This is a continuation of a monthly theme where I document what media I am currently consuming. In addition to sharing books, articles, and podcasts that some may not be aware of, it will help keep me honest and ensure that I continue to consume more and more information myself. Here is this month’s entry.
What am I reading?
In December I read The Next Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and Sarah Stanley Fallaw. Sarah Fallaw is Thomas Stanley’s daughter and she has taken on the challenge of continuing Dr. Stanley’s lifelong work on analyzing the wealthy and their habits. This book was billed as a follow up to the 1996 book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. The original was an excellent, well-written book that laid out success habits of a sampling of wealthy households. This book was eye-opening in that it revealed that the trappings of the rich that we usually associate with wealth is a bit of fool’s gold. Things such as flashy cars, large houses, boats, etc. are usually an indication of someone with a high income, but these items do not translate to someone with a hit net worth. In fact, the exact opposite is typically the case. I found the original book to be excellent and easy to read. With that in mind, as soon as I heard of this follow-up, I jumped at the chance to read it. I must report that I was extremely disappointed. I recently finished the book but throughout the read often considered not even bothering. The writing comes across as more of a research paper than a narrative. Dr. Fallaw does not have the engaging style of writing that led her father to sell millions of copies of his books. There is no real new information offered in the book either. Lastly, it is littered with charts and graphs and I found each of these to be extremely confusing and poorly laid out. I found that by the end, I would simply give these charts a cursory glance and move on rather than spend the time to try to dissect them and try to fully understand them. If this book catches your eye, I would recommend that you pick up the original instead. I would suggest you take a pass on this installment in the series. I would give this book 2-stars out of 5 and only that high because of the depth of the research that obviously went into the book. Unfortunately, that research did not produce a compelling read.
What am I listening to?
A podcast that I been listening to is Martinis and Your Money hosted by Shannon McLay. The host spent the first chapter of her life in Finance before changing course and creating her own business, The Financial Gym. This business is designed to be financial coaching that is more accessible than the traditional sales-based firms that have net worth minimums. The business appears to be a wonderful idea and the clients appear to be getting great value. In additional to building this business, the founder created a podcast. I was initially attracted to the podcast because of the name. I am quite a big fan of both martinis AND money, so I gave it a shot. I have gone back to the very first episode and listened to the entire backlog. The overall tone of the podcast has shifted over time to keep pace with various changes in the hosts life. My enjoyment of this podcast has also ebbed and flowed over time. My favorite part of this podcast is a monthly “Happy Hour” where the host brings on three other personal finance personalities for a round table discussion of various topics. These episodes tend to be very fun. You get several different perspectives on the same topic and you feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation between friends. There are times during this podcast where I disagree, and even get frustrated with the host. This usually comes when the host makes assumptions or plays on stereo-types. These tend to deal with gender roles. While I understand that her feelings are rooted in her own personal experiences working in an industry that tends to be more male dominated, I feel that as a podcast host, she should try harder to play topics more neutrally. Almost every time that she makes one of these assumptions, I find that her stereotype does not fit my personal thoughts on that topic. This has caused me to consider whether or not to continue listening to this podcast. Ultimately, I have decided to still listen to this point and just understand that her opinions are hers and I try to focus on the financial content. If you interested in personal finance and like that content delivered in a lighter, fun-filled manner, I would recommend this one.
What am I watching?
Some time ago, my family made the decision to eliminate traditional cable television. We subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime and we added Sling TV as well. This changed our viewing habits to be more focused on finding content on-demand when we want to see something in particular. An unsuspected consequence of this change was that our overall consumption of television has decreased dramatically. It used to be a given that each evening, we would put on the television and run through our DVR list of recorded shows. Presently, we still regularly turn on the tv each evening, but I have noticed that this usually serves as background noise while we do other things. Most evenings, we will have the tv on while my wife reads on the couch and I work or play on my computer. With all that being said, our current viewing has led to shorter form comedies. These days, it seems that you cannot turn on a television without encountering re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. This is one that we thoroughly enjoy lately. The humor is “smart” and I find that I can enjoy just about every episode. This is a show that even my kids enjoy. However, there are quite a few sexual jokes and innuendos so proceed with caution if your children are going to view. Luckily we have seen most episodes so we usually know when something inappropriate is coming and can either turn it off beforehand or send the kids out of the room for that episode.