Review: The Financial Diet

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
This book was written by the founder of The Financial Diet blog. Its general philosophy is that poorly researched, inconsistent, and desperate attempts at change are as bad for your wallet as they are for your health. Instead, one should cultivate a balanced, consistent "financial diet". Aimed at beginners and primarily millennials, this book covers everything from budgeting, to cooking, to minor home repairs, emergency funds, career planning, and a general life outlook that places money in its proper context.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS?
As someone who already follows the Youtube channel and blog, I didn't feel like there was much new information in terms of the strictly financial topics. This doesn't mean the information that's there isn't great (it is), just that I was already somewhat familiar with it.

What I really liked, though, were all the interviews with experts and Chelsea's own life advice. The book talks about self-worth in terms of career, that the biggest obstacle is often believing we are good enough to try, especially in a world where career paths are no longer linear and easily predicted. The book calls this the "career lattice". By believing you can try, or that your skills can be applied to different industries, you open yourself up to lots of opportunities for growth.

Related to this is the insistence that you do not need to "love" your job. It will never love you back, and while sometimes passions align with steady employment, that isn't the norm. It's perfectly fine to value security and resources that then allow you to pursue the other things you want out of life.

Chelsea's Rule of Four illustrates this nicely. At any given point in your life, you should be able to point to 4 things that are life-giving. This can include your job, but also family, friends, hobbies, passion projects, spiritual connectedness. By ennumerating these things every so often, you can keep yourself in a frame of mind that prioritizes balance. And even more importantly, as is true with multiple streams of income, one disappointment or loss in this model is not crippling

There is also lots of talk about Future You. According to Chelsea, Future You is someone you build every day with each decision - you pay them, plan for them, and keep their goals at the forefront. By doing this, you lose the tendency to see sacrifices as punishment, and start seeing them as investments in Future You.

Lastly, I really liked the emphasis on not pursuing money for the sake of money. One of the experts interviewed said, "Money is a tool, not a goal." This means that it's vital to cultivate a posture where you're asking how money can help get you to the life you want, and not assuming a perfect life will materialize once you've "made it" financially.

By measuring wealth in terms of freedom from worry, ability to pursue other projects or goals, or capacity to help those in your life that need it, your progress in managing and understanding money will be a lot more meaningful and sustainable.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Honestly, I'd think it was perfect if I wasn't already familiar with a lot of the content. I respect that they kept the content that is most at the core of their brand (and what most people need to know to get started), but really worked to expand it into a broader lifestyle book. It also looks wonderful, with beautiful fonts and style, courtesy of the co-founder, Lauren.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I think most young people would really benefit from reading this. The advice is technically US specific in places, but I had no issues translating it to Canadian equivalents. The Youtube channel partners with lots of app providers, and that has introduced so many good tools into my life. Most importantly, this book is written in a way that makes you feel empowered and capable of making change in your life. This is not a message young women often hear, especially in the world of finance. Plus, Chelsea herself is a treasure (check out her Twitter, like, yesterday).

RATING
★★★★

5 Great Podcasts

2018 Reading Challenge