The Courage To Act

Overall score 8.2/10

The Courage to Act by Ben Bernanke

The Courage to Act by Ben Bernanke is one of the better economics books I’ve read. Recounting the events before, up to, and after the ’08 crisis, Ben Bernanke had a front seat to the entire situation as chairmen of the Federal Reserve. Bernanke brings a unique insider’s point of view from the crisis and objectively reviews exactly what happened and how different areas of the government, obviously with heavy emphasis on the Fed, reacted and tried to deal with the crisis and it’s eventual fallout.

I get it may not make the most exciting reading for someone just interested in personal finance but for anyone interested in macroeconomics and how the financial system works in the United States I highly recommend this book. Having graduated from college with a degree in economics I had plenty of classes that referenced and were even focused on financial crisis’, especially the Great Recession of 2008-2009 but not a single teacher could truly convey what Ben Bernanke so simply puts in his book. How close not only the financial system came to ruin but the United States economy along with it boggles my mind. The complete evaporation of credit may seem to have affected Main Street with higher interest rates and stricter lending criteria but had the Fed and the government not intervened there could have been a complete collapse of the very fabric of our capitalistic society.

I know that sounds like a doomsday prophecy and looking back from where we are now it seems hard to fathom the conditions that led to this crisis and the crisis itself. Personally I was too young to fully understand what was going on. All I knew was that a lot of people were out of work and my parents retirement accounts lost a lot of money. Now reading the chairman of the Fed’s first hand account of the crisis I understand why those accounts lost so much value and why people were looking for work.

Bottom line is this book will help you if you plan on studying economics in college. This book will help you if you want to understand markets better and the interconnection of our financial system. And this book will help you if you want to understand the recession. It’s a welcome glimpse into the brain of Ben Bernanke and you should take full advantage.

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Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The Modern Piggy Bank’s Rating: 10/10

If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders… what would you tell him to do? What would you tell him? To shrug”

Atlas Shrugged is one of, if not the best book I’ve ever read. I picked it up after learning of how many successful people attribute their success to the philosophy enshrined in this book and after finishing it I could completely understand why.

I won’t lie. This is a long book, it will take a long time to get through and it can be slow at times. But every page brings you a new insight into how the majority of people interact with reality and how badly you don’t want to be like most people. This is actually the first book that I went back to read passages and pages over again, not because I didn’t understand them, but because I wanted to absorb the words again.

Presenting her philosophy of Objectivism in story form, Rand creates characters we can all associate with people we know in our own lives. You’ll also find the ideal characters don’t seem so unrealistic and the way they live their lives so simplistic, you’ll wonder why it’s not common sense. Francisco’s speech on money, probably spanning 20 pages, is eye opening and will be sure to burn in your brain for a long time. Even though this book revolves around the storyline of good versus evil it’s about fundamental moral laws that all people should adhere to but so many just throw by the wayside.

It’s actually a struggle for me to write down all I want to say about this book because there’s so much to say and I don’t want to go on a rant. Feel free to email me at founders@themodernpiggybank.com and I’ll happily tell you everything I love about this book in more detail.

So let me finish by saying I don’t care who you are, what you do, or what level of success you have achieved, this book will change the way you look at the world. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with investing and personal finance per say but handling of money is as much of a mental test as it is anything else. In fact, a whole new area of study called behavioral finance is attempting to learn more and understand the connection between our thoughts and the way we go about money.

The very second I turned the last page in Atlas Shrugged I knew I was a changed person and I know you will be to. There is no denying it that Rand touched a long forgotten truth about the human condition and brought it to life through her writings.

Atlas Shrugged is a book I will return to time and time again to read over and over or sometimes just read certain passages and speeches. I’ve gone on to read another of Ayn Rand’s books: Anthem. And am currently making my way through Fountainhead.

Embarking on the journey that is Atlas Shrugged is a long one but not an expensive one. The paperback can be bought from amazon for less than $10. Just click the link below and it’ll take you directly to the page.

Atlas Shrugged

Make sure to let us know what you think! We welcome any discussion about this book or any others that you’re reading. As always we ask you to subscribe using your email so you can stay up to date on all the exciting things going on at The Modern Piggy Bank and follow us on twitter @themodernpiggy2.

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The Art Of War

The Art Of War by Sun Tzu

Black chess piece surrounded by fallen white pieces

The Modern Piggy Bank’s Rating: 8.9/10

Proclaimed as one of the best books ever written on military strategy, The Art Of War is so much more than a book about combat. Taught in MBA classes across the nation, the teachings of the legendary Sun Tzu can be applied to any business struggling against a competitor, any startup looking to find it’s place in the market, and most importantly, to dealing with your own personal finances.

Consisting of 13 chapters, The Art Of War covers the entirety of warfare as it was understood during Sun Tzu’s time..

Written in prose so prevalent to early Chinese writings, this book doesn’t make the greatest translation to English. But no matter the choppy language or weird paragraphs, the message is universal. You must conquer yourself before you hope to conquer your enemies.

One of the biggest take aways from this book is the idea that the outcome is already decided before you take the battlefield, all that’s left to do it to fight. The same can be applied to personal finance. How you prepare is how your money is going to turn out.

While some passages of this book are irrelevant to modern society such as how much it costs to fund an army of chariots and infantrymen, the rest of the book can directly be applied to every day life.

From asking yourself a series of questions before you decide to act to waiting until they right moment to strike, almost every single paragraph can impart a lesson you will take and use in your own life.

It may take a little to fully understand this book, but when it clicks, it makes it all worth it. The only reason that we didn’t rate this a 10/10 is because it’s not exactly a book on investing and saving per say. But we will be sure to break down the book in more depth and how to apply it to minimize your expenses and optimize your savings in a later article.

While we are going to do the work of breaking down The Art of War for investing and saving purposes. We highly recommend this book to the aspiring entrepreneur or any business person in general. It will teach you how to go about your dealings and interactions with others and come out on top.

One of the best part about this book is the short time it takes to read. You can finish the entire original text in an afternoon. If you want to dive deeper and want to read annotated notes on the text, we recommend the Barnes & Noble Classics Series, (this is what we read) which includes commentary from the Chinese Masters.

We hope you pick up a copy and open your mind to a shift in your thinking about going up against obstacles in your own life using the teachings in this book. Always remember:

“The Art of War is of vital importance to the State” -Sun Tzu

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Everytime. 7/10

Our Rating: 7/10

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

A classic and essential reading for those seeking to further educate themselves on the financial markets. This book reads like an informal textbook that will teach concepts, provide real world examples with accompanying charts, and keep readers entertained with stories and anecdotes.

The author is a Princeton economist who is a champion of the efficient market theory. He begins with a brief history of financial bubbles that most people will think too crazy to be true. But we here at The Modern Piggy Bank looked more into these and were shocked at how irrational crowds can be and how strong mob mentality is.

Next, he shows how the biggest money managers on the street invest. Lastly, the information is wrapped up with practical ways for the average person to invest their money for the long run.

“Forecasts are difficult to make- particularly those about the future”

Malkiel argues that most money managers charge high fees for strategies that 1) not guaranteed to beat the market and 2) are strategies most investors can employ for a significantly lower cost. Malkiel’s main theory is that individual returns are random at best so no one can consistently beat the market.

We enjoyed this book as it shows, with real data, that money managers might not be the geniuses the media portrays them to be. However, our thoughts diverge in that to truly believe in Random Walk you must also believe that investors like Warren Buffet and Ray Dalio, who have consistently beat the market over the long term, don’t actually have an edge.

A paperback copy can cost around $13 on amazon and is a must read for anyone interested in the market. Just click on the link to be redirected to amazon: A Random Walk down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Hotly Debated. Ultimate Rating: 5/10

Our Rating: 5/10

This relatively short read on the importance of personal finance and investing has us in a huge debate here at The Modern Piggy Bank. One of us loves it and thinks it is a great start to learning personal finance and investing while another one personally hates it and think there is no practical advice. Regardless, here is our unbiased review.

The book reads as a series of short stories littered with financial advice. It follows the authors life from childhood to adulthood and sheds some light on how he was able to build his fortune through the years. Kiyosaki will routinely talk about how he consolidated expenses while seeking investment opportunities and follow it with practical knowledge of finance and accounting that can be applied to daily life.

This book can be an amazing starting point as to how to get in the mindset of wealthy money minded individuals. The ability to look at someone’s experiences and learn how they came up with an original investment idea while minimizing personal expenses can really cause one to re-evaluate what they are doing with their own finances. Kiyosaki was born into a middle class family that was us savvy with their finances, but his mentor was a prominent businessman, so the book allows you to see what separates a money minded person from the average.

What the book lacks is sound financial advice, especially when it comes to investments. Kiyosaki built his wealth during much of the 80’s and 90’s when the regulatory landscape was a bit more lax than it is today. The book itself was published in 2001. He will talk freely about securing loans with ease and purchasing low risk financial instruments with dubiously high returns. At The Modern Piggy Bank, we both agree we would not invest in most of the strategies he talks about in the book if they were even still possible.

Overall, the book has sold more than 32 million copies, has been a New York Times bestseller, and has been endorsed by many celebrities and news outlets. On the flip side, critics will say it provides no sound financial advice and reads as a cookie cutter self help book.

We personally believe there is no such thing as a bad book. You can purchase the paperback for less than $10 on Amazon or get the book for free if you google “Rich Dad Poor Dad PDF”. Pick up a copy and let us know what you think.