Friday, September 17, 2010

Wealth Watchers Giveaway!


I was browsing through my to-read bookshelf the other day (yes, I have a to-read bookshelf, and not a to-read pile...is that bad or what?) and uncovered this little gem.

Wealth Watchers is the story of a woman who was a successful lawyer and generally financially savvy and organized person until a bizarre brain injury caused her to start making really bad financial choices (like buying every pair of sunglasses when she couldn't decide which one she liked best, or depositing one of those checks from the credit card companies for $20,000 with no memory of doing so). In order to get her finances back on track, she had to come up with a system that was simple, consistent, and most importantly, that worked. It eventually worked so well that she started a business modeled on Weight Watchers to help others.

What was her system? Tracking expenses, of course -- the single most valuable thing you can do in your financial life, in my opinion. In Wealth Watchers, she details her story and teaches readers her method, which is based on understanding how much disposable income you have every day, and making sure you spend less than that.

For a personal finance beginner, this book is accessible and friendly, not intimidating. The second half of the book is worksheets and a journal, to help you get started right away. One thing that she stresses is the importance of weighing each purchase. "Wealth Watchers isn't about never going out for lunch or always going out to lunch. It's an attempt to spend money with awareness," she says on page 106. She breaks down the importance of this awareness by adding up how much the "little" habits cost--$7-$10 a day for lunch is $2,000 per year!

Yet she's quick to point out that it's important to balance quality of life and savings in your financial life. Her family had a ritual of stopping by Dunkin Donuts on Wednesday mornings to break up the monotony of the week. Their weekly habit cost about $8, or $288 during the course of the school year. A family vote resulted in the habit being kept -- that $288 was worth it to them as a family. I think that's an important part of any personal finance strategy.

Now that I've read and enjoyed Wealth Watchers, I'd like to pass it on. My expense tracking system has grown more sophisticated than what the author recommends, and it works for me but it would be intimidating for a beginner to work with. This book is excellent for anyone who's just starting out, so I'd like to solicit entries for this giveaway by asking the question:

If you don't track your spending, what's the biggest factor that's gotten in your way? 

Leave a comment with your answer, and a winner will be randomly chosen on Monday, September 21. You can read more about Wealth Watchers here. (Disclosure: I've not been paid for this post and have no relationship with the author. I just got the book, read it, and want to pass it along.)

5 comments:

  1. I just discovered your blog. It is great!

    I don't track because I am LAZY. I always say I will start being better and then I go back to old habits.

    This time, DH and I are really buckling down. We've had a reality check and it is time.

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  2. Impulse purchases always get me. My husband and I will decide we want to go out for dessert, and there's $10. Or we want to stop by the Borders tent sale "just to look," and there's $20.

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  3. Interesting concept! I wonder how she was able to write the book?

    I think the biggest factor against tracking my spending is that I sill get some $ help as an undergrad student. Do I track all my expenditures, or just what I pay for, or? Overall, it's easier not to, and my lifestyle is thrifty enough (/far enough away from shopping at my middle-of-nowhere school!) that it's not too big of a problem.

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  4. This book looks like an awesome read :)

    I use to track my expenses religiously (for instance, right after I would purchase something I would record it into my personally created excel spreadsheet) but recently I have not tracked my spending as much.

    I think its because I struggle with the idea- "what do I do with all of these numbers?" I am thinking that I should probably do a 6 month review to go over all the numbers so they really resonate with me and make me realize what I am spending $$ on.

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  5. @Caity, I wondered the same thing!

    @Christina, I had the same problem. Okay, so now I know how much I'm spending on everything....so what? Doing the monthly recaps on this blog have been REALLY helpful.

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Thanks for commenting!