One of the great things about being married to my husband is that he has instilled in me the habit of voracious reading. I always loved to read as a child but when I first started high school at a very competitive, demanding private school, my love of reading for pleasure was somehow replaced with the demands of studying and obtaining good grades.
My husband readily makes his way through 20+ books a month, most of them audiobooks. I am nowhere near my husband’s level of reading at this time but I have been managing around 4 books a month through a combination of audiobooks, kindle e-books and a few hard copies.
With my 2 hour + commute to and from work daily, this is when I get most of my reading done. I usually include something inspirational on my way to work to get me in the right mindset for the day and then listen to a medicine-related podcast on my home to get in some studying. My “sit-down” reading usually occurs on Saturday and Sunday mornings before the kids are awake and just before bed during the week.
With this in mind, I would like to share with you what I have been reading. The first set of books I want to share with you is related to the topic of Finances. I have to confess that I was at first hesitant to write about this topic as it would mean revealing details about our own personal financial status which is not easy to talk about. But I feel that I had to share this because most people have struggled with finances at some point and the more we can learn on the subject, the more we can feel empowered to make a change and rise above our circumstances!
In 2016, I forfeited my income from my previous career to go to medical school. I knew that delaying my income for 4 years plus taking on debt to pay for medical school and help support the family was going to put a big dent in our finances. My husband and I considered it a worthwhile investment with the added reward of pursuing a career which gave me a sense of purpose. We were however faced with the reality of trying to get our finances back on track.
When I started residency last year and started to have an income again, I was torn between saving the money versus paying down our debt. This has been the subject of much debate and I finally concluded from my study of various sources that the decision is a very personal one and there is no one right or wrong answer. Some choose to do one or the other, or both. For us, we have chosen to do a bit of both because our debt is low-interest debt and we want to invest more aggressively now since we are already in our early 40s. Before plunging into my intense reading around the subject of finances, I realized I was somewhat floating along without a very clear sense of direction for our finances. I knew the basic principles of course but was there more I could learn? Sure there was!
For me the first step was overhauling our budget and taking a close look at where our money was actually going. Then, findings ways to cut down on expenses such as car, home insurance, cell phone bills, and groceries. I have to confess that in my past life, I barely glanced at my bank account in the course of a month. Money came in, money went out….rinse and repeat! Now, I check my account twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening)…I will elaborate on why this works so well in a subsequent post. Suffice to say, this approach has saved us close to $400 a month over the past few months.
My husband and I are also fairly new to investing and have made some changes to our savings plans…more on how to do this in a future post! The point I really want to drive home is that it is never too late to get a handle on your finances. Every small change you make today can have a significant impact on tomorrow! Don’t let debt discourage you…the debt will eventually be eliminated, and your savings will grow with time! As an example, by refining our budget and sticking to a reasonable debt repayment plan, we have been able to pay back $20,000 in the last 9 months without having to eat only beans for supper every night. This is with average 5 figure incomes for both my husband and I.
So without further ado, here are my top 6 books on Finances and Investing that I have read this year (all available on Amazon). The authors give excellent, practical advice with additional resources for your information.
For fine-tuning your budget in a simple, straightforward manner and coming up with a feasible debt repayment plan:
1.Worry-Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons
2. Living Debt-free by Shannon Lee Simmons
For principles on wealth building:
3. Millionaire Teacher, The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam
4. Money Mastery: Making Sense of Making Money for Making a Difference by Billy Epperhart (I like that the focus of this book is ultimately using your wealth to benefit others)
For introductions to investing:
5. Beat the Bank, The Canadian Guide to Simply Successful Investing by Larry Bates
6. Stock Market Investing for Beginners
Stay tuned for my next post on how tracking your spending for just a few minutes a day can save you hundreds of dollars a month!