Based in Los Angeles, The Money Smiths is a blog comprised of thoughts related to personal finances, real estate investing, and musings on early retirement.

Go Read a Book

Go Read a Book

Really, even if reading a book means that you’re not going to spend that time reading my blog, go better yourself. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I’m not one to read books very often. In fact, I would say that I probably read an average of 3 books a year - not a whole lot. That being said, when I do finally make the decision to read a new book, I always opt for something that would be considered self-help - and I think you should too!

Why should I?

What’s the argument for reading a boring personal finance or investing book over a Nicholas Sparks novel? It will actually help you. (You can see my thoughts on personal finance books that I’ve actually read here). With a specific niche of ideals that I keep myself to as far as investments goes, the literature that I find myself reading can get pretty repetitive, but that’s OK. Each time I read a book, even a short one, about how to make and manage money, I’m able to shape my own thoughts about the best way for myself.

Many authors in the personal finance world like to think that their way of doing things is the absolute best, and I can almost guarantee you that they are wrong. They don’t always have the correct answer for the reader 100% of the time. This is because they can only pull from their personal experiences in life, and can’t predict who the specific reader will be when they write. This fact doesn’t stop the reader from gleaning important information, but they should make sure to actually stop and think about what’s being written, as opposed to just taking the action steps in a book and following them blindly.

The same goes for this blog- I try to be impartial and share the good and bad sides of what I write about, but I can still only share my thoughts as they are shaped from my past experiences. I am someone who will tell anyone I get a chance to, that they should go invest in real estate as it’s the best way that I think you can set yourself up for financial independence. That doesn’t mean however, that you should go buy a new house right after reading my words. There’s a lot that goes into investing in real estate, there’s thousands of variables to consider, and years of research that should be completed before really jumping into that.

Take everything with a grain of salt

The reason that people don’t like to read self-help books, is because they take time to reflect on, and to really process what’s being said. We’ve all had to go through school, and frankly learning isn’t fun for most people, including myself. I have to really push myself to want to read, and I know that I won’t necessarily enjoy it, but I’ll likely come out of that book better for having done so.

Let’s look at an example: I read The Automatic Millionaire earlier this year (full review here). It was a short read, and the majority of the premise of the book, was to automate your savings and investments as soon as you can. That’s something that most people probably already know, including myself, but in reading the book, I was able to put my mind in the right frame to think about HOW I was accomplishing this task. I realized that I should be putting more than I currently am into savings, and I should move that money away from myself as soon as I get paid, to prevent spending it on something else.

The three hours that I put into reading that book has already started to pay dividends on my financial future. If I increased my savings by just $50 per month, and assumed a 1.85% rate of return (that’s the rate my current savings account gets), then in five years I’ll have $3,256 more than if I just kept things the way they were going. To some people, these numbers might be very small, and arguably not worth their time. But to others, those numbers are real change.

 Captured on nerdwallet.com

Captured on nerdwallet.com

Awesome, so I can read one book and change my life?

Well, no - not really, but good try Slick. I definitely think that you should read multiple books on the same subject, this lends itself to everyone having their own perspective. When looking at something simple, like saving money - everyone knows the basics of it, put your money away and don’t touch it. The value that you’ll pull from each perspective is multiplied by the next, because you’ll be able to reference the last book and compare notes between the two authors. You can help yourself on reading multiple books on the same subject by purchasing them all at the same time. I was surprised at how quickly I could get through a book when I first got back into reading, and how eager I was to start another book immediately after finishing the previous one.

What books do you recommend?

Well, it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re looking for an intro to real estate investing that will talk about the how and why from a thousand foot view, I would definitely recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad. If you’re looking for a quick read that starts at the absolute basics of saving your money, I would recommend The Automatic Millionaire. If you’re looking to get an understanding of a more holistic approach to early retirement, then I would recommend Set for Life.

Do yourself a favor and get one of these books, or even another one, for yourself and find a way to improve your approach to life. Personally, I’ve decided to pick up a copy of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I can tell you that I don’t expect to agree with his approach from what I’ve heard about it, but this is a perfect example of hoping to learn something about myself regardless of the content.

Side note: You can find reviews of most of the titles mentioned in this post on my Literature page in the menu.

What books have you read that fall into self-help that you would recommend? I’m always looking to expand my library and would love any suggestions!

The Subtle Art of Not Living Above Your Means

The Subtle Art of Not Living Above Your Means

Why it's Important to have Someone to Talk to About Money

Why it's Important to have Someone to Talk to About Money