Worst Advice I Ever Recieved

I was 19 and browsing a bookstore when I stumbled across a personal finance book. I had never seen such a thing. I curiously browsed the pages. But it was $17. And we were worst off than flat broke. We were 50k in debt. Mr. Mt was earning a whopping $1,000 a month and I was unemployed. $17 was a LOT of money. And then I was given the worst advice of my life. “Oh, sweety, don’t waste your money on that book. Just ask your uncle, he can tell you anything you need to know about that kind of stuff.” And I hesitated. $17 was a lot of money. Maybe I could get this info somewhere else. Maybe my uncle could teach me. I really didn’t want to waste $17. So with all the gumption I could muster, I pulled out my cash, took a huge leap of faith, and bought the book.

value of personal finance books

Now it was really simple personal finance book. Budgeting, saving, emergency funds, investing for retirement. But it was life changing for me. I have been buying books ever since.

I think reading books (even if you have to pay full price) is absolutely the best investment a person can make.

1. Opportunity of a lifetime

Imagine you settle into your seat on an airplane. You get your bag tucked away, and start flipping through the in flight magazine. Then your seat mate sits down. They seem oddly familiar. And it hits you…it’s (Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Brene Brown, Tim Ferris, or any person who has written a book on a subject that interest you.) And you can barley swallow. Why the hell are they flying commercial to Detroit? Who cares. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. So you boldly ask, “Would you distill all your best knowledge in a concise and organized way that could help me over the next 2.5 hours?” That’s an enormous request. They think about your question for what seems like an eternity then respond, “Ok, I’ll do that. But you will have to pay me for my time.” Holy crap, you think, what could this cost? Sensing your internal question they answer, “$12.”

Come on now. Would you use the next 2.5 hours to hear there best advice all for a measly $12? But that is exactly what they have done in their book. Except instead of shooting from the hip, they spent months organizing, editing for readability and clarity, researching, and preparing the most useful compilation of their knowledge on the subject.

I can’t image a better value. Even if you pay full price!

2. Best ROI

The average net worth of a 34 year old is $17,351, according to The College Investor. Our combined net worth is $580,000. So if I divide that by two, my half would be $290,000. Looking back at myself at 19 years old and $50k in debt, the only difference between me and the average is I read about 500 books. 500 books created a $272,649 difference. Or about $545 dollars a book read.

I read about 50 books a year (for roughly the last 10 years). Now a day’s I get about 25 from the library for free (that number use to be much higher), I buy about 10-15 new. And about 10 used off Amazon, or with credit from the used book store.

25 from library=free

10 new average price $11= $110

15 used average price $5= $75

5 as gifts = free

Average book price = $3.36

So each 2.5 hour commitment and $3.36 investment has equaled $545 in net worth. But let’s be honest. If Mr. Mt wouldn’t have married me, he wouldn’t have a $290,00 net worth! So really each $3.36 book earned $1090.

That’s a damn good ROI.

But I don’t just read personal finance books. It’s harder to measure ROI in many areas of my life. I basically read every form of non fiction written. To include:








House design



Homestead skills




And every self help genera known to man

I basically walk one end of the non fiction section of the library to the other and grab a book or two off each shelf. From beekeeping, building a passive solar home, baroque church architecture in western Europe, power of habits, real estate investing, eating super foods, the life of St. Augustine, or the art of apology (I had to read that one a few times, because I am SO bad at it). I’ve read it all. And all of it has had a positive return in my life.

3. Leaders are Readers and Readers are Leaders

If I were to list the top 100 influences in my life, I would be shocked if even 2 or 3 didn’t consistently read. Or listen to podcasts. Or audio books. Or blogs.

See we don’t have to come up with every great idea.

We just need to read how some one else clearly explained it.

We don’t have to figure out every method or skill. I can read about how someone else dedicated their life to the art of building dry set stone walls and glean that wisdom without making it my life’s work (I read that one twice it was so good!)

Plus, it’s just weird to not read. I’m always a little freaked out when people tell me that.

Like no other time in history we have more access to information. Historical documents, great thought leaders, and all kinds of knowledge conveniently packaged. In audio books, podcasts, hard cover, digital, and internet content. And someone is like, “Yeah, but…no thanks! I’m good.” It makes my brain short circuit just a bit. I get this weird nervous twitch. I try to act all nonchalant like, “Oh, yeah, who has time for books?” (insert nervous laughter)

I putting together a book/resource page. I had always planned to do book reviews when I started this blog because books are just a powerful influencer for me. I plan to tuck those into the Friday slot occasionally. But the book page will have my list of recommendations if a few categories. Plus what I am currently reading. You’ll notice I read about 5-8 books at once. With 5 little kids, I have to be creative with how I fit reading into my life. Part of my strategy is in small piles of books. I keep a small pile of 2-3 books by my couch. 1-2 on the table in our book room. 3-4 on my bed stand. And one in each car, just in case I get someplace early and have a few minutes to read before an appointment. At least 2 of those are books I have already read once. I have a saying, “Any book worth reading, is worth reading twice.” The second time I read a book my brain is better able to sort, and store the most important information in the book and translate that into needed action steps.

Find them at the library, buy them used, or request as a gift. (Books are the best birthday gifts. How else can you spend $10 on a gift and buy something as significant?) But even if you spend $200-$300 on books this year, it will be the best money you could spend. (As long as you read them!)


For Conversation:

Are you a reader, other than of the awesome MMA blog?

Any book that was the “ah-ha” moment for you in personal finance?

Favorite author?

My short/short list of favorites:


Dave Ramsey: Total Money Makeover

Any of David Bach’s books

Millionaire Next Door

Ultimate Cheapskate series 

Every other topic:

Daring Greatly

The One Thing (free with Kindle Prime!)


5 Love Languages

Power of Habit

Younger Next Year

The Irresistible Revolution

The Not So Big House

Ah, picking 10, ok 12 books out of my 150 favorites is impossible! It’s like saying which pastry is my favorite…all of them!

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70 thoughts on “Worst Advice I Ever Recieved

  1. YES YES YES!!! In our culture of throwaway phone apps (that we can’t stomach spending $1 on) and endless new series on Netflix (that we’ll only pay to watch as long as there aren’t commercials interrupting our entertainment), books are the last real exchange of not much money for incredibly valuable content. There are some stinkers, obviously, but to take someone’s months/years worth of effort, distill it into a couple hundred pages, and sell it for $15 is just short of magic when you think about it.

    • Totally agree with the magic. =) Even in a world stuffed full of free content (my blog included!), it’s hard to beat the time/ organization and commitment to fully developing and crafting those great ideas. I’ll spend 4-6 hours on a post, but it’s totally different. 100 blog posts does not a book make.

  2. I agree that reading is very important! The average millionaire reads 1 to 2 non-fiction books a month and I’m trying to work towards that goal myself. I just recently finished The Millionaire Mind (sequel to Millionaire Next Door) and loved it. Currently, 48 Days to the Work You Love is on my coffee table.

    • I haven’t read Dan Miller’s book yet, but I am a huge fan of his! I’ve watched interviews with him and followed his blog. I should pick up the book as well, I really love his ideas and personality!

  3. Yay, “our” book, Younger Next Year, made the list! Not ONLY have you generated great returns per book purchased, but you also share the wealth in your blog and, on occassion, via a Tweet to some old blogger guy looking for a good book suggestion (GREAT suggestion, by the way!).

    Share the wealth, and make no apologies.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with this post. I look at books like stocks, bonds, or real estate – it’s just a different way to invest. In this case, it’s investing in yourself. Essentialism by Greg mcKeown is still one of my favorite books of all time. I’ll have to check out some of the other books on that list, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • The One Thing is a kind of the other side of the essentialism coin. =) It deals with carving out space for your “one thing” and pouring time and energy into that. And your right about it being another form of investment. I’ve seen growth in every area of my life.

  5. David Bach’s automatic millionaire was given to me when I graduated college. It showed me the way and set me on the right path well before I knew what FIRE was. I’m personally not a big fan of Dave Ramsey although I see the appeal to those with no self control and are in way over their heads.

  6. I’m a huge book advocate! Reading really does improve your life in so many ways.

    I used to read a whole bunch of books at a time like you. I’ve been working to cut that back because I found that I get more out of them when I am more focused. I am now at a point where I will be reading one physical book and one or two e-books at any given time. The e-books are great because I have my iPad with me everywhere, so I can read anytime I have a few spare minutes.

    • I tend to focus on 1 or 2. But I think reading so many at once is part of my personality. I unpack 5 or 6 boxes at once (much to my husbands horror!), I tend to have a few projects going at once, and I generally developing a few blog posts ideas at once. Every once in a while I’ll read a single book over a few days. Otherwise I pick from the pile whatever seems interesting in the moment. =)

  7. I’d nominate this for post of the year! Excellent stuff!

    I have two books next to me right now – one that I own and one that I picked up off the “New Nonfiction” shelf at the library. I can usually visit this shelf for 3 minutes every couple weeks and find a book or two that catches my eye.

    As for “aha” personal finance book? It has to be Andrew Tobias’ “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need.” He has a great writing style, is humorous, and the book is packed with great financial advice.

    For general authorship, I’d choose Michael Perry. I love all his books, and we even stole his wife’s name to use as our daughter’s middle name!

    • Ha! “New Nonfiction” shelf: I totally stalk that first stop at the library. =) When our oldest was born I wanted to name him Calvin after “Calvin and Hobbies” but no dice. Mr. Montana in all seriousness suggested “Luke Sky” um…like Luke Skywalker?…no. Him and I are quite the pair. =)

  8. This was not the “worst advice” I was expecting, but I have to agree. I am a reader, but for some reason I find that I vastly prefer biographies to read. I don’t read them exclusively, but those are the stories, especially historical ones, that most speak to me. As for personal finance, The Millionaire Next Door was an a-ha book for me.

    • I think most of the time our “worst advice” ends up being something that kind of sound right, but has a huge impact. Like “buy the biggest house you can afford”, “go to the best school you are accepted to”, or “take an adjustable mortgage because you can refi later.” This was the same because that uncle had never once talked pf to me or ever would. I had no one who would have/ could have taught me. And all these awesome pf blogs weren’t a thing yet. That book reset our money trajectory at just the right moment. And ended up saving us from all the other bad advice out there. =)

  9. You sure are a bookworm! Good for you!

    You’re right, there are an incredible amount of resources available to us loaded with great information that we can learn and grow from. While I only read a few books a year, I read a ton of blogs, magazines, news and spend free time in the car, mowing etc listening to podcasts.

    I love your quote about not having to think of all the great ideas, but being able to read someone else clearly articulate them. How true!?

    • There is so much good information out there. Why not borrow and apply it? Plus it helps me out when I have to socialize at a dinner party. =) Just figure out what they are interested in the just try to remember the main points from the books I have read on that topic so we have something to talk about. =)

  10. Oh wow! The Irrisistable Revolution is definitely one of my favorites too (one I think would change the world if more people read it and didn’t make a gazillion excuses about why it ‘doesn’t work for them’)! Start Late, Finish Rich was a game changer for my husband, and after humming and hahhing for months, I finally ordered the Ultimate Cheapskate books and Millionaire Next Door two weeks ago (even with Amazon, it takes a few weeks for orders to make there way to us here in South Africa, but they should arrive next week). Have you read Do Hard Things? It’s aimed more at teens and young adults, but I loved it (I read it when I was about 29) and it has been great to recommend to teens and young adults who come through our ministry and mentoring.
    Thanks Ms Montana!

    • I love the Cheapskate books! And in my 20’s I had a friend buy a case of the Irresistible Revolution and pass it out to everyone she knew. She went on to create a huge nonprofit serving the Latino community based on that inspiration.

    • I think it’s a compelling argument. Who would pass up that opportunity? Like “Nah, I will just flip though the in-flight magazine and watch half of a movie I’ve already seen instead.” What the heck?

  11. I love reading books and I get most of them from the library. Our library is very well stocked and I can borrow anything I want. I used to buy books, but not anymore. We just don’t have room for them. Of course, I always support the library by voting yes on library bonds.
    Another PF book I like that’s not on your list – Your Money or Your Life. Pretty good.
    Great job over coming your hesitation and shelling out $17 for that PF book.

    • I love libraries! I do buy a fair amount of books, but I also sell them off to the used book store if I’m not going to read it again. I request a lot as gifts too. =) Your Money or Your Life will be on my resource page. I really like it (and own 2 copies!) but it’s also a little weird and outdated. =) Totally worth the read, but I felt like I needed to do a full review of the good/bad/and weird before a recommendation. =) 100% bonds…um, no. =) Although I think that Dave Ramsey’s investment advice is almost as off target.

      • Based on a podcast interview with the Mad FIentist, the author is updating Your Money or Your Life, so stay tuned! And check out the interview, it’s pretty good.

        I think the timeless parts of the book are really understanding that we trade our time and effort for a variety of things, and that we often fail to account for all the accessory time and money we put into our jobs (commuting, wardrobe, etc) and that we need to account for all of it to really understand what we are getting out of it.

        The other big take away for me was that when we have more time, we can learn new skills and that having skills is both a financial investment and a diversification technique–the more skills I have the better I can live on a smaller budget while feeling increasingly satisfied by my industriousness. For example: growing my own veggies, preserving them, and then having healthy, flavorful, inexpensive food to eat through the winter. or learning how to do my own updates and repairs on my house.

        • A new update would be great. There are SO many good parts and ideas to the book. It’s a game changer for many people. I have 2 copies. =) With a little refresh, I think it could be powerful for the next generation.

  12. Congrats on your amazing net worth. I am 40 and am now seriously looking at calling it quits, forever for the corporate world at least. When I was younger and wanted to lose some weight, I went to Barnes and Nobles and read some books on nutrition and weight loss.

    I have been eating better since and lost weight, and since health is wealth, it likely has made me wealthier in many hidden ways. I love the millionaire next door. Affluenza is also a great book you should read.

    • There are so many great books in every topic! And your right they all have their own ROI. Books have directly contributed to me being a better friend, boss, writer, cook, mom, wife, builder, gardener, traveler, you name it really.

  13. Have a fetish that involves whips, glitter, feet and maybe a touch of choking? No judgement here. Who you sleep with? Don’t care, don’t judge. Vegan/vegetarian/other diets choices? This is a judgement free zone. Carry a ton of debt? I’d like to help you, but I won’t judge you. Don’t read? WTF? What sort of a miserable excuse for a human being are you?

    I have about as much chance of picking out a favourite book or author as I would of picking my favourite star in the universe. All I know is that I would be a sadder shell of a human being without all the books that have transformed me, made me laugh, made me cry and made me think.

    • When I first started reading your comment I was like, “Wait, what is happening?? Is this spam??!” Nope just Mrs. Bita being her crazy self. =) But I agree, it’s doesn’t kind of freak me out when people don’t read or consume content in some way. I have one no-read friend. I just don’t get it.

  14. I love reading books.

    The three best things that have occurred for me with reading.

    1. Getting a kindle as a gift. I thought I’d hate it because I love the feel of a book. I was wrong. I love my kindle and the portability.

    2. I love that my local library lets me borrow up to ten ebooks at a time on my device and lets me put 10 more on hold. I am always stocked up.

    3. I got an google extension that allows me to go on amazon and see if my book is available via ebook or hard copy instantly. I then click on it and it takes me right to the page. It’s so convenient and I love it.

    • That is really cool with the borrowing ebooks. What a fun and crazy time we live in. SO much great information, so affordable and accessible. I haven’t really ventured into digital books yet. But it might happen. =)

  15. That airplane analogy is great. A book really does give you all of someone’s knowledge on a topic distilled into the most digestible format. There’s a lot of value there. My short attention span lends itself a little better to short-form reading, and I’m usually reading content online for at least an hour a day. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling a little bit of inspiration to write a book. I suppose I’ll have the free time when we settle down again!

    • That is so cool that are thinking about writing a book! I love the feeling of having the choice to do whatever work strikes you. =) I’m so excited to see what this next chapter brings. I’m sure your travels are creating a hot bed of inspiration. =)

        • It was almost impossible for me to write while we traveled, so you are miles ahead of me!!! Once you are finished with your full time travel, you might find the writing schedule much easier. =) I’ll start waiting to see your book 2 years after you finish up this trip. 😉

  16. Reading is important. It gives the opportunity to discover new ideas, learn ab out new things and challenge things you take for granted. It does of course require to pick books/articles/blogs that sometimes give you an unpleasant feeling.

    A good selection of blogs that bring regularly new ideas helps as well.

    I do read rarely books, very often blogs and use to read a lot of comics.

    The only series I read completely is Harry Potter…

    • There are so many great, easy affordable ways to access information these days. It’s amazing! Growing up we didn’t have internet, or Amazon to order books, or a near by bookstore, and our local library was the size of a living room. It’s was so challenging to find helpful information. But boy how that has changed!

  17. LOL at the rockstar book buyer making it rain. That is me.

    I couldn’t agree more. Three universal facts of life I’ve found. 1) Truly successful people read. 2) Unaccomplished people do not. 3) Everyone likes pie.

    #3 is unrelated, but I stand by the pattern found in the first two.

  18. I love the vision of sitting on a plane next to one of the financial greats and asking for their wisdom…and for the bargain price of $12! You’re right, reading is the best way to get the best advice and especially because it has been carefully crafted for the subject you are interested. I am still partial to my library (I move WAY to often to own a bunch books) but the few books I own I treasure. Either way, the point is that reading gives us the ROI for our time and brain. Thanks for the list at the end…I’ll start bookmarking now…

    Loved this so much I shared it in the comments of Ty’s Sunday Campfire…hope you don’t mind! 🙂

    • Yeah, I try not to hold onto too many. Ones I really love and need to reference I keep, others I pass on to friends. If it was just so-so I sell them to the used bookstores. Or I might donate them to the salvation army. And thanks for sharing. =) Always appreciated.

  19. Your example of sitting next to an expert on a flight and picking their brain was a ‘punch in the face, light bulb moment of recognition’ that will stick with me. Great example Ms. Montana!

    • Glad you liked it! Every time I am feeling cheap about books, I think of that example. If I would spend $12 to have the author explain these ideas to me for 2-3 hours, then it’s worth the price of the book. Books are actually much better organized, easy to highlight, take notes in and refer back to!!! =)

  20. Isn’t it just amazing when you come across a book that changes the course of your life? happened a few times to me.
    The most important ability of man, is the ability to learn. Always be learning 🙂
    Loved how you calculated the earnings per; What a motivator to start reading more!

  21. When we are in debt we are given the advises like so, But it hurts us a lot. The only thing we could do is to clear our debts first and earn the enough money to buy the things that we want.

  22. “Now it was really simple personal finance book. Budgeting, saving, emergency funds, investing for retirement. But it was life changing for me.”

    Amazing how it’s usually the “simple” things that are so life changing. Especially true when it comes to money. It really is simple, you just need to learn and do.

    Also, Millionaire Next Door is my fav book.

    • I love that book too! And you are right about the simple things. I grew up in a family that really didn’t talk much about those things, so to see it all clearly laid out made it click all of a sudden. =)

  23. Reading has always been and will always be one of the greatest things in life, and e-books + free e-books from the library have made it easier than ever to access the entire world’s knowledge. Great post and keep reading!

    • It’s crazy how much easier it is to get great books! I grew up in a small town and the options were very limited. We had a tiny library, but no bookstores and no Amazon. Between the library, use book stores, buying used books on Amazon, being able to request books as gifts from Amazon or even buying new, it’s easier and cheaper than ever!

  24. I LOVE this so much! I’m an avid book reader. Growing up it was always fiction books. Once I got to university and beyond, it was a lot of non-fiction. Now it’s a mixture of both. For the past year, I’ve been traveling so I’ve had to give up the fantastic resource of a library and resort to just my Kindle and podcasts. I love my Kindle and have almost a 100 books on it but it really doesn’t compare to a regular book.

    I finished rereading The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. It’s a business book for people who want to do things their own way. I loved it!

  25. I love this post! Nothing is better than a good book. In fact I just finished a book right before reading your post. Growing up the folks who influenced me mist were avid readers. Reading stretches your imagination and gives flight to dreams that can alter the course of your life. Growing up we didn’t have a library, but a book mobile , essentially a converted ice cream truck that came monthly. How I loved that white van. Now I’m proud to say we have a small library with a good selection and my sister is the librarian. I envy her this job.

  26. OMG, a million times yes! Books are my boo.
    So, how about a giveaway for some of those books you’ve already read? 🙂

  27. What a fantastic way to explain the value of a book! A friend keeps a list of every books she reads and adds up all the pages, and I started doing the same a few years back. It’s fun to see the numbers add up and see what was influencing me at different times. And also which ones I go back to agin; Irresistible Revolution definitely makes that list. The most influential book I’ve read in the last year is Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before. It’s a great follow up to the Power of Habit. She talks about how each of us is motivated differently and that we can use that knowledge to create and maintain the habits that we want. Right now I”m reading Building Wealth One House at a Time.

    • I really like Rubin’s work too! I’ll put together a resource page here at some point, and want to have a book list there. I can’t think of a better investment! =)

  28. I love your idea of keeping books in different places! I’m a completionist, so I only ever read one book at a time. But I’ll often find myself book-less! I’m going to spread my to-read pile into different places!

    Last year my goal was to read one book per week. My husband asked if I really thought I’d be able to find that many I wanted to read. I was like, have you not ever walked into a bookstore? Then I named off about three different series I wanted to read. haha

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  30. I think we have similar book shelves. I almost only read non fiction, self-help, memoirs, etc… I really enjoyed America’s Cheapest Family and Ben Hewitts books (frugal, homesteading, unschooling).

    • Yeah, I love all of that! Although, I’ll admit I tend to read a lot so sometimes it’s a bit shotgun spray in the non-fiction area in the library. =)