By Melissa Tosetti
I think of my life as Before becoming Savvy (BS) and After (AS). But, there was a two year time in between when I started to craft the idea of what living a Savvy Life was all about.
After getting myself into debt and working two jobs to pay it all off (BS), I became very fearful that if I spent a dime on anything that wasn’t an absolute need, I’d have to go back to waiting tables. What I didn’t realize at the time is that it’s not that I wasn’t making enough money – it was that I didn’t have money skills to manage the money I did have.
A few years after living in extreme frugality, miserably, it finally dawned on me that my problem was a lack of financial education. Not stocks and bonds, but simple day-to-day money habits. And so, I started to read everything I could find on the subject, becoming more and more fascinated with each book I read.
Listed below are 9 of the books that influenced the creation of The Savvy Life as well as a few titles that refined Savvy Living along the way.
1. The Millionaire Next Door
by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
This book changed the way I thought about money. I always believed millionaires “looked” a certain way – usually driving red sports cars that they parked in front of mansions. What I learned is that the majority of millionaires live in modest homes, drive 10 year old cars and have little to no debt.
2. The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg
I joke around that I’ve sold more copies of this book than I have of my own, but there’s a tinge of truth to that statement. I talk about it in almost all of my presentations and it regularly comes up in conversations with clients.
The essence of the book is that we’re made or broken by our habits. It explains how to successfully jumpstart positive habits and how to replace negative habits. Much of The Savvy Life is based on implementing positive money habits and so this book is invaluable.
3. Entres Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl
by Debra Ollivier
This book is a very close second to The Power of Habit as one that I talk about and recommend the most.
As I mentioned, when this idea of Savvy Living first started to take shape in my mind, I read everything I could on day-to-day personal finance. But, because I’m fascinated by culture and the way people live, I started to read what I could find on European cultures and the way they seem to be able to enjoy life without negatively impacting their finances. The biggest take away from Entres Nous is the French habit of focusing on quality over quantity in all things.
4. The Success Principles
by Jack Canfield
I’ve given this book as a gift more than any other. It was HUGELY influential in the creation of The Savvy Life, mostly in that it taught me to persevere and to be willing to look at things from a different perspective than the traditional. We live in a consumer culture. The Savvy Life is about picking and choosing what you bring into your life… very untraditional.
5. The 4-Hour Work Week
by Tim Ferriss
As I began working with clients all over the U.S., I started to see how our crazy work and life schedules negatively impact our finances. Influenced by the information in the book, I began to create structure around my own life to create balance and passed that information on to my clients.
6. French Woman Don’t Get Fat
by Mireille Guiliano
When I was shopping Living The Savvy Life to publishers, my elevator pitch was “It’s French Women Don’t Get Fat, but for money! Meaning, it’s about living a beautiful life and being able to indulge in the things you want, but by being purposeful and intentional, so there’s no negative consequence.
7. The Power of Full Engagement
by James E. Loehr and Tony Schwartz
Like with The 4-Hour Work Week, as The Savvy Life evolved and I began working with more and more people, I realized that in addition to Money, Time is an area where the majority of us struggle. We’re so busy doing so many things and at the end of the day, WE’RE EXHAUSTED. There’s no quality of life. If we want to bring back that quality of life, we must first and foremost manage our energy, not our time and that’s what this book teaches.
8. Sink Reflections
by Marla Cilley “The Flylady”
If you’ve ever heard me speak, you’ve heard me talk about how the state of our homes makes a tremendous impact on our finances – positive or negative.
Marla Cilley is the creator of Flylady.net, a website dedicated to taking control of our homes by getting rid of clutter and creating routines to manage housekeeping. I discovered the website at a very low point when I was struggling with my own home.
It was through Flylady.net and her book Sink Reflections that I learned the power of routines which is a cornerstone of the work I do with clients.
The book and website also reinforced what I learned in martial arts – the power of baby steps. If I showed up for each class and focused on that day’s particular lesson, I would earn the next belt. Regarding housekeeping, if I stuck to my routine and put in the work, my house would get and stay clean. I now apply routines and baby steps to all aspects of my life and work with clients to do the same for them.
9. Think and Grow Rich
by Napoleon Hill
When I initially read it, my biggest takeaway was the power of your mindset. Believe you can change your money habits and you can. Believe that you can’t and you’re right – you can’t. Since then, I’ve read countless other books and articles that reinforce the power of mindset from its impact in athletics to the business world.
In my presentations I talk about how money affects all aspects of our lives and so the source of inspiration for Savvy Living comes from many different resources. Not all of these books focus on personal finance. They cover various areas of our lives and touch on core living philosophies. I hope you find them as useful and inspirational as I did.