Titles of favorite personal finance books are volleyed about all across social media. Books that win favor based on their content as much as their titles, like The 4-Hour Work Week and I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Then, there are the heavyweight financial gurus: Suze Orman, David Bach, and even Dave Ramsey.
I always have at least one finance book in my library haul, but I’m equally interested in the history and the philosophy of money. For instance, most people read The Richest Man in Babylon to learn the secrets of smart wealth building. It’s not that I didn’t take note of those themes, but I also spent my time fact checking the history and applying all sorts of gender theory to the writing. I am that person.
So when this perennial-student-turned-teacher was gifted a copy of It is Only Money & It Grows on Trees by Cara MacMillan, my heart fluttered. The book promised a deep dive into finance using different cultures and religions, and it more than delivered. In a small-but-mighty format, the text explores the meaning of money, the ways in which money is utilized, and smart finance tips in a way that is really comprehensible.
Written as if it spans several school classes about money, It is Only Money has students and readers explore ten different actions people can take regarding money as their teacher Catherine facilitates the different lessons. In fact, the book is subdivided into chapters focused on specific verbs. Because, yes, money and action should go together! From value and create to balance and begin, each section builds to create a solid foundation about money — not just how to save it or how to make it, but also why it matters and the power it wields in different societies and cultures.
At various parts, I found myself wanting each chapter to continue, because I was questioning the comments of the students and the responses of the teacher. Initially, I wanted to write it off as a shortcoming of the book. However, just like leaving a meaningful lecture or a Socratic discussion, I couldn’t get the ideas out of my head later on. That’s when I realized that the book served me better than many others. While it may not have offered specific investment data or steps to diversify a portfolio, it allowed me to engage in an intellectual conversation with the characters, stirring up more questions and compelling me think harder.
After the final class is dismissed, you will turn to the workbook in the appendix, if they haven’t already done so as each chapter unfolds. Here, you can explore your own personal philosophies and attitudes towards money by considering everything from your current life situation to your very first memories about money. There are also different inventories to help you align your finances with your belief systems, discern between needs and wants, and take actionable steps to improve your finances based on the class discussions.
While I think that this book would be an incredible gift to young adults, I don’t see how most people couldn’t uncover a pearl of wisdom or two. From encouraging side hustles and home businesses to really forcing you to think about why you act the way you do with money, this tiny novel packs a terrific punch. It is only money. It does grow on trees. Isn’t it time to learn a little bit more about it?
Note: Cara MacMillan and her publicist graciously sent me a copy of the book to read. Very belatedly, I opted to write this review based on my own thoughts. To check out more information about the book, visit It Is Only Money.
So Tell Me…What is your favorite book, finance or otherwise?