Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It Is Only Money And It Grows On Trees

What do you get when you mix Religious Studies with Personal Finance?  Answer:  You get Cara MacMillan's, It Is Only Money and It Grows on Tress.  Although the book is only a little over one hundred pages long, it delivers better reading than the average (and longer) personal finance book.

What makes this book clever is that it's nonfiction, but reads more like a work of fiction.  If you've ever read, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and liked how he narrated his life as a kid so as to teach readers the financial lessons from his Rich Dad, then you will enjoy Cara MacMillan's, It Is Only Money...

The college classroom setting is at first confusing, until you learn later in the book (the back matter) that it's a freshman class filled with economically challenged students of various ethnic backgrounds.  The professor (Catherine) begins a much needed lesson on money by writing "money" on the board.

To get each of her students to understand some of their actions and behaviors with respect to money, Catherine covers the teachings of money in Christianity.  The Christian students in the class relate to the instruction and provide anecdotes of how religious beliefs about money affected their upbringing.  Example: "Is Sean's grandmother like the third servant in the parable?  Did she bury her talent?"

In the subsequent lessons, Catherine allows her students to take the lead and share how their religions view money.  There's the Hinduism perspective provided by an Indian student, teachings from the Koran provided by an African student, a Jewish student adds what Judaism has to say about money, and even an Atheist gets to share out-loud.  All of it is quite interesting.

I like to learn as much about money as an erudition as I possibly can, and MacMillan's work certainly added to my understanding.  But there is more within this little book that further stimulates the mind.  Cara MacMillan, MBA, is after all a thought leader in financial planning.  It is clear from the responses her character, Catherine, gives to her students that she knows her stuff.

For example, instead of just providing a laundry list of what people should be doing to have wealth and money, she focuses on the power of choice making and how this impacts our spending.  She also delves deep into the importance of having values: "The resources that we need and want are based on who we are and how we live."  Now isn't that the truth?

If people understood how often they are manipulated by media and marketing to "need" what they actually "want" perhaps there wouldn't be as many indebted people in this country.  If people had values they stood for, they wouldn't be so easily swayed by marketing tactics.  These were two excellent points made in Chapter 2.

I don't want to give too much of the book away in the event you want to turnaround and buy it.  It will make a great addition to the personal finance section of your library.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars!

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