2016-08-08 Two books on personal finance

As I mentioned some time ago, I have been using Ledger for personal (or rather home) accounting. In particular, this means that I’m quite interested in the subject of personal finance. Today I’m going to write about two books on this topic I find worth reading.

Disclaimer. What I write in this post is in large part my personal opinion. While I do my best not to claim any false statements, please be warned that I’m going to write about issues I’m no real authority on. Should you find any mistake on my part, please let me know. In any case, filter what I’m writing through your knowledge and common sense, which may well both be much better than mine.

The first book is not out yet, and when it’s out, it will be probably of no use for most of my readers (sorry!), since it is written in Polish. The book is called Finansowy Ninja (Financial Ninja), which is quite an evocative title;-). I preordered it from the author, Michał Szafrański (who self-publishes it), and so far got a pdf with the first chapter. I have to say that I really liked it, even though it’s only an introductory part. One thing I especially liked was that it is very concise: no unnecessary stuff, no repeating the same with other words many times. So far it’s thumbs up from me – we’ll see how the other chapters go (though I assume from reading the blog of the author that it’s going to be full of very concrete advice, backed by hard data).

While Financial Ninja concentrates mostly on the technical side – accounting, budgeting, frugal spending etc. – Howard Dayton’s Your money counts expands the ethical side of earning, spending, saving and – last but not least! – giving away money. The subtitle – The Biblical guide to earning, spending, saving, investing, giving and getting out of debt – pretty much says it all. While this book also covers some technical issues (budgeting, for instance) – its goal is completely different (though complementary) to Financial Ninja: it is about how to apply the Biblical, Christian perspective to managing your finance. I read it with pleasure, even though the editorial side of the Polish version is beyond terrible. One gripe I had with the book was that while it was well grounded in the Bible (no surprise here), there was nothing from the teaching of the Holy Church. Not that I’m astonished – I strongly suspect that the author is a Protestant. The book has an imprimatur, though, and it seems that it is mostly theologically and morally correct (perhaps with one exception, where the author talks on investing, and praises the compound interest; on the other hand, usury, i.e. lending money on interest higher than the costs of lending said money, was criticized by popes and other Catholic authorities), so I can recommend it (with that one caveat – though of course, I’m no theologian). Still, I long for a really Catholic book on the subject.

While it is rather difficult for me to somehow sum up Financial Ninja before I’ve actully read it;-), I guess I could do it with Your money counts. The main takeaway from that book (at least for me) is the simple (and obvious in retrospect!) but crucial observation that I do not own anything – all “my” money and possessions are actually God’s property. This is quite liberating (as usually with religious truths, at least in Catholicism) – I do not really have to (and shouldn’t indeed) worry about having enough money too much (note, though, that “not worrying” is completely different from “not caring”!). On the other hand, it means that my responsibility for the money and possessions I happen to earn, use and spend is much larger than if it were merely “mine”: I am only a manager, and God himself is the Owner. Wow, I’d better not spend it on stupid things.

Also, while the book does not explicitly mention that, an interview I’ve recently read on a similar subject contained a thought that really resonated with the book: that if I have some money (especially a lot of it), some portion of it (the one above my fair amount of posession, is that is the right term – probably not, please remember again that as far as theology and philosophy goes, I’m a layman, so my choice of words may be completely off the mark – but hopefully you know what I mean) belongs to the poor – and not because of charity, but because of justice. And by the way, notice how different it is from socialism and its likes: the reason for the moral obligation to share is neither “human rights”, nor the concept that economic inequality is somehow immoral, nor other left-wing nonsense like those; the real reason seems to be that my money is not really mine – I’ve only been entrusted with the task of managing it, and while I totally should use a portion of it, I should also remember that I administer it on behalf of God, its proper Owner, who does care about the poor and wants my managing to reflect that.

Anyway, I’m even more motivated now to better manage my (or rather “my”) stuff.

CategoryBlog, CategoryEnglish, CategoryFaith