Monday, July 5, 2010
During the month of June, I borrowed a book from the library called The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom by Washington Post personal finance columnist, Michelle Singletary. Although I have read her column in the Washington Post for the past several years and have actually heard her speak in person, I've never actually read any of her books. I decided that I would remedy that in 2010 and decided to read her most recent book.
While most (if not all) of the information presented in The Power to Prosper was not new to me, I found the book helpful in reinforcing personal finance topics that I have learned about over the last few years. The book presented a lot of information on the benefits of doing a financial fast to focus on financial goals. Personal finance fasting the Michelle Singletary way can help people that struggle with overspending, having a less materialistic lifestyle, budgeting and paying down debt. The Power to Prosper was presented for a Christian audience. This did not bother me at all, but if you aren't interested in approaching your finances from a spiritual basis (Biblical to be more specific), this book is probably not the book for you.
The Power to Prosper gives you day-by-day instructions on implementing a 21-day financial fast. I also liked the real stories interwoven into each chapter related to the topic of that chapter. To be completely honest, I did not actually fully implement the financial fast while I was reading this book because I made prior commitments with friends and family that called for spending money that I did not want to break (birthdays, baby showers, get-togethers). But during the month that I read The Power to Prosper, I did suspend extraneous shopping (clothing) and applied a recent windfall (student loan refund check) to debt repayment.
After reading the book, I definitely feel inspired to check out it out again in the fall and fully implement a 21 day financial fast, but it would take some preparation such as telling my friends/family/colleagues that during that time period, I won't be accepting invitations/participating in activities that would cost me money. Financial fasting is very achievable, but may take some preparation. Just as people cut down on or limit food-intake to eliminate toxins from the body, fasting from spending is meant to get spending in check and could be useful even if you don't have debt, or are already saving for retirement, college educations for children, mortgages, etc. It's just a more stringent way to implement that internal dialogue that many of us go through when we spend money. I regularly ask myself questions like "Do I really need that?" or "Is this item a need or a want?" when I shop. The Power to Prosper did remind me of the sacrifice that it takes to meet financial goals and encourage me to keep working toward them.
If you are already on track to meet certain money-related goals (budgeting, paying down debt, saving for retirement, etc.), this is probably not the book for you. I definitely suggest this book. for anyone who is just starting to focus on their personal finances, or to someone that would like spiritual inspiration to help them manage their finances.