02 December 2005

FtG -- Getting Started with Finance How-To Books

Since starting out on my own journey of finance education, I've skated through a number of the entry-level, self-help finance books. They're all a little different, and they seem to target a different mindset, or level of personal damage. Ideally, you'll recognize yourself in here, and pick up a book yourself... or, let us know your opinion on one of these.... Money Drunk, Money Sober by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan really targets the 12-step, totally out of control financial disaster crowd. People whose behavior with money resembles their behavior with any other illicit chemical. =) The approach didn't really work for me since that's not my relationship with cash, but I can see how it might benefit someone who was in that space. And it's also a really good read, just in terms of highlighting how one can creatively approach their finances, and start exploring whatever mental damage they do have surrounding cash flow. The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman is just delightful. She's gentle in her handholding, but gives you the straight scoop. Once you've worked through this book, you get a feeling that even if you aren't a finance whiz, you've at least got your financial house in order, and that alone can be a relief. The glossary alone is worth the purchase price. She's not as 12-steppy as Money Drunk, but there's still a lot of exploration about the emotional component of finance, and the idea that it may well be your heart, and not your head, that's landed you in straits. Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson rocks. It just rocks. No emotional, self-help tone here; his whole goal is to get the financial information out there to you. It's more technical and more in-depth than the other two, and you have to do some quickstepping to keep up, if you're starting from ground zero. He's cynical and acerbic, and his writing style makes me giggle every few pages. Honestly, I don't think you should read 9 Steps without reading this one immediately afterwards. The two books cover identical ground (nice to have the backup that this is The Core of What Really Matters), but Suze does it assuming you're mentally tender, and Tyson does it with the implicit threat of a boot up the butt if you don't do what he tells you. Maybe it's just my background that makes me respond well to this style. But I definitely dig Tyson. I've got two other books of his sitting on my "to read" pile, and I'll review those when I get there.... Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Um..... OK, I'll be honest. The editor in me thinks these books stink. They are written in a conversational tone, which is OK, but they're done badly, with a total disregard for the rules of English. OK, so that's a nitpick. But it also contradicts itself in places, and offers soundbites instead of real information or discussion. Having said that, Kiyosaki has some nice quotes, and some good inspirational material. He also scapegoats, in that his books make it totally OK to blame everything that's wrong with your financial life your underachieving parents' fault. For a really scathing critique, check out John T. Reed's page. So there's my start. I've heard great stuff about "The Energy of Money", "The Yoga of Money", and a few others, but those all seem to be related to different ways to think about finance, not a primer on the rules that cover it. So I'll read n review them later.


At 12/06/2005 04:22:00 PM, Anonymous Dana Nourie said...

I really have to take your advice and start reading this stuff. I have a few of the books, and still cringe when I look at them. Maybe now that I've joined a dept management program and have my Excel budget sheet in order and in a way that's gonna work for me, I can start to think without heaps of guilt nagging me.

I love your descriptions! Not sure which I should start with though. Probably handholding is best for me at this point, though I do respond well to having a boot up my ass as well.


At 12/08/2005 07:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ~~L,
Funny - I've been doing a lot of reading on this topic too lately. (A friend had pointed me to the rich dad-poor dad stuff, which I found too repetitive and not well-structured, but some of the sequels in that series offer more takeaways.) Have ordered Tyson's book at the library too. Cheers,


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