Author: MLMacomber (Page 2 of 3)

You can’t afford to miss these: 7 Books about Money

Recently, a friend asked me about budgets. Actually, more than one friend has brought up the topic. Maybe it is because of my love for Excel spreadsheets. Maybe it is because they think I have the wisdom of age and might know something. Maybe they are just desperate, and I am a listening ear. Regardless of their reasons, I savor the challenge of making income and expense formulas to help my friends reach their financial goals. It’s especially rewarding when we are talking about someone else’s money. So message me if you want to chat. 

Talking face-to-face about money and budgets can be intimidating, though. Thus this book list. Here are a few books I recommend, or I have had recommended to me, that might give you some insights on how to handle your income statement, increase your financial literacy, or just learn how others handle money. 

You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham

As I listened to Mecham read his book, I found myself nodding my head frequently. His advice for those new to the budget arena or looking to change their accounting strategies was right on target. He has an entire website dedicated to helping spenders find a way to meet their financial goals. 


As always, you are welcome to whatever personal beliefs you may have, but for me, the Bible has given tremendous financial wisdom. More than 2,300 verses in the Bible deal with money and how to deal with it. The verses apply to all walks of life, such as Proverbs 10:4-5, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Since its publication in 1926, readers have looked to Clason’s collection of parables to gain wisdom in the money realm. The short book – less than 150 pages, depending on your edition – gives timeless saving and investing rules. One of the oft-quoted sentiments of the book is regarding paying yourself first. Clason writes, “A part of all I earn is mine to keep.’ Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.” 

Get Rich Carefully by Jim Kramer

As the host of Mad Money, Jim Kramer is known for his over-the-top shenanigans and loud, attention-grabbing methods. In his book, though, all the bells and whistles are, and he gives you tactical advice on how to start working with the investment system. His experience as a Wall Street investor provides him with the knowledge, and his grasp of communication allows him to share in a way that is easy to follow. 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

This book cemented my conviction that you should learn from someone with the life you want. Robert Kiyosaki compares two different mindsets in his book and encourages readers to follow the path that gives them the results that they want. I appreciated Kiyosaki’s personable demonstration contrasting a traditional education then job model with the entrepreneurial pathway. Reading this book pushed me to find a mentor to learn from who had the financial footing I was looking for. 

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

Thank you for this recommendation, Juan. Vicki Robin’s book details the transformative concept that satisfaction with money is more than dollar bills in the bank. She challenges readers to take a more holistic approach to money and look for ways to save money and maintain the quality of life that they want. In addition to her book, check out her Life Energy Calculator on her website.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Okay, this book isn’t technically about money, but I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who is looking for ways to change their habits regarding dollars and cents. James Clear outlines numerous valuable methods for altering your life, and all of them can be applied to your budget. This book is a must-read for establishing new routines in your life, and I’d love to hear how you apply the principles to your money questions. 

Car Games

I am a create-a-game person. Time with people for me is more than just being together. I need action, energy, and something to do.

So games are my go-to. You can play a game with a lot of materials or none. You can play with young people, old people, in-between people, or a mixed-bag of people. You can play when you have 10 minutes or 10 hours.

On a side note – my games don’t typically include prizes because I strive to keep games away from being about winning or losing. I tend to focus on goals such as getting to know each other, passing the time, or learning something new vs. crowning a victor. If you can’t avoid a prize, I encourage rewards such as choosing the next song you listen to or being first in line for dinner. Easy awards that don’t require money or materials.

So let’s begin. Here are a few of the games that keep my family and friends on their toes when they ride along with me.


Instead of answering the classic “When will we get there?” question, I make my passengers guess. We all cast votes. Using your navigation app is optional. Sometimes this makes it too easy, but sometimes, it gives a good starting guess, and you never know what will come up along the way to change the destination time.


You can count almost anything on a ride: blue cars, cows, houses with garages, emergency vehicles, road signs, or out-of-state vehicles. Try to gauge what there actually might be a lot of on the ride. This game is a little more discouraging if you are counting Minis and you are in Eastern Washington, for example.

Would You Rather?

This is a simple game. Find an app with questions or have everyone create their own. There are no winners or losers, just a chance to get the conversation going.

 “It’s Yours!”

 I honestly don’t know what the attraction to this game is, but it has kept us busy on numerous road trips. Players simply pick a number. You then count cars (or houses or street signs) that you pass. When it gets to a participant’s number, they claim possession. For example, if I choose the number 4 and the fourth car we pass is a garbage truck, I’m the happy owner of an imaginary garbage truck.

Road Name stories

As you come to a street or road name or even city name, everyone comes up with a theory for why it was named that. Depending on your crowd, you may need to set a time limit for this one. Talkers really love to get going on this and can take advantage of their captive audience. For a bonus, look up the real answer when all the guesses are in to see who came closest. I love hearing the creativity and unusual stories that are generated. 


Let’s keep the stories rolling. For this version, have each person say a single sentence of the story. For an added challenge, you can require a certain keyword or maybe a main character, but I wouldn’t worry much about rules. This one is great fun as you start with a preconceived notion of where the story might go and then are jolted into reality as your nephew turns the whole plot line in a completely different direction. The benefit of this game is not just in the ability to tell a great story succinctly – you only have one sentence – but it also develops flexibility. Participants need to roll with the story and be able to adjust their ideas to whatever turn the narrative takes. 


The most common method for this game is to choose a topic and then think of a word for each letter of the alphabet. Variations abound. Instead of an alphabet, do the letters of your destination or a player’s full name. For topics, try animals, foods, city names, last names, Bible personalities, celebrities, cartoon characters, places-that-don’t-exist-yet, first names for a science fiction novel, or annoying habits. Need to kill more time? Have each player recite the answers from the previous players. This is one versatile game. 


License plates were the thing to search for when I was younger. Depending on your route, this may or may not be an option. There are lots of variations, though. You can search for the letters of the alphabet. You can search for items that begin with the letters of your name. For example, I would look for a Mini Cooper, ice cream shop, lumber yard, lawn, irritated driver, sign, signal light, and an animal. You could also search for a number of items – one passenger, two trucks, three highway signs, etc. Or search by colors of the rainbow – something red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and indigo. 

Twenty or So Questions 

Choose something and then give your carmates a chance to guess by asking you questions. This is great with just the classic rules. I don’t like to count the questions, so we just play until an answer is found or everyone gives up. Another way to do questions is to ask them about each other. You can find conversation cards online or make up your own to fit your audience. Be thoughtful. What would you like to learn about the people you are with? What do you want them to learn about each other? Cater your questions to match your goal. 


If you have paper, writing utensils, and smoothish roads, try this twist on the telephone game. Take a piece of paper, write a word on it, fold it in half, and pass it to the next player. This player looks at your word, draws it, and then folds it again before passing it to player 3. Player 3 only looks at the drawing and writes what she thinks the word is. Play continues until a player is unable to fold the paper, and you see if the last entry is anywhere close to the first entry. 

Quiet Game

Had enough of games? Need a break? The Quiet Game is here for you. Savor some moments of peace with this jewel. You can set a timer, or my preferred method is to alternate miles. First mile, no talking; second mile, you can talk; third mile, no talking. Be sure to set your ground rules early, so you don’t lose the game by having to explain why Player 4 was disqualified. Some ground rules to consider – Can I pinch another player? Does laughing count as talking? Can I fall asleep? There’s a lot to consider. 

Send me your thoughts and reviews. What do you play in the car to help the miles tick by? 

Who’s ready for a road trip? I’m ready to get out there and play some road games. I just need somewhere to go. 

Procrastination Stoppers

I am great at procrastinating. If there is a deadline and I can cut things close. I do. I’m not proud of that either. So many things would have turned out better if I had taken more time to do them… like this article, for instance. So here are a couple of tips I should read before I write my next article. 

Set your own due date

I often try to trick my brain with a separate due date. The official paper is due on the 15th, make everything in your notes say the 13th. Write it on your calendar that way. Make reminders based on that day. This can be tricky, but if you can do it effectively, it gives you a gap to do that extra proofreading or run-through with time to spare. 


Tell a friend about the deadline. Ask them to check in with you. Be sure to choose a friend carefully. You want someone who isn’t afraid to inundate you with reminders and also who won’t forget about the deadline completely. You also want to set your expectations clearly from the beginning. Do you need a reminder daily? Weekly? Do you need quick reminders or a phone call? 


In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about stacking habits. If you already do something daily, add another habit on top of that so you can do both daily. I use the same approach to fight procrastination. What am I going to do anyway today? Don’t do it until I finish a set goal with the project that needs to be completed. Right now, I really want to make dinner, but I have to get this written and published before I eat. That’s really motivating. 


When I am on my game, this is my go-to. Let’s say I’m having an ideal day. I start it by writing what my goals for the year are, then my month, then my week. Now I determine what I need to do today to meet those goals. I set out time from my day when I can accomplish those tasks and then fill in the other things that I know will come up. This is not easy, and I definitely don’t do it daily, but when I love it when it works out, and I have … no … when I make the time to get this done. 

Okay. Now stop procrastinating and get something done. Yes, right now. (I’m going to make dinner… because I finished this article.)

Listen Up! 10 ways to be a better listener right now

What did you say? Can you repeat that? 

You might hear me say this when my husband tries to talk to me when I’m on the computer. Or maybe he says it to me when he is lost in his book, and I interrupt his designated morning reading time. After 20-plus years of marriage, it isn’t said in anger but as a reminder that tuning in and taking time to hear your spouse is vital.

Being a good listener is a daily requirement for so many of us. So how can we grow that skill and be even better? Here are a few tips.

Stop Talking

You can’t be a good listener if you are always talking. Pause and let your conversation partner say what they need to say. This may mean physically biting your lip or gripping your teeth together. Whatever it takes. For extreme cases, ask a friend to give a discreet sign when you need to stop talking. Maybe touching an earlobe or looking at their watch. 

Eye Contact

Now that you’ve stopped talking focus on your body language. First, look the other person in the eye. Keep your concentration on them. Don’t look out the window or around the room. If the environment is distracting, suggest moving to a different location or having the conversation at a different time. 

Repeat Back

I know that Michael is really engaged in the conversation when he remembers what I’ve said. This doesn’t mean he recites my words verbatim. He listens and then says it back in his own words so I have confirmation that what I have communicated makes sense. This is especially important if the conversation is turning a little tenser. Hearing what I’ve said come back to me validates me (or possibly makes me pause to consider if that is really what I meant). 


Asking follow-up questions is similar to repeating back and is another good way to demonstrate you are listening. Asking simple questions to show you are turned in helps the other person feel like what they are saying is valuable. When you go to think of a question, build on what they have said. “You mentioned that it was difficult to find a part. Why is that?” “I heard you say that the trip was delayed. What happened?”

But don’t focus so much on what questions to ask that you miss what is being said. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. 


Make it a game. There are daily opportunities to start a conversation with a new person and practice your skills. The next time you are in line at the grocery store or on a bus. Maybe you get to a meeting early or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. See if you can start a conversation and then just listen. Hear what the other person has to say. Keep the information about your own life minimal. The goal of the game is to walk away knowing more about the other person than they know about you. 

Keep your thoughts on track

As you listen, it may be challenging to think of questions without your thoughts drifting. To avoid this resume, focus simply on their words. If I’m really struggling with staying in the moment, I will mentally repeat every word to myself, of course. This helps me to stay on track with the conversation. Then when there is a pause, I can repeat back what they said or just give a confirmation. 

Read all about it

My first recommendation for anyone wanting to be a better listener is to read How to Win Friends and Influence People. Despite being written in the last century, Dale Carnegie gives timeless advice for connecting with people by hearing what they have to say. A newer book that will provide you with some ideas is You’re not listening: what you’re missing and why it matters by Kate Murphy.

I hope these tips help you be a better listener today. Let me know what tips I missed or what you appreciate in a great listener. 

Book Review: Bold Spirit

Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt

Book grade: A-

Target audience: The reading level is probably for at least middle school and above. I would specifically recommend this for a mother/daughter book read.

Read-Alikes: Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven

Summary in less than 50 words: Discover the incredible true story of a mother and daughter who walked across the United States in the late 1800s. Hunt uses newspaper accounts as well as reports from family and community members to tell this compelling tale of courage and unexpected outcomes. 

How I heard about it: This book was recommended by a friend and then coincidentally I heard a talk about it when listening to a presentation through my local library She Travelled Solo: Strong Women in the Early 20th Century by Tessa Hulls.

Why I would recommend? Helga and Clara’s story gives a glimpse of what life was like in a different century. It is a reminder to learn the stories of our parents and grandparents. It is a reminder to tell stories to our children and grandchildren. 

Why I wouldn’t recommend? It doesn’t have a happy, tie-it-with-a-bow ending. 

Snow Day Ideas

What do you do when the snow falls and getting around is a little harder to do? I realized today that I didn’t have a strong list of ideas so I’m prepping for my next snow day. 

Here’s 10 ideas for an unexpected day off:

  1. Organize – I’m a minimalist and I still have the stacks of photos and papers that collect in piles in my closet. Inside days are a great time to spread everything out and make some sense of the chaos. Be brutal. What do you actually need to keep and what is just taking up space? 
  2. Walk – Get outside and experience the beauty of the snow. Take some pictures and just savor God’s creation. It is also a good time to test out your cold weather gear and see if anything needs updated.
  3. Eliminate – My husband works in IT and he is legendary for his slimmed down inbox. Mine not so much. I’m constantly getting warnings from Google that I have exceeded or I’m about to exceed my storage space. Take a minute and go through your emails and purge away. And when the emails are sorted, move on to files, photos and apps. 
  4. Dust – Maybe the chandelier, the ceiling fans or the knicknacks on your shelves. I’m sure there are a few things that get missed in the every day cleaning. Take a minute to spruce up the place and let the dust mites find a new home. 
  5. Clean – And if you are still inspired after all that dusting, keep it going by cleaning some of those spaces you don’t typically get to. Have you pulled out your dryer or refrigerator lately? Maybe under the bed or the window tracks need some TLC. This extra time could be a great opportunity to make even the dimly lit areas of your home sparkle. 
  6. Write – Letter writing is a great way to spend an indoor day. Send off some overdue thank you cards or just encouraging notes to someone you haven’t seen for awhile. Not sure who to write to? Scroll your social media thread. Text five of your friends and ask how they are doing. Go through your contact list or your address book. And don’t worry about being fancy. A folded sheet of paper with a Bible verse or piece of poetry will be a pleasant surprise in someone’s mailbox. 
  7. Craft – Finish up one of those projects that has been waiting for some free time. Don’t have a craft ready to go? Gather possible craft materials you already have in the house and then search the internet for ideas. Create a masterpiece for a neighbor or grandparent.
  8. List – It’s time to plan out the rest of your week, month or year. Take some time to list activities you want to accomplish. Plan your meals and make the list of groceries. Plan out your next shopping to buy clothes or home improvement supplies. Have special events coming up? Write out what you need to do to prepare. Make a list of gifts you need to make or buy for the year. 
  9. Color – I have a stack of coloring books and it feels nice to just sit and fill in the space. Let your thoughts wander as you concentrate on making beauty. Staying in the lines is optional. 
  10. Read – Ahhhhh. This is my favorite. Curl up in a comfy chair. Grab a blanket and plow through your next read. In fact, now seems like a good time to do just that. 

Remembering MLK: 5 Books to Read

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a great day to get outside and volunteer. But if you find yourself inside instead, here are 5 books to remember what this amazing man did in his lifetime. 

  1. The autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr

Let’s start with an account of his life by the man himself. Compiled after King’s death this volume combines his papers to tell his life story in his own words.  

  1. Speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr

I listened to this on audio and it is an opportunity to hear King’s voice as he delivers 32 of his most remembered speeches. Everyone should listen to the I Have a Dream speech with King’s voice. 

  1. The three mothers: how the mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin shaped a nation

Our mothers have a huge influence on us and King was no difference. Read about three amazing women who through their sons had an impact on our country. 

  1. Walden, and on the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

In many of his writings, King quotes Thoreau and credit him for his platform of non-violence revolution. 

  1. Dear Martin

An interesting way to learn about King’s life. In this book, a young man deals with racism by writing letters to King. Do King’s beliefs still hold up in our modern world? 

Thursday Murder Club

Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Book grade: A-

Some vulgarity

Target audience: Those who like a mystery with a bit of spice. 

Read-alikes: A Man called Ove, Louise Penny

Summary in less than 50 words: Each week, four residents of Cooper’s Chase Retirement Village meet to discuss crime. When those crimes hit close to home, the Thursday Murder Club is on the case with their humor and their walkers. It is a laugh-out-loud funny journey as they bring the criminals to justice.

How I heard about it: This was recommended by a friend. Thank you, Barb!

Why I would recommend? The characters reflect so many quirks of my friends who are a bit older. I love how natural they sound. The mystery had quite a few twists and turns that kept me turning pages as well. 

Why I wouldn’t recommend? Not 100% G content. I would probably avoid recommending it to younger readers. Also if someone isn’t a mystery fan they probably wouldn’t enjoy the title. 

Getting up and getting going: Let’s talk morning routines!

We all have a morning routine. Some are effective and some are not. Here are my 5 tips for an effective routine for your morning. 

  1. Determine what you want to accomplish

Do you just want to get out the door and not forget your lunch? Do you want to get more done during your day? Use your goal for your routine to determine what it will look like. My goal in the morning is working out and setting my goals for the day. My morning routine looks very different from my husband’s who has a goal to read for a set amount of time and write a journal entry. 

  1. Include breakfast

For me, having something to eat is a must. I have started eating the same thing every day which helps eliminate an early morning choice which in the past resulted in not eating … which resulted in a grumpier Millissa.

  1. Be realistic

I tend to overreach what I think I can accomplish. In the past, I’ve made morning routines with several activities and scheduled them down to the minute. This didn’t work as well for me. I love the waterfall habit idea. I focus on just one thing I want to accomplish each morning. Then when I have that down I add a second habit and so on. When habit #5 gets challenging, I drop back down and focus on habits 1-3 to build confidence and then start adding habits again. 

  1. Be flexible

As I wrote this article and did some research I found several ideas that I’m going to implement this week. If your morning routine isn’t working to do what you want to accomplish, switch it up. That’s the fun of life. We are designed to change and grow. 

  1. Reach out

Valuable information is all around us. One idea I’m going to try this week is asking my friends what their morning routine is instead of asking them what shows they recommend. Of course, the internet has tons of articles and the library has some great books on the subject as well. The caveat with all this information is that it must help me achieve my goal. If it is a great suggestion but it doesn’t help me reach my goal, it is best to shelve it for the moment and move on to other ideas. 

One hour to plan your year

So a friend asked me today about the process I use for strategic planning and goal setting – well, I’m not sure if she asked but I was excited to share with her. This is an outline that anyone could use. 

First 15 minutes

Review the prior year. What went really well? I go through my calendar and see what types of things filled my days. Am I happy with them? What would I do different? 

Minutes 16 to 20

Pull out a sheet of paper (or use my Goal Planning & Tracking template). Now take 4 minutes and set three focus points for the upcoming year. Do you want to go somewhere? Do you want to learn a language? Doing this quickly will help you see what is really important. Need inspiration? I imagine the one thing I want to say about my year when it is over. “This was the year I finally …” or “I loved that I completed ____ this year.” 

Minutes 21 to 40

Now that you have your focus goals now work backwards. In order for your first goal to happen in December what needs to happen by November? What needs to happen by July? Be realistic.  For example: I want to publish 100 blog posts by the end of the year. That means I need to publish 50 by June and 25 by March. I put those mileposts on my calendar in the appropriate months. 

Minutes 41 to 55

Now set a weekly goal to accomplish your monthly goal. In my example above if I need to write 100 blog posts by the end of the year I need to complete 9 (or so) in January. So for the first week of January maybe my goal is to brainstorm 9 ideas and schedule time to outline my first post. 

Last 5 minutes

Set a date to check on how you are doing for your weekly goals. Preferably, you want someone to do this with – a spouse or accountability partner. Choose someone who is reliable and is interested in doing her own goal planning. This can be done in-person or just a simple phone call. 

Whew! Take a deep breath. 

Disclaimer: Don’t get caught in the details with this. Do you need four hours for step one? Go for it. And don’t worry if what you come up with in January doesn’t look the same in March or August. Adjust. Do what works for you. 

Go Live a Life Well Read!

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