For several years I lived in a red linoleum apartment (yes, you read that right, red linoleum), in a little rougher neighborhood, with a wide variety of roommates (one of which even included a "Blue Man" from the Blue Man Group, nice guy), on a meager teacher salary, paying off student loans and wallowing in my own self pity about how broke I was. It was sad. Pathetic really, but an absolutely necessary experience to get me where I am today.
A good friend who lived a couple blocks away started a "money diet" of sorts which intrigued me. He definitely had a better paying job in a career that he seemed to enjoy, but I noticed that he was constantly reading up about the stock market and what not. Although I have always been a saver, and have always lived below my means, I didn't know anything about stocks or investments in general. I knew buying property was good and so was saving my money for a rainy day, but that's it. I always used the excuse that I was never taught about complex financial investments growing up, so therefore I was at a disadvantage (oh woah is me...insert eye roll now). But seeing my friend read about it for himself and make a concerted effort to cut back on his spending made a lightbulb go off in my head--I too could read about it, learn more, apply what I learn and turn my financial life around. This sounds so obvious but looking back it was literally mind-blowing at the time for me.
So I did. I started to read. I read extensively. Each book would mention other books and I would then dog ear the page and at the end of the book, I'd go back and add all the new books I need to read to my #Goodreads list. As my reading list grew, my questions and curiosity grew. Each book I picked up about finance made me feel a little more confident and knowledgable. And overtime, I noticed major changes start to happen. Student loans got paid off. We were able to pull together a down payment for a home and so much more.
I share this with you not to be braggy, but to empower you too. Trust me, if I can work towards it, others can too.
So here are the major milestone books that stood out for me on this unexpected book journey. Feel free to check me out on #Goodreads @MackofAllTradesNY, where you can see all the books I've read over the past few years (and of course, please share your book recommendations. They are are always welcome!) What's even more surprising about the journey is it literally started out about money, but it took me so much further in the end. It really has helped me to start to figure out my bigger journey in life, my passions and my calling. So here they are:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
by Robert Kiyosaki
Cheesy, yes. Does it make it sound easier than it is? Yes. So feel free to laugh all you want at me for reading it, but I'd be lying to you if I said there weren't some major revelations in here for me.
My apartment is actually a liability? What?!?! The tutorial on how money can (and should) work for you? What?!? It was easy to read and stirred up hope. It planted the seed for me wanting to know more.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich
By Ramit Sethi
This dude was funny, this book was funny, and it removed the intimidation factor. It was like being able to ask all the questions you are afraid to ask an actual person out of the fear of looking stupid. He broke down stocks, different accounts, even what type of car you should buy (new, used! Just like my little Rhonda the Honda! Thank you!) and it did it in a pleasurable way. After finishing this book, I felt like I could pat myself on the back about a few good decisions I have made throughout the years, but also I had some concrete ideas of what more I could do moving forward. I was hyped to get started.
Money: A Love Story
by Kate Northrope
The activities in this book made me step back and really examine where my money mentality and insecurities came from. It was painful work, but definitely beneficial. It helped me most to: 1) talk more about money 2) ask questions about how people manage their own money and 3) not to be ashamed of wanting more of it (Money I mean). If I can get to a place of being financially free, I can help a lot more people around me and be the best version of myself. Kate Northrup is like my fairy godmother removing the guilt and shame around money!
The Millionaire Next Door
By Thomas J. Stanley, PhD. and William D. Danko
This book reaffirmed what I knew in my gut to be the case, but the opposite of what our constant bombardment of media and celebrity culture suggests: that most millionaires are modest and don't flash their wealth. They don't wear the fanciest close and live in the monster mansions (well at least not the average millionaire). In fact those who are flashy are often living on borrowed money (and time). Don't get me wrong, I love me a good episode of Real Housewives (you name the franchise, I watch them all), but the truth is most people, regardless of how much they have, spend money as quick as they get it. The majority of real wealthy people, usually don't. They make frugality a way of life. Which is sweet. Cause I can be frugal. :)
Then my reading journey took a major shift. I got more interested in psychology and how my own brain enables me to grow or limits my progress. I started to question my mindset, where my fears came from, what I am most afraid of which led me to these three books:
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways
by Susan Jeffers, PhD.
This book grabbed my attention for obvious reasons. There is one major leap I want to take, which I alluded to in my mission for this challenge, pursuing a creative career outside my comfort zone. The only bummer after reading it is that I'm still a wee little bit chicken shit to take that actual leap. Let me rephrase that. I am afraid to take that leap, yet. But who knows? Maybe you will read it and just go for it right then? If so, I'm jealous! Push me over the edge with you (hypothetically speaking of course).
Accounting for the Numberphobic
by Dawn Fotopulous
Which leads to my next fear: Math. I am a classic case of a girl who never thought I was "good" at math. Or at least that is the story I told myself because the numbers were constantly getting swapped around in my head. I've always been good with saving money though and that's math isn't it? After reading this book it broke down so much of it in such a simple way that it removed the intimidation factor. I even got excited about the possibility of bookkeeping for my own business. I know. Nuts right? I used it to work through some of my numbers personally and I felt an immediate sigh of relief. Yes, I too could face this fear.
Dare to Repair
by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas- Tenent
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. Talking about facing fears? There is nothing more empowering than knowing you don't need to call someone to fix something for you if it breaks. While I love decorating and whatnot, repairing things with mechanical elements has always intimidated me a bit. This broke down simple things you can do to save money like switch out your own lighting fixture, fix the toilet yourself, or replace a window sash, etc. After checking it out and reading it from the library, I literally wanted to buy a copy for every friend I have (I didn't of course, because that would be expensive, but I did buy a copy for myself!)
After working through some of my fears, my reading interest shifted to reading about people whom I would be blessed to emulate career wise. I'm a huge fan of these people already, but curious to see how they got to where they are today. Were they like me, afraid to take that leap? Or did their careers just fall into place through connections or luck? I wanted to know more so I picked up books from my favorite HGTV stars:
The Magnolia Story
by Joanna Gaines
Again, laugh all you want but I love her despite my fierce debates with my mother-in-law about whether or not she is legit. Johanna Gains has a special place in my heart because of her interior design taste, her willingness to pursue multiple interests and her entrepreneurship. I'm feelin' it all and I devoured this book. It left me wanting to DM her and ask her out to coffee to soak up even more of her creativity and bravery. I didn't do that of course, because that would be weird. But I am on pins and needles to get my hand on her new book Homebody!
Better Than New
by Nicole Curtis
Again, a lady I love. I appreciate her work ethic, her realness, how she is practical and yet continues to push herself further in an industry that is dominated by men. She talks about the hurdles she has overcome, the naysayers who continue to try to cut her down. Everything about this book had me rooting for her from start to finish. And when the little worry wart pops into my brain telling me what I want to do real estate wise is not possible, I run her off with the little Nicole Curtis in my brain. :)
Getting back to wanting more concrete answers and guidance on how to make my real estate investing and interior design career possible, I decided to pick up books that could teach me more:
The Millionaire Real Estate Investor
by Gary Keller
This book was an awesome overview of the different ways you can invest in real estate. It provided examples, went over legal entities to consider using and overall was just a solid guide to fill in basic knowledge. I love a book that is written in an easy-to-read style. This was just that. It left me with basic tools that I can build my investment business on and a game plan for who I need to speak to in order to get the ball rolling.
by Anne Hellman
This book caught my eye because I love walking through my historical neighborhood and peering in windows of these majestic brownstones. (Creepy, yes. Sorry about that folks.) So I was even more tickled pink when I was able to get inside access to some of the buildings in my neighborhood and throughout Brooklyn. Some of the buildings it covers are ones that I have literally gawked at for years. It was like having a personal tour, or living vicariously through these homeowners. It's was fabulous.
The Happiness Advantage
by Shawn Achor
I picked up this book because I have been really trying to do a lot of work appreciating the journey of working towards my goals, rather than just focusing on them not being realized yet. It really helped me to understand how big of a role gratitude plays in shaping your own mindset. I could focus on everything I don't have yet, and wallow, or I can genuinely appreciate all the wonderful things I have right now, at this very moment. Happiness comes from the actions you take each day and the thoughts you create. (Still working on this as a recovering pessimist of course. )
The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg
Again. Powerful book. I love books that lead me to understand myself on a deeper level. It forced me to examine my triggers, actions and rewards, which determine have become my habits. It also helped me challenge whether or not certain habits have benefited me or are no longer useful and I branch out into new realms. How does the saying go? You can't get somewhere new by taking the same path that got you here? (Nope. I definitely butchered that, but you get the point.)
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this book in a day an was left in a tail spin wondering what the hell have I been doing with my life so far? Then of course, I reassured myself that the steps I have taken to get here so far were necessary or else I wouldn't be in this place of realization. But then I shot that thought out of my head and said, being able to do something fun and creative each day and get paid for it is EXACTLY what I want out of my life. Elizabeth Gilbert is preachin' the truth here! So here I am. Doing the work, making the shift. Hence the theme of this blog.
by Mike Michalowicz
And finally, this book was recommended to me by a good friend who started her own amazing therapy practice in Atlanta (shout out to @fireflywellnesscounseling). It was a super simple way to explain how to manage the finances of your business and how to generate profit immediately. It seemed too simple, yet it's not. It got me stoked to revisit my finances and apply it immediately, which I have. I love when things are so simple and easy and there is no catch. If you have a business, grab this book right now and read it immediately.
So there you have it! 15 pivotal books that I would highly recommend. There are more, of course. I try to read at least 65 books a year. So for an extended list follow me @MackofAllTradesNY on Goodreads.com but hopefully this is enough to get you started.
Never underestimate the value of just reading books on topics you are curious about. It is the single best thing I have done as an adult: become an actual reader.
Oh and don't forget that books are free at the library. So save yourself some bucks there too and just check them out. :) Nowadays you can even check out and download books in an instant to your Kindle. It's pretty sweet!