There are many financial books out there – about money management, investing, paying off debt, and frugal living. I’ve read dozens of these, but never anything quite like The Joy of Financial Security by Donna Skeels Cygan, CFP, MBA.
The Joy of Financial Security’s subtitle sums up the book’s unique angle on the topic of money: The Art and Science of Becoming Happier, Managing Your Money Wisely, and Creating a Secure Financial Future.
The art and science of becoming happier? Before discussing investing and retirement – all the topics her clients come to her for as one of the top financial advisors in the U.S. – she discusses happiness and its relationship to money. She gets to the root of who we are and why we make the financial decisions we do by connecting research from the fields of psychology and neuroscience to real-life stories and experiences.
As a college graduate with a Psychology degree and 2 years of experience as a research assistant for my college’s Psychology department, even I learned some amazing things about the connection between our minds, our behaviors and our choices about money. I enjoyed the research as well as the stories and interactive exercises you can do to define what makes you happy and content.
In the chapter “How Your Brain is Wired,” the theory of relative income is explained with simple visuals. If “Sally” is happy and is making $50,000 a year, then makes new friends and finds out they’re making $80,000 a year, according to the relative income theory, even though Sally was happy earning $50,000, she will now be less happy because her income is much less relative to the people around her. But we can combat this theory by applying intentional behaviors (since, as she explains, roughly 40% of our happiness is impacted by our choices) as well as by simplifying our lives – and therefore restricting the influence of materialism on our lives. (See – living frugally can make you happy!)
Cygan discusses strategies for happiness including doing what you love, cultivating gratitude, investing in yourself – and living a simpler life. She also talks about spending money on experiences rather than things. “Experiences have a far greater impact on our happiness than spending money on ‘things’ and possessions. This clearly bridges the concepts of financial security and happiness.” For example, “planning a vacation can create a significant amount of happiness because you have several weeks of anticipation leading up to the vacation.”
Growing up, whenever my family planned a trip anywhere, the planning and anticipation was always the best part. Even simple trips like a day or overnight trip somewhere just to get away for a little while can be so much fun to plan for and of course, experience. And these are the best memories I had growing up – better than any shopping experience gave me.
The rest of the book is packed with financial planning information including: The Essentials of Financial Security, Tax Strategies, Investment Strategies, Retirement Strategies, and then, Moving Forward – Cygan pulls it all together and helps you create financial and happiness strategies for the future.
The Joy of Financial Security is a joy to read. I LOVE books that go beyond “Do this/Do that” and really help you understand yourself from a scientific but easy-to-understand perspective. In fact, I’ve been sharing the research and stories from the book with my friends and co-workers. There’s The Joy of Sex and The Joy of Cooking – now there’s The Joy of Financial Security and it really is a comprehensive book on the topic of money. This book can really make a difference in your life and I recommend it as an interesting, uplifting, engaging and very informative read for everyone.
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to help facilitate this review. My opinions are 100% mine though- this book really is a gem.)