Did your New Year's Resolutions include anything along the lines of, "Get healthy," "Save more money," "Get out of debt," "Live life to the fullest," "Spend more time with loved ones," or "Learn a new skill?" These desires are all connected. Everybody wants to be healthier, wealthier, and better. People who succeed and actually achieve these types of goals share a number of common attributes, one of the most prevalent being that they read.
Reading is healthy for your brain, expands your vocabulary, improves your concentration and memory, promotes creativity, increases your knowledge, and relieves stress. With all these benefits, can you see how it helps people succeed in living healthier, more successful lives?
That being the case, I wanted to share a list of the four books that have most impacted my financial success, as I've made a study of wealth building over the last several years. I've been very focused and deliberate in my efforts to improve my finances, and have made tremendous progress since a divorce, foreclosure, and personal financial meltdown just five years ago. Much of it is due to application of the wisdom in these books, which come on the recommendations of my friends and mentors who are already enjoying financial freedom and living life on their terms. Here's the list:
1. How Successful People Think
by John C. Maxwell
While this isn't specifically a book on finances, when it comes to success with money, or any other area of life, it all starts with how you think. John C. Maxwell opens this book with a blunt statement in the introduction: "The one thing that distinguishes successful people from unsuccessful people is how they think." No question, good thinkers are successful, and this book will help you become one.
This book not only shares timeless wisdom from Maxwell's own experiences, but includes questions to help you become self-aware, identify your gifts and your priorities, and develop direction to successfully plan your future and realize your dreams. This book will teach you to utilize strategic thinking, become self-aware with reflective thinking, question popular thinking, and learn about giving by practicing unselfish thinking. There's more, but those are the highlights of my favorite chapters.
As Maxwell says in the book: "Gold mines tap out. Stock markets crash. Real estate investments can go sour. But a human mind with the ability to think well is like a diamond mine that never runs out. It's priceless." Read this book, and start developing your own diamond mine.
2. Lifeonaire: Prosperity Simplified
by Steve Cook and Shaun McCloskey
Why, in a country known to epitomize freedom, do so many of us feel trapped? Find out in Lifeonaire. It addresses how Americans work more and harder in pursuit of more money and a better life someday, yet this very pursuit takes their freedom away. This book teaches you a way out of that mess.
If you've ever asked yourself how you could work so hard and still have so much month left at the end of the money, this book is for you. If you've ever had heated arguments with your partner over money and thought, "They just don't get it," this book is for you. If you find yourself, month after month, trading your time and energy at work for the hope that, someday, you'll be free, this book is for you.
Be ready to unlearn everything you thought you knew about financial success, and be challenged to think about what you really desire. So, where do you find freedom? What should you pursue? Instead of aiming to become a millionaire, read this book and aim to become a Lifeonaire.
3. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy
by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
"I make more money now than I ever have, but I'm just as poor as I ever was." Have you ever thought something like this? Have you ever wondered what the wealthy do differently to get better results? If only someone could research them to find out. That's exactly what Thomas Stanley and William Danko did years ago...and then they wrote this book to give you the answer key.
Where do the millionaires hide, anyway? Where would you go to find them? White collar communities with high concentrations of doctors, lawyers, and dentists, right? Or is that who the wealthy really are?
In this book, Stanley and Danko address things like: What does the average millionaire look like? What do they do for a living? What are their spending habits? What are their savings habits? What kind of investments do they make? Read this book to find out what Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth (PAWs) do differently to gain financial independence and live life on their terms. You might be surprised.
4. What Your CPA Isn't Telling You: Life-Changing Tax Strategies by Mark J. Kohler
On the back of this book it says, "Tax planning can change your life," and it's absolutely true. Most people would like to know if they can save on their taxes and how. Most CPAs will tell them their taxes are what they are, depending on what they earn. That's just not acceptable, says the author, Mark J. Kohler (himself an attorney and CPA). From my own experience, I second his opinion.
The year I sought out and hired the right kind of CPA, I enjoyed the largest tax refund I'd ever seen—three times what I'd been getting from doing my own taxes or using a strip mall tax service! It wasn't just my CPA, but what he taught me about how to qualify myself for different deductions. We made a plan, and that's what everybody needs, but very few have—a plan.
In this book, learn all the things your CPA isn't telling you as you follow the journey of a typical middle-class American family's enlightenment on tax planning. Learn what to look for in CPAs, so you hire the right one. Learn the essential tax strategies everyone ought to be using to save on taxes and build growing, sustainable wealth. This will go down as the only tax book you actually wanted to read, understood, and enjoyed!
Officer, if you're not already reading regularly, it's time to invest in your personal development and start. If you read just these four books this year (one each quarter) and apply what you've learned, at the end of 2018 you'll be miles ahead of where you started, both in knowledge and achievement, and well on the journey to financial success. It's really true that leaders are readers.
Adam Doran is a 15-year veteran police officer from the Kansas City area. You can e-mail him directly at [email protected]