Four years ago, I made a decision that would change everything.
The decision was to get my personal finances in order. To get them in order for good.
At the time, my wife and I had three kids and one on the way.
We made good money, we had a house, our own cars and a flat screen TV.
Basically, we were living the American dream, right?
Sadly, for most working Americans, this is how the American Dream looks. It comes along with the burden of crushing debt from living above your means to as they say, keep up with the Jonses.
This was also our case.
Every time we paid our bills and I saw our debt, it ate at me.
It ate at me but I pushed it aside and kept on with our spending habits.
All I could think about were all the money problems that my parents had when I was growing up. 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 their arguments over money.
An argument that I will never forget is one my parents had about spending five dollars which blew up into madness.
Over five dollars! It’s unbelievable now, but it happened and that wasn’t the only one.
“An argument that I will never forget is one my parents had about spending five dollars which blew up into madness.”
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. So we ignored it as if it would go away if we kept on ignoring it.
The hill turned into a mountain and massive weight of our debt was crushing us.
The ignorance of personal finance
One night we had dinner at our neighbors house. While we were hanging out in the living room, I saw a book on the coffee table.
Our neighbors weren’t know for reading and l love to read so it piqued my interest. Also, I’m always interested in what other people are reading.
The book was Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.
At the time, I had no idea who Dave Ramsey was.
So, I flipped through a few pages and instantly hooked!
It made so much sense and it made me brutally aware of two things.
- My entire life, I’ve been ignorant to personal finance.
- We were in so much trouble with our debt.
My neighbor let me borrow the book.
It to me a day to read it which never happens and immediately started making changes.
It took some time to get my wife on board, but she eventually came around.
With that, we started on the path to financial independence and have since become debt free.
The 3 books
There is a sense of freedom and power that comes along with no longer having debt.
Having money work for you is unlike anything else.
These are three books that got me to this point and I highly recommend that everyone read.
Book #1: 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 Dave Ramsey talks about in his book.
My biggest take away from this book: clearing debt with the debt snowball method.
Book #2: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
One of the classics in personal finance 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.
There was still plenty of debt to get rid of when I read this.
My takeaway from this book: Learning how 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.
Book #3: I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
This is a book for our newer generation with some funny quips thrown in.
Ramit Sethi 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 taking advantage of credit cards.
He has plenty of good tips on negotiation as well. 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 control my money easily.
There are hundreds of personal finance books out there that have similar messages, if not the same.
However, these brought it home and made it sink in.
Do yourself a favor and go read these books.
They could change your life.