Surround Yourself with Positivity: Books and More to Elevate Your Money and Your Life

May 10, 2022

Last Saturday I went to the mall. That may not seem like a big deal, but I assure you, a mall excursion is notable for me. Not because I don't enjoy nice things or buying stuff sometimes, but simply because I find malls depressing.*

There are a couple reasons for this. Most malls are crowded; I don't love crowds. Many are indoors; I love outdoors. But the primary reason I don't love them is that nearly everyone there is there to spend money, sometimes money they don't have, on stuff they think will make them happy. And I know what it's like to get swept up in the instant gratification appeal of it all. Retail therapy is a real thing, and I have retail-therapied with the best of them.

But I don't do this anymore. Not because I can't afford it. In fact, I can afford it so much more now. I just simply know that it (or other self-sabotaging spending decisions) won't make my life better. They won't improve my current or future opportunities or give me more choices. So, I just don't love being in these situations like I once did.

I have big plans for my life and enjoy the results of surrounding myself with positive influences and those who teach timeless truths. My favorite way—as you'll see below—to do this is to read. And that pastime puts me in the company of people I admire for various reasons, including Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, and my dad.

If you too aspire to live a life of meaning and contribution, I recommend you trade some of your leisure time, your worry time, and your aimless social media time for sources of substance. Surround yourself with voices that will assist and inspire you in your pursuit of an intentional life. Here are some of the sources who have done that for me.

Books

I read a lot. 30+ books per year. Some of the books I read are ones we read in a monthly book club, others I have surfaced, and some have been recommended by respected sources. Not all of them are related to money as you’ll see, but as money is the currency of living, any book that inspires you live better can also inspire you to be different with money. Without any further ado, I'd like to introduce you to some of my book friends:

Richest Man in Babylon (George Clason)

“The purpose of a budget is to help thy purse to fatten. It is to assist thee to have thy necessities and, insofar as attainable, thy other desires. It is to enable thee to realize thy most cherished desires. It is to enable thee to realize thy most cherished desires by defending them from thy casual wishes.”

Oh, this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. My dad gifted it to me when I was in college, busily making money mistake after money mistake. Big portions of it were skimmed, and I read it enough to feel guilty that I wasn't living its principles. I tried paying myself first (the recommended 10%) but because I didn't have a solid budget in place, I perpetually drained that savings since it had to cover for poor planning. But better to fall in love with it late than never! If only I’d read and believed that the timeless and simple principles it teaches could and would work for me, I could have saved 10+ years of financial stress.  

Random Walk Down Wall Street (Burton G Malkiel)

“Markets are not always or even usually correct. But no one person or institution consistently knows more than the market.”

For those of you interested in investing books, I would highly recommend this one. A lot of it sailed over my head (remember, I’m not an investment professional), but some of it certainly stuck. It was exciting to learn more about the wonderful world of investing, things to watch out for, and simple strategies that have stood the test of time.

Richer, Wiser, Happier (William Green)

“In a world that’s increasingly geared toward short-termism and instant gratification, a tremendous advantage can be gained by those who move consistently in the opposite direction. This applies not only to business and investing, but to our relationships, health, careers, and everything else that matters.”

This book was a powerful read earlier this year. The reader is introduced to the most successful investors of the past 100 years, and how they’ve been so successful. Their habits, the way they live, the way they don’t get sucked up into what’s popular or doing what the crowd is doing (in investing, or lifestyle) is positively inspiring. Most of this book was read on the treadmill at the gym; it was that engrossing!

Essentialism (Greg McKeowan)

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

Read this one. It’ll make you think about how you spend your time and are you doing what is essential or just being busy? This book inspires simpler, more intentional and balanced living in accordance with your priorities, not those of others.

The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

“The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances… The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity.”

This book stirs things in my soul every time I read it. It's written beautifully and in parable-ish form, and always inspires me to explore and learn, take risks, follow my intuition, and trust God.

As a Man Thinketh (James Allen)

“There can be no progress, no achievement, without sacrifice, and our worldly success will be in the measure that we sacrifice our confused animal thoughts and fix our mind on the development of our plans and the strengthening of our resolution and self-reliance.”

I cannot recommend this short book strongly enough. Written nearly 120 years ago, it's a timeless classic. Every time I listen to snippets of it, browse through the book itself, or come across a quote, I catch myself in thoughts that are not very constructive. And am reminded to choose better thoughts!

Quit Like a Millionaire (Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung)

“Financial independence is a suit of armor: by shielding you from running out of money, it allows you to fearlessly follow your dreams.”

This is not a book I would necessarily re-read, but I recommend it because it shows as possible a circumstance—retirement by 30 based solely on legitimate/ not-shady investing—that feels totally impossible. You may not aspire to this, and there are recommendations they make that I have no plan to implement (such as not owning a home), but a lot of their ideas are totally worth considering and there are investing ideas they make accessible.

Podcasts

A podcast I listened to several months ago has changed my relationship with podcasts, and I realize as I write this that I listen to very few podcasts anymore. This podcaster recommended “controlling your inputs.” She then elaborated to encourage her audience (women entrepreneurs) to not follow all the business/marketing podcasts. Her advice was to pick one, maybe two, and forget about the rest. They all have at least some really good advice, but too many can be overwhelming, crowd out your own thoughts, and just create noise. I’ve realized also that podcasts are not my personal favorite way to consume information. That said, here are a couple I recommend.

The Ramsey Show

I don’t listen to this one regularly, but I nonetheless include it on the list because it was so helpful on my road to paying off $50,000 in debt. To listen to others describe their situations and hear their celebrations was incredibly motivating. 

EconTalk

This one, despite its title, is not (explicitly) about money. The host, Russ Roberts, has experts on his show and they discuss, and often debate, topics relevant to societies and human thriving within the context of economics. I've learned a lot from this one.

Feeling Good

This one really has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with the quality of your thinking. If you think better, you feel better.

Dateline

I’m not proud of this recommendation. But, this podcast keeps me safely skeptical as a single woman . It also keeps me alert on roadtrips in a way that almost nothing else can and for that I, and other drivers, are grateful!

Social/Email Newsletters

You Need A Budget

I recommend both their email newsletter and Instagram. They have a very friendly content team that work to make money approachable and doable.

Daily Stoic

Those Greeks knew stuff back then! Their tagline on IG is "Ancient philosophy for modern life" and it cuts right through the noise of modern day living with powerful truths.

Becoming Minimalist

Email newsletter and website by Joshua Becker. We have so many messages of “More! More! More!” that it is refreshing to hear messages of gratitude, simplicity, and contentment. 

James Clear

His email newsletter is one I really like getting and read regularly. It's all about habits and living purposefully.

That's a wrap for today! There's a lot of good out there, the trick is just to seek it out and curate your inputs in a way that supports your goals. This way your goals aren't shaped passively by what swirls around you. If you've got favorite inputs—books, podcasts, people on the socials—I'd love to hear them with a note here!

*I'm not passing judgment on anyone who loves malls. We can still totally be friends, I hope! You can just deposit me at the food court with a good book, and we'll meet up after an hour of shopping and call it a happy mall outing. Deal? Deal.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy this related post:

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