I‘d like to take a moment today to talk about a book that has had a great influence on the way I think about money. I first read Life Matters by A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill three years ago, after getting heavily into material by Stephen Covey, and discovering this text in the process. The book talks about several things besides money, including work, family, and time management, as well as combining and creating a balance between all of the above. But among all of the other information, I found its views and principles on solid financial management undeniably true, amazingly simplistic, and behind almost every other financial strategy that I have read since.
Which Type Are You?
At the core of the money chapter is a simple quote that leads it: “There are two kinds of people in this world: those who understand interest and those who don’t. Those who understand receive it; those who don’t pay it.” This idea is so powerful and appropriate to today’s challenging times that I have quoted and re-quoted it to almost everyone I speak with that has had trouble with managing their money. The typical response is a quick pause, followed by an immediate and deep understanding of the message unlike any article on repaying debt or investing money that I could have sent them.
What Do You Value?
Like many other texts, Life Matters discusses the idea that money “is a huge communicator of value.” The way we treat money, including spending, saving, investing, giving, receiving, hoarding or sharing, wasting or careful spending – is all indicative of those things we consider to be most important to us at the time. However, for so many of us, this comes as a shocking realization. “You can’t be serious – I don’t think the TV I bought last week was really that important to me!” Oh, really? Then why did you spend $1,000 on it, instead of taking your wife and kids on a vacation, or finally upgrading that washer and dryer you always complain about? There is no answer back. As with the issue of interest, there is an undeniable truth to the idea that how we treat our money directly reflects what we hold in the highest regard, whether it be the long-term welfare of our family, or keeping up with the coolest electronic toys your neighbor is buying.
Life Matters also applies Stephen Covey’s Quadrant system to money management – the idea that things which are important, but not necessarily urgent, are usually the highest-leverage activities. I encourage you to read about The 7 Habits in conjunction with this book for maximum effect. Life Matters also discusses various money myths, examines your expectations about money, and presents a variety of principled money “optimizers” – tried and true strategies for managing money that will help you achieve financial success.
I strongly recommend Life Matters as a great read for anyone struggling with their money, or wishing to learn about the basics of personal finance. It may change your view of money forever.
Life Matters is available at Amazon.com and your local retailers. Yes, that’s an affiliate link that will make me some much-needed cash to keep the site going. 🙂