Queen of free: Achieve goals with reading

By Cherie Lowe

I love my high achieving friends. The start of a new year revs their goal-setting engines like no other.

In the quiet space between holidays, they brim with excitement. Their calendars begin to fill with important dates. They pick out a single word to guide their entire year. They research fitness programs. They set audacious goals. And while I usually do pull my act together a day or two (or sometimes a week or two) into January, I have very few life aims during the week between Christmas and the beginning of the new year. They are as follows:

  • I try to drink plenty of water. This practice combats my poor eating choices of the weeks prior and acknowledges the fact that no matter how much water I consume, it probably isn’t enough.
  • I play with my kids. Sometimes this looks like cracking open a toy received on Christmas Day and spending time simply being with them in a way that I can’t during the busy days during the school year. Other times, it looks more like crashing out on the couch and mindlessly watching a movie or television show.
  • I read as many books as I can get my hands on. Fiction, nonfiction, that volume resting on my shelf that I didn’t finish the last chapter, the new book I couldn’t wait to purchase — everything is up for grabs. Reading fills my soul in ways that media just can’t satisfy. At times, I’m transported to worlds of imagination. In other books, I’m challenged to renew the way I think about everything — from parenting to marriage to managing my time and more.

It probably comes as no surprise to you that I love reading books about personal finance, too. An entire long shelf in our home is devoted to books on this theme. If you’re looking for a new read in the new year to fuel your journey, consider picking up one of the following books to be challenged and inspired in 2018.

  • “Faithful Finance” by Emily G. Stroud: If you’ve felt overwhelmed by the complexity of money management, this book provides a comprehensive and clear guide to nearly every aspect. With down to earth language, Stroud holds your hand while clearly explaining investing, insurance, debt repayment and more all through the lens of what counts most in life (Spoiler alert: it’s not money!).
  • “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey: I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve given this gift away to people. When we launched into our journey of paying off over $127,000 in debt, it was our guide and encouragement. Through his radio show, Financial Peace University course and a number of books, Ramsey has coached countless others out of debt, too. If you’ve never read one of his books before, this is the place to begin.
  • “Your Money Life Series” by Peter Dunn (a.k.a. Pete the Planner): Every decade of your life carries with it important financial decisions. If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you’re doing what you need to be doing during your current season, this series is right on the money. Personal finance expert Pete the Planner hands out wisdom for what you should be doing with your money during your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Each volume is packed with age-specific advice targeted to your current stage of life.
  • “Slaying the Debt Dragon” by Cherie Lowe (that’s me): If you’ve read my column and enjoyed it at any point, I’d like to invite you into a slightly longer conversation about how to live life to its fullest while being frugal and paying off debt. I always describe this book as what I would say to you if we could sit down together at my kitchen table and share a cup of coffee. From the ups and downs of our own debt slaying journey to what it really looks like to effectively manage your money and still live in the real world of what are we eating for dinner tonight and how in the world are we going to pay for that unexpected expense, this book speaks to the practical day-to-day life. Dosed with humor and as much hope as I can share, you’ll be encouraged to conquer your own money monster. P.S. if you’ve already read this one, there’s a new book on the horizon from me in September. Stay tuned.

I love reading. Some of the above books literally changed the entire course of my life. Best of all, you can visit your local library to check out these works and begin the process of transformation yourself. You don’t even have to spend a single penny in 2018 to have a brighter financial future. Even if you didn’t set a big crazy goal or make a single resolution, choose one of these titles and be encouraged and challenged to rethink your finances in the new year.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net