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.
One of the first books I reviewed on The Simple Dollar was Dave Ramsey’s More Than Enough. I found it to be an interesting take on personal finance, as it ties together personal finance and character and personal growth into a single package. While I didn’t think that it was the first book you should read if you were in personal finance panic mode, I did recommend it as a worthwhile read.
A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me and suggested that I read what my reader described as a “companion” to More Than Enough, entitled How to Have More Than Enough. My reader suggested that it was a much better read than the first book.
Store Manager, to Aisle One, Please!
Many people feel unhappy with big aspects of their life, but they also find change to be stressful. The key thing to remember about any change that you take on in your life is that the end goal of it is to put you in a place where you are no longer unhappy with some aspect of your life. For example, choosing to live a life that involves less spending can be really stressful, but the end goal of it is actually a stress-reducer: freedom from debt and financial worry.
Why do people get into situations where they’re unhappy with some aspect of their life? Ramsey’s argument is that some basic foundation of their life has failed in some fashion. Ramsey argues that most lives are held up by a series of posts, and when one or more of those posts begin to rot and fall away, the entire structure of our lives begins to fall apart. Thus, the best thing we can do is to constantly shore up those things that we rely on. This chapter focuses a lot on values – the immediate things that we hold true and hold dear in our lives. What are we doing to reinforce those things? Most of the rest of the book focuses on nine more of these “poles” that hold up everyone’s life.
Vision – Binoculars Looking at Your Future
Vision refers to knowing where you want to go in life. This ranges from something as simple as what you want to accomplish this week to what you hope to accomplish over your entire life. If you focus on nothing but today, you’re going to walk in a rut in your life and never get to any of the places you’d like to go someday. The big key is to just start thinking about it and writing it down. What would you like to have people say about you at your funeral? What has your life meant? What can you do to get there?
Unity – A Tangled Rope Is Just Loops
Unity simply means doing things with respect to the people around you. So often, it’s easy to just do what we want and ignore what others need or want. However, if you focus on listening to the needs of others and incorporating those needs into your daily actions and choices, you’re going to find that your entire life flows much better. This goes from things like cleaning out the dishwasher to big things like how to spend a big windfall. The more you listen to the key people in your life and involve them in your major decisions, the easier your life will flow and the more they’ll involve you.
Hope – Fuel for the Explosion!
Is the future awash with possibilities or is it something to dread? If you look at the future as something to avoid and to fear, then you’ll find that your future is indeed a darker place. A much better approach is to look at one’s future as a place for hope and optimism, where the things you want in life are destined to happen. A key part of this equation is to look for the good “what-if”s and chart a path to them, and also look for paths away from the bad “what-if”s.
People Who Need People – Support and Accountability
You need other people in your life. For many people, though, it’s a surprise to learn that others need them in their lives. There are people out there who need you to be at your best. At the same time, those people are often the ones who can be there for you when you need help. It’s a two way street of support and accountability that can constantly push you on to better things if you let it happen.
Intensity – Move the Rock
Many people are willing to give up at the first obstacle. If you come at your goals with a low intensity, it’s going to be very easy to derail you, and any goal that’s worth achieving is going to have some obstacles along the path. Instead of letting those challenges derail you, you’ve got to focus hard on those challenges and overcome them. For example, if you’re watching your weight, instead of eating that delicious piece of pie, you’ve got to have the intensity and content of character to push it aside.
Diligence – That Dirty Little Secret
On the flip side of intensity is diligence – the ability to stick with something through thick and thin. It’s easy to ramp up the intensity in challenging moments, but it is diligence that will get you through the plateaus and the valleys where success seems far off. For example, intensity will get you through Thanksgiving dinner without gaining five pounds, but diligence will keep you from eating 500 calories a day more than you should and slowly gaining weight. It’s a focus for the long term.
Patience Is Power
Hand in hand with diligence is patience. Most goals don’t happen overnight. Many goals don’t happen in a year. In the society we live in today, it’s easy to have a mindset that you need results now and if they don’t immediately happen, something’s wrong. That mindset will keep you from achieving great things because it will cause you to abandon goals before you can possibly achieve them. Patience is an essential key for building a great life.
It’s easy to fall into a mindset where you want what others have. It can be a very pernicious mindset to crawl out of, too. The key to success is to simply be happy with the things you have, even when you could have other things if you were willing to sacrifice some of your goals. Without goals, it’s easy to fall into a trap of keeping up with the Joneses and never being truly content with what you have.
Giving – The Great Misunderstanding
When we are scared or when we don’t feel confident about our lives, we tend to clench our fists and hold on to what we have. A big step towards being happy with our lives is a willingness to let go of that tight grip and give of ourselves to others, not just in the form of money, but in the form of time and talent and energy. By doing this, we can begin to see that the bounty of gifts we have is actually more than enough.
Is How to Have More Than Enough Worth Reading?
This book is actually very much like More Than Enough except with some additional workbook elements added in. I compared the two books side by side and found that there really wasn’t very much material at all cut from the original book. Instead, this version mostly just benefits from the direct addition of workbook materials.
If you’re just looking for a book that focuses on character and personal growth and how it relates to personal finance, either How to Have More Than Enough or More Than Enough will suffice. However, I think I would give this one the edge because, due to the workbook elements, it provides just a little bit more push for you to actually start evaluating your life and making positive changes and some more food for thought about living a values-oriented life.