sheer quantity of good information on frugal living. Read my full review of The Complete Tightwad Gazette.
While you’re there, check out the other resources your library has to offer. Check out the DVD selection, for starters – there are usually a lot of current movies and some interesting older ones, too. See if there are any novels by your favorite author. Look at the periodicals room and see what magazines they have available to read. Look at the music selections. Check their calendar for any interesting upcoming presentations. All of these are free opportunities for entertainment.
Put the book on your nightstand and read a few pages each night. If you want to read it all at once, that’s great, but most personal finance books are better off sipped rather than chugged from. That’s part of why I believe blogging about personal finance works – there are a lot of individual, discrete, but interlocking ideas in play. Read an idea, let it digest overnight, then read another one. Over time, the pieces come together for you.
Why do this? I’ve found that time and time again, reading a personal finance book a bit each day helps keep me in a good mindset for making strong financial choices. That’s part of why I review so many of these books on The Simple Dollar – if I keep reading them and writing about them, astute personal finance decisions are always present in my mind.
Tune in tomorrow for another one hour project for getting your financial house straight – the cost benefit of that one might be a little more direct.