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.

Personal Finance: Sound Money Habits To Start Now

“I just got my tax refund, it’s time to go on a vacation!” I can’t tell you how many times I heard this growing up and now see daily on social media. I recognized early in life that the way I managed money was very different than most people I knew. It has always puzzled me because I never quite understood how people could spend money without ever giving a second thought to saving or retirement. Following are some basic habits you can start now to help secure your financial security in the future:

1. Saving for retirement as early as possible is the most beneficial thing you can do. Even if it is just $50 per month, which is the minimum for most plans, you could be setting yourself up with thousands upon thousands of dollars at retirement. The earlier the better. For example, a 25 year-old who saves $200 a month until age 65 and earns exactly 6% on saved funds annually would have accumulated around $400,000. But a 40 year old contributing the same amount each month at the same earnings rate would have accumulated only $139,600 by age 65.

2. Never carry a balance on a credit card with an interest rate. This is one of the fastest ways to build an amount of debt that could burden you for the rest of your life. When you do need to use credit and you’re unable to pay in full each month, seek out a 0% interest card. Many promotions are from six moths up to a year or more. If used responsibly, they are essentially a free loan. Just be certain to pay their entire balance before then end of the term or you’ll end up with retroactive interest that could add hundreds of dollars (if not more) to your obligation.

3. Instead of buying a new car or a lease, try to save up and buy a good used car for cash. What you save between interest, depreciation, taxes, plates and insurance will save you thousands. According to Edmunds.com, buying a car that is two years old is your best bet because you avoid the biggest depreciation drop. Owning it for three years and then selling will also benefit you because you see another large drop after year five due to long-term maintenance that is generally required at that point. If you cannot afford a two-year old car without having to borrow, then getting one a little older with the long term maintenance repairs done (and low miles if possible) is your best bet.

4. Avoid eating out if you can. The average American eats out 4-5 times per week spending on average $232 per month or about $2,700 per year. If you skipped eating out for two years you would have actually saved enough to buy a good used car like point three above.

5. The last thing, and arguably the most important, is thinking long-term. The worst way to justify spending is doing so on an individual basis versus the monthly or yearly aggregate. Take eating out for example: while it might only cost you $10 a meal, don’t fail to consider that if you did this three times per week for a year, you would have spent more than $1,400. This same logic can be applied to virtually anything-clothes, vacations, furniture, coffee, expedited shipping etc. Anytime you’re about to spend money think to yourself, okay, how much will this end up costing me each year.

Money Secrets Of The Amish by Lorilee Craker, Personal Finance Book Review – Buying Bulk and Foodies

Challenging economic times inspire people universally to make wise financial decisions while still enjoying life. One culture that has always lived an austere, yet meaningful existence is the Amish. Increasingly, people are inspired by their lifestyle; and seek ways to simplify their own lives.

Lorilee Craker is the author of the new book, “Money Secrets of the Amish-Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving.” She examines their practices, extravagant in peace, family and community closeness. For them, thrift is a muscle that is exercised regularly.

Craker interviewed Amish folk in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, including an Amish banker whose clientele is 95 percent Amish. During the Great Recession in 2008, his bank had its best year ever. Amish experts and Englishers’ (Amish reference to anyone non-Amish), financial perspectives accentuate the book too. Here, two money-saving habits of the Amish are highlighted: buying in bulk and being authentic foodies.

Amish Foodies (aka Feinschmeckers). Feinschmeckers are Amish foodies-people who eat well and plenty. The Amish love to stick to cheap ingredients, easily accessible in their gardens, root cellars or barns.

Gardening. Gardening is frugal and the epitome of wholesomeness. It’s cheaper to buy seeds than it is to purchase vegetables. Gardening can be fun, allowing for time in the sunshine. Its biggest challenge is its time-consuming nature.

Canning. Canning is once again hip in these tough economic times (The inaugural National Can-It-Forward Day was celebrated Saturday, August 13, 2011).

Farm To Table. Buy directly from the farmer and you’ll save considerably. Beef and milk from grass-fed livestock, and eggs from land-grazing chickens taste better than their mass-produced counterparts. They’re also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. Meat is less fatty than confined cows that eat soybean and corn instead of grass. Farm-to-table businesses promote a slower, kinder, gentler type of food consumption with a shortened food chain.

Community Supported Agriculture. A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. The shares typically consist of a box (or basket) of vegetables, but may include other farm products too. As a consumer, you purchase a share (aka a “membership” or “subscription”). Each week in return, you receive a box of seasonal produce.

Farmers Markets. Farmers markets are commonplace today. They unite country folk who produce healthy foods in an earth-friendly way and townspeople who pay a little more. When patronizing your local farmers market, keep these tips in mind:

  • Learn what’s produced regionally and ask growers about future market offerings. Buy in season.
  • Arrive early and reap the market’s best selections.
  • Arrive later in the day and benefit from lowered prices, in exchange for farmers not lugging their wares back home.
  • Be adventurous-buy ethnic, heirloom or rare vegetables. Google recipes.
  • Pre-plan meals and purchase accordingly at the market.
  • Bring durable canvas bags or backpacks for transport and small change to expedite transactions.

Buying In Bulk. The Amish buy in bulk monthly at dry good stores or damaged goods outlets (damaged or expired dated products are still perfectly good). They also frequent wholesale clubs, as not having a car demands planning ahead.

A big incentive for the Amish to purchase in quantity is their bulk-sized families. You may have a small brood to buy for. If so, decide whether the $40 or $50 annual wholesale club membership fee is worth paying. You might find it’s cheaper to continue shopping at your neighborhood grocer instead.

Craker notes your bulk savings will depend on the item, as some are better buys than others. Bad bulk purchases can include:

  • Brown rice. Its short shelf life affects its oil content.
  • Liquid soap. Left unused, it can turn into clotted jelly.
  • Paper towels and toilet paper. What’s cost cheap can weigh you down in other ways like storage, if it’s an issue.
  • Good bulk purchases can include:
  • Canned soup
  • Cereal
  • Diapers
  • Dog/Cat food
  • Tuna

Unit Price. Base your purchase on the unit price-the small number listed on the shelf sticker right below the item, which is more indicative of its value. This applies at wholesale clubs and grocery stores.

Breaking bread with family and friends transcends culture and cuisine. To authenticate, economize and enhance your mealtimes, consider adopting some practices of the Amish. This includes buying in bulk when it’s economically feasible, and eliminating the middleman and purchasing directly from the farmer.