by: Mikaela Wilkins
Growing up, my dad would sometimes say, “Do what I say, not what I do,” but as I’ve gotten older, I would say that statement only holds true some of the time. I got a mixed bag of information and examples from my parents when it came to money. For example, they were really good at having a budget, keeping track of spending, and putting money away for savings. On the other hand, they made some risky decisions that put them in debt that they’re still not sure they will ever repay. To help their kids make better choices, they’ve spent a lot of time and energy teaching us (both through example and other people) about how to manage our money—because no matter where you come from, the chances of becoming a millionaire are a lot better if you know how to handle your money.
The following are a handful of books and resources they provided me.
The Richest Man in Babylon
The Richest Man in Babylonis a series of parables set in ancient Babylon. It’s a short, easy read, and each parable teaches principles that are applicable to life today. Its principles range from “Seven Cures of a Lean Purse” to the “Five Laws of Gold” that attract greater wealth to you. Besides financial principles, it also encourages changes in character, such as deciding to be your own master, managing risk, and learning the value of work. The Richest Man in Babylon, while not as hands-on as other finance books, inspires individuals to take control of their finances, put their money to work, and obtain personal and financial security.
Uncommon Cents: Benjamin Franklin’s Secrets for Achieving Personal Financial Success
Uncommon Centsfocuses on financial principles and teachings that Benjamin Franklin lived by. Each chapter uses diagrams and examples to help you understand how to apply these principles in your life and includes personal finance worksheets. The authors point out that the way we view money is how we treat it, so besides inviting readers to evaluate their views, they also lay out money myths and counter them with financial principles. Plus, this book is laden with funny comics, pictures, and stories, which always make everything better!
The Total Money Makeover
Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, has a mantra: “If you live like no one else, then later you can live like no one else.” If you’re looking for a book to get you fired up about financial freedom, then this is the one for you. Dave walks you through how to get out of debt and what to do once you’re free. He encourages you to do whatever you have to do to become financially stable, even if that means “living on rice and beans” for a while. His point: if you make sacrifices now, later you can be ahead of everyone else. You could even be a millionaire!
The Total Money Makeover is just a springboard to the Dave Ramsey universe. Not only does he have books on succeeding financially but he also offers a class, Financial Peace University, that is moderated by volunteers across the country. When you enroll in membership to his class, you are encouraged to bring your spouse (for free), can indefinitely retake the course (for free), and get access to online videos, PDFs, a book that goes into greater detail of what’s taught in the class, and a free yearlong subscription to the EveryDollar budgeting app. Although it costs about $100 upfront, it could very well be worth it. Not only does it cover getting out of debt but it also goes over saving for your kids’ college, investments, different kinds of insurances, and preparing for retirement. In a way, my parents secured their own financial future by gifting this course to me and my siblings. (My mom gave us the condition that we actually had to go to the class and repay her for every class we missed.)Everyone’s situation is different, so while these books give suggestions and strategies for reaching financial freedom, reading them all can give you liberty to experiment and find what works for you. Some common threads? Live on less than you earn, avoid debt where possible, and give to others when you are able (and don’t when you can’t!). Wherever you’re at in life, whether figuring out finances as a new couple, revamping an old plan as a long-time married couple, or preparing your kids to be financially successful, using books and resources can get you on the same page to finally get ahead.