Book List Part Deux
Books are amazing and are how I get a lot of the knowledge that I share with you all. I continually encourage folks to do their own research because essential to financial fitness is gaining knowledge to make insightful financial decisions. In that vein, I offer 4 more books I've read that can help folks learn more about financial planning. Maybe they can be added to your summer reading list!
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle: This book has one simple message: invest in traditional index funds. Written by the founder of the Vanguard group and creator of the first ever index fund, the book shows, through painstaking data, that passively managed, low cost index funds win out over actively managed mutual funds and stocks every time. He uses basic arithmetic, reversion to the mean, cost efficiencies, and common sense to make his point. While his book was often hard to get through (I am not a numbers person, and there were A LOT of graphs), it does push a message that makes sense. The less trading you do and the lower costs you pay, the more your return on investment would be. Bogle doesn't ask you to take his word for it though. At the end of every chapter, he includes quotations from many other financial leaders that back his message. Even if you don't fully agree with what he says, it's still an interesting book to read to learn about all the ways "little" costs can eat away at your investment returns.
Girl, get your Money Straight! by Glinda Bridgforth: Bridgforth is a financial counselor working out of California and Detroit. She is also a Black woman who has dealt with financial hardship and climbed out of that hole. She wrote this book 20 years ago, but the advice still applies. Like many other financial books, the practical steps she mentions to get your financial situation together are similar: tracking your spending, creating a budget (or savings plan as she calls it), sacrifice (not deprivation), saving and investing. What makes this book different is that it is written by a Black woman for Black women. She approaches financial freedom through a holistic lens, calling on Black women (and everyone for that matter) to do some deep self-reflecting and start to understand why they interact with money how they do. What influenced you to think like that? What messages about money and finances did you receive as a child from family and society? What could you be compensating or self-medicating for? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you make a mindset change around your money which can keep you from going back into bad habits. Whether or not you are a Black woman, this book will cause you to think about history, economics, your personal past and your relationship with money, while also providing you practical steps to get your money straight!
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: I will preface this by saying after finally reading this book (and writing the following review), I came upon the disappointing reaction Kiyosaki had in response to the protests against police violence related to the death of George Floyd. While I do think there are things we can learn from his book, I will not support him beyond the review I offer here: Many people might be surprised that this is the first time I've picked up this book, given how widely known its name is when thinking about personal finance. The truth is I was very resistant to reading it. What I'd heard about it did not inspire interest. But I figured I needed to actually read it for myself before I knocked it. And I found that I agree with the underlying premise of the book: becoming rich is about honing your greatest asset: your mind. Kiyosaki constantly invests in his education of how money works, and he encourages his readers to do the same. While some of his lessons are difficult to follow (more due to his writing than the difficulty of the lesson itself), his main point is encouraging us to step away from the formulaic way we've been taught to handle money and instead get creative! One of my favorite lines in the book was to stop saying "I can't afford it," and instead ask "How can I afford it?" That question alone opens up a multitude of possibilities. Even though this was not my favorite personal finance book, I honestly felt a little morally uncomfortable throughout the reading of it, I still learned something and got further book recommendations from it.
The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran: This book should be required reading for any and all US history classes taught in the United States. Baradaran walks her readers through a gut-wrenching and factual telling of all of the ways Black Americans have been systematically excluded from economic progress. Her book spans the time from when the US was a colony until 2017. Due to racism, segregation and public policy created, sanctioned and executed on by the US government, Black Americans have been kept out of systems and federal handouts that have assisted White Americans in creating and sustaining generational wealth. This was and continues to be permissible due to the prevailing belief that Black Americans are poor because of a cultural failing, rather than because they are trapped in an economic system that doesn't allow for more meaningful growth or wealth creation. Told through the lens of Black banks, and offering clear reasons as to why the racial wealth gap exists, Baradaran's book reminds me (and hopefully others) that giving financial advice is useless if we don't also work to change the systems that prevent that financial advice from even being applicable. I can't write a blog on financial fitness without understanding the history of money in this country, and I'd argue that you, my reader, cannot make sound financial decisions without knowing that history as well. I highly recommend this book.