What’s your money strategy? Do you even have one?
If not, it’s not uncommon. Until two years ago, I didn’t have a financial plan, whatsoever.
Even though I’ve been reading about money, finance, and investing ever since I made my first few bucks as a teenager, I never created a financial plan.
But now, I think every single working professional needs a financial strategy. How do you spend your money? How much do you save? What are your thoughts about debt? How do you invest your money? How much money do you need to retire?
1. The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason
This book was published in 1926 and as far as I can tell, it was the first popular book on personal finance.
Usually, I’m not into parables. But this is a great book. It’s the only parable that I’ve read that makes the message of the book even more powerful.
What it comes down to is this: Rich people are rich because they save their money, don’t get in debt, and don’t spend their money foolishly.
Clason recommends to save 10% of your income (I believe you should save 50% — more on that later). He calls saving “paying yourself first.” That’s an important mindset.
You only get rich by paying yourself. Don’t foolishly spend all your money on things you don’t need. When you do that, you pay others, not yourself.
Everyone should read The Richest Man In Babylon — the earlier the better.
2. Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
What I enjoyed most about this book is that it teaches you to transform your relationship with money. This will change your life.
Money is something you trade your life energy for. Think about it. You work to earn money.
But you spend your time to work. That’s why Robin and Dominguez spend the first part of this book to make us aware that more is not better.
More money is especially not better if you have to put your own well-being on the line. It’s never worth it. Just ask the family of the bankers who committed suicide during any recession.
If you want to live a healthy and wealthy life, you must detach yourself from money. Instead of striving for more, get better at managing your money.
Save it. And don’t waste it on stuff you don’t need. Your Money Or Your Life starts out strategically and gets more practical towards the end.
One thing I don’t agree with is retiring early. I don’t want to retire and sit on a beach. That’s because my mentors, who are beyond the retirement age, still work and are very happy. I aspire to do the same.
But I also want to build enough wealth that I don’t “have” to work if I don’t want to. That’s one thing Robin and Dominguez also believe in.
3. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (with commentary by Jason Zweig)
I bought my first stocks when I was 20 years old. At the time, the finance sector was doing great, and I thought it would be good to invest in ING, the major Dutch bank.
Oh yeah, I should mention that this was in 2007, right before the financial crisis. I invested €1500 in ING and €500 in AEGON, a Dutch asset management firm.
It was about half of my savings at the time — a lot of money for a student. And a few months later, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, my stock portfolio was worth only a few hundred euros in total.
Man, I was so pissed off. I can’t even tell you how livid I was. But looking back, I understand that losing money is a part of investing.
And fortunately, I didn’t sell and waited until the stocks recovered. That took eight years, though.
I decided to not invest in individual stocks anymore. And The Intelligent Investor is one of the most important books that helped to realize investing in stocks is not for me.
If you already know that you don’t want to invest in individual stocks, you don’t have to read this book. However, if you are interested in finance, I highly recommend it. The commentary by Jason Zweig, a WSJ columnist, is also excellent.
P.S. I skipped the chapters about stock analysis because I’m not going to use it.
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