Four years ago, I made a decision that would change everything. I decided to get my personal finances in order for good. I was married and had three kids with one on the way. My wife and I made good money, we had a house, our own cars and a flat screen tv. Basically, we were living the American dream. Sadly, for most, the American Dream comes along with the burden of crushing debt, which was also our case. As they say, we were drowning in debt.
Every time we paid our bills and I saw our debt, it ate at me. All I could think about were all the money problems that my parents had when I was growing up. All the things they had to do to scrape up money to pay the bills. There were times where we literally paid for gas with pennies. All the arguments they had over money. I remember an argument they had that blew up because of five dollars. Five dollars!
If my wife and I weren’t careful, we would end up at each other’s throats for five dollars as well. Even though we both knew we had so much debt piled on us, we really didn’t know what to do. We even ignored it as if it would go away if we kept on ignoring it. It didn’t. It only grew larger and we kept on living with massive debt.
One night we had dinner at our neighbors house and there was a book on their coffee table and I was nosy enough to go look at it because l love books and I’m always curious about what other people are reading. The book was Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.
I didn’t know who Dave Ramsey was at the time. So, I flipped through a few pages and as of that moment I was hooked! It made so much sense and it made me aware of two things. It made me aware of how ignorant I was about personal finance and it made me aware of how much trouble we were in with our debt.
My neighbor let me borrow the book. I read it in a day and immediately started making changes. It took a little more time to get my wife on board, but she eventually came around. We started on the path to financial independence and have since become debt free.
There is a sense of freedom and power that comes along with no longer having debt and having money working for you that is unlike anything else. Dave Ramsey’s book is what got me started however, there are two other books that also helped me in personal finance and I highly recommend them.
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
This book set me straight. It got me started on my personal finance journey. Although it seemed like we were doing ok, our personal finances were in shambles. The truth was that if we had missed a paycheck, it would have broken us.
After reading this book, my wife and I enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University. It was a great way to start taking action with the steps that he talks about in his book. My biggest take away from this book was clearing your debt with an effective method for doing so.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
A classic personal finance book that I didn’t get around to until 2015. An intriguing read that teaches basic personal finance lessons through story telling. After months of attacking debt, this was a refreshing perspective for my money habits.
My takeaway from this book was learning the ability to keep your money. Pay yourself first. As the saying goes, it’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much money you keep.
I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
A book for our newer generation with some funny quips thrown in. Ramit gives you the brutal truth about personal finance and does in fact teach you how to be rich. My main take away from Ramit’s book: automation and negotiating. It shows you how to make handling your money a lot easier.
One book taught me how to attack debt, one taught me how to save and the other taught me how to make handling my money easier. There are hundreds of personal finance books out there that have similar messages, if not the same, but these brought it home and made it sink in. Do yourself a favor and go read these books. You will not be disappointed.
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