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Window with an Office

This is my new office. I am in love with it. It makes me happy. Because…it’s my own space, with a door. It’s at a University. And check out that window. It’s awesome. Really awesome! It’s so awesome, in fact, that I don’t think its even fair to call it an office with a window…it’s a window with an office.

I look out over a practice field next to the Riley Center (campus gym) and I see students coming and going, I see the weather and the light changing throughout the day and I see my husband jog past on his lunch break to either come visit me or go for his workouts. It’s a reminder of feeling connected to my community, to what I do, who I serve, where I live. Its just a window. A window that represents so much of what I value.

Office with Morning Light

Office with Morning Light

Office with Night View

Office with Night View

One thing I learned about myself in the two-ish months I spent in cubicle America: I don’t do cubicles. Period. I don’t care how much you pay me, promise me or distract me. I cannot, will not, sit in a cubicle (without meaningful interactions) and listen to people typing all day, for 9 hours, minus one hour for lunch. Cannot. Not sure if this makes me scrupulous or stubborn. Both, probably.

But, the great thing about being in an environment or situation that doesn’t fit, that bucks my values, is the clarity with which I felt to get out and run toward what does. And here I am, underpaid, with a view and happy.

What makes you happy in your space that reminds you of what makes you, you?

4 Great Books… To Grow Your Own Money Tree!

Money Tree

Grow Your Own Money Tree

Someone recently asked me…”What was the name of the finance book that helped you and Brian so successfully manage your money?”

First of all, how totally flattering and validating and humbling. And then, I thought, what a totally overwhelming question…there is so much good stuff out there, so much I have read, so much I could passionately talk about in a lightening speed manner (which is what I do when I am excited about something, I talk at warp speed!)

So, I wrote her back after about a week of thinking, talking it out with Brian and researching my answer. And I wanted to share my response with you…

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Personal Finance is one of my passion/hobbies-I have read and continue to read a lot on the subject. So, I have a list of my favorites, the highlights and most influential for me in terms of hands on, how-to’s…and ones that have stood the test of time through the economy/real estate bubble, life stage, etc.

1. “Smart Couples Finish Rich” by David Bach-This was the first book that was incredible influential early on for Brian and I as a young couple. He is the “latte factor” guy who talks about how the little things we spend add up to big wastes of money OR hopefully great wealth building opportunities. What I love most about his book was the step by step guide to thinking about money in a values based vein. He has you go through a few exercises as a couple around your values and then ties in your financial planning to those values-this has stuck with us since the moment we read it years ago.

2. “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey- A book that is a kick in the butt for those who have any kind of debt (e.g. mortgage, student loan, credit card, you name it…) and want to get it all under control and paid off and start building wealth. His philosophy is one of freedom from debt as a virtue. He is Christian and comes at his financial advice from that perspective-so it is woven into his writing-take it or leave it-his advice is well respected and incredibly sound. He is a step by step kind of guy with a strong emphasis on intensely pursuing financial freedom through drastic measures. We barrow from his ideas all the time, for example we are already debt free after our move from Denver using his gazelle like intensity model (also thanks to the amazing generosity of Jeanne and David to allow us to live in the cottage, of course).

3. “Debt Proof Living” by Mary Hunt -This one was great in terms of laying out the tools needed in order to to liver her philosophy: “dedicated to promoting the art of living within one’s means”. I loved this one too. She also has a Debt Proof Your Marriage, which I have not read, but assume is also great.

4. “The Money Book for the Young, Broke, and Fabulous” by Suze Orman -This one is for a recently college graduated, just starting a first job crowd, which clearly doesn’t apply to me or your kids, BUT, in this iteration, Suze does a fine job of framing the basics of how to get yourself started in the world of being an adult, which I think is applicable to many of us. I disagree with her advocacy of using credit cards in the manner she suggests, but overall her approach is worth noting.

***Also, I follow a lot of Personal Finance blogs and have learned a great deal from these bloggers over the years-about personal finance, setting up an emergency fund, frugal living, how to live your life values through your wallet, how to navigate your career and on and on and on. Just recently there was a great review of some of the best out there that are worth checking out: http://www.redeemingriches.com/2010/11/23/25-most-influential-finance-bloggers-you-should-know/ My favorites are JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly, Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar, Free Money Finance, Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Jeff Rose – Good Financial Cents. And last, but not least Tip’d is a great resource too; its a community of folks who share their favorite stuff from the web related to personal finance.

***Also, JD Roth wrote a review of the top 25 personal finance books he likes: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/03/07/building-a-personal-finance-library-25-of-the-best-books-about-money/ You can also check out my shelfari page to see the books I have read on personal finance-I think they are all captured there.

I violated one of my own rules of over answering a question with TOO MUCH information, but this is a topic that I have a hard time boiling down into one book suggestion. I hope this helps! And if its way too much, then I would recommend the first two books on my list.

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What are your favorite books and resources on personal finance???

Digital Journaling on My Own Little Mac

I decided today to start a digital journal. Something I have been resistant to for a while now and I am not sure why. Part of me wonders if my hesitation or now bubbling excitement to start this digital journal can be chalked up to having a pretty little, brand new macbook all to myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been blessed with the great fortune of having been provided with new computers for as along as I have been a working professional. Not only new ones, in the last few years, new mac’s-the computer snob in me gloats!

But as I have made tremendous, jolting, God-inspired changes in my life in the last few months-resigning from my comfortable job and Denver community and life to start a new job in a new industry in a new city in a new region of the country (which feels as times like its own unique world)-I afforded myself the luxury of my very own MacBook Pro 13 inch laptop…and its glorious!

Now the subtext of this entry is that I have also always been blessed to share a home computer with my tech savvy, brilliant, gorgeously introverted husband. He is kind and sensitive and generous and spends an immeasurable amount of time on “our” iMac. Tweeking, organizing, downloading stuff, reading articles and all the other secret things those on the extreme side of the introvert scale do when no one is watching.

I don’t mind and in fact I directly benefit from his organizing and cyber-hunting and gathering activities that remain relatively veiled to me. BUT (and you knew that was coming) I rarely get a turn on “our” home computer.

So today’s thought is about my gratitude for my very own little macbook pro 13 inch laptop and the freedom that comes with sitting on it as long as I want. Its mine.

And now I just can’t get a few things to work and don’t know how my sweet husband does what he does to make “our” computer work so well. Maybe he will spend some time on my macbook too.

Marriage is funny like that.