BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
MONEY sense isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about your behaviour and it’s difficult to teach. Personal finance and business decisions are typically taught using formulae graphs and excel sheets to tell us what you should do. But in reality people don’t make financial decisions logically. Fear, greed, ego, pride, our own worldview are the underlining unfelt unrecognised drivers of many of our decisions.
For this column I was researching last minute book buys for Christmas with a financial bent. So many just drive our fears and needs and are openly greed driven. So, what I though was let’s look at a few good books that would be worth reading over the festive period and not all unashamedly financial.
The intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham’s book, the stock market bible ever since its original publication has sold millions of copies. First published in 1949 it has stood the test of time. His philosophy is “value investing” which protects us from substantial error and teaches how to develop long-term strategies.
Over the years, market developments have proven the wisdom of Graham’s strategies. There is a current edition with the classic text annotated to update Graham’s timeless wisdom for today’s market conditions by noted financial journalist Jason Zweig, whose perspective “incorporates the realities of today’s market, drawing parallels between Graham’s examples and today’s financial headlines giving readers a more thorough understanding of how to apply Graham’s principles”.
According to Harper Business Essentials edition, the Intelligent Investor is the most important book you will ever read on how to reach your financial goals.
Tie this with the book The Psychology of Money. The award-winning author Morgan Housel shares timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness. In 19 short stories he explores the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.
So often though, having been encouraged by what we read we set out our financial goals but often we become waylaid as time goes on. But, according to John Kay the author of ‘Obliquity’, if you want to go in one direction, the best route may actually involve going in another.
Paradoxical as it sounds, according to the author, many goals are more likely to be achieved when pursued indirectly. The richest men and women are not the most materialistic; the happiest people are not necessarily those who focus on happiness, and the most profitable companies are not always the most profit oriented.
Whatever the obstacles, the battles, or goals to be achieved history shows that oblique approaches are the most successful, especially in times of difficulty. The author lays out his premise in an entertaining and challenging way.
With the New Year looming and the January blues invariable approaching it’s the time we usually make new year resolutions. But so often, by the second week of January, we have succumbed to our old selves once again.
“If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you, the problem is your system,” says James Clear the author of Atomic Habits. He is one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation. He says “bad habits” repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change; “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
In this book you’ll get a proven system that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviours that lead to remarkable results that can take you to new heights.
Finally, A Christmas Carol, a tale of transformation, first published in December 1843 by Charles Dickens, of Ebenezer Scrooge. An old miser who detests Christmas, whose mind and soul has been warped by the pursuit of money above all other things. This -book was written at a time when Christmas traditions were in steady decline in England. It was seen as a major turning point in helping ensure that family unity and ‘goodwill to all men’ once more became the appropriate sentiments of the Christmas season.
It’s a lovely read or re-read for Christmas but with a point to make to all, young and old, underlining our propensity to think only of ourselves.