Book Review – Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money by Rabbi Lapin

Most financial books are written by businessman and other people who either have educational or street credentials. Personally, I would rather read and learn from someone who has street credentials. These are the people who have applied their philosophies to succeed in their personal finances. The book, “Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments For Making Money”, was written by a Rabbi. Not just any Rabbi, but a Rabbi who has a successful business. He practices what he preaches.

This is one of the best books on personal finances I have read. Its practical lessons incorporates Jewish teachings and current topics to reinforce his lessons (or commandments) on making money. His perspective on using the Jewish faith to discuss about money is intriguing and effective. Unfortunately, in our present culture, money is looked upon negatively. Even though people pursue it everyday (by going to work or business), it is generally accepted to just have enough (e.g. scarcity) rather than a lot (e.g. prosperity).

The first commandment and principle is to believe in the dignity and morality of business. There is true dignity and morality when you do your business dealings properly and ethically. Most of the time you will hear from our media about the negative aspects and effects of business. You will hear about the fund manager who swindled his clients billions of dollars.

You will hear about the banker who cheated customers on millions of dollars. You will hear about a retail store overcharging (and under delivering) to their customers. It would seem that these are common and generally accepted business practices. This could not be further from the truth. As Rabbi Lapin demonstrates in his book, there is more dignity and morality displayed in a prospering business than an “efficient” government program.

There are nine more lessons or commandments that are helpful to become a prosperous person. These include about being generous with your charity, extend your network, know thyself (Socrates would love this lesson), know your money, and never retire (very important to practice). Most people are trained to work for several decades then retire. Retirement is a state of mind. When you are working and being productive, you will be prosperous. Just like exercise and proper diet, you want to continue to work and become prosperous. This will give you longevity in your life. Also, it will give you a quality style of life and life style.

This is an important book to read on your personal finances.

Suze Orman – 9 Steps To Financial Freedom Review

In this article we are going to learn about Suze Orman’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. I will be explaining each step in full detail and then giving you my opinion on how the step is/isn’t applicable to personal finances and benefiting you. 9 Steps to Financial Freedom is a book that Suze Orman wrote in 1997. It is now over 10 years old but has stood the test of time and is still liked by many today.

Suze Orman’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom:

Step 1 – Seeing how your past holds the key to your financial future

In Orman’s 1st step of her book she talks about how most people have some past memory that effects the way they perceive money and finances. In this chapter she helps you to realize that past memory and move on from it so that you can start new with your personal finances.

This steps to be a bit off and useless for most people. There are some people who have bad memories regarding money but in general most people are just to lazy and undisciplined. For most people it is an issue of motivation and not an issue of a bad experience. This step could be helpful to some people to get them started but it not broad enough to be applicable to a lot of people.

2 – Facing your fears and creating new truths

Here Orman makes a connection with the first step in the book. Orman has her readers look at their past memories and see how they cause them to act toward money in their current life. Orman suggests writing out a list of your money related fears and then realizing how to overcome these.

Again, I find this step to be more of a mental exercise for those that need it but not to be widely applicable to all people. The first two steps in her book seem to be more related to a traditional self-help type book and not a personal finances or financial planning book.

Step 3 – Being honest with yourself

In the third step of Suze’s book she goes into detail about budgeting. Suze suggests getting all of your past records and realizing where you money has gone over the past 2 years. The plan is to use previous records to determine your budgeting plan for the future.

This step is extremely good and something we should all consider. Setting up a budget to track our income in the most basic and important step in starting on a quest for financial freedom. The only issue here is having 2 years of old records. If you do not have 2 years go with whatever you have to make estimates for the future.

Step 4 – Being responsible to those you love

In step 4 Suze talks about setting up your money so that it can help your loved ones if you were to pass away. The basic setup of this step tells you all about insurance, estate planning, trusts, and wills.

I find this step to be very important but it seems to be out of place. I think that before you can begin to plan for others once you are gone you need to get your own personal finances in order. If you do not get your own finances in order you won’t have anything to leave to your heirs and it will be useless. Steps 4 & 5 should be switched.

Step 5 – Being respectful of yourself and your money

Here Orman focuses on helping her readers sort through and organize their own finances. This chapter includes information on putting money towards retirement, eliminating debt, and many other things. Orman writes how taking control of your finances can make you feel a whole lot better about yourself.

This is another one of Orman’s best steps out of the whole book. This is the most important step in achieving financial freedom. Without the proper savings, debt elimination, and future financial planning people cannot even start to think about financial peace.

Step 6 – Trusting yourself more than you trust others

This step talks about how people should trust themselves over others when making financial and investing decisions. It says that people should always go with their gut-feelings too.

I find this step to be completely inaccurate. People should always seek out the proper advice about financial planning from experts and have all moves planned out rather than going with a gut-feeling at any moment. I think that all people should have a personal financial advisor to help them with their finance and investing decisions. It is important to note that a financial advisor is only an advisor and all final decisions should come from you.

Step 7 – Being open to receive all that you are meant to have

In this step Orman goes into detail about money not bringing happiness but the opposite being true. It also goes into detail about the joys of donating to charities.

Here Orman contradicts many statements from the earlier in her book. In earlier parts of her book she continually talks about happiness and feeling better about ones self but then says the opposite here. She says that you get happy first and then you achieve financial freedom. What does that even mean? The two are completely independent of each other in both ways.

Step 8 – Understanding the ebb and flow of the money cycle

Here Orman writes about how sometimes all the tough and bad times in our lives teach us really good lessons for our futures. She talks about how to make the most from our past failures to see success in the future.

I think that Orman hits the nail on the head with the accuracy of her statements but again, what does this have to do with the nuts and bolts of financial planning?

Step 9 – Recognizing true wealth

In the last step of Orman’s book she writes about how the real value in life does not come from money and wealth.

Again, I feel this section contradicts some of what Suze says throughout the book but I also think that it is very true.

Overall, Suze’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom is an excellent book for people who want to learn about the psychology of money and want to change their mindset about it. It is more of a self-help book for these people.

Her books give very little true financial advising plans and there is not much mechanical substance to it. I would not suggest this book for people looking for the nuts and bolts about personal finance advising. For these people I would suggest something by a different financial advising expert.

Book Review – Financial Peace Revisited

Dave Ramsey’s last major book, “The Total Money Makeover”, has been a best seller for several years. It is his best book today. Also, it is one of the best book on personal finance out there. Prior to that book, the book, “Financial Peace”, was created as a self-published book. Then, it became a best seller and has been revised and revisited.

There is something soothing and calming about the title,”Financial Peace”. Everyone has a financial life- whether good or bad. Everyone (whether they care to admit) wants to have peace in their financial life. As mentioned on a constant basis by Dave Ramsey, personal finance is more personal than finance. There are a lot of emotions (and some logic) conjured up when you discuss personal finance.

It seems that most people handle their personal finance the same way they handle everything else in their life. There is a lot of complications, confusions, even negligence, indifference, good intentions, and other emotions and mixed feelings.

This book addresses many of those issues especially how money affects our relationships (and how our relationships affect our handling of money). The principles may seem simplistic such as KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)- but they are crucial in order to succeed in your personal finances. The principle of simplicity (or KISS) is primarily an issue of dealing with cash and not credit. When we live on a cash basis, then we do not have to worry about interest rates, finance charges, fees, etc. We have simplified our lives to the better. As Dave Ramsey would say, we do not have to worship at the altar of the almighty FICO score. This is also applicable to co-signing loans. When we co-sign a loan, we pretty much are taking over the burden of paying someone else’s debt. By keeping our personal finances simple, we are respecting the other person as much as ourselves.

Another key principle the book discusses is the power of contentment. Contentment empowers us to restrain from spending on things or stuff that we do not need or even care about. Being contented would allow you to have less stuff that you do not need but have more cash. The book discusses this principle extensively and vividly in order to allow you to succeed in your personal finance.

Also, money affects our relationships. It is critical and crucial to not borrow from anyone or anything especially (and most especially) from friends or family members. The close the relationship; the more crucial it is to not borrow from that person. Owing someone money changes all the dynamics of that relationship.

This is a good book to read on personal finances. When you apply the principles, you will attain that elusive financial peace.