Thursday, October 14, 2010

Changing the Conversation by Gary Klaben

Usually after finishing a book and review, I like to go read other reviews about the book and see what everyone else thought of it.  Sometimes I have to ask myself if everyone read the same book I did.  Same title.  Same author.  Same basic promoted premise.  What I read, isn't what everyone else seems to have read though.  In this specific circumstance, I've actually gone back and rewritten my review because I just didn't find in this book the same thing everyone else did and I'd really like to discuss it.  Be forewarned, I'm a bit verbose in this one, but I had a lot I wanted to share.

Firstly, Gary Klaben is a financial advisor, ex-military, and primarily family man.  When I was approached with the book, I was expecting a book filled with information on how to make my family more financially sound.  With today's economy, it sounds like a necessity for nearly every home.  Most of the reviews I read touted it as a financial help book as well.  Some went so far as to mention that it was both a financial and family planner.  When I started reading, I didn't find lists of financial advice.  I didn't find any of those conspiracy theory secrets to making my dollar stretch from here to Neptune.  What I found is a heartfelt book, consisting of several lives worth of wisdom with a dash of financial information thrown in.  There are some sound tips for dealing with finances, but the financial aspect is really more of a backdrop rather than the point of the book, in my opinion.

What I found in this book was a deep look at the way that life has changed over the past few generations.  The importance of family and keeping it simple is really lost on today's generation.  Being close to middle aged myself (GASP!), it really hit me just how much things have changed in my lifetime so far alone.  Growing up, I didn't have the internet or worry about having the coolest car or whether I had the latest I-Pod.  These things are great, honestly, but that's one of the serious things that have changed.  My life back then was being with friends and looking forward to time with my family.  Baking cookies with my mom was way more important than going out and buying expensive treats.  Dad dancing with me in the living room was way better than any movie we could have seen at the theater.  Once I started working as a teen, financial living was pretty easy.  Work, get my paycheck, spend it.  I didn't really have a lot of bills other than clothes that I wanted or music.  Now that I'm an adult, there's rent and utilities and car payments and cable payments and soccer practice and insurances and counseling expenses and travel expenses and date out expenses and trips with the kids expenses and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  As for the financial aspects of this book, that's what I took away.  Things are just too complicated these days.  Instead of having complex lives, simplify it.  Start cutting out the things that don't matter.  I have to admit that sometimes I could be accused of being a lazy parent.  I know, it's horrible, but I'm being honest.  There are days when I'd happily hand my son a $10 and send him off to the movies with a friend rather than sit and play a board game with him for an hour.  I love playing games with him, but sometimes there are other things that need done too.  Of course, by simplifying, those things no longer come into the picture, freeing up time to spend with my son.  This makes us a richer family, not only in closeness, but financially as well.  Money is only important in our lives in that it allows us to make our lives the way we want.  The best financial advice I received from this book is to really take a look at what matters in my life and go from there.

If you're looking for a book that's going to give you cut and dried tips on what to do to make more money or make your money stretch further, this probably isn't the book for you.  This book is an enriching, engrossing collection of stories and life tales that paints a picture of what a full life is.  Though there is financial advice ingrained in the entire book, if that's all that you're looking for you'll be sadly disappointed.  This book is an inspirational and motivational tool to use towards changing your life and getting back to your core beliefs.

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