When my husband and I got married we had a lot of credit card debt and student loan debt. We weren’t on the same page about money, and we certainly didn’t know how to get on the same page with it either! At one particularly difficult time, my sister stepped in and helped us get on a budget so we would be able to stop using the credit cards and start getting out of debt. It would still be another 10 years before I really thought we were on the same page with money. One of the biggest reasons I think it took us so long to get on the same page about money is that we grew up with very different ideas of money. I grew up not having a lot of money, and then when we did, my parents were very conservative in how they spent it. My parents also supported me financially until I got married, so I didn’t really know anything about how debt worked, paying bills and managing money. My husband, on the other hand, started working when he was 16 years old, almost full time and basically paid for nearly everything on his own, and felt like he could spend money without feeling guilty. The difficulty for us was that I thought we should never spend money and my husband thought spending it was okay. And we both had no idea how to get out of debt once and for all. Eventually we found our way and now he is considered the more frugal out of the two of us, but it took a while for us to get there!
One of the main reasons I wanted to get out of debt so bad was that I had plans to go to graduate school. My husband wisely stated I could go, but we would have to get out of debt first, and we weren’t going to take out any student loans. When someone puts a concrete goal out there for me, I do everything I can to figure it out. I remembered going to the library and checking out my limit of personal finance books and seeing which ones resonated with me the most. I was mostly interested in the ones that taught how to be debt-free. I was now on a mission and ready to figure it out.
Even though this was about 15 years ago, I remembered reading books by Suze Orman and did implement several of her suggestions, such as setting up a will, living will and advanced directives. Since we were in our 30’s at the time and had young children, we thought this was a good idea. But her suggestions weren’t quite enough to get us to the point where we felt like we were on the same page about how we should get out of debt.
It was at this point that Dave Ramsey came on the scene and his 7 baby steps for financial freedom. I realize some people are critical of his techniques, it was exactly what my husband and I needed. We needed the Steps so we both knew we were on the same page and we needed a plan laid out for us to get out of debt. Our church was offering his class and we jumped at the chance to take it. It was a great decision for us personally and within about 2.5 years, we had paid off all of our debt and I was able to go back to school debt-free.
Since that time, I continue to appreciate how much freedom comes with being debt free and how much hope I have for the future with money and being able to pay for things, even emergencies as they come up, without stress and anxiety.
I realize that there are a variety of factors that cause people to have debt, and not be on the same page, but I do think it’s worth investing the time and money to find a program or author that works for you, so that you can have financial freedom.
I cheated a little this week and got some help for the books for this week from my brother. Which means I haven’t read all of these books, but my brother is probably one of the smartest people I know when it comes to finances, so I definitely trust his advice. When I read self-help books these days, they tend to have some therapy component to it that I can pass along to my clients. I’m currently reading the HeartMath Solution (Childre, Howard & Beech 2011) and any of my clients who have been in therapy with me that past 2 weeks have probably heard about it!
Here are the top 5 Must Reads for Financial Freedom Books:
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
This is a great introduction to personal finances and starts with some basic concepts such as saving at least 1/8 of your total income, pay off debt first and then invest in retirement. This is a great book for new college graduates. The concepts in this book are basic, easy to follow and implement.
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
This is a great book for people who are in debt. It gives 7 baby steps to financial freedom. The point of the book is telling your money where to go rather than wondering where it went. The entire point of the book is to help people understand the benefits of being debt-free and the freedom that comes with not owing anyone any money. This too is a great book for people who are just starting out with finances and don’t have any debt to start with or people who have accumulated debt in their 20’s and need to figure a way out. This book also emphasizes many Biblical principles which I know is not for everyone.
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
I had to give a nod to Suze Orman since she was the first author I found that gave me hope that we really could have financial freedom. This is a great book to help people avoid financial pitfalls and gain confidence for financial management. She like all of the other books listed here encourages people to live below their means and invest in the future while giving you steps to get there.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
This book will help you with your personal financial management by teaching you the difference between rich and poor thinking. A side note to this, there is a big difference in that rich thinking people are able to plan for the future and will usually save for a “rainy day,” while poor thinking people don’t know when they will have money again, so they are more likely to spend it quickly. It will help you know the difference between assets and liabilities and teach you how to make money work for you. There is also information on how you can invest in real estate and make this investment work for you but personally, real estate investing can be a big investment and it’s not for everyone because it can be to anxiety provoking for some.
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
The author of this book essentially splits peoples into 2 categories: under accumulators of wealth and prodigious accumulators of wealth depending on net worth to income ratios. There are 8 chapters in the book that address those people whom you would never suspect would be millionaires, because they are so frugal. He addresses time, energy and money, cars, economic volatility and jobs. The premise of this book is to encourage people to live below their means and invest in their future financial security over social standing.
The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley
This book makes the distinction between the way true millionaire think and act versus those who pretend to be wealthy. He encourages people to have the right mind set in regard to spending and saving their money and how diligence toward these goals can pay off in the long term. He also makes a distinction between those people who are actually wealthy have solid core values and are dedicated and honest people.
Although I have less worry and anxiety about our finances than I did when we first got married, one of my favorite reasons that I love being debt free (except for our house) is that we get to be generous. It has allowed us to be more generous with not only our money but our time as well. When we were trying to get out of debt, we didn’t have a lot of time because we were trying to work a lot to get out of debt. We know can give money to non-profits that we love and want to support, and we can help friends and family out when they need it. It took a lot of work to get debt-free but it’s definitely worth it!
I hope this gives you a place to start on your own financial freedom journey. I know once you are able to find financial freedom you will have a lot of peace!
If you think you might be in need of counseling or coaching, please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email email@example.com. I’d be happy to hear what is happening and help you find the right fit for counseling or life coaching. If you are looking for help with burn out, depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling.