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Book Giveaway/Review: Your Money, The Missing Manual

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by Sierra on April 19, 2010 · 23 comments

in money,reviews

Welcome to my long-awaited (at least by me) review of Your Money: The Missing Manual
. It’s taken me weeks to review this book because it is so damn good. Obviously, I’m a fan of J.D. Roth’s approach to managing money. I was a loyal reader of his blog, Get Rich Slowly, for years before I became a staff writer there.

I thought I knew what to expect from his book, and would dash off a quick happy review of it. What slowed me down? The book is even better than I expected. It’s so good I couldn’t put it down or skim it quickly. If you’re going to read one personal finance book, it had better be this one. (Dear husband, that means you. Read this book!)

Your Money: The Missing Manual
is so great because it’s so simple. J.D. gives you straight, easy-to-understand talk about money. I knew he would, he’s been doing it for years on Get Rich Slowly.

The book goes beyond the blog though in it’s simple focus. This isn’t a collection of essays plucked from his years of writing on personal finance. It’s a roadmap to managing your money.

J.D. starts and ends with the simple premise that what really matters isn’t money at all, it’s happiness. Then he gently guides you to an understanding of how what you do with your money affects the joy you get from life.

From an elegant argument against consumerism through some great guidelines to setting financial goals, you gain an understanding of why money management is an essential part of a balanced happy life. Hopefully you also come away with a clearer image of how you want to manage your own money. From there, the book gets down to business. You get detailed, clear advice on managing everything from debt to grocery shopping to investment accounts.

There are more in-depth books on every topic this one covers. J.D. unhesitatingly recommends them. He’s read dozens of personal finance books over the past four years. His own book distills the best from the best of what he’s read. You’ll come away with a decent handle on every major financial issue most adults face, and a reading list to help you dive deeper into the areas you need more help with.

I reiterate: if you’re going to read only one book on personal finance, make it this one. In case I haven’t done enough to persuade you to go out and buy your own copy, here are two more reasons:

  • I’m in it! I have a short but sweet sidebar on page 203 about my family’s decision to move into a cheaper home closer to my husband’s job. AKA: THE BEST THING WE EVER DID.
  • The more copies of Your Money: The Missing Manual
    sell, and sell quickly, the more support J.D. will have from the publishing gods in writing and promoting his next book. Which I for one can’t wait to read.

I went out and bought a copy as soon as Your Money: The Missing Manual
came out, and then J.D. sent me a copy as a thank-you gift for my contribution. So now I have one to give away.

I’ll give it away a week from today, via a random draw. To enter, leave a comment with your favorite money hack. Tweet this post for an extra entry.

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  3. The Tightwad Gazette: Price Book, buying rules
  4. Some money advice I'm happy to receive
  5. More Bad Money Advice

  • http://twitter.com/soundhunter soundhunter

    Favorite money hack, I'm so bad at managing money that any hack I recommend is not necessarily reliable, but here goes. I once saved considerable hundreds of dollars very quickly when I was a waitress, by taking on $20+ loose change out of my tip earnings every night, and putting the rest in the bank. It added up to $700 within weeks, it was the most successful time I've ever had saving money before, I think anyone could do something similar with paychecks too. Those small amounts in savings add up quicker than many people struggling financially could realize. Now saying this, my current finances are a shambles and I probably could really use the advice in this book :p

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  • Laurel W

    Hm. A money hack. Well, I don't know if anything I use is a “money hack”, really. I don't have any little tricks. I have all my bills paid automatically through my bank account, and the savings automatically comes out as well. Then we withdraw our spending money so that we know when its all gone, we don't have any money. That might seem basic … but it was a big eye-opener.

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    That's pretty much what we do, except I don't withdraw the spending money and use it only as cash. Maybe I'll start doing that – I'm still running over budget some weeks on the flexible spending side. I'm saving money, but it stresses me out to see only a few dollars in my primary account at the end of the week.

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  • katywolkstanley

    My favorite money hack is to look at all the extra belongings in my house as potential money makers. Craigslist, eBay, garage sales, consignment shops, it's all sitting there just waiting to be turned into cash!

    Good sellers have been:

    Outgrown toys and kid stuff
    Furniture
    sporting equipment
    Nice clothes
    Books
    Video games, DVD's and CD's

    I recently heard from a Non-Consumer Advocate reader that she's been dividing the plants in her garden and selling them. I am eyeing my yard a little differently lately.

    Here's a link to a piece I wrote about it:

    http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/2010/04/repea

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

    P.S. I don't need a copy of the book as I already have one! And yes, it is great.

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  • http://twitter.com/veek Vika Zafrin

    My favorite money hack is old to the world, but relatively new (a couple of years) to me: envelope budgeting. The original idea, before banks were so extensively used, was to take all of your monthly (or weekly) cash and separate it into envelopes, pre-designated for a category of expense. When the money runs out of that envelope, you won't have any more to spend that month.

    I do in fact have a bank account, and keep most of my money there; but the Spend app for the iPhone does the envelope budgeting I need. That was a good 99c I spent.

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  • http://rhinospike.com Peter (rhinospike.com)

    I don't have a hack that isn't already well covered. Automatic deposits to savings, taking advantage of company match on 401k, etc.

    I do have the Amazon app on my Android phone and it's barcode scanning feature keeps me from impulse buying expensive books in the chain bookstores. I just add the book to my Amazon wishlist for later. =)

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  • http://twitter.com/rebeccaweger rebeccaweger

    My favorite money hack is my multiple bank account system. I have automatic deposits and automatic bill-pay run through one account. I have another account that I transfer my spending money into at each paycheck, and make all my debit-card purchases through. I also have two savings accounts. (When I was married, we expanded this system into a more complex infrastructure to additionally handle joint money vs. personal money.)

    As I've mentioned before, I also like to write down everything I spend – if not all the time, at least for a couple of months each year. That way I get to check in with myself and get a reality check on my relationship with my notions of a budget.

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  • http://twitter.com/rebeccaweger rebeccaweger

    And another one:
    I budget all my normative medical expenses into my regular budget. And I have a medical flex spending account through work. All of my flex reimbursements are automatically deposited into my savings account, not my checking account. Its like getting free padding money in savings each month.

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  • Stephanie

    My favorite money hack has to be SmartyPig.com – it's the digital equivalent to envelope budgeting combined with automatic savings. I've designated several accounts to help me save for my annual pitfalls (i.e. when I find myself turning to my credit card): an account for Christmas spending, an account for a mini-vacation in September, and my long-term goal of quitting my job and travelling Southeast Asia. Small amounts that I don't even miss are withdrawn from my bank account bi-weekly or monthly and deposited into my SmartPig “envelopes.” SmartyPig even suggests the rate at which you need to save so that you can meet your goal by your deadline. It's so easy to not have to consciously think about putting money aside each month for my medium and long-term wants, and it's reaffirming to see the percentage on my piggy bank icon grow as I approach my goal! I'm still exploring all the ways to take advantage this tool, but so far it has been extremely helpful in getting me to think (and act) for my long-term well-being.

    Bonus: SmartyPig has one of the best interest rates in the country right now (a little over 2%)

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    That sounds like a great site! Thanks to the pointer – I'll check it out.

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  • keyne

    Your links to the book are all (identically) broken :}

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  • Claudia Jane

    I'm with the rest. Money hack: long pause. Don't have the correct withholdings on income tax so that we actually get a refund.

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  • Gena

    My favorite money hack: I have my employer split my direct-deposited paycheck between my checking and savings accounts. I pay myself first AND it's automatic!

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  • GimliGirl

    Unfortunately, being students living on loans (and looking for work), things are super tight. We don't have any money hacks, though we have done a couple of garage sales to scare up some extra money. My son has outgrown a lot of clothes and toys so there's potential income right there. It's stressful to live off the loan and just watch the money go to bills and rent and other expenses and have nothing coming in to replace it.

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    thanks, fixed it.

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  • amy

    Can't wait to read it

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  • ellenkr

    Favorite money hack? Don't have one… finances are still in crisis, unfortunately. I have a lot 0f frugality hacks, though.

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  • http://organizingforeveryone.blogspot.com/ Elise

    My favorite money hack is to know what your (and your family's) priorities are for spending your money. Don't try to keep up with the Jones'!

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  • http://misspriss.org becky

    I'm not even sure I have a good $$ hack, except that I do try to automatically transfer money into savings each month. To a different bank, so it's out of sight/mind. I need to do better with the money we have, though, so it's time to read a finance book.

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  • Chris

    Money hack: When the going gets better, you better keep going. Have a plan for when you finally pay off debt to avoid back sliding.

    When I began following the advice of JD and others, I began to get my spending under control, pay off debt and eventually, recently, I began to reliably have some surplus every month.

    I think that this is a pivotal and potentially dangerous point on the road to financial health – what do you do with that “extra” when you don't have any major debt to throw it at anymore? Now that the pressure is off? I wonder if I have really changed or will I slide back into old habits. I don't know. Temptations are everywhere, and I look at everything I cut back on – using pre-paid cheap-o cell phone, no cable, basic DSL, 5 year old computer, etc – and think “now I can afford that better option again”. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Paying off debt is only getting back to $0, and I know that “extra” needs to go into helping to finance my future, so I try to remove the temptation to splurge by bumping up my 401(k) and increasing the auto transfer to my emergency fund, so I never see (most of) that extra money. That helps keep the pressure on and keep me motivated, I am still living on a lean budget, but now instead of needing to pay off debt, it is because of needing to save for the future.

    So my “money hack” advice is to have a plan to move to the next level (whatever that is for you) when your debt is paid off, it is too easy to relax and fall back in to old habits if you don't.

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    This is a huge, and important, tip. I'm getting VERY CLOSE to having our credit cards paid off, and planning what to do with that money once it's freed up. Last week, I sat down and sketched out a pretty detailed list of goals to describe what “Enough” looks like for me. It's a long way off, and until we get there, I really can't let up the throttle on saving.

    Since I'm self-employed the one thing I've moved on some is work-related expenses. Last month I “splurged” on upgrading our Internet service to something that would load webpages in under a minute, so I can use my work hours more efficiently.

    I think one useful tip I've seen is to give yourself a present when you reach a milestone. So, for example, when you make that last credit card payment, take a little spending money to do something fun rather than immediately rolling it into your debt snowball or savings. I'm planning to buy my husband a video camera when our credit cards are paid off, and then go right back to paying off the rest of our debt.

    [Reply]

  • Chris

    Money hack: When the going gets better, you better keep going. Have a plan for when you finally pay off debt to avoid back sliding.

    When I began following the advice of JD and others, I began to get my spending under control, pay off debt and eventually, recently, I began to reliably have some surplus every month.

    I think that this is a pivotal and potentially dangerous point on the road to financial health – what do you do with that “extra” when you don't have any major debt to throw it at anymore? Now that the pressure is off? I wonder if I have really changed or will I slide back into old habits. I don't know. Temptations are everywhere, and I look at everything I cut back on – using pre-paid cheap-o cell phone, no cable, basic DSL, 5 year old computer, etc – and think “now I can afford that better option again”. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Paying off debt is only getting back to $0, and I know that “extra” needs to go into helping to finance my future, so I try to remove the temptation to splurge by bumping up my 401(k) and increasing the auto transfer to my emergency fund, so I never see (most of) that extra money. That helps keep the pressure on and keep me motivated, I am still living on a lean budget, but now instead of needing to pay off debt, it is because of needing to save for the future.

    So my “money hack” advice is to have a plan to move to the next level (whatever that is for you) when your debt is paid off, it is too easy to relax and fall back in to old habits if you don't.

    [Reply]

  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    This is a huge, and important, tip. I'm getting VERY CLOSE to having our credit cards paid off, and planning what to do with that money once it's freed up. Last week, I sat down and sketched out a pretty detailed list of goals to describe what “Enough” looks like for me. It's a long way off, and until we get there, I really can't let up the throttle on saving.

    Since I'm self-employed the one thing I've moved on some is work-related expenses. Last month I “splurged” on upgrading our Internet service to something that would load webpages in under a minute, so I can use my work hours more efficiently.

    I think one useful tip I've seen is to give yourself a present when you reach a milestone. So, for example, when you make that last credit card payment, take a little spending money to do something fun rather than immediately rolling it into your debt snowball or savings. I'm planning to buy my husband a video camera when our credit cards are paid off, and then go right back to paying off the rest of our debt.

    [Reply]

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