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It’s been six months to the day since we became 100% debt free! To celebrate, I wanted to share ten of the most influential books I read during our 17-month journey of paying off our mortgage. I recommend these books to anyone starting out on their own debt free journey.
Not all of these are about money. So why am I recommending them to you? Because the decision to rid yourself of debt forever is a life-changing one, and you will find yourself growing in areas you never expected.
You need inspiration and motivation to get started – or to give yourself a little nudge when you’re wondering if it’s worth it. Along the way, you may find that your relationships with others may change or become a little strained. You may find that gaining control over your money leads to a desire to gain control in other areas of your life. You will probably find that you can lead a life you never thought possible before.
These books will help you with that.
Author: Dave Ramsey
The tried and true plan for getting out of debt. Seriously. If debt free is what you want to be and you have no idea where to start, go to the library and check out this book. It will give you step by step instructions, suggestions for how to accomplish the steps, and testimony from people who have done it. And on the way there, pull up The Dave Ramsey Show or watch it on YouTube. Then when you get home, follow the Debt Free Community on Instagram. Everything I just mentioned is free!
My favorite quote: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”
Author: Napoleon Hill
This is the book that completely lit my fire. I had always thought that somehow certain things in life were for other people. Money, purpose, success – I just wasn’t dealt those cards. This book made me see that whatever I think, I am, and therefore I can make this life anything I want it to be. If you don’t get the importance of what I just said, you need to read this book.
My favorite quote: “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
Authors: Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Choosing to start a debt free journey means choosing to say the word “no” much more often than you may be used to. This is really hard for a lot of people, so this is another good one to check out at the library. This isn’t something I’ve ever struggled with (being an extreme introvert, saying no to people is vital to my sanity), but I read it when I was having a really hard time with choices that my mom was making. If I didn’t read this book a couple years ago, I would still be worrying around the clock today.
My favorite quote: “To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless.”
Author: Zig Ziglar
If becoming debt free is the first major goal you’ve ever set for yourself, you need this book. It will teach you the importance of goals, how to go about setting them and how to reach them, while helping you build your character and self-image all the way. I have the words “See you at the top” hanging in my cubicle because of this book. It really helped build my confidence.
My favorite quote: “You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”
Author: George S. Clason
This is a cheap, short, tiny book that I used to keep in my purse to read when I found myself somewhere with a long wait. It took me a few pages to get used to the way the book was written, but the messages in it are simple. Each chapter is a short story that will teach you how to get money, keep that money, then make that money work for you. Keep in mind that this book was originally published in 1926. People live a lot longer these days, so therefore, I disagree with its advice of saving 10%. I personally think you should save whatever percentage of your life you’d like to not work, so I aim for 50-60%.
My favorite quote: “Fool! You pay to everyone but yourself.”
Author: Dale Carnegie
I wish my parents had read this and passed the principles onto me, or that I had at least read the book far before the age of 27. If you want to be successful in any aspect of your life, you have to know how to deal with people, and this book will tell you how to do it.
My favorite quote: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”
Authors: Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. & William D. Danko, Ph.D.
If you’re looking for a riveting read, this is not the book. However, if you want to know about the lifestyles of the real American millionaires – not the ones you see on TV – this is the book you need to read. You’ll find they’re not made from an inheritance or expensive education, and they don’t wear flashy clothes or drive new cars. It shows that anyone can become a millionaire and that wealth does not equal things.
My favorite quote: “Allocating time and money in the pursuit of looking superior often has a predictable outcome: inferior economic achievement. What are three words that profile the affluent? FRUGAL FRUGAL FRUGAL.”
Author: M.J. DeMarco
Paying off debt can sometimes lead you to focus on things you cannot do, things you have to give up, and the sacrifices you have to make. This book helps you get in the mindset necessary to build wealth and enjoy life while you’re young instead of feeling like you have to sacrifice your youth to enjoy wealth when you’re almost too old to do so.
My favorite quote: “I awoke to the epiphany that I was the driver of my life and my problems were the consequences of my choices.”
Author: Robert Kiyosaki
I grew up in small-town, southern USA where if you’re not a nurse, first responder, construction worker or stay-at-home mom, you work at a factory or warehouse. Reading this book let me know that being an employee is not my only choice.
My favorite quote: “’I can’t afford it’ brings up sadness. A helplessness that leads to despondency and often depression. ‘How can I afford it?’ opens up possibilities, excitement and dreams.”
10. The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Ah, The Alchemist. I loved this book so much that after I returned it to the library, I found the audio version free online and listened to it all over again. It’s a short read and tells the story of a young shepherd named Santiago who travels from Spain to Egypt to pursue his “personal legend.” It may be a little woo-woo for some people, but I have looked at life differently ever since I first read it.
My favorite quote: “If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
There you have it! I read at least one book per month while we paid off our home, and those were the ten that had the most impact on me.
What would you recommend to someone starting their debt free journey?