From the Introduction:
Nothing creates stress or anxiety within a family like money. Not having enough money can create real stress, but fear of not having enough can elicit the same or even greater fear than not actually having it at all.
The reality is that money is a tool to get the stuff we want and need. However, in our society money has also become a measure of self-worth and perceived happiness. We are surrounded by messages from our parents, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and the media that encourage these misguided feelings.
These complex emotions are what create most of the problems--fear, anger, resentment, and frustration--that revolve around money. However, most of the personal finance industry ignores these core feelings, and instead focuses on interest rates, stocks, bonds, and taxes.
Like money, these things are simply tools to get you where you want to be and are not the end goal. Happiness and fulfillment are the end goal for most of us, yet we often lose sight of that when dealing with our money.
I wrote this book on two different tracks. The first is the deep and complex emotional issues families struggle with because of money. The second is the nuts and bolts of financial planning that allow you to organize your money.
To get the most from this book, while you're enjoying the entertaining story line, keep in mind that the emotional issues are the most important part of the story. The financial planning tools are secondary to the emotional aspects. If you can learn from both messages, you will walk away from this book with a completely different perspective about money.
I didn't figure this out overnight. It took me a long time to discover what matters, and sadly, I think many people never learn it themselves. I first started learning about the world of money and investing at the ripe old age of eighteen when I studied investment magazines like they were textbooks. It wasn't until almost ten years later that I realized they were actually advertisements for underperforming and overpriced mutual funds.
It was also at eighteen that I invested my first $1,000 in mutual funds--a front-end-loaded technology fund that was a completely inappropriate investment for a kid, but an easy sale for a commissioned stockbroker, or otherwise said, a salesperson.
Years later, through lots of self-guided education in books and mistakes in the market, I figured out what was most important in personal finance. (This wasn't before a ridiculous stint when I thought I could be a day trader, picking individual stocks and even dabbling in IPOs.) Eventually, I received the formal education and financial planning credentials, an MBA degree, and tax training to be "qualified" to give personal financial planning advice. It wasn't until I had a wife, divorce, remarriage, stepchild, jobs, businesses, my own child, a deceased parent, and worked as a financial advisor with other real-world complicated families that I learned what really mattered.
That was when I learned about personal financial planning. I learned that people, including me, don't care about the highest performing mutual fund of the year, or the highest yielding CD, or the latest tax deduction. What you and I care about is enjoying life with our families without the money worries that plague most Americans. What we want is to live extraordinary lives. That's what this book is about--getting back to the basics about what you want and providing some basic money tools to help you get there.