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You’ll Actually Enjoy Reading These 9 Money Books. Promise!

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I’ve never owned a pair of Jimmy Choos. I only spent $24 on avocado toast last year. And yet so many personal finance books say these are the things preventing me from becoming a millionaire.

I don’t know about you, but I’d appreciate some realistic advice for managing my money ― and from someone I can relate to.

Fortunately, among the sea of mediocre books about money, there are a few gems. Here are nine personal finance books you won’t be able to put down.

Amazon / Coventry House Publishing

Melanie Lockert founded the blog Dear Debt in 2013 to chronicle her journey of paying off $81,000 in debt and hold herself accountable. With a mix of humor and sometimes heartbreaking honesty about what it’s like to live with burdensome debt, she tapped into a community of people who were longing for someone to acknowledge the emotional side of debt and speak openly about its impact on mental health.

Dear Debt was adapted into a book in 2016, and those qualities that made the blog so successful were definitely not lost. The book is as relatable as it is helpful, chock full of actionable advice that anyone struggling to pay off debt can use.

Melanie’s book is incredible. Not only is it well written, but it provides wonderful insight into getting out of debt. You can really feel that passion and drive that she has as it shows up on every page. I have read many finance books and they usually say the same thing, but this one provides such an incredible story and timely and relevant resources. If you are interested in getting out of debt, side hustling, or just learning more about personal finance, I would definitely check this book out. This book will not disappoint. ―Dane

Amazon / Hachette Books

If you love the quick-witted insider’s perspective behind lifestyle site Lifehacker, you should be a big fan of Kristin Wong. As a longtime columnist for Lifehacker’s Two Cents blog and contributor to major publications such as The New York Times and Glamour, Wong is basically your cool, clever BFF who seems to know it all but never acts like it.

In Get Money, Wong presents a gamified version of Personal Finance 101 and also weaves in her own personal experiences with money along the way.

As a young woman, this book was the first finance-related book that I actually enjoyed. I was so happy to see a book about money written by a young woman of color after reading a few by old white men. This book seemed geared towards young, early- to mid-career individuals. I’ve been a student for all but the last 3 years of my life, so this book was a perfect way for me to learn more about HOW to save and invest, but also a way for me to reflect on the WHY. It really forced me to think about the kinds of things I enjoyed spending money on and practical tips on living a balanced life that allows for savings and “treat yo’ self” moments. I highly recommend and will be purchasing copies for recent college graduate friends and family! ―Erika

Amazon / Hay House Inc

Cait Flanders is a Canadian blogger and podcaster who focuses on living with less. Stuck in a cycle of consumerism, Flanders decided to embark on a shopping ban during which she only spent money on living essentials. The Year of Less chronicles the first 12 months of her new lifestyle. And as you might have guessed, Flanders found that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some major bumps ― and life lessons ― along the way.

More of a memoir than a traditional how-to guide, The Year of Less will make you re-examine your life and how you might be using spending as a crutch.

Cait’s book is like reading a letter of advice from your best pen pal. She doesn’t overload you with big words, fancy data, or long chapters, but rather speaks to the reader as if the two of you were sharing a cup of coffee. Her advice is practical and her emotion is raw. I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciated her sharing the vulnerabilities and struggles of her challenge, but also of her personal life. Her journey in finding her true self is inspiring, and her ability to lay the framework for others to follow is motivating.

I would recommend Cait’s book to a few people: 1) people who feel overwhelmed and unfulfilled with their day to day life, 2) people who need a simple, but effective means of cutting their unnecessary spending habits, 3) people who are exploring what it means to live a [minimal] and more meaningful life. ―Emily Jackson

Amazon / Adams Media

A recent study found that money is the top stressor among Americans, more so than work and relationships. And financial stress has only been increasing over time. Whether it’s paying off debt or saving for retirement, some financial worry has likely kept you up at night.

Emily Guy Birken, a personal finance writer and author of several books, tackles the reasons why money matters are often so stressful and provides straightforward, practical advice for improving your financial outlook ― without increasing your income.

I’m not the sort of person who picks up personal finance books, but this one came into my life at the perfect moment. It was a fast and engaging read that inspired me to think more deeply about my money beliefs and the psychology behind my own spending and saving habits. The “Budgeting With Your Psychology in Mind” chapter was particularly helpful, and the “Finding Your Breathing Room” chapter saved me nearly $2,400/year in just a few hours’ time. I think this book would be useful even if you don’t stress about money but suspect you could be making better financial decisions. ―Nicole E.

5. Clocking Out Early: The Ultimate Guide to Early Retirement by Cody Boorman and Georgi Boorman (2018)

Amazon / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Cody and Georgi Boorman, the husband-wife duo behind Clocking Out Early, don’t plan to spend the better part of their lives working for a living. They’re part of the FIRE movement, which refers to those who aim to be financially independent and retire early.

This book provides an easy-to-understand road map for saving big now in order to live off passive income in the near future. But even if you don’t plan to squirrel away most of your income and retire by 35, there are plenty of nuggets you can take away to improve your financial life in general.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a serious wake-up call that made me start re-evaluating every purchase I was making. One of the key takeaways for me from the book was that every purchase you make has an opportunity cost ― and you can think of that opportunity cost in terms of how long you need to work to pay for that purchase. It makes those small day-to-day purchases I was making less worth it in the long run. This book is FULL of practical, detailed ways in which we can reduce expenses and instead of feeling restricted, I’ve felt motivated to cut out more and more unnecessary spending because I can see how that adds up to so much more benefit long term. No, that Starbucks coffee is not worth an extra month of working before being able to afford to retire. I’ve read other books that mention the same idea of reducing expenses and saving for retirement, but this book was a fresh take on the reasons why you should want to pay closer attention to what you’re spending, and gives specific steps and resources to help you do that. I would recommend everyone read this ― your future self will thank you. ―Christopher

Amazon / TarcherPerigee

The title of this book alone likely resonates with so many people. As a generation that reached adulthood around the time of the Great Recession, burdened by unprecedented levels of college debt, millennials are all too familiar with being broke.

Erin Lowry’s Broke Millennial, based on her blog of the same name, is an all-in-one guide to adulting for 20- and 30-somethings who don’t know where to start. But it isn’t written by an out-of-touch financial guru who’s decades older than her audience. Lowry writes for her peers, commiserating with her readers along the way.

First of all, I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate that this was written by a fellow Millennial and not someone constantly bashing us for a myriad of reasons. I hear it constantly, especially in my career field, so this book felt like a breath of fresh air. I also enjoyed the judgment free aspect of this book. I don’t feel I’ve been especially Money wise up to the point, and this book can serve as a guide I can pick up now and again in the future. This book clicked with me in a way others haven’t. The moment that most got my attention arrived early in the book that discussed how much you should have saved for retirement by age 35. It’s $100k. I don’t have anywhere near that amount and 35 is coming up soon. That fact alone has made me COMPLETELY changed my mindset on money and I am definitely better off because of this book. Saving is definitely my new priority in life. ―J. Zavala

Amazon / Viking

Jen Sincero, author of the You Are a Badass book series, isn’t your typical self-help writer. You won’t find inspirational quotes or cliched advice. What you will find is a whole lotta real talk (and a few swear words), delivered with her signature humor and wit.

You Are a Badass at Making Money examines the ways you prevent yourself from achieving financial success. It’s not the most scientific approach to money management, but it might cause you to critically examine your relationship with money. At the very least, it’ll make you laugh.

Jen Sincero’s writing style and voice is honestly the first of many self-help/money books that really cuts through the BS and makes crystal clear sense to me. I read a chapter a day with my morning coffee, and felt it gave me more energy and vigor than the caffeine itself. Her exercises were practical and confidence building, and there was no difficulty in understanding how to reach my financial goals. I’ve read her first book many times, as well as the audible narration being on constant play in my car, and would recommend this just the same, if not more. I plan on downloading the Audible version of this one as well. ―Milda

8. You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think by Wes Moss (2014)

Amazon / McGraw-Hill Education

If the FIRE approach to saving for retirement is a bit too aggressive for you, you’ll appreciate Wes Moss’ take on saving for your golden years.

As a financial planner and host of the live call-in radio show Money Matters, Moss has the know-how to guide everyday readers toward a successful retirement. But he doesn’t just spit out the same, tired advice anyone who knows how to Google can find. Moss centers his guidance around the idea that retirement should ultimately be about your happiness, no matter what it looks like financially.

As my husband and I approach retirement faster than I expected, I wanted to do all I can to be prepared. I know all of the regular themes of retirement savings, but this book approaches retirement in a different way. The author isn’t just telling you what to do, but laying out a way to think about retirement different than most. He instead focuses on a retirement that is happiest, not just an amount of savings required or what type of IRA to have. This book will help me to set up a path not just to retirement but to living a life that I find enjoyable during my last years! ―Carissa Hogan

Amazon / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Simply the idea of creating a budget can seem so daunting that sticking to one might feel impossible. But hey, if I can stick to the Keto diet for seven whole days, surely you can follow this book’s one-week budgeting system.

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche is a fiery, fun personality wrapped up in serious financial knowledge. And even though the title of her best-seller might sound a little gimmicky, I can assure you there’s just as much substance as sass to it. With simple steps, personal stories and a bunch of helpful worksheets, you might actually look forward to budgeting after reading this book.

I need to read again but I found it light, educational and very entertaining. Where most topics like this tend to drag or become dull as you continue to turn the page, I found myself wanting to educate myself more. She uses personal experiences and you can relate to someone who has had an issue with money or making a bad investment. I am excited to clear up my debt instead of dreading making the necessary steps to become financially free. I always avoid uncomfortable financial situations that I get myself into. The Budgetnista has me stepping up to the plate and accepting my role that put me in a financial crunch. I have already started working on my budget and I have made … phone calls to collection agencies and set up a weekly payment plan. I loved reading this book. I intend to read it again and really follow it step by step. ―Debi Brown

Amazon / Mango

This book by Brynne Conroy, the creator of personal finance blog Femme Frugality, isn’t out yet. But I had to add it to the list because I can’t wait to read it. Conroy wrote it precisely because so much personal finance advice, especially that geared toward women, is painfully condescending and out-of-touch.

The Feminist Financial Handbook promises to deliver motivation, resources and stories from women of diverse backgrounds who achieved financial success in the face of obstacles that disproportionately affect their gender.

Emily Guy Birken wrote the forward for this book. Here’s what she had to say about it:

You can always find books geared toward helping women to improve their financial lives. Some are condescending mansplanations of finance, couched as an important help to us little ladies and our emotional lady-brains. Some offer pink-jacketed rah-rah enthusiasm claiming to help the modern woman have it all! Some are deep dives into the real financial difficulties and challenges facing specific groups of women. But none of them look at finance from an intersectional feminist perspective―until now.

In every chapter, Brynne offers both actionable steps and hope for individual women who want to make their lives and their finances better. She offers suggestions for how to fight the unfair system while also working within the system. That means everyone who reads this book will put it down knowing ways to work for both a better world as a whole and a better life as an individual.

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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