UCCU Book Review: Your Money or Your Life

Your Money or Your Life is unlike any personal finance book you’ve ever read. It’s not an investment guide or a collection of savings tips. Instead, this recently updated classic aims to help you figure out exactly how money fits into your life. 

Most personal finance books try to help you earn and keep enough money to maintain your current lifestyle. In Your Money or Your Life, authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez break convention by showing you that financial independence is most easily achieved with a minimalist approach. You only need enough money to buy and pay for that which you need – and no more. 

Here’s a brief overview of book’s 9 steps toward reshaping your relationship with money: 

Step 1: Tally up every dollar you’ve ever earned. Then calculate the total worth of all of your assets, not including money you still owe on these purchases. Now, take a look at these two numbers and their startling discrepancy. 

Step 2:  Calculate how much you really earn each hour. You’ll need to take your weekly work hours and add the time you spend commuting and attending company events. Then, subtract your weekly income by any money you spend on work-related expenses. Divide your adjusted weekly hours by this number, and you’ll have your true hourly rate. 

Step 3: Track all of your income and expenses over several months. Then, calculate how many hours of work each expense costs you.   

Step 4: Evaluate your expenses by the number of hours in your life that you use to pay for them. 

The book instructs you to ask these questions for every single expense:

  • Do I receive fulfillment and value compared to the life energy spent on this?
  • Is this use of my life energy in line with my values and goals?
  • How would this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work?

This exercise often has sobering results: Much of our time and money only enables us to work more instead of reflecting our true values. 

Step 5: Over the next few months, you’re going to fill out a chart comparing your income and expenses. Your goal, here, is to make those numbers as far apart as possible. 

Step 6: Train yourself to live a thrifty lifestyle by spending less and maximizing your time. 

Step 7: Re-evaluate your job and verify if your work resonates with your values. Use the information you’ve tracked over the last 6 steps to help you answer this question. 

Step 8: Determine if your investment income can cover all your living expenses. If you’ve worked through the steps correctly, and your income now far surpasses your expenses, this incredible goal can actually become a reality. 

Step 9: The ultimate goal is to have your investments growing even when they’re paying for your living expenses. 

Does it all sound like a dream? Some would say so, although many readers claim this book has changed their lives. 

But Your Money or Your Life has lots of critics, too. Many readers complain about a lack of real investment advice in the book. Others find the book’s tone to be intimidating and overly negative. While the authors claim most people work and spend to feed their greed, critics argue that this doesn’t ring true for everyone and lots of people spend their money prudently. 

Another point of contention for readers is the subtle encouragement the authors give readers to stop working so they can fulfill their true potential. The book never recognizes the fact that many people find fulfillment through their jobs and are actively working to make the world a better place. 

Everyone agrees, though, that Your Money or Your Life is a provocative read that will leave you with lots to think about long after you’ve turned the last page. 

What do you think: Do most people work and spend to feed their greed (as the authors claim), or do lots of people work to make the world a better place? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!






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Book Review: Faithful Finance by Emily Stroud

There are hundreds of personal finance works crowding the shelves of any bookstore. You’ll find books that promise to make you a millionaire in just a month, help you crawl out from under a mountain of debt or give your financial life a full makeover. Most of these books are written in a know-all, tell-all style, convincing you that you’ve just picked up the secret that holds all the money wisdom of the world. You might find complex terms you don’t understand thrown around with abandon, or read about unfamiliar approaches you’re expected to know about and understand.  

Emily Stroud’s recent release is different. Faithful Finance is written in a practical style that sounds just like your good friend is talking to you. What’s more, the book expertly twins religious belief and faith with practical money management tips, showing you what matters most in life and how to keep your perspectives in order. 

Despite its casual style, Stroud’s book is no shabby attempt at offering actionable budgeting tips. Inside this comprehensive work you’ll find the following topics explored and explained in simple, clear terms: 

  • Choosing a financial advisor
  • Creating a savings plan
  • Budgeting all of your expenses
  • Investing for retirement
  • What to do after you’ve graduated college
  • How to start a family on sound financial footing
  • How to give generously and prayerfully

Faithful Finance is sprinkled with real-life accounts of ordinary people just like you. You’ll read about how these people expertly manage their financial lives without getting overwhelmed, and you’ll learn how to make it happen in your own life. 

This book is all about breaking down the multifaceted world of personal finance and making it doable and simple while being faithful. 

If you’re looking for a book that will reveal the secret to true wealth, explore the worlds of the most successful people or study intricate money topics, this book is not for you. 

But if you want a practical, easy-to-understand guide for managing your money while keeping your faith, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Faithful Finance. 

Your Turn: What’s your favorite easy-to-understand personal finance book? Share it with us in the comments! 




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The UCCU Book Review – Zero Down Your Debt

Are you sick of being saddled with debt? Are you ready to break yourself free from the shackles of towering credit card bills?
Zero Down Your Debt will show you how to make that happen. This eye-opening book by Holly Porter Johnson and Greg Johnson is a virtual manifesto for debt destroyers everywhere. The personal finance book promises to change the way its readers think about money through its clear and guided approach to debt-free living and financial freedom.
Holly and Greg have been through it all. Through a series of poor choices and uncontrollable circumstances, they found themselves facing a staggering $50,000 of debt. Instead of despairing, though, they created a manageable step-by-step approach toward paying it down, using innovative techniques and a forward-thinking attitude.
Today, they are living a debt-free life and are passing on the wisdom they gained from their journey to you!
In Zero Down Your Debt, Holly and Greg describe the exact tools that helped them climb out of the deep hole they found themselves in. Their primary secret is their self-coined “Zero-Sum Budget,” a budgeting method that is both realistic and powerful. In this plan, every single dollar earned is given a purpose – whether it’s for paying bills, paying debt or putting into savings.
Last month’s earnings are used for this month’s everyday expenses. The plan is simple and demands nothing more than strong resolve, a positive attitude and pen and paper. By employing this plan, every reader is assured a way out of debt.
Throughout the book, you’ll find practical “Action Items.” These doable tips can help real people living on modest incomes win the war against debt.
In Zero Down Your Debt you will learn how to:
  • Unlock the powerful potential of your paycheck to help you save more and move ahead
  • Regain control of your money by creating a monthly plan that works
  • Understand the root causes of your debt
  • Implement a doable plan to eliminate your debt
  • Enjoy debt-free living and true financial freedom
  • Avoid budget destroyers that drain your wallet and demolish savings
  • Prepare for unexpected expenses and financial emergencies
Critics claim the book does not include any new material, believing it is age-old budgeting advice. They say Zero Down Your Debt is all “been there, done that” and will not give readers a fresh outlook on going debt-free.
Many others, though, are thrilled with the book and thanks to its actionable approach, are on the journey to financial freedom.
Pick up your own copy and you may soon find yourself on the same path to a debt-free life!
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Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not)

“My child, the entrepreneur.”

Do you fantasize about raising your kids to be financially successful adults? At the very least, all parents want their children to become independent grown-ups who know how to spend responsibly, live within a budget and save for the future.

How do we get there, though? How can we inspire a healthy attitude toward money in our somewhat impulsive and irresponsible children?

Beth Kobliner has the answers. In her book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius, the personal finance expert takes parents on a journey of financial education, showing them how to turn inexperienced kids into miniature money geniuses.

The book takes off with a list of fourteen rules for talking to kids about money. Many of these ideas are common sense, but as parents, we slip up too often and don’t give these rules enough attention. They include suggestions like “Use anecdotes,” and “Never fib about how much money you have on you.”

When discussing money with children, it’s important to strike the balance between honesty and TMI. To that end, the book also details a list of seven things you don’t need to tell your kids – such as exactly how much money you earn and which parent brings home the bigger paycheck.

The core of the book is structured around money management concepts and is not based on age. It tackles topics like saving, debt, spending, insurance and more. Each chapter breaks down the subject into language kids can understand. It also includes a discussion on how to approach the topic among three different age groups, from preschool to adolescence.

In the chapter on debt, for example, each age group will be taught another aspect about this loaded topic.

If you’re talking to kids of pre-school age, you’ll focus on awareness – simply teaching them that the things you buy will cost money. You’re not going to talk about interest rates and credit cards at this point, but you want your little ones to understand the concept of a money supply being finite and the need to make choices, plus the trade-offs of choices.

For the elementary school-aged kids learning about debt, you can begin introducing ideas like time costing money and credit and debit card security.

The oldest group of kids can handle deeper concepts like interest rates, credit scores and amortization.

Along with age-appropriate ideas, each chapter includes tips and advice for the adults – like don’t give an 8-year-old your credit card!

While Make Your Kid a Money Genius will provide you with the tools to get the conversation started at every age and stage, it won’t dictate exactly how to approach these loaded topics. If you’re looking for a book that will do all the work for you, you may not find this guide to be sufficient.

However, thousands of parents have found this NY Times bestseller to be a fun, practical, and helpful tool. If you’ve ever found yourself dreading that inevitable “money talk” with your child, you owe it to yourself – and your kid! – to pick up a copy of Make Your Kid a Money Genius today.





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The Bucket Plan

Do you dream of having a secure retirement where your biggest worry is choosing between a Caribbean cruise and sailing off to Alaska?Turn your dreams into reality with The Bucket Plan. Written by Jason Smith, a financial planner, coach and entrepreneur, this book is a must-read for anyone determined to create a realistic financial plan for retirement.

The Bucket Plan outlines a distinct financial planning process based on a three-bucket philosophy of strategically positioning assets to anticipate and minimize the risks that can occur in retirement.

In this book, you will find:

  • The three biggest threats for your financial future and a clear explanation of how The Bucket Plan can help protect you from them
  • An easy-to-use formula for calculating whether you will have an income deficit and the amount of money you’ll need to prevent it
  • How to avoid taking on too much investment risk

Throughout the book, you’ll read about Jerry and Irene, a couple planning for their retirement using Smith’s three-bucket approach. The storyline is expertly woven into the book’s more technical content, simplifying the abundance of financial wisdom. It makes The Bucket Plan an engaging and educational read. You’ll flip through the pages of the book, eager to reach the end and see how Jerry and Irene’s plan worked out for them.

Smith’s strategy of “bucketing” your retirement money can put you on the path toward long-term financial security. Don’t spend your golden years worrying about your money running out. Instead, use the Bucket Plan to create your successful financial future.

The Bucket Plan won’t reveal any magic formulas or get-rich-quick schemes, but it will provide you with a detailed, comprehensive system for preparing for your sunset years in peace, serenity, and financial security.

Your Turn: Do you have a favorite retirement-planning book? Tell us all about it in the comments!





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The 4-Hour Workweek: How To Work Less And Live More By Tim Ferriss

When asked, “What do you do?” Tim Ferriss never gives the same answer twice.

Sometimes, he says he skis in the Andes; other times, he claims to spend his days racing motorcycles through Europe. The young entrepreneur who runs a worldwide firm essentially spends his time doing whatever he pleases.

Wish you had the same freedom? Tired of spending most of your waking hours chained to a desk? Slave to your own business? Then the 4-Hour Workweek is a must-read for you!

This life-transforming work by visionary Tim Ferriss has spent seven years on the NY Times bestsellers list. Recently, over 100 pages of cutting-edge content has been added to this classic, making it a hit all over again.

The book is designed to show anyone who’s overworked and unhappy how to work less and live more. The 4-Hour Workweek will put you on the path toward living your dream – putting family first, drastically cutting the time you spend at the office, increasing your income without increasing your work time and enjoying life instead of longing for retirement.

Tim opens his book by explaining that, when most people dream of finding that pot of gold, they don’t really need the dollar signs – they need the time, mobility and freedom – which they connect with having that money. Once that misconception has been cleared, you can redefine your goals so your dreams are not dependent on having a certain amount of money, but on living a particular lifestyle.

The book works around the acronym DEAL:

  • Definition: Replace self-defeating assumptions
  • Elimination: Learn how to ignore the unimportant (generates time)
  • Automation: Put cash flow on autopilot (generates income)
  • Liberation: Create freedom of location (generates mobility)

Here’s what you’ll learn when you read The 4-Hour Workweek:

  1. How Tim changed his life from working 80-hour weeks and earning $40k a year to working 4-hour weeks and earning $40k a month.
  2. How to cheaply outsource your life to overseas workers and let your money grow as you spend your time doing what you really want.
  3. How escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs.
  4. How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours by using the brilliant principles of an Italian economist.
  5. How to trade a 9-5 job for brief bursts of intense work and frequent mini-retirements.
  6. The difference between absolute and relative income and how it affects your work ethic.
  7. The definition of automated cash-flow “muses” and how to create one in less than 5 weeks.
  8. How to cultivate selective ignorance with a low-information diet, thus creating time.
  9. The management secrets of remote-control CEOs.
  10. How to get free housing worldwide and airfare at a 50-80% discount.
  11. How to create a meaningful life after removing the burden of full-time work.

New additions to the book include:

  1. More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers who have incorporated the book’s principles into their lives and doubled their incomes.
  2. The latest tools, tricks and high-tech shortcuts for living like a millionaire.

While not everything in the book is practical for all entrepreneurs, and plenty of people have criticized his ideas, there’s enough solid information in the book to make it a worthwhile read.

Your Turn: Do you have ideas for working less while accomplishing more? What’s worked for you? We’d love to hear about it!







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Business Book Review: Finding Your Why

Simon Sinek’s bestselling book, Start With Why, has inspired millions of readers to rethink their life goals and their daily choices.

In his more recent release, Finding Your Why, Sinek speaks more directly toward business owners and continues where Start With Why left off. It’s an actionable guide that will show you exactly how to apply the author’s powerful tools in your business, company and work life.

Start With Why encouraged readers to think about the forces driving them to lead the life they live; Finding Your Why teaches readers to use that “why” for creating a better business and workplace.

Co-authored by Peter Docker and David Mead, this book serves as a dynamic, resourceful guide for giving your business your all. That’s because Sinek believes everyone is entitled to wake up each morning and feel inspired to go to work. Every person also deserves to return home later feeling fulfilled and accomplished. There’s no place for the humdrum in his world!

According to Sinek’s philosophy, the only way to reach that point of constant inspiration and fulfillment is to have a full understanding of WHY you do everything you do. Identifying the underlying objective of your company, and your own personal ambitions, will allow you to fully focus on bringing your business to the next level and surpassing all of its goals.

Packed with detailed exercises, illustrations and actionable steps for every stage of the process, Finding Your Why will help you address and resolve many common concerns, including:

  • What if my WHY sounds identical to my competitor’s?
  • Am I allowed to have more than one WHY?
  • If my work doesn’t match my WHY, what should I do?
  • What if my team can’t agree on our WHY?

Whether your business is long-established, is still in its starting stages or simply needs a boost, the exercises in this book will lead you along a path toward long-term success and fulfillment — for you and your team. Never have a dull or unproductive day at work again!

The engaging stories sprinkled throughout the book will keep you turning those pages and make it into a quick read. Released late in the summer of 2017, Finding Your Why is enjoying strong popularity. Critics, though, find that some of the book’s steps can be difficult to process and integrate into real business life.

Do you know your WHY? Find out by picking up your copy of this book today.

Your Turn: Do you leave for work each day feeling inspired? What keeps you going? Share your own WHY with us in the comments!





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The Perennial Seller: Making Marketing Last by Ryan Holiday

In an era that worships instant stardom, the value of a piece of art, a product or a book with popularity outlasting the decades is often lost in the race for fame.

Why is “Star Wars” still a classic decades after its release? How is Iron Maiden still performing to sellout crowds without any radio or TV exposure more than 40 years after the band was formed? How is it possible that The 48 Laws of Power didn’t make it to the bestseller lists for more than a decade but still sold over a million copies?

There is something that every lasting creation has, something that makes it withstand the tests of time and fashion, something that makes it a perennial seller. Drawing on timeless works of art and people whose imprint lasts for generations, author Ryan Holiday sets out to explore what makes some art sell forever.

While The Perennial Seller chiefly addresses artists, the ideas discussed within apply equally to those selling a song, a book or a product.

This book won’t teach you much of the hows of marketing, but it will dig deeply into the whys: Why does something sell? Why are some products so popular? Why are some ideas embedded in our minds for eternity?

Holiday first makes it clear that marketing isn’t magic – it needs to represent a solid product. If you’re selling a dud, the best marketing campaign can’t change that. To this end, Holiday spends the first half of his book discussing ways to produce that incredible product.

One point he repeatedly stresses is that it’s going to take hard work – and you’re going to have to do it on your own. No one will care about your product as much as you do. No one is going to work on cultivating your fans or networking for you; it’s up to you.

In the second half of the book, Holiday explores ways to make a product perennial.

First, you need to know the “why” behind your creation or project. Why are you working on this? Are you trying to make a statement? To bring your company up a notch? What’s your goal?

If you have that powerful vision in mind, you can handle step two, which is the “how” of making your dream into a reality. With your goal driving your actions, you’ll be able to get through anything – even late nights that stretch into early mornings, working weekends and facing skeptics or other obstacles.

To make your creation endure, you’ll need to capture a universal emotion or experience. Frodo Baggins is memorable because every overworked employee can identify with the challenge of endless hardship. If you’re producing a marketing video and you hope it will net thousands of views, make sure it expresses a feeling or an experience that most people can identify with.

Critics of the book claim it’s replete with too many cliches, like: “Be your own CEO,” and “An unaimed arrow rarely hits its target.” Others say it’s a disappointment for those seeking a quick marketing fix.

Will The Perennial Seller become a perennial seller? That remains to be seen. But most agree it contains enough marketing wisdom to make it a worthwhile read.

Your Turn: Did you have a marketing campaign that enjoyed long popularity? Share the details with us in the comments!





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Book Review: The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman

For far too many people, being rudely awakened from the American Dream is synonymous with being mired in debt.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

In The Recovering Spender, Lauren Greutman draws on her own life experience to teach invaluable lessons about living within your means.

To outsiders, Lauren and her husband, Mark, appeared as though they were living a charmed life. As she says, “On the surface, we had it all. Custom home, luxury cars, beautiful babies, and all the bells and whistles…” But disaster lurked beneath the surface.

Though the Greutmans seemed like they had more than enough for all their necessities and many luxuries, they were living way beyond their means simply to keep up with the neighbors. Too soon, they found themselves with a mortgage that had not been paid in months, their car seized and sky-high debt that reached $40,000.

Their dream had become an awful nightmare.

Through a long journey of recreating their relationship with money and spending, the Greutmans arrived at where they are today: back in the black and fully committed to spending less while living within their budget.

In The Recovering Spender, Greutman details the steps she and her family took to pull it off. She shares her hard-earned tips and practical advice to help others who find themselves ending each month with a deficit that keeps growing.

Lauren also shares many of her personal struggles in ways relatable to readers to help them learn from her mistakes. It’s easier for an over-stressed mom who never feels like she can stretch the dollar far enough to take tips from another mom who’s been there, than it is to heed advice from a financial expert who’s never experienced anxiety about being able to pay for groceries.

The book also takes readers through the process of going from being in the red to living completely debt-free, offering a step-by-step guide with actions readers can take immediately as they work their way through the book.

Some of the actionable chapters in the book include:

1. Take an Inventory of Your Spending.

2. Declutter Your Finances.

3. Do an Expense Audit.

4. Curb Your Spending and Define Your Values.

Most importantly, The Recovered Spender is a guide for getting off the path of debt, and living happily within your means.

Your Turn: Do you overspend in order to keep up with the Joneses? Have you successfully changed your spending habits? Share your success with us!

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