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Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It

Book for learning and teaching personal money management

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Author Bio | Interview | Book Outline | Blurbs | Sample Chapters | How to Order 


Author Bio

J. Steve Miller - educator, investor, entrepreneur, and speaker - has taught audiences from Atlanta to Moscow. He’s known for drawing practical wisdom from serious  research and communicating it in accessible, unforgettable ways.


Steve is the founder and president of Legacy Educational Resources, providing global resources for teachers of life skills in public schools and service organizations at www.character-education.info. A self-styled "wisdom broker," Steve collects wisdom from many fields and packages it for teachers and writers via his published books and the Web. His wife, Cherie, and their seven sons continually remind him what works and what doesn’t. Connect with him at www.jstevemiller.com.


(See television interview with Steve here.)



Enjoy Your MoneyQ: Steve, what motivated you to write this book?

A: First, people are hurting with their finances. According to recent surveys:

  1. Twenty-five percent of American adults live paycheck to paycheck. They fear going under and desperately need to accumulate wealth.
  2. Ninety-eight percent of middle-aged people reported regret at how they spent their money in the light of how much they could have saved.
  3. Today's college students graduate with, on average, over $22,000 in debt. Their first job out of college doesn't pay what they expected. They want to get out of debt and accumulate enough wealth to purchase a house.
  4. Personal debt is reaching record highs as personal savings reach all time lows (under zero percent average savings in 2006). How will people ever get ahead?

B. Second, to get more personal, Cherie and I are raising seven boys, from 14-year-old twins to a 27-year-old. I don't want them to live their lives experiencing the misery of financial bondage. This book sums up what we're trying to teach them about finding financial freedom.



Q: Bookstores offer shelves of books on personal money management. Why write another one?

A: Some of those books are really good. I read wheelbarrows' full of them in my research and recommend many of them throughout my book and Web-based resources (www.enjoyyourmoney.org). But I thought a different approach was in order, something that could help people totally rethink the way our culture has taught them to manage their money. So I wrote a book with these distinctives:

  1. Well researched and documented, ensuring that the advice is solid.
  2. Story form to grab and hold attention
  3. Multi-Cultural (Afro-American, Hispanic, Oriental, White Anglo-Saxon)
  4. Multi-Generational, including characters from eighteen to eighty
  5. Defies stereotypes
  6. Likeable characters
  7. Neither talks down to students nor ridicules teachers
  8. Encourages learning from one another and multiple sources
  9. Includes building knowledge, skills and character
  10. Fosters giving as well as getting
  11. Encourages those with learning disabilities
  12. Includes reviews, thought questions and assignments
  13. Practical
  14. Realistic
  15. Broad use of real people stories

Q: The story line reminds me of the movie The Breakfast Club, where high school students from different parts of the school culture broke through the stereotypes to find that they weren't so different after all.
A: Great observation! That movie was a part of my inspiration. So I've got this white cheerleader, an Afro-American muscle car enthusiast, a Hispanic do-gooder and an Asian low achiever. They meet at "In School Suspension" and discover that they've got at least one thing in common: their parents stink at personal finances and it hurts their families. They desperately want to do better, but they first must overcome their demons.


Four Students
Amy, Antonio, Akashi and James


Akashi suffers from undiagnosed disabilities, making her the black sheep of her high achieving siblings. Can a "C" student get any better than a "C" vocation and a "C" life? Antonio loves outdoor adventures and serving the less fortunate. But can he make enough of a living to support a family while working in a potentially low-paying career? James wants to make a million dollars before age 40, but no matter how much he works, he can't seem to save a cent.


They're introduced to Mrs. Kramer, an eccentric teacher who's unusually successful with her finances. She meets with them each Saturday morning for breakfast to discuss money management.


The resulting package includes adventure, romance and fascinating people - everything you'd never expect in a financial book.



Q: Is this book is more about people than numbers?
A: Yes! And not only about my fictional characters, but about real people who've succeeded marvelously with their money. Kramer introduces them to Oseola McCarty, who washed clothes for a living the old fashioned way - boiling them in a kettle over a fire. After arthritis forced her into retirement, she shocked the world by giving a $150,000 gift to a college to allow deserving students to get the education she never had. How did she save $280,000 dollars while working such a low-paying job?


Young Warren Buffett started making money with lemonade stands, finding and selling golf balls, and running paper routes. With jobs that anybody could do, he ended up making more than his teachers while he was in high school. Then he multiplied that money into billions. What were his secrets?


The answers aren't hard to comprehend; they're just counterintuitive - not what you'd expect. The book introduces the reader to a host of interesting people and their finances, from Thomas Jefferson to Mark Twain to Sam Walton.

I think that principles of finances are more easily understood and applied when you learn them in the context of people stories.



Q: With the story line, I assume your target audience is high school seniors?

A: My characters range from 18 to 80 years old. Warren Buffett started investing at age 11. My grandmother started saving and investing at age sixty-five. At age 101, with her sharp mind intact, she's accumulated a small fortune. If the interest is there, I think that any age would enjoy it and reap the benefit.



Q: You've been handing out advance copies to get input. What has been the response?
A: I'll just read off some of the advance comments, letting them speak for themselves:

  1. Robert Martin, Lecturer of Accounting in the prestigious Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University called it: "A fast, fun read with practical and often remarkable insights. Should be required reading for every high school senior and every young adult who has landed his or her first full-time job. I'm incorporating parts of the book into my lectures."
  2. Dr. Dwight "Ike" Reighard, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer of HomeBanc said, "Had I read this book in my 20’s, I’d be financially independent today. It’s a remarkable blend of fabulous research with clear and lively writing. You’d pay an expert quite a sum for this caliber of counsel. That’s why I say that the best investment you make this year just might be this book. Your second best investment will be the copies you buy for your children."
  3. Larry Winter, of Winter & Scoggins, CPA's, said: "As a practicing CPA and financial counselor for the past 35 years, I've read scores of books and periodicals on personal finance. Just when you think you've heard it all, something like this comes along. It's rare and refreshing to find a book so enjoyable, so accurate, and so life changing. I’m purchasing 200 copies to give away to graduating seniors."

(See bottom of this page for more testimonials.)



Q: In the book, you keep referring readers to your Web site for more information. Why didn't you just include everything in the book?
A: Because few people would buy a 1000 page book that's about finances instead of Harry Potter! Even fewer would actually read it once they brought it home. Personal finance is a very broad subject. My copy of Benjamin Graham's classic, The Intelligent Investor, is over 600 pages, and it just covers one slice of personal finances: investing in stocks. The Web gives me unlimited space to cover topics that readers want to cover in more depth. I think many will especially find helpful the in depth summaries of other books related to personal finance. If you want to get a snapshot of the advice of several financial writers, or to get the scoop on a book before you buy it, I think you'll find my summaries valuable.



Q: How much do the Web resources cost?
A: They're free. You can find them at www.enjoyyourmoney.org.



Q: Do you have some sample chapters of your book that people can read?
A: They can find them in the money section of the character site.  



Book Outline

Introduction: Part One – Investing Money

  1. Breakfast 1 – Discover the Basics
    Oseola McCarty cleaned clothes for a living the old fashioned way - boiling them in a pot over a fire. So how did she accumulate over a quarter of a million dollars, when people making multiples of her salary can't seem to get by?
  2. Breakfast 2 – Catch the Vision
    Young Warren Buffet worked paper routes and found and sold golf balls - stuff that anybody can do. But through saving and investing, he out-earned his teachers while he was in high school. How did investing multiply that money into billions?
  3. Breakfast 3 – Don’t Lose Money in Stocks
    "Hash Brown" made all of the mistakes that most investors make, losing tons of money trying to beat the market. He shares his hard-earned lessons with wisdom from Warren Buffett, his mentor Benjamin Graham, and Money senior editor Jason Zweig, leading readers safely through the investing minefield.
  4. Breakfast 4 – Make Money in Mutual Funds
    Here's how to choose stock and bond funds for the ultimate in diversity, safety and healthy returns.
  5. Breakfast 5 Diversify with Real Estate.
    Travis is a likeable "Dukes of Hazard" type who prefers muscle cars over golf and real estate over stocks. At twenty-eight years of age, his cars and comfortable home in the country are totally paid off. How did he do it?
  6. Breakfast 6 – The Breakfast that Almost Wasn’t
    A kidnapping, a car chase and a life lesson.

Part Two – Saving Money

  1. Breakfast 7 – Live WAY Beneath Your Means
    "Watch your expenses more than your revenue." So says the successful CEO of Wherehouse Music. Since a dollar saved can equal two dollars earned (hint: savings aren't taxed), cutting costs is the most underrated trick to building wealth.
  2. Breakfast 8 – Save on Food and Clothes
    Carmen, a spunky young mother, leads a whirlwind field trip through a grocery store, finding huge savings with "loss leaders," generic drugs, bulk buying and "store blitzes."
  3. Breakfast 9 – Save on Cars
    Kramer asks a hairy, audacious question: "Is it possible to spend almost nothing over a lifetime on purchasing cars?" James's answer tells a lot about how to save a bundle on reliable transportation.
  4. Breakfast 10 – Save on Houses
    Bob and Bud live in identical houses in the same neighborhood. Why is one paying half what the other is paying?
  5. Breakfast 11 –Ten Popular Ways to Lose Lots of Money
    Thomas Jefferson was brilliant and famous, but spent his last years fretting over his huge debt. Mark Twain and coach Joe Gibbs lost fortunes in bad investments. How can we avoid their mistakes?

Part Three – Making Money

  1. Breakfast 12 – Find Jobs You Love
    Researchers Stanley and Danko discovered that millionaires made their money at vocations they loved. How can we find jobs we're passionate about?
  2. Breakfast 13 – Excel at Your Job
    It's more than college degrees and developing skills.
  3. Breakfast 14 – Invest in your Mind
    "In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." (Al Rogers, Global SCHOOLHOUSE Network)

Part Four: Enjoying Money

Breakfast 15 – Look for Happiness in the Right Places

People want to be financially successful because they think it will contribute to their happiness. What makes people happy? How should scientific studies of human happiness impact the way we use our money?


Epilogue: Where Are They Now?

Discover what happened to the main characters later in life.


Web-Based Complementary Resources




More Testimonies

  1. "Teachers of financial management and life skills will be thrilled to discover this book! Miller uses people stories to breathe life into financial concepts, making lessons both memorable and enjoyable. As an educator, I was impressed that the book:
    1. goes beyond “the same old stuff” that students hate;
    2. expands minds with research-based facts;
    3. engages minds with intriguing angles and creative assignments;
    4. challenges students beyond selfish accumulation to consider service to humanity;
    5. includes multiple cultures;
    6. offers hope to those with learning disabilities.
    "Having developed character education in several schools, I see the importance of integrating character into the curriculum. This book succeeds marvelously! Qualities such as diligence, intellectual curiosity, patience, integrity, service and thrift are woven seamlessly into the fabric of the book, so that readers are motivated to adopt these qualities in order to succeed with their finances." (Phillip Page, Ph.D., Public School Principal)
  2. "By far the most valuable book on finances I've ever read." (Callie C. Brown, author of The Complete Guide to Investing in Gold and Precious Metals)
  3. "Financial responsibility has reached a state of crisis. This book attacks the problem in a common sense, refreshing manner that anyone can understand and apply to real life. It should be required reading for all young people, before they find themselves broke, deeply in debt and miserable." (William C. Lusk, Jr., Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Retired, Shaw Industries, a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest manufacturer of carpet.)
  4. "A very entertaining, engaging book! The characters are appealing and aid the reader in interacting with the principles taught. All ages will enjoy it and benefit. Meticulously researched and documented. Chock full of financial and lifestyle wisdom. I’ll keep plenty of copies in my office to hand out to clients." (Dr. Ken Walker, Psychologist with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and Director of Dalton Counseling Service.)
  5. "A comprehensive look at managing your money. For me, the genius of this book is that it gathers wisdom from top financial gurus and uses it to explain clearly and practically how average folks can apply it to everyday living." (Alan Buckler - Allstate Insurance)
  6. "I loved the story and the characters! Read this book and you'll get the practical tools and wisdom to chart your own course toward financial freedom." (Jamie Maddox, former Senior Business Analyst, The Coca Cola Company, present Pastor of Stewardship, NorthStar Church)
  7. "For me, the section on savings was worth the price of the book, detailing scores of hidden ways to save a fortune over a lifetime. Then, unlike many books, it goes beyond 'having more' to 'doing more with what you have." (Bryan McIntosh, Ph.D., Dalyn Corporation)
  8. "I really liked the format! The dramatic layout used a totally different part of my brain when I read it...it's like watching a movie or reading a novel. The story line kept my interest so that I got through it quickly. The content was very inspiring. "Living differently" and "starting a financial counterculture" hits home to me. And it was SO PRACTICAL! I think it will also appeal to most of my generation and the one coming up behind me." (Anthony Daniel, age 28, Chemist, Tiarco Chemical)
  9. "Clever! The movie script format pulled me into the story and endeared me to the characters. Before I knew it, I found myself thinking about money strategies that I'd have never learned from traditional finance books. Teaching finance through people stories works for me. Rather than staring at obscure charts, I just followed the lives of successful people. Finally! A readable book on personal finance for people who don't want to read a book on personal finance...which of course is me and just about everybody else!" (Mark Hannah, Film Producer)

How to Order

Order on Amazon.com or through your favorite bookstore. For orders in bulk or for resale, contact Wisdom Creek Press.