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Enjoy Your Money! Book Summary

Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It, by J. Steve Miller.

A well-researched and documented guide to personal finance, written in an entertaining story form. Praised by CPA's, financial counselors, professors and many who otherwise hate money books. Its readability and intense practicality make it a great employee gift or graduation gift. And it covers so much territory, that it's a great book to introduce readers to the essentials of managing money, while motivating them to become lifelong learners. 

The story: Four culturally diverse high school seniors meet in "In School Suspension," soon discovering that they have one thing in common: their parents suck at personal finances and it's hurting their families. Longing to do better than their parents, they meet with an eccentric teacher each Saturday morning as "The Counterculture Club." They learn the secrets to financial freedom by reflecting on the lives of fascinating people, such as billionaire Warren Buffett, clothes-washer Oseola McCartey,  Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and pro football coach Joe Gibbs.  


Breakfasts 1 and 2: Learn the Basics 


In these difficult economic times, we hear great financiers preaching a return to the basics - like blocking and tackling in football. The students look at the lives of Oseola McCartey and Warren Buffett to isolate these basics, which can be easily remembered on your hand:


Catch a vision! (Thumbs up) Most aim at nothing...and hit it every time. Warren Buffett (the  wealthiest man in America) caught his financial vision in elementary school and never let it go. A long-range goal transforms accumulating wealth into a fun game.

Work hard! (Finger pointing at you like a foreman) Most millionaires say they work harder than most people. Buffett and Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) began early with paper routes and odd jobs. 

Get Wisdom! (Central Finger) This includes sharpening your skills and growing in knowledge. If you're the most skilled in your trade, you'll likely be the best paid and least likely to be fired during a recession. Buffett read over 100 business books by his high school graduation. Benjamin Franklin learned a skill - printing - early in life, allowing him to retire in his early 40's and dedicate his life to changing his world.  

Commit Yourself to Live Wayyy Beneath Your Means! (Ring Finger) Many millionaires work the same jobs that average people work, but have learned to live cheaply so they can save and invest.  

Invest Regularly! (Pinky) It may be small, but investing $20 a week starting early in life can multiply to millions.

Help Others! (Lend a Hand) The fun of having money goes beyond having more things. Money allows us to help others in need and make a difference in the world. Buffett always planned on giving it all away. Many studies show that giving people are happier people. 

Breakfasts 3-5: Diversify Your Investments with Stocks, Bonds and Real Estate

There are many landmines in the path to successful investing, and fictional character Hash Brown stumbled into most of them, losing money at every turn. He lost money by:

  • Putting all his money into long-term investments before establishing an emergency fund. 

  • Short-term trading.

  • Trying to beat the market by picking the hottest stocks and funds.

The school of hard knocks helped him to discover the often counterintuitive wisdom of smart investors, such as:

  • "The dumbest reason in the world to buy a stock is because it's going up." - Warren Buffett

  • "Your chances of selecting the top-performing funds of the future on the basis of their returns in the past are about as high as the odds that Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman will both show up in pink ballet slippers at your next cocktail party." - Jason Zweig

So how should you invest?

1. Save four months of salary in an emergency fund. A money market fund gives you access to the money while keeping it relatively safe.

2. Start investing early for the long-term in a total stock market index fund with a reputable mutual fund company that offers low costs. Do it through your workplace if they offer to match your investments in a sensible program. If your company doesn't offer a good plan, start an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to grow your money tax free. Contribute regularly, rather than trying to time the market.

3. Diversify internationally, since we don't know which countries will prosper in the future.

4. Diversify with bonds. Since we can't know for certain whether stocks will beat bonds, even over longer periods of time (the past isn't prologue), don't put everything in stocks. A good rule of thumb is to let your percentage of bonds be equal to your age. Buffett's mentor, Benjamin Graham, recommended a 50/50 split.

5. Diversify with real estate, starting with your own home, within a price range you can afford. 


Breakfasts 7-10: Live Wayyy Beneath Your Means


So where do you find all that money to invest? You can either earn more or save more. The benefit to saving is that "a dollar saved = two dollars earned," once you factor in that savings aren't taxed. After a lifetime of financial study and writing, teaching and counseling on finances, Ron Blue summed up the most important concept in the road to financial freedom in one, brilliant sentence:


"Spend less than you earn, and do it for a long time."


Here are some ways to save...


  • Write down all your expenses for a couple of months.

  • Find creative ways to cut back.

  • Learn practical ways to save on clothes, food, cars, houses, and every area of expense.


Breakfast 11: Don't Lose Money


Buffett once gave two rules of investing:


"Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1"


Miller lists "Ten Popular Ways to Lose Loads of Money," illustrating them with people like Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, and Led Zeppelin. Tips to losing money include abusing drugs and alcohol, not taking debt seriously, abusing credit cards, avoiding wise counsel, listening to the wrong counsel, gambling and marrying a materialist.


Breakfasts 12-14: Make Money Through Finding Great Jobs, Excelling at Your Jobs, and Investing in Your Mind


Counterintuitives include:

  • Don't let your poor GPA slow you down. The average millionaire had a "C" average.

  • Concentrate on sharpening your strengths and passions rather than focusing on your weakness. Most millionaires love their jobs, although their jobs cover a wide spectrum of vocations. There are not just a few great jobs that only the smartest and most talented can get.

  • You are often more likely to find jobs by going to places that fit your passions and strengths, even if they aren't hiring. You can position yourself as first in line when a position opens, perhaps getting hired before they advertise an open position. If they don't have an opening, volunteer to work free of charge for a time.

  • There are many ways to learn, and Sam Walton used them all in building Wal-Mart. Paul Orfalea was ADD and Dyslexic, never learning to read well. Yet, he built Kinkos from nothing to a thriving chain by observing, constantly learning from others, and depending on others to round out his weaknesses. Learn from your competition; get candid input from everyone around you, whether or not you consider them "smart" or "important." Everyone is you intellectual superior in some way. NEVER STOP LEARNING!

Breakfast 15: Look for Happiness in the Right Places


You can be rich and miserable. Sure, climbing out of poverty leads to greater levels of happiness. But Psychologists have found that after we've met our basic needs, just adding $10,000 or more to our salary doesn't do much for our happiness. So what does bring happiness?

Miller uses the acrostic HAPPIER.


Help Others (Bringing happiness to others makes us happy.)

Attitude Check (Count your blessings and be grateful.)

Pursue Quality Relationships (With family and friends)

Pardon Those Who Wrong You (Don't hold grudges.)

Immerse Yourself in Something (Work and/or play)

Envy Not (Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.)

Religion Can Help (Extensive studies find deeply religious people experiencing greater levels of happiness.)


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Enjoy Your Money! Book Summary