During the winter of 2010, we lived in a tiny upstairs apartment in Minnesota. Brad had to go to Colorado for 3 weeks for training, and I was left alone with 6-month-old Naomi to run our home and pay our bills. Up until then, Brad had always managed our bills. He taught math, and I taught art, so the arrangement made sense. Also, in my experience, my Dad always handled the bills, so it was what I was accustomed to. But that winter, as Brad jokes, was the winter I “took over” the finances. After 3 weeks of handling our finances, it was obvious to both of us that I enjoyed the job far more than Brad ever had. In fact, it sparked a passion that has only grown over the last 2.5 years.
However, I had no idea where to begin learning about financial matters. So I started where most of you would; I searched Google. In my searching, I stumbled on a blog called Money Saving Mom, written by Crystal Paine. Brad would laugh because I talked about “Crystal” like she was one of my friends. In one of the first articles I read by Crystal, she described how she had paid for her home with cash. I was intrigued by her methods and perspective on money. After following her for a short time, I realized that she frequently referenced someone named Dave Ramsey. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my financial education had already begun. Below are some of the books I have enjoyed along the way. Some are better than others, but all were helpful in some way.
- The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitnessby Dave Ramsey: This book is a great place to begin learning about finances. Dave is down-to-earth, funny, shares lots of real testimonies from real people, and gives simple step-by-step directions for taking control of your money.
- The Simple Dollar: How One Man Wiped Out His Debts and Achieved the Life of His Dreamsby Trent Hamm: Trent’s story is a lot like ours in than he was working and had his first child when he realized he needed to get control over his finances. He shares everything he learned along the way to being debt-free, and how he was able to leave his high-paying job for a job he really loves.
- The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Yearby Crystal Paine: Crystal and her husband paid for law school without incurring any debt, and later bought a house with cash. She is a young mother of three, and gives lots of helpful advice from goal-setting to menu-planning.
- The Shrewd Christian: You Can’t Have It All, But You Can Have More Than Enoughby Neil Atkinson: Neil worked for 32 years in the same ministry that my husband does, and graduated from my rival college. I read some of the other books on this list because he suggested them. He comes at finances from a Christian perspective, and gaining wealth while living on a limited (and sometimes nonexistent) income.
- More than Enough: The Ten Keys to Changing Your Financial Destinyby Dave Ramsey: Dave gives 10 keys to building wealth while keeping your family on your team. Each chapter ends with thoughts from Dave’s wife, Sharon. This book fleshes out the philosophies behind the Total Money Makeover.
- The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Stanley and Danko: I really enjoyed the research in this book, which concludes that there are 7 simple rules that millionaires live by. As these men discovered, most millionaires live unassuming lives next door and drive unremarkable cars. They live well below their means and live hard-working and frugal lives.
- The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Richby David Bach: This book is very straightforward in suggesting that the way to wealth is to automate your bill-paying and other investments directly from your paycheck. When you never see the money in your bank account, you will forget all about it and avoid the temptation to overspend.
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
by Robert Kiyosaki: This book is for people who have their emergency fund and debts paid, and are ready to start thinking about investing. Robert emphasizes becoming financially literate, discussing finances around the dinner table, and finding creative ways to make your money work for you.
What are some of your favorite financial books, and why?