I must confess that I absolutely hate thinking about money and dealing with budgets and finances. I grew up with a father who knew very little about savings and investments and a mother who just liked to spend money, so my role models were not quite up to par. By the time I turned 40 I had built a successful Pilates business while at the same time slogging through a personal Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a debt load that makes me nauseous just thinking about it.
Fast forward a few years, and I have managed to pay most all debts and have positive net worth. Of course, now I need to think about money and how to save and invest so I can retire in 20 years. And since I have no idea what I am doing I decided to check out J.D. Roth’s Your Money: The Missing Manual. I knew Roth from his fabulous website Get Rich Slowly, where he shares the information that helped him get out of debt and into living a rich happy life.
This is an extremely clear, easy to read, and well organized book that walks the reader through the basics of personal finance, starting with the most important lesson, “It’s More Important to Be Happy Than to Be Rich”. I can tell you from experience that many times the more you have the more you want. How we went from a small apartment to needing (and yes, I said needing) a four bedroom stone colonial with a full basement and attic is beyond me. The more we needed, the more debt we took on, and soon we were miserable in our pile of debt.
How did we get there? Basically, we took no control of our finances. We had no real outlined SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timed), we never budgeted for anything, we took increasing amounts of debt, we bought what we wanted when we wanted and were not remotely frugal in our approach, we took on large expenses without enough thought or research, we had no investments other than our business and little insurance, we were past due on taxes as we never paid quarterly, and we had no savings whatsoever. We couldn’t look at retirement planning as we could barely pay our bills most months!