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Come On, Get Happy

With Better Money Managing, Discover What’s Been Missing

 Angele  McQuade Bookmark and Share

J.D. Roth is my favorite type of financial expert: someone who has earned the position of advice-giver by graduating with honors from his personal school of hard knocks. Although the story of how he got himself into trouble isn’t anything out of the ordinary, his strategy for climbing back out of that hole sure is.

After Roth spent his way into debt, he began to learn a better way to manage his money with the help of friends and library books in 2004. Looking to share that knowledge with others, he posted book reviews, helpful Web links and his own advice at www.getrichslowly.org, a site that now reaches an enormous audience.   
Your Money: The Missing Manual is Roth’s print compilation of the best of what he’s learned over the past five years. It’s a fantastic read for not just the true beginner but also anyone struggling with financial worries.
Roth’s focus is definitely on action, as he encourages  us to get going immediately instead of waiting for the perfect moment. “Don’t worry about getting things exactly right,” he says, “just choose a good option and do something to get started.”
Your Money is divided into three parts: setting goals and paying off debt; finding ways to decrease spending and increase income; and building wealth. Each section is stuffed with resources to tap into for even more guidance.
Roth recommends plenty of other books to read. If you already live much of your financial life online, you’ll especially appreciate how many Web resources he mentions.
Buy the book and you’ll even get free access to the online version (complete with updates and bonus features) for 45 days. Although Roth’s advice on the standard financial topics — retirement, mortgages, taxes, banks, etc. — is quite good, it truly shines in the sections of Your Money devoted to lifestyle choices.
His tips on reducing spending quickly slide into a heartfelt discussion of what he calls Stuff. “The costs aren’t just financial,” he cautions. “There’s a real mental toll to having too much Stuff: You think about it and worry about it; it becomes a burden.” A better philosophy, he says, is to streamline and prioritize not just what you owe and spend, but also what you own.
Avoid advertisements, stores and even window shopping and your spending on Stuff will naturally decrease. When you do need to spend, make your choices deliberately and always with a focus on your goals. “It’s all about balance,” Roth reminds us. “When you cut spending on things you don’t need, you can indulge in things that really matter to you.”    
Ultimately, it’s greater happiness — not greater wealth — Roth believes we should pursue. Money might give you more options, he says, but “happiness is what makes life worth living.”

Websites of Interest    
Author J.D. Roth’s site        
Free resources from the book publisher        

Angele McQuade is the author of two books, including Investment Clubs for Dummies. You can find her online at angelemcquade.com.

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