Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finance Blogs (& Books)

Since my daughter was born, I've taken getting my finances in order way, way more seriously than I ever did before. In fact, I had a freak out when she was a few weeks old, started looking closely at my financial records, and decided I needed to do something about it all, particularly if I ever intended to send her to college or some other useful thing.

The first step, for me, was Personal Finance blogs. I started with Get Rich Slowly, just going back and back into their archives until I had read almost everything they had. GRS was founded by JD Roth but is now run by a company and has multiple authors, all in various stages of financial health. From there, I found a bunch of other good blogs, my favorite of which is Mr. Money Mustache. I like MMM because he's a little more irreverent and funny (and having spent much of my career around contractors, cursing doesn't bother me).

After devouring the archives of several PF blogs, a few book titles came up multiple times as being very influential for the bloggers own lives. Foremost among these was Your Money or Your Life. YMYL is about, above all, having enough and living your life to your best purpose, by letting money support you and not drag you down. It's simultaneously practical (how to save, etc.) and very powerful.

The other book I read and really liked was the well-known book The Millionaire Next Door. This takes a very statistical dry look at financial health by using surveys to identify real millionaire's common traits. And by real millionaire, I don't mean the flashy guy driving a Bentley but who has two mortgages and no savings, but the man with the paid-off house in the good, but not prestigious neighborhood, who never has to work for a living again. Underneath the statistics, Millionaire Next Door is, like YMYL, about having enough.

Let me know if there are any good PF blogs or books you'd recommend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My New Pastime - Audiobooks

My life is so different now than when I started blogging. In the past four years I've become a mom, moved into a bigger house, switched jobs, and, most recently, started commuting by public transportation. I like my life a lot more now than I did four years ago but one thing kind of sucks - I don't read books anymore. I still read magazines, websites and some blogs, but I hardly ever sit down and read for an extended period of time. And I get terribly car sick, even on the train, so that's out. Happily, I recently found a solution - audiobooks!

This may be an incredibly obvious solution to you, but it took me a while to warm up to the idea. "Listening to a book doesn't count," I thought. And I think being read to is terribly boring (I even hated it when I was a kid in school). But my husband loves audiobooks and when a friend lent me her old iPod, filled with good books, and I decided to give them a try. I love it.

The caveat, of course, is finding the right audiobook. It's important to find a good book from a good writer and it may be even more important to find a good narrator. The best audiobooks aren't like being read to at all - they are more like listening to old radio plays. Two of my favorite books I've listened to so far are The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere, both written by and read by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman does voices and just imbues the story with so much charm - I loved them. On the other hand, I tried listening to Gaiman's Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett and reviewed by me here). No offense to the narrator, but he just left me cold and I found my mind wandering from the story. I stopped after just a few chapters.

By the way, I highly recommend using an audiobook app, like Audible, to listen, rather than just playing the book via your regular music player. The ability to just back a few seconds and to place bookmarks is key - it got rather frustrating when I was listening to my books on the iPod.