As the handful of readers who subscribe to this blog know, I spent all of 2017 living very frugally in an effort to completely get out of debt and have continued to live below my means and to learn additional financial lifestyle lessons the past 12 months. I also recently joined the F.I.R.E. (financial independence, retire early) community and am looking at retiring the end of 2021 to enjoy side hustles and running the nonprofit I am currently working on.
Earlier this year I responded to an article about being financially responsible on LinkedIn. In this response, I shared several books I’ve read, along with very brief (like a few words brief) summaries of the lessons I took away from each book. After swapping book referrals with multiple friends recently, I thought I would share those books/thoughts with a wider audience, as well as what I specifically did in response to personally reading each one. I receive no compensation from sharing this list and beware ahead of time that individual readers might take a different message away from each book than I did.
1. Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey: The gist of his message is to eliminate debt so that you can build wealth. I immediately signed up on Every Dollar to create a budget and track spending, established my debt snowball plan (although mine wasn’t in the exact same order as Dave's), and eliminated all excess spending (except for a mission trip to Honduras right after my son graduated high school – not the ideal graduation trip for most teenagers, I know, but well worth it).
2. Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan: “Retirement isn’t an age, it’s a financial number” is the hallmark of Mr. Hogan’s message, which I totally bought into. His main message is that you need to be investing at least 15% of your income into retirement, which I have fortunately been doing for some time. However, his website chrishogan360 which includes a retirement calculator shows that it’s never too late to start building your retirement dream.
3. Unshakeable by Tony Robbins: In his book, Tony focuses on how to maintain the wealth you've worked so hard to build by keeping it out of other's hands (money management fees and government taxes). Thanks to reading this book, I opened very low/zero fee accounts with Fidelity and Vanguard where we now invest a healthy portion of our bring home pay, started an FSA ($840 of tax savings for the year), as well as investing the bulk of my wife’s pre-tax salary into a 403(b) (savings of $2,100 a year).
4. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason: I actually wrote a summary of this book on my blog a while back: Richest Man in Babylon Summary, and if I was writing this post based on wealth of overall knowledge instead of order of impact, this book would head up the list. So if you’re looking for the ONE book to read on creating financial independence, this classic written 90 years ago is what I would recommend. Everything contained in every other book was written here, well before the others. “Seek to associate thyself with men and enterprises whose success is established” was my biggest takeaway form this classic, leading me to seek out multiple mentors.
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: The quote (and main message I got from this book) that continues to echo in my head is: “The poor and the middle-class work for money; the rich have money work for them.” Retirement means I will need money working for me, since my side hustle and nonprofit will be more about value-add and less about income-add, so RDPD resulted in my increasing investments and looking for opportunities to diversify income.
6. You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think by Wes Moss: A referral by a friend (thanks Dave) a couple of months ago, Mr. Moss really got me thinking about income streams (successful retirements usually have 4 or more streams) and thinking ahead of time about what I actually want to do in a few years when I retire more than a decade ahead of tradition.
There are a ton of great books out there, but this list keeps things simple (which is necessary for a man of limited intelligence like me) and easy to fall back on, as none of these writings are of great length. Feel free to comment and reach out to me with questions. And again, I receive no compensation for these reviews, so know that they really are my favorites.