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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2009
I don't usually read books about money, since I find the subject boring and the advice usually doesn't work or fit my philosophy of life. I was attracted to this book by its exceptionally good reviews (and because the author sent me a free copy). I can honestly say it is the best information and advice I have ever seen in a book about money. It was written exactly for people like me, who don't make money the purpose of living but who don't want to die poor either.

Miller clearly had young people in mind when he wrote this book but, even though I am in my 60s, I still found it helpful. I also found that I had been practicing many of the principles he advocates... like living below your means, never paying full price, shopping for bargains, and not spending money on things you can do without. When your income goes up, you don't have to ramp up your expenses to match it. You can keep on living on a smaller budget and save the extra income. Some critics will say that's no fun and it takes away what for many is the incentive to increase their income. But when you see how your savings can add up, and the additional benefit of not having credit card bills to pay, you will also see that this plan DOES let you eventually get many of the things that really matter to you (while not wasting money on things that don't matter). Miller is saying that you should arrange your life and finances so you can actually afford those things when you buy them. That's good advice!

The book covers a wide range of topics, from buying clothes, cars and houses to investing the savings you will have if you follow these guidelines. The book teaches these principles through conversations of a group of young people, meeting with a teacher, for discussions over breakfast. This method means each lesson is told through the stories of the participants as they talk about themselves and their situation. This is not a bunch of well-heeled high earners, but rather ordinary young folks with tiny incomes wondering how they'll ever get ahead in life. It is rare that anyone writes a book for people such as them. Just like it's rare to be told to stop spending so much money on fast food lunches and buy a used car.

Interstingly, I have followed this advice myself. On my last job, for lunch I usually brought a salad I made the night before, but, if I went out (and I always ordered off the value menu), I filled my own bottle of water instead of paying for a soda pop (just expensive sugar water). I retired this summer, with a tdiy sum in my IRA from living below my means and putting away the maximum. My all-time favorite car was a '87 Pontiac staion wagon that my husband and I bought when it was 10 years old for $2000. We drove it for almost another 10 years and took numerous trips in it and our daughter learned to drive in it. It was a wonderful car and I felt sad when it developed a bad fuel leak and we finally had to consign it to the junk heap.

Investing is a topic that scares a lot of people, including me. I once tried to make some short-term investments in hopes of increasing my savings, but mainly this did not work out well and I gave it up. I just keep my money in conservative funds now and hope to leave it there and live off current income. Miller really likes Warren Buffett and uses his principles about investing, which concentrate on long-term thinking. Once you have a nest egg, there is an almost irresistible impulse to take some of the money (or, if you're really reckless, all of the money) and put it on some "sure thing" or turn it over to an investment advisor who claims he can get you a big return (Bernie Madoff, anyone?). Miller tells you not to do this, and I agree. Research shows trying to make it big with buy-and-sell investments rarely works out.

There is only one area where I disagree with Miller. In the United States, if you have a serious illness, you are probably screwed financially. No one can save enough money to pay for medical treatment for anything serious, and health insurance companies can discriminate against those who need care the most. Anyone with a condition dating from childhood will not be able to get insurance as an adult, or it will cost so much as to provide little left to live on. Miller glosses over this, probably because there is no advice (other than advocating for real health care reform in this country) that can help. If you doubt this, consider that Donna Smith (who now works with the California Nurses Association) had both good health insurance and AFLAC supplemental insurance when she and her husband developed serious health problems. They ended up in bankruptcy and lost their home. Americans have no health security and all you can really do is live a healthy lifestyle and hope you never need expensive care. Any one of us is just one injury away from financial ruin.

This is a great book with sensible advice, which you can read and pass on to other family members. Young people come out of high school knowing almost nothing about money and how to manage it. This book can be a real help.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This is an informative and entertaining book about personal finance. While some of the detailed information is specific to the USA, all of the principles are universal.

This book follows the adventures of four diverse students (the Counterculture Club) led by an interesting financially savvy teacher. The teacher, Mrs Kramer, agrees to mentor the students as they learn about earning money and controlling expenses. The strength of this book, in my view, is that it focuses on each of the students as individuals and recognises that each has different strengths, desires and aspirations.

This book is primarily directed to those aged between 16 and 32, but there is information there useful to those of us outside that age range. Consider these four issues: getting out of debt and accumulating wealth; finding your strengths and passions and how to make a living from them; how to get ahead when the work you love does not produce a lot of money; and living a more fulfilled life. Consideration of these issues is framed in a way which should particularly appeal to Generation Y - but it isn't too late for the rest of us.

The book is divided into four parts:
Investing Money
Saving Money
Making Money
Enjoying Money

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and especially enjoyed the way in which all of the participants learned from each other. This book would be a great asset to any household.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book provided me with an amazing insight into many different areas of personal finance. The author covers every topic from saving and investing money to making and enjoying money; and better yet, the book is written in an exciting and fun to read format that won't bore you or become a chore to read. I've read...eh tried to read...many other personal finance books, and I'm sure a lot of them had very good information in them; however, they were not engaging enough to get through, and so I wasn't able to gleam most of that good information. This book was different though. With each page I found myself more and more engaged, and before I knew it I had read the whole book, taking a wealth of financial knowledge with me. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, regardless of how much you may or may not know about personal finance. Everyone could take something away from this book. I especially recommend this book to anyone in high school or college, because when it comes to learning about finances, the sooner the better. I personally read the book as a college student, and while other personal finance books for me can sometimes make the concepts of personal finance complicated to understand, the author of this book made the world of personal finance very easy to understand on my level. This is why I think this book would be especially great for any teen or young adult out there trying to get a head start on their financial future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2012
I'm coming from the opposite direction from a lot of folks on this book in that the style it's written in has never been good for me--and yet I'm still giving it four stars.

I'm one of those people who just by personal preference hasn't ever been into this type of screenplay teaching method, and thus I only ever picked up this book in the first place during a temporary $0 sale on the Kindle version. No risk, potential return, right?

And I definitely got a return. Although I'm not a convert to the format, and most of the information wasn't new to me either, there were still nuggets sprinkled throughout the book of really important points distilled into very concise phrases that pack a punch and stick with you or make you internalize a concept more than you'd done before. The simplicity and directness of the "finding a new way to keep score" conversation (income level vs. total wealth) would have been worth paying the price of admission. It's one of those things I've known for a while intellectually, but hadn't encountered the right phrasing to make it an easy part of my daily vocabulary. And I will freely say that I had not sat down and calculated my net worth in years, and this book prompted me to do just that.

Any book that inspires even a small positive real-world action is four stars in my book, and my action wasn't even that small. I'm glad I read it. And for those out there who are more comfortable with the format than I happen to be, it's probably a must-read. Certainly good for high school students and college students regardless of their opinions on format, since it applies directly to their particular financial concerns and is simple and clear enough to spare them a lot of pain later in life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2011
I'm approaching my mid-40's now and began investing in my late 20's. I stumbled upon this book last week. I must say that I found this book to one of the best books I've read of the subject of basic investing.

It is presented in a very entertaining way. I would actually use the term "page-turner".

It's presented in a format where an older gentleman (about my age) tells this group of kids about all the mistakes he made investing.

To tell you the truth, it's almost creepy. It reads like an autobiography of my investment life.

I too:
Began investing without adequate savings.
I made a lot in my early twenties. I turned 5,000 into 16,000 in about three month investing in a patch for Ritalin so kids would not have to go to the office at school 4 times a day for a dose. Needless to say, I thought I was a genius. I then took the 16,000 and invested in a DVD company. Ever heard of Netflix streaming? I didn't even know what streaming was at the time. I lost it all. If only I had invested in an index fund. You never know what can happen with an individual stock. The stock you buy may even puncture a hole in the bottom of the ocean and have oil spill out for a month or so. You just never know. Don't invest in individual stocks. The author of this book makes this point clear.

When I started to make a decent income, I blew a lot of it on a BMW. I was not willing at the time to live below my means. What I like about this author is that he emphasizes the point by saying several times to live "way, way" below your means. That's key to building wealth.

I have a lot more failure stories. But the up side is that I was young enough to recover from these mistakes. Something this book can prevent altogether.

I'm now approaching my mid forties. I've been through 9-11, the .com bubble and the housing bubble. The stock market is lower than it was 10 years ago. The miracle is that I used one of the concepts in this book called "dollar cost averaging" and I managed to make money in this environment using index funds. Another concept covered in this book.

So now we are in the most sever recession in my lifetime. Lets see, I worked really hard to be in this situation:

I have 0 debt.
I have a 5-year emergency fund.
My house is paid off.
I've invested enough in my 401k that it has a decent chance of being $1,000,000 dollars in 23 years even if I never put another dime in.

This book will teach you how to get to this point. Buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 11, 2010
There are a seemingly infinite number of personal finance books available in bookstores. This one is intended for people in their teens and twenties whose financial plans start and end with "become a millionaire."

Akashi, Antonio, James and Amy are your average high school students in detention, again. They meet with Mrs. Kramer, an eccentric, elderly teacher at the school, who teaches a course on money management. Every Saturday, they meet at a local fast food joint, where Mrs. Kramer takes the four into the world of money.

Have an emergency fund, equivalent to three or four months salary, in a savings account or money market account, accessible if needed. Pay off your debt as soon as possible, whether it is credit card debt, student loans or car payments. When you get some money in your pocket, it is tempting to buy a big-screen TV or fancy new clothes. Don't do it; live beneath your means; cut your expenses as much as possible. Is it more important that others think you are a rich person, or that you actually are a rich person?

It's also tempting to buy and sell stocks on a short-term basis, looking for a quick profit. Again, don't do it. Every time you buy or sell stock, your stockbroker makes money, not you. Research good quality, no fee mutual funds (especially index funds) that you can invest in for the long haul. Just because a fund had a good year last year, it does not mean they will have a good year this year.

A popular way to make money is by buying houses and "flipping" them. If that is not for you, and if you know the right people, think about "flipping" cars or motorcycles. People will always need decent, reliable transportation. The book also looks at buying a car (consult Consumer Reports and choose quality over flashy), insurance, knowing your way around a supermarket, investing in real estate, getting a job and keeping it.

This book is a goldmine of information. Written as a dialogue, this is very easy to follow for the person who does not want to read another "money literacy" book. This is highly recommended for every teenager and twentysomething who think that a million dollars will suddenly show up in their mailbox.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2009
Many years ago, working as a Quality Control Engineer, I read "The Goal" by Eliyahu Goldratt & Michael C.Gray. I loved their approach - teaching complicated management concepts in a novel format. Later, I reviewed a similar business novel on Lean Manufacturing. It did a great job of explaining the concepts of "lean" and the benefits of "lean" to business enterprises. So, when an opportunity arose to review the present book, I was quite enthusiastic. I am happy to report that my enthusiasm was not misplaced!

I have been a lazy investor and thus in a way protected myself from the bull and bear cycles of Indian Stock Market over the years and thus felt somewhat vindicated by the strategies that Miller recommends. If I could go back and relive my life, I would follow many of Millers' recommendations beautifully brought out by his main character, an older school teacher named Mrs. Kramer. Her wisdom applies across borders and across cultures.

Enjoy Your Money is one of the best and most complete resources for money management at the personal level. Yet, the concepts are equally applicable to any business of any scale. The book is divided into four parts: Investing Money, Saving Money, Making Money and Enjoying Money (including giving it away to causes that you believe in). You need to make money, save money and invest today's money for a secure future. Then, you need to find the right value systems in life (money is not the end; it is a means for the end). That message comes through quite lucidly.

I loved the movie script or play format! It worked for this book, transforming a large amount of research into an entertaining and easy read. The characterization of the participants is quite good and the style is very good, holding the reader's attention quite well. The book is well edited and nicely printed with just a couple of errors that won't affect your enjoyment or understanding. The Epilogue is quite surprising! I won't spoil your own enjoyment by revealing it.

The book gives many other useful resources (websites, other books etc.) and thus points you in the right direction if you want to explore further. The biographical sketches (from Warren Buffett to Sam Walton to Led Zeppelin) are informative and inspiring.

In summary, this is one of the best books on money management that I've ever read. I strongly recommend it to one and all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
While some will see this as a book aimed at young adults I think parents with pre-teens and even younger children will benefit from the books wonderful wisdom. Have read so many financial books and to be honest this is one of the few where we read about things like 'Live WAY Beneath Your Means'. Something that over the last thirty or so years with the mass use of credit cards, people have either forgotten or ignored this common sense idea.

The other chapters of the book that are a must read are how to save on food, clothes, cars, houses and ten popular ways to lose loads of money,like do drugs and abuse alcohol, get into debt and don't take it serious, or think you know it all, and thus ignore wiser people with hard advise. Be honest, how often when you pay with a credit card that you do not pay off each month, do you stop to add in the interest rate the credit card company is charging, as well as the fact that your spending habits are noted by all the companies that score your FICA.

One thing I loved about the book is how it makes learning about money, spending, and savings, a game and not punishment. Like how the author and his participants do a give and take dialogue where the participants are given a lesson and come back to share what they had learned. Like reading labels to make sure the juice that says 100% juice is indeed 100% and not added fillers like corn sweetener.

And the 'Enjoy your money' section is another great example of teaching wise use of money and how delayed gratification often means enjoying ones hard earned money even more. When you pay with a credit card it means it is NOT yours until the item is paid in full! And often the item is old by the time its paid for. Like ads that say buy now, pay a year or more later. Stop and think about that sofa you bought today that in two years you will not only be paying for but with higher interest. Does it look as new two years later? Would you pay the same high price for the used item if in a thrift store?
Again I love the book and how it teaches the reader, no matter their age, to think outside the box. Many thrift stores where I live, get left overs from Macy's and other stores. Clothes with tags still on them. Name brand items 75-80% cheaper than new in the store.

Cannot praise this book enough. Its a keeper!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2010
This book teaches you how to make, save, and invest money in an entertaining way. The author begins with four teens who are unhappy with the lifestyle in which they were brought up. They don't want to live from paycheck to paycheck like their parents. After speaking to someone who is very successful, they decide to meet every week for breakfast and discuss the subject. Through Mrs. Kramer, the author brings out true experiences about successful people and their secret of success, and then teaches the teens how to do this themselves. Mrs. Kramer dubs them "The Counterculture Club" because they want to change the direction of their lives.

Did you know that approximately one in four adults live from paycheck to paycheck? Did you know that in 2005 we spent more than we earned? I learned so much in this book in a most enjoyable way. After all, who really wants to settle down in the evening to a finance book? Steve Miller makes it fun. He teaches you how to multiply your salary by taking 10% of your paycheck and putting it into mutual funds. He says, "By starting early and investing 10 percent of a teacher's salary in an index fund to match the market rate, you will likely have a million dollars in your early 50s." Wow! What a profit! And it only takes 30 years. I would recommend this book to all ages.

Written by Linda Weaver Clarke, author of the new mystery series "The Adventures of John and Julia Evans."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Our government's response to the current economic crisis is so crazy I want to shout like the telemarker of old, "STOP THE INSANITY!" Steve Miller's new book,"Enjoy Your Money!" is sanity and un-common sense (un-common because all common sense is gone in our world today). The very young adults who will be forced to pay in the future for the insane decisions of our government today are the very ones who can benefit from the wisdom in this book. I am going to strongly encourage my three sons (21, 17, 13) to read this book to survive their uncertain financial future. It gives control back where it belongs - to every individual doing the responsible thing. I recommend this book to homeschooling parents, youth leaders, college age students, and even the baby boomers who created this mess. Get this book, it will be the best money you can invest this year.Enjoy Your Money!: How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
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