Review: "Money: A Love Story"

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And the bottom line is, it’s easier to become you, the most robust version, when you’re not freaked out about money all the time.

I admit when I bought this book, I kind of did so like one would a diet book.

“This is going to be the book to solve all my money problems and I’ll be a millionaire in mere months”

Like diet fads, financial fads don’t exist. In order to fully get what I needed to out of this book, that was the first pill I needed to swallow.

A lot of the detail in the book related to perception, lack mentality and validation can also be easily applied to how we approach dieting and weightloss as well.

Going into this book I knew a fair about about the Dave Ramsay style of doing things: save p a $1000 emergency fund, pay off debt starting with the smallest and work your way up to the biggest, save for retirement, don’t use credit cards, etc etc. Why didn’t I buy his book and actually read it and start using the envelope system?

Mainly because I didn’t agree with some comments I read on his on Twitter regarding the ACA. His comments were (to me) very, very un-Christ-like, and so I made the conscious decision not to support him.

Okay.

Moving on.

I didn’t want to like this book. I really didn’t. I wanted a book that was going to tell me how to do it, not one that highlighted my flaws, told me where to improve and, as a result, would improve my spending.

So, if you aren’t willing to peel back some layers, this probably isn’t the book for you.

If you don’t mind confronting some of your “ugly” then (and we all have ugly) then you’ll probably find this book really quite helpful.

Being happy is not about having your finances all squared away or having certain things in your life.

A huge takeaway for me was how a lack mentality can affect spending habits. As an example, a few months ago I would receive an email from lululemon on Tuesday showing all the new products for the week. My lack mentality would set in I need that because what if they never have anything like it again and then I’ll die (or something to that effect) and I’d spend unbudgeted money on ______ item.

I was completely responsible for my lackadaisical approach to my finances……

Since I’ve actively been practicing a mentality of abundance, when I receive the emails I’ll skim them (c’mon, you know I can’t just delete them!) but I can recognize a want from a need. Right before my marathon I considered purchasing some colder weather running gear. Then I thought about it and realized my plan was to take three weeks off from running right after. So if I were to buy something at the end of September, or beginning of October, I likely wouldn’t wear it until the beginning of November at the earliest. So, did I need to make a purchase for something I wouldn’t use for at least a month?

Money is about what we value. We pay for what we value. We pay attention to what we value. This is an issue of valuing yourself.

Nope. Absolutely not. A lack mentality would have told me that I’d lose out on my chance to buy winter running gear, but I know better. I so often don’t buy something and then forget about it, or realize that my life is just as complete and full without it.

Money is like fertilizer. It makes whatever it touches grow.

The second big (really big!) takeaway from me is why we spend money. Kate Northrup talks about how she spend money on things like travel and courses as a way to feel a certain way and look a certain way. How many times in our lives do we make a purchase because of how we want to be perceived?

If I wear designer jeans I’ll look successful.

I need this designer handbag because I need to look professional and put together.

And so on……

When I read that, I knew that was part of my problem. I was spending because I wanted to appear a certain way on the outside, when my real problem was on the inside.

Boom.

(And ouch).

There is nothing in this book that will transform you overnight, but in realizing where I was falling short, and what spending was serving me and what wasn’t (there’s an awesome exercise in the book wherein you print off you bank and credit card statements. You then review your spending and put a mark next to items that don’t make you feel good. After categorizing these items you can then see what you’re spending money on that you think you need, but it turns out, it’s just making you feel worse) I’m now better able to consciously and intentionally evaluate my spending before it happens.

There were some parts of the book that I wasn’t truly a fan of. Kate was able to pay off her debt by selling her condo that her mom had purchased her (and was paying her mortgage on) and she doesn’t work daily because of her work with USNA. Not everyone is able to sell large ticket items to pay off debt, and not everyone is a fan of mass marketing schemes (aka – pyramid schemes), myself included.

This was more of a journey for me and while I didn’t always agree with everything in the book, I did feel it to be a fresh take on finances compared to the debt snowball approach that is so often crammed down our throats.

What I’m reading this month

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After stocking up on books last week, I thought I’d write a bit about some other books I have on my eReader (I have a Kobo!).

Recently I’ve been spending far too much time reading blogs (and blog archives) and not reading real books, so I’m hoping to get through some real books in October!

I think has to do with school starting in the fall, but September-December always seems to be a season of self-growth for me, so these books definitely reflect that.

I also found that Next Issue is coming to Canada! Yay! Rogers Wireless subscribers (like me!) can get access on October 15 with a two month free trial, everyone else will receive a one month free trial starting December 15 (sorry Telus and Bell peeps) (deets here). I’ve been wanting to do more business and money reading, but haven’t wanted to commit to a subscription, and Next Issue will solve that problem for me 🙂

Currently Reading

Money: A Love Story

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I’m about halfway through this book and am so far really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it after reading the first chapter, but I feel more confident in taking control over my finances (see my post on budgeting, my Oct goals and new-found love of Our Freaking Budget) and that’s a great feeling!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

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I’m also about halfway through this book. So far I’ve found it absolutely fascinating really! The scientific studies are wonderful and this book has been a huge help in allowing me to truly understand myself and why I am the way I am. For those wondering, I’m a moderate introvert, according to Susan’s quiz.

To Read This Month

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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Okay, so the book cover is totally lame and very unappealing, but from the tiny bit I’ve read, I believe it’ll help me alleviate some stress in my life and be an overall more productive person.

My favourite piece of advice so far?

When you feel overwhelmed/stressed is to write out your first step, so your brain can move on to other things. If you still feel stressed, then the step isn’t specific enough.

Boom! (I think this is what Oprah calls an a-ha! moment)

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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Much better cover, no?

Lately I’ve been having some trouble reconciling my job with my desire to do good in the world. Don’t misunderstand that I don’t love my job, I do; I feel very blessed to have the job that I do, but sometimes I want to make an impact in the world. I want to better understand why I feel that way and how I can align my job with that desire.

I think that’s also why I blog and why I’ve been talking so much about running and fitness and goals lately. If I can help other people, then that’s awesome (to me!)

Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success

promote yourself

When I blogged before I didn’t really have any goals other than to just blog, but I’ve realized blogging is really fulfilling for me, so I’d like to become 1) a better blogger and 2) better at promoting my blog, so I’m hoping this book will give me a leg up.

I’m also not awesome at promoting myself in a work environment: two areas, one book. Excellent!

On My Reading List (aka – to read in 2013. ish)

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

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I quite like Malcolm Gladwell. I thoroughly enjoyed Outliers: The Story of Success
, and I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one just as much.

Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?

Twenty Something_Henig

Okay, so I don’t necessarily fall into the twenty something age range, but some days I do still feel stuck; like I’m faking it. I know this is something a lot of my friends can relate to. This book sounds like an interesting read.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps

Adulting_Kelly Williams Brown

While I’ve never read Kelly Williams Brown’s blog, the title of this book already has me hooked.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Cooked_Michael Pollan

I have a confession: I’ve never read a Michael Pollan book until now.

I know, right?!

I actually own this book and it’s been sitting on my footstool for months. Now my goal is to read it by the end of the year.

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

The Sports Gene_David Epstein

The October issue of Running Times had a summary/review of this book and I’m already hooked. I love the idea of breaking down the why of our bodies. Why is it that marathoners come from a certain country? I also think this book will tie in nicely to Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath above.

Disclaimer: links above are Amazon Associate links. If you buy a book I might have enough for a coffee, but not Starbucks. Maybe.

Looking for more books? Take a look at Greatest’s 2013 and 2012 must read books.

Tell me, what’s on your reading list?

Let’s talk about budgeting

Without divulging too much of my personal information, I’ve decided to start hammering down on my ability to budget.

I live quite comfortably, have great credit, etc etc, but suddenly moving from a 2-income household to a 1-income household was a bit of a shock to my pocketbook over the past 10 months and I’ve decided I’m no longer going to use the 1-income household as a crutch, but will accept it and do whatever I can to be fully independent.

In order to do so, I’ve set 2 goals for myself, both of which I hope to accomplish over the next 9-12 months:

  1. Pay off all outstanding debt
  2. Be able to buy a condo/house

This doesn’t mean I actually will be buying a place, but I want to be in a position where I can. I’ve been a homeowner since I was 22, so to move to renting at 29/30 is a really unsettling feeling. I feel like where I live isn’t mine and I’d love to feel more comfortable where I am and where I live.

In order to accomplish these two goals, I’ve started using Wave.

wave apps

Wave is an online based free (free!) software that tracks all spending in my bank accounts and credit card. I can also set up budgets, so I’ll be alerted if my spending in a certain area exceeds (or is nearing) my budget.

budget example

For whatever reason, my family never really taught me much about budgeting and it’s not really taught in school (and I’m an accountant, yes, I see the irony) so I did some Googling to determine the optimum ranges for spending, saving, etc. Based upon my budget, I’m well within these ranges. Yay!

  • Housing – 35% of take home pay
  • Vehicle – 15% of take home pay
  • Life – 25% of take home pay (includes groceries, clothing, etc)
  • Debt – 15% of take home pay
  • Savings – 10% of take home pay

I analyzed my spending over the summer and determined the number one area where I tend to overspend is food. Not really even eating out, just food/grocery spending, and I certainly don’t need to. This is an area I need to work on balancing my needs and my wants. For example, I don’t need the $6 cheese, but I sure as heck want the $6 cheese 🙂 Sorry taste buds, no more $6 cheese for you (unless someone wants to bring/send me $6 cheese!).

In addition to my monthly budget, I’ve also done a month by month budget for myself starting mid-September through to the end of April. Based upon this (and assuming everything goes as planned!) I will be debt free by the end of April. I really want this for myself – I’ve even considering completely cancelling my cable package in order to save more money (but then I think of the Olympics and don’t want to) since I have Netflix and will keep my internet connection.

I’m also crossing my fingers I’m able to increase my income related to my contract work, as 100% of those earnings go to 1) pay off debt and 2) my savings account, so the more work I’m able to do, the more I can directly benefit from it. I’ve submitted applications for additional work, now I just need to say a prayer and cross my fingers something happens.

I’ll also give myself 10% of any contract income as fun spending money so I don’t feel like it’s all for nothing. This will go toward my Starbucks Card, Sephora, BBW, shoes, clothes, etc so I feel like I’m able to have a bit of fun 🙂

***

While writing this post, I came across this post by Jess Lively and it really, truly, spoke to me and I thin I’m going to change my language around money and budgeting to empower myself.

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Thoughts like “I can’t afford it” – especially when we actually do have the resources – place our power outside of ourselves. We feel acted upon and forlorn, rather than feeling like a proactive person who is capable of making choices aligned with our best interests.

Just because we choose to say “no” to something, doesn’t mean that we “can’t.”

What a wonderfully powerful way to reframe things. I love it.

I must admit I’ve been feeling shameful about my current situation. It’s hard to not call myself “stupid” or to tell myself I “know better” but I know shaming myself isn’t productive and merely puts me in a cycle of sadness and results in more spending. I’ve been working really hard on reframing, not shaming myself, accepting where I am (which is much easier said than done) and choosing to move forward without shame.

Like many things I’ll face in my life, I can allow this to define me, or I can take it as a learning experience (even if sometimes these experiences are hard) and move forward. I refuse to let this define me and I refuse to be in this place in a year. I also realize how very blessed I am that with careful budgeting and spending (as unfun as it might be) I’ll be debt free in a year, I fully realize a lot of people don’t have that luxury.

***

After writing this post, I received some books in the mail, one of them being Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup (her mother is Christiane Northrup, who some people may remember from her Oprah days).

Now, I’m only 1.5 chapters into the book, so I can’t offer a review of the book quite yet, but I can say that I do love some of what she has to say. I’m going to save my thoughts on the book as a whole until I’m finished, but I like that Kate struggled with money and she’s come out on the other side, that’s a refreshing point of view for me.

Do you have a budget?

Do you use software to track your spending?

What areas have you cutback in order to save money?