Book Reviews: Munny Journey & Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel

I recently had the opportunity to review two different personal finance books (thanks to both authors for providing me with a copy), and I was pleasantly surprised with both.

In a genre that sees a lot of the same things written about again and again (how many money topics can there really be, right?), both of these books were based on really unique and surprising concepts that I have not seen before.

Munny Journey (Dugdale/Ronnestad/Brand)

munny-journey-coverAs we await the arrival of our new baby boy in January, this is a timely review and a great way to start off the financial life of our first child.

The concept of Munny Journey is a keepsake journal, set up in a format similar to other baby journals, and inter-mixed with an educational portion that teaches parents about the power of investing. It features special pockets for keepsakes and spaces to write down our thoughts, goals, and progress.

Munny Journey’s principles are based on regular, small investments over the life of your child to create a multi-millionaire by retirement (whether you actually want to take care of your child’s retirement for them is a personal decision). Because of the time-sensitive nature of compound interest, starting at birth can work miracles when it comes to multiplying money.

Here are some of the things you can expect to do/read about in Munny Journey:

  • Write down your financial dreams for the child.
  • Keep your child’s first dollar, state coin, and stock values from the birth day.
  • Record your child’s first savings and investment accounts and learn about the various types of available investments (savings, mutual funds, stocks, bonds) and how each affects your goals.
  • Advice on choosing a financial planner.
  • The basics of compound interest and why it’s important to start early.
  • How you can expect your child’s money stash to grow based on various assumptions (amount invested at birth and throughout childhood).
  • Money myths and common mistakes.
  • Introduction to college savings accounts.
  • A money chart and photo pages to monitor your progress as your child grows.

Who is this book for? It’s great for any new parents as a resource and motivator to get your child started on the road to financial success early. It’s also great for people who know little about investing and want to diversify their own and their child’s savings beyond the simple savings account.

If your kids are more than 5 years old, you may feel like you’re playing catch-up with the book, but I think it’s never too late to start. While the book is definitely geared for newborns, the principles don’t change with age.

This will be a great addition to my bookshelf, and I think it will facilitate teaching my kids about money in a fun and interactive way, while also giving them something to keep and treasure as they take ownership of their own financial life. Thumbs-up for Munny Journey!

Check out Munny Journey’s website, where you can find more information, look inside the book, and order it. It’s also available at (affiliate link) and your local bookstore.

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel (Phil Villarreal)

secrets-coverThe subtitle of this book is “100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets,” and with good reason. From the foreword (entitled “Threeword” because by his own admission, the author was too stingy for a foreword):

“Honor. Integrity. Honesty. Dignity. If you live by any of these values, you may as well drop this book right now, because they’re against everything it professes…Much of what I write will surely disgust you, but I’m sure a sizable portion is intriguing…”

Indeed, getting past the ethics as you begin your read is a challenge, but once the tone of the book catches your interest, you can have a little fun and actually learn something. Yes – between the tongue-in-cheek commentary and outrageous suggestions, there are solid financial principles to be gathered here (and lots of little tips!).

Some of the ‘secrets’ you’ll find in the book include:

  • Old-school ways to heal coughing, nausea, and depression – without a trip to the doctor.
  • How to get an extra serving of fries with nothing more than an iced cube.
  • Strategies for eating lunch at your wholesale club for free.
  • Getting the best prices for the stuff you want at garage sales.
  • The perfect mix of soap and water to get rid of a bug problem.
  • How to get banks to give you money, instead of the other way around.
  • How to get free stuff just by test driving cars.
  • Raising your kids for (almost) free.
  • How to get the airlines to fly you around for free.

If you didn’t catch on, free and cheap is the name of the game. “Don’t break any laws, or get the impression that I’m advocating criminal behavior, because this book was written for entertainment purposes.” I think the devilish overlay sketched onto the cover’s dollar bill gets the point across fairly well.

If sarcasm, fun with money, and an open mind are in your vocabulary, you won’t find a more unique personal finance book than this one to enjoy.

And with that, I’m pleased to recommend that you partake in Phil Villarreal’s brand of humor. Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is available at (affiliate link) and your local bookstore.

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