The Wisdom of Frugality

Two days before Christmas may seem like an odd time to write about the wisdom of frugality. If you are typical you’ve been anything but frugal lately with all the Christmas shopping. You may be traveling or others are traveling to see you. Unless you’ve spent beyond your means and plunged yourself into debt to celebrate Christmas a bit of spending on gifts is certainly not unwise.

As you pay off those credit card charges in the coming months (hopefully sooner than that) it may be a good time to reflect on being frugal for the new year. There are many practical reasons for being frugal: saving money, building long term wealth, avoiding a materialistic lifestyle. There is also a basic and sound wisdom in frugality.

The SimpleDollar.com recently posted a review of a book, The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less is More – More or Less by Emrys Westacott. The author is a philosophy professor and has written about how philosophy looks at frugality. Westacott writes:

“This book is really a philosophical look at frugality, written by a philosophy professor. The book tackles one seemingly simple question: why do people perceive frugality as a virtue, and why do people equate it with good living and happiness? That’s a thread that has appeared in writings for thousands of years and almost always taken as a given, but why? Even more interesting, why do people rarely follow that advice? Why is simple living and frugality often perceived as being outside the norm?

Westacott digs into those questions with rigor and insight, coming up with a lot of interesting conclusions. He digs into the difference between happiness and contentment, asks whether or not extravagance is really a path to lasting joy, and what the impact of frugality is on the broader world as compared to contentment.”

Philosophy is about learning to live the good life. Being frugal can be a part of that. Read the rest of the review here and give it some thought. Being frugal can be the smart thing to do. It can also be the wise thing to do.

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The Simplicity Cycle by Dan Ward

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy - Post 1004

Book of the Month for June 2016

Title and Author:   

The Simplicity Cycle – A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse by Dan Ward

Synopsis of Content:  

Greater complexity does not necessarily make things better. This is the message of Dan Ward’s book. This is a book about design in its broadest sense. It is about designing gadgets, machines, systems, procedures and even books. It is about elegant design. Getting the most from the least.

Ward argues that there is an optimum balance between complexity and what he calls “goodness” which is an inclusive word meaning convenience, ease of use, elegant design, effectiveness and any number of other adjectives we would use to describe a good design. In its simplest form our effort to attain more goodness in something usually brings about more complexity. We reach a point however, often fairly quickly, when the added complexity reduces the overall goodness of what we are trying to improve.

Ward is an engineer and brings an engineer’s perspective to design. He uses X/Y graphs to illustrate how complexity can defeat goodness. His approach is analytical. He explains how and when greater complexity is necessary to achieve our objective and when it makes things worse.

Though Ward seeks simplicity he does not view it as the end all. He acknowledges that some complexity is needed for some things to work well, that is to be good. His objective is to minimize complexity especially when the added complexity makes the design less good.

He also writes that attaining the best design is a process that involves adding complexity at first, then reducing it through a process of experimentation until the design does the best with the least complexity – otherwise it is the most elegant. This process of adding complexity and then trimming it is the simplicity cycle.

What I found useful about this book:

I love this book. It is about elegant design principles that can be applied to anything we design from a recipe for making brownies to building a fighter jet. As I read the book I could think of hundreds of applications of the simplicity cycle in many of the things I do on a daily basis. Make any process as easy to follow as possible, as convenient as possible and as effective as possible – it is a beautiful idea.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Though written by an engineer the book is very readable for those of us with no design or engineering background. There are no complicated mathematical formulae. The book is well organized and flows well. It is, as we should expect from this author, well designed. It is as simple as it can be and still get the full message across.

Notes on Author:  

Dan Ward is an engineer with three engineering degrees, a consultant and an author. He has worked for the US Air Force where he spent over 20 years researching, developing and testing military equipment.

Other Books by This Author:

F.I.R.E – How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation.

Related Website:   

http://www.thedanward.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Simplicity is not the point, goodness is. Everything we design should have the most goodness with the level of complexity only needed to attain the most goodness.
  2. Elegant design must come from a process of adding, refining and reducing complexity while maintaining and improving the goodness. It is about ultimate goodness.
  3. Creating more elegant designs requires a very specific mindset. One must view difficulty as a signpost that change is needed and possible rather than as unavoidable.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Simplicity Cycle – A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse by Dan Ward
Copyright holder: ©2015 by Dan Ward
Publisher: Harper Collins

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Books on Living Frugally

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day

Last August Trent Hamm, the author of the Simple Dollar blog posted a review of ten books on finance, frugality and life he found worthy. One of those books is Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown. Trent writes: “This is a cookbook that is solely focused on using low-cost staples to prepare meals for your family. The goal of the cookbook is to enable families to prepare a full day’s worth of meals at a cost of $4 per day per person, which is a very reasonable target.

“Brown does this by focusing on staple foods such as rice and beans and pasta, supplementing them with fresh vegetables that are often inexpensive (such as zucchini) and some inexpensive meats used in reasonable amounts”.

You certainly do not have to eat a diet of beans and pasta all day to save money. You can use the many tips in this book to shave off cost here and there and reduce your food budget. If you save money most of the time it is easier to splurge now and then on something fancy or more expensive.

You can get this book for free from the Brown’s website in pdf here. Or for $8 you can order it from Amazon here. Read the rest of Trent’s post here.

Who cannot benefit from saving some money and by eating more frugally you can save money on one of our most expensive living costs. It is worth checking out.

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

The More of Less

Another book that Hamm featured is Joshua Becker’s book, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, is about focusing your life on your own goals and getting rid of everything, including stuff, that does not serve those goals. The book is about meaning – discovering what is truly meaningful to you and focusing your effort on that. It includes getting rid of possessions that do not serve that meaning.

It is about frugality and minimalism. It means jettisoning the stuff and the projects that are not meaningful to you. This can be difficult as we form attachments to stuff and to projects that we never quite finish. Both clutter our living space, our work space and our minds. They interfere with our focus on what really matters. Because of the attachments we form to them however it can be very difficult to let them go.

You may not be successful in getting rid of everything that does not serve you well or is not consistent with what you find meaningful, but the more you can do so the more clearly you will be able to focus on what is important to you.  It is worth the effort to try.

Read Hamm’s article here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

Synopsis of Content: 

This is a story within a story. Although it is written in a religious context it should not be rejected as a religious tract. It is much more than that.  The narrative is a fictitious account of Zacchaeus at the time of Jesus. Zacchaeus is mentioned in the Book of Luke of the New Testament as a tax collector who climbed a tree to glimpse Jesus as he entered Jericho. According to the biblical story Jesus spends the evening having dinner with Zacchaeus and discusses salvation.

In Mandino’s version of the story Zacchaeus is a small crippled man born in poverty and great disadvantage due to his deformities. Despite his being ill-treated and living in poverty as a child he learns to be successful – so successful that he becomes the richest man in Jericho. He is charitable and well-liked by the people, especially the less fortunate he helps. The story is narrated by his good friend and bookkeeper, Joseph. Zacchaeus teaches Joseph and others the secrets to success through example and through lessons. In time he is asked to teach the people these lessons more formally and he has them written on the wall that surrounds the city.

The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, does not like Zacchaeus’ popularity and forces him to become a tax collector or publican because he knows the people hate tax collectors. Zacchaeus does not want this job but has no real choice but to do it, and he does it with fairness and kindness as he does all his work. It is then that he meets the preacher Jesus and experiences a personal transformation.

Mandino was a devout Christian and wanted to present this story in the context of his religious beliefs and especially in the context of this encounter between Zacchaeus and Jesus. Within this story however he conveys the secrets to success that Zacchaeus taught to others. In the end Zacchaeus follows Jesus’ teaching and gives away all his wealth and resigns as tax collector. Yet Mandino never really reconciles the two great lessons of the book: the lessons of financial success that Zacchaeus taught and the ultimate lesson Zacchaeus learns leading him to renounce the wealth and the financial success.

The “ten commandments of success” that Zacchaeus lays out are familiar to anyone who has read about success. They are very similar to the lessons written about in the Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. That book is also a fictitious story set in ancient times.

If you are Christian you may find the story inspirational on a spiritual level. If you are not Christian you will still benefit from the story – it inspires in ways beyond Christian doctrine. It is a short book, just 96 pages in paperback, but well worth reading.

What I found useful about this book:

The classic “commandments” of success are classics. They align with most of the great writing on personal success both before and after this book was published in 1981. For anyone interested in personal success they are very useful.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and easy to follow. It is a story and well written stories are always easy to follow.

Notes on Author:  

Og Mandino flew in a bomber plane during WWII and went on to be a successful salesman, author and lecturer. In fact he became a hugely successful writer and speaker on success and sales.

Other Books by This Author:

Mandino wrote a number of books the most famous being The Greatest Salesman in the World.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Through application of the principles that lead to success even the most disadvantaged person can overcome obstacles and attain success. Those principles include hard work, patience, the need to plan, the need to save in good times for hard times, the power of persistence, the need for action to execute plans, avoid wasting time and mental energy worrying about the past or future, avoid hording possessions, and striving to be yourself.
  2. We need others to succeed and it is therefore critical to treat others fairly and well.
  3. While achieving material success is important one must also pay attention to one’s spiritual needs.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino
Copyright holder: 1981 by Og Mandino
Publisher: Bantam Books

This review was published first on 11.06.15 as the November 2015 Book of the Month

You can buy the book here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Financial Tips for Disabled Persons

CPA Brittany Fisher sent me some websites that provide information which might be helpful for disabled persons. I have not independently verified the reliability of these sites so I suggest if you see information on them you verify the information from other sources. The sites do appear to be legitimate. I always suggest that you not rely on any one source of information for something as important as your finances. However you may find some useful information here, and some of this information is useful for persons who are not disabled.

Money Management for People with Disabilities
https://www.disabilityadvisor.com/money-management-for-people-with-disabilities/

Securing a Home Mortgage Loan with a Disability
https://www.mortgagecalculator.biz/resources/disabilities.php

Earned Income Tax Credit: Know if You Qualify
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/can-you-take-earned-income-tax-credit/

Grants for Home Modification: 16 Resources for Homeowners with Disabilities
http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/grants-for-home-modification/

VA Loan Grants and Waivers for Disabled Veterans
http://www.military.com/money/va-loans/va-loan-grants-and-waivers-for-disabled-veterans.html

A Guide for Disabled Homebuyers
https://www.redfin.com/blog/guide-for-disabled-home-buyers

A Special Needs Trust Provides for Disabled
http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/a-special-needs-trust-provides-for-disabled/

If you have questions of Ms Fisher you can contact her at brittany_fisher@financiallywell.info

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

Synopsis of Content:

Using social media effectively to promote a business, a new book, or anything else you want to promote is an art and a collection of skills. In this book Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick provide some great and insightful tips on how to do just that.

They teach you how to optimize your social media profiles, tips on how to keep adding good content, the importance of frequent posting, the power of curation and more. There is a chapter on how to respond to comments including how not to – that is how not to be negative no matter what commenters say to you.

There are additional chapters on integrating your social media with you blog, how to socialize events and specifics on how to get the most out of Google +, Twitter and Facebook.

The book includes good examples. Both authors are masters at using social media with large followings. They teach the techniques on how to do this. No matter how you put it social media is a lot of work and their tips do not change that but they can save you time.

What I found useful about this book:

In addition to the great tips and examples the book gives detailed explanations on how to do things. You have to have some familiarity with social media to gain the most from this, it is not ideal for beginners, but anyone can benefit.

The book is available in print and electronically. It is full of hyperlinks that take you to a great deal of additional content. To get the most from the book get the electronic version.

Readability/Writing Quality:

The book is very readable. Kawasaki writes in a very informal style that is very easy to follow. It is also well organized.

Notes on Author:

Guy Kawasaki works for a company called Canva, an on line design service. He is a fellow at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked for Apple and Google.

Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and director of digital media at Kreussler Inc. She has led successful social media campaigns for large corporations including Google and Virgin.

Other Books by This Author:

Kawasaki has written 13 books on various subjects.

Related Website:

http://guykawasaki.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Effective use of social media requires a well-designed strategy. It is not a hit or miss game. You have to develop your strategy and follow through with it.
  2. Social media is changing every day. To be most effective with it you have to experiment and keep abreast of the changes.
  3. To be effective in social media you must share good content and be yourself.

Publication Information:

Title and Author:  The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Copyright holder: ©2014 by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Portfolio / Penguin.

Book of the Month: August 2015

Buy the book here:

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

How To Stay Out of Debt Forever

Warren Buffett on Credit Card Debt

Here is a talk by Warren Buffett on how to avoid debt. Buffett is one of the richest men in the world and is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett recommends that you not run up credit card debt because of the high interest rate. If you cannot afford it do not buy it. He gives this advice in the first five minutes of his talk, you need not listen to the whole hour. This single simple bit of advice is invaluable. Every competent financial advisor I’ve met or whose book I’ve read gives this advice.

If you have a sound education plan borrowing for education makes sense. If you want to own your own home in most cases you will need to borrow to buy it. Until you can build up financial reserves you may need to borrow money for your first couple vehicles. Barring some emergency, it is best not to borrow any money after that. By all means avoid credit cards debt unless you can pay it off in a month or two.

The person with savings has a buffer against the unexpected and can build some personal wealth. The person in credit card debt is in a perpetual financial hole they cannot climb out of.

The key to avoiding credit card debt is not to buy what you cannot pay cash for. If you do not have money for it right now you cannot afford it. Follow that rule and it will avoid years of heartache, worry and indebtedness.

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Review By Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Synopsis of Content:

The sub-title to this book describes its contents in one sense, “Underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants”. It may also have been called, “the limited power of the powerful”.

Despite myths like David and Goliath we most often assume that those in power and those with power will prevail over the weaker side in any contest. Gladwell tells us a number of true stories, beginning with David and Goliath that show how and why the more powerful side in a dispute or battle may often not win. He illustrates how the “weaker” party can use their perceived weakness as a strength and prevail. He shows how the abuse of power can be self-defeating.

He shows how a novice coach who knew nothing about basketball led his team to victory over better trained teams. He demonstrates how smaller class sizes in schools do not always provide better education. The theme continues with how attending the most prestigious universities may not be the best choice for students; the power, for some, of disabilities such as dyslexia; and struggles by those in the civil rights movement and during war that defeated a more powerful foe.

From these stories he argues certain principles: that there are disadvantages to advantage; and advantages to disadvantage; that challenge and difficulty can produce strength; that there are inherent limits to power; and that power itself, used in smaller doses can be more effective, but used in larger doses can backfire.

Gladwell also admits there are limits to these theories. At times the more powerful do win, perhaps in the majority of situations. But if the underdog is cunning enough and brave enough and perhaps most importantly persistent enough the underdog can often win over the more powerful foe.

The lessons offered by this book have many applications. For the parent who wants to be effective guiding children, the supervisor or manager who wants to use his authority wisely to direct employees, the government leader who wishes to mobilize support for a proposal or the person fighting the uphill battle against those with greater perceived power there are valuable lessons in this book.

The lessons here are not that the weak always prevail against the strong. In fact the author acknowledges that more often the strong prevail against the weak. His challenge to us is to redefine strong and weak. His point is that though not always, very often what we perceive as weakness can possess strength and what we perceive as strength can be weak and in those situations the weak will prevail over the strong.

What I found useful about this book:
The stories Gladwell tells us provide an engaging read that gives dimension and power to the principles he is conveying. This is not a dry book about politics or power, this is an engaging book about people and how they use, misuse and lose power over others.

Readability/Writing Quality:  
The book is very well written as with all of Gladwell’s work. The story telling makes it read much like a light novel. It is difficult to put down. He does a masterful job of linking one concept and example with another.

Notes on Author:
Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist and author. He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1996.

Other Books by This Author:

What the Dog Saw
The Tipping Point
Blink
Outliers

Related Website:
http://gladwell.com/david-and-goliath/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Our perception of power and weakness can be deceiving. Human interaction is complex and a “weaker” person with sufficient persistence and intelligence can often overcome or outwit a more powerful opponent.
  2. Those in power should never assume they are guaranteed to prevail because of their power. The abuse of power can delegitimize one such that one loses influence – one’s power becomes less effective.
  3. Those fighting abusive power must remember that if the persist and if they exercise flexibility and adaptability against more powerful but usually less flexible opponents they have a significant chance of attaining what they want.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Copyright holder: 2013 by Malcolm Gladwell

Publisher: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

What if You Do Not Have a Passion

The success gurus tell us every day on their blogs, their newsletters and their books that you must have a passion – an overriding complete and overwhelming passion for what you are doing with your life. It may be your job/career/profession/calling. It may be an avocation beyond your job. It may be a devotion to one’s children. Whatever it is it must be what motivates you and what gives you that sense of ultimate satisfaction in life.

You must, they say, have a passion.

I think not. It is wonderful if you do have a passion. It may even be better if you have one. It can also be worse. A passion can be so overwhelming and consuming that it does as much damage as good.

It is true that people often accomplish the impossible because of this all-consuming passion. It can give us a purpose in life that is intoxicating. But not everyone has such a passion. For many, perhaps most, life is about earning a living, paying the bills, making some progress and loving those we care about. For many their job is something they do to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.

On balance I do believe that having a passion or major purpose in life is a good thing. It gives direction. It provides focus. It energizes. Properly used and controlled it can be a very wonderful thing to have. People have accomplished so much out of their passions. Edison’s passion for invention improved the world in a thousand ways. Michael Jordan’s passion for basketball made him one of the best, if not the best player ever. Steve Jobs’ passion created the most unique technology company in the world and changed all our lives with that technology.

Passion or Purpose

It is important however to acknowledge that everyone will not have such a passion. It is unique and does not visit everyone. Many people do just fine in life without such an all-consuming passion. They succeed at their work, they raise their families and they contribute to society in all sorts of positive ways. They find contentment and even happiness without an all-consuming passion and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing inadequate about that.

I suggest that what we all do need is a sense of purpose. Like many buzzwords to day “passion” is over used. Often when the word is used people really mean a purpose. Humans do not do well without a purpose in life. A purpose may also be something we are passionate about. It may evolve into a true passion.

If you do have a passion that is great. It can be very great. But not having one is not a failure. Maybe the more important question is whether you have a sense of purpose in your life. It may be to raise your children well. It may be to be a good spouse. It may be linked to your job, career or profession. Psychological research clearly shows that people are happier, more productive and healthier if they have a sense of purpose.

We are all different and what motivates us is as unique as we are. Pursuing what is important and meaningful to us may be far more important than discovering a passion in life.

A passion is a wonderful gift we can use to achieve much. We can also achieve what we truly want in life without one. We can be happy and lead a rewarding life with a sense of purpose whether or not there is a passion.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Book Review

Review By Dr Carmen Lynne

By: Ramit Sethi (2010); ISBN 978-0-7611-4748-0; Book Price: $15.95

In this book, you can find out how to start with any amount of money and become wealthy.

Be Rich

Ramit Sethi is the founder and writer of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, which hosts over 250,000 readers every month. He is a recent graduate of Stanford University and a co-founder of PBwiki, an online collaboration company. He is a New York Times Bestselling author featured on ABC News, CNN, and Wall Street Journal, etc.

Learning to be rich

Ramit Sethi presents 9 chapters to help readers to learn to be rich. He shares on optimizing credit cards (Ch. 1), beating the banks (Ch. 2), investing (Ch. 3), conscious spending (Ch. 4), saving while you sleep (Ch. 5), the myth of financial expertise (Ch. 6), picking a portfolio that will make you rich (Ch. 7), optimizing finances (Ch. 8), and more.

Enjoy learning how money works

Ramit Sethi has a fresh style aimed at resourcing readers to enjoy the process of becoming rich. He says, “Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. This book isn’t about telling you to stop buying lattes. Instead, it’s about being able to actually spend more on the things you love… ”

Ramit employs points to deliver concise keys. Discussing credit cards and winning over debt, he shares, “The Six Commandments of Credit Cards… 1. Pay off your credit card regularly… 2. Get all fees waived on your card… 3. Negotiate a lower APR (annual percentage rate)… 4. Keep your cards for a long time and keep them active… ”

The teaching that Ramit presents is punctuated with helpful hints as, “Online savings accounts let you earn dramatically more interest with lower hassle.” These hints add value to readers and keep interest high!

Potent headings as, “Investing is the single most effective way to get rich” will inspire interest and engage readers.

Sethi works hard to correct false concepts, as in frugal V’s cheap. He suggests, “… we confused frugality with cheapness… Frugality isn’t about cutting your spending on everything… It’s about making your own decisions…”

The attraction of Ramit Sethi’s teaching is his intermittent focus on benefits. He relays, “Unlike other people, who worry about money (because they never learned how it works), you get to focus on the things you love.”

Get rich results

Ramit Sethi skillfully instructs readers to get rich results while maintaining an engaging presentation of ideas. For quick wealth building ideas: http://66.147.244.54/~ryanitin/jcs/page.php?28

Success Step: Describe a simple map for becoming rich (e.g. work,

innovate, save, invest… ); Follow your map!

Article Source: I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Book Review

Book of the Month for March 2015

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com