It Is Only Money – Book Excerpt and Giveaway

MichaelChallenge, Education, Habits, Misc, Saving Money24 Comments

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It Is Only Money

Today I have a special post and giveaway for Cara MacMillian’s book, “It Is Only Money: and It Grow’s on Trees!“.

The Book

I recently had the opportunity to read Cara’s book and it does a fine job of explaining personal finance concepts in an easy to understand manner, while still being entertaining.

Cara has been kind enough to allow me to publish a particular excerpt from the book about spending and frugality, which is something I’ve been meaning to touch upon more in the blog.

Frugality doesn’t need to be over the top, but it’s an important pillar of becoming financially alert.  And, it should definitely be a tool we use to build our net worths quickly and efficiently.

For a chance to WIN a Kindle version via Amazon of “It Is Only Money: and It Grow’s on Trees!“, I will be holding a drawing next weekend (April 22nd).  There are a few ways to enter – find the details below.

Begin Excerpt

“ I learned that I need to spend less than I make,” said Zoe.

“Let’s start with that then.”

Spend less than you make.

I know what you are thinking—I don’t make enough.

Change the way you spend. Be aware of what you spend, choose to spend less, and you are on your way to saving.

When people tell me that they simply can’t afford to spend money on the things they truly need, I ask them to go back over their spending. The first thing I find is that people are not really sure exactly what they are spending money on. You see, with the advent of direct deposit, direct payment, and credit cards, we have lost the ability to consciously pay for things.

You may wonder what I mean by that. Let’s go over the basic household living expenses. First, we pay for our homes. That could include a rent or mortgage payment each month. We pay for heat, water, electricity, repairs, and landscaping, which could include snow removal or gardening. We might also pay taxes and condominium fees.

There was a time when our parents had to write a check or pay cash for each of the items listed. Each month you felt it in your gut when you actually had to take the money out of your bank account and hand it over for payment of your various expenses. You had to be accountable because you did the action of making payments. The benefit of this was that you had the opportunity to evaluate the costs of these expenses each month. You also had the opportunity to assess whether or not you could decrease any of these expenses for next month.

But today, our bills or invoices are emailed to us, or we must go online to access our accounts. The money is taken automatically out of our bank accounts. We don’t even have to look at the bills.

The act of reviewing electronic bills takes much more self-discipline than it did for our parents. We must consciously sign-in to all of our accounts and review the costs each month. This is important. If you are not already signing-in to each system and checking your accounts each month, you must start.

You must start to become conscious of all of the expenses for your home. Why? The answer to that question is simple. First, you will have the baseline for your expenses. The baseline will allow you to budget. You will also have the baseline from which you would be able to challenge yourself to save money each month. So tell me, will you commit to checking your electronic bills?

Make choices. Find creative ways to save money. The important thing is to have fun. If you are a competitive person or if your family’s competitive, you can see this as an opportunity to compete at saving money. This competition will benefit all of you.

Do you know how much you spend each month?

What are some ways you can start saving more money?

End Excerpt


We all have expenses, but do you really know all of yours?

I like that Cara touches upon the need and discipline to review expenses in the Information Age.  It’s tempting to automate our finances so much that we become blinded to what’s happening with our cash flow.  I know I’ve fallen into this trap myself several times.

Thankfully, tools like Personal Capital are available to give us some overall visuals.  But, it still requires us to look at it regularly.


Readers, are you ready to WIN a copy?  You can enter up to 5 different ways:


She won the KINDLE copy of – It Is Only Money: And It Grows on Tree!

Thanks everyone for participating.

  1. Leave a comment below (How frugal are you on a scale from 1 to 10?)  
  2. Sign up for my newsletter (you’ll be entered automatically if you’re already a subscriber and enter the raffle one additional way)
  3. Engage on social media (Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook) #frugality  


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Hi, I have been blessed to take an early retirement in my mid-30's so I can focus on becoming a better father, blogger, and investor.

My goal is to help you find your personal path to financial freedom, and to enjoy the entire journey.

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24 Comments on “It Is Only Money – Book Excerpt and Giveaway”

  1. Interesting question – How frugal are you on a scale of 1 to 10?

    I would say I’m a 7 or 8 in comparison to the average adult, but I’m closer to a 9 in comparison to myself 10 years ago. Using Personal Capital along with my trusty spreadsheets helps me keep track of it all.

    Thanks for sharing Cara’s book, Michael.

  2. “If you are not already signing-in to each system and checking your accounts each month, you must start.”

    I must say, I’m naturally pretty frugal, but don’t have the systems in place to perfectly track it. I should start by just scheduling a monthly review and sign up for some tools like Personal Capital to help!

  3. I would say that I am fairly frugal (7/10) but being a college student in San Diego definitely makes it a bit more difficult. It sure is expensive down here!

    Looks like a good read.

    1. Keenan, college is a great time to be frugal, but I definitely hear you about the cost of living in SD! Which college are you attending? I assume you’ve been enjoying our perfect weather the past couple of weeks. 🙂

  4. I think frugality gets a bad connotation in modern society. When exercised in accordance with your own values, it’s liberating. Being frugal requires mindfulness and often naturally pushes one towards aspects of minimalism. All of which are highly correlated with less stress and anxiety. Sounds like a great book, will have to add to my list!

    1. I like that you’re focused, Troy. Experiences are certainly one area that I like spending my money on. I’m definitely not the most frugal blogger out there either. I’d probably rate myself a 6. 🙂

  5. I’m semi frugal!!! I’d probably rate myself right in the middle at 5. In certain areas I’m certain frugal, like a car but splurge on good food and experiences 🙂

  6. I’d say that I’m probably a 9 maybe a 10 as I can manage to feed a family of five for $150 a month.

  7. I’d say I’m about a 4. I know I need to do better. Never learned about budgeting growing up so it’s something I still struggle with.


    She won the KINDLE copy of – It Is Only Money: And It Grows on Tree!

    Thanks everyone for participating.

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