Book reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer looks at a span of human behavior in this month's reading list.
Smart Mom Rich Mom
Back-to-school time is here, which means back-to-school bills.
Your first-grader needs all-new everything. Your third-grader needs a certain kind of crayon. Middle school requires three different notebooks, and everybody wants new clothes. You're not sure how that's going to happen this year, but with Smart Mom Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer, you'll learn how being financially savvy can help your future.
Some years ago, when two editors of "a prestigious investing magazine" told money expert Kimberly Palmer that women didn't read financial publications, she was taken aback. Women, she says, and "moms especially," make the majority of today's consumer purchases. Within the coming years, they'll "control two-thirds of the country's wealth." You're pretty wise, financially, but can you better harness that power?
Your first thought might be couponing. That's fine, Palmer says, but it's not all. Don't forget to take advantage of bigger financial boons, like signing up for flex accounts at work or putting money toward better-yield savings. Make goals, figure out how to set aside funds for long-term and short-term needs, and get to know your "beautiful old lady" self. "That lady is going to need some money" in coming years, which might mean "extra sacrifices today."
But, by the way, there's no need to be Draconian; just be smart about little splurges.
Remember that kids cost money-more in the beginning, less later on-and babies don't care about designer clothing. As your children grow, teach them valuable lessons by giving them an allowance and insisting they save some of it. Show them by example that happily delayed gratification is possible.
Ask your employer if you can take advantage of flextime. Know if opting out of work altogether is right for you, or if entrepreneurship is better. Educate yourself on investing by reading everything you can find on the subject. Don't let your husband or partner take over financial reins completely; be aware of what's going on with your accounts. Talk to your parents about house-sharing. And above all, consider your kids: their financial security may someday depend solely on you.
There's a lot to take away from reading Smart Mom Rich Mom. Each page, it seems, is packed with useable, reliable information and good advice.
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Sign you up.
That's one of the things of which you're most proud: you freely give of your time. Rotary, Jaycees, Lions, your local hospital-if someone needs help, your name is on the list. Sign you up and they benefit, but, if you're honest with yourself, so do you. In Tribe by Sebastian Junger, you'll see why it comes naturally.
In American history, a good number of early settlers voluntarily went to live with American Indians. They eschewed the community they'd always known, and chose a different, sometimes harder, way of life that offered the personal values they'd come to want.
Those settlers sought three basic things humans require for contentment: feelings of competency, connection and authenticity. The settlers got what they needed from Indian society, but, says Junger, modern humans aren't always so lucky.
From birth, we are isolated from others. Hunter-gatherer mothers, conversely, carry their infants nearly constantly. Their children grow up with a different sense of community than do North American children, but a craving for closeness is universal and timeless; Junger says he felt it when he spent time overseas with military troops. Personnel slept tightly packed in canvas tents, and he felt safer because of it.
We are, he says, hard-wired to live communally, just as we're hard-wired to shun those who exhibit needlessly selfish behavior. Ancient societies had to share to survive, and personal items were few; today, we rush to help those who endure disaster-indeed, we may act heroically-and we scorn wealthy CEOs who we think are greedy. And what we need to do to preserve our humanity, Junger says, is to embrace a mind-set of community, understand the need for sacrifice and find a "sense of solidarity. … It may … be the only thing that allows us to survive," he says. Junger offers readers a look at humanity that's graceful and laced with a plea.
That plea is quiet, but it comes through in every anecdote, personal story and historical fact set forth here: To wit, we must return to the "Old Ways" of belonging. That's the message Junger gently pokes us with, but he does it with a compelling sense of urgency. Book is filled with interesting ideas and points, but it's ocean-deep in meaning and introspection. You can't ignore what you'll learn inside Tribe. If that sounds good, then sign you up.