Your Money, The Missing Manual: A Personal Finance Book Review

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2010-04-1410

Your Money: The Missing Manual, personal finance book

As someone with a software engineering background, I’m quite familiar with the popular O’Reilly books that have come to grace my shelves — all in the field of IT, software and general technology. But given my shift in career focus over the past few years, I haven’t really come across an O’Reilly book in a while, till recently, when I’ve had the pleasure to receive and read J.D. Roth’s new book, Your Money: The Missing Manual.

I’m actually still reading the book and can tell you that it’s what you can expect from J.D., the guy at the helm of one of the most popular personal finance blogs in existence, I don’t say this lightly as someone who’s collected more than a few financial books throughout the years, but this kind of book is something I’d quickly call a favorite. It’s an easy, breezy read, something that I’m convinced should be palatable to a wide spectrum of finance enthusiasts, and has just the right balance of information and inspiration.

Being a fan of behavioral finance, there’s a lot in Your Money that I could appreciate. Lots of great guidelines, anecdotes and encouraging words here. I also found the book very comprehensive; it struck me as a very well rounded way of tackling the subject of wealth, money and personal finance — from the practical stuff all the way to the psychological. If you’re after the big picture on this subject, this would be the ideal book to get. Here’s a peek at some of its sections and chapters.

Your Money, The Missing Manual: A Personal Finance Book Review

Basically, the book is divided into three main parts called Blueprint for Financial Prosperity (which PF blog followers out there will recognize as the former name of another popular PF blog named Bargaineering), Laying The Foundation and Building A Rich Life. There’s so much meat in these sections, I regret that I won’t be able to mention them all in this quick review.

Under Part 1, Blueprint For Financial Prosperity, J.D. discusses why being happy is more important than being rich (having “Enough” is the key to happiness, and there’s research to support this!). He then gets into goal setting, where I particularly liked the list of tools and resources offered. I like the certain unexpected tips that are included here, such as the need for “accountability partners” to help you stay on track with your finances. It then follows up with effective budgeting, which tells you what kind of budget works and why most fail, along with strategies for defeating debt. It also get extra points for mentioning another one of my favorite financial books, Your Money or Your Life, which gave me fresh new perspectives on finance and helped shape some of my own views and relationship with money.

With Part 2, Laying The Foundation, you’ll be empowered to read about how you can live richly with less, how you can make some money on the side or think like an entrepreneur, how you can make most of your accounts, use credit in the right way, how to decide if you should buy or rent a house, and how to deal with the big ticket items in your life. And there’s an interesting discussion about those things we deem inevitable: death and taxes.

And finally, Part 3, Building A Rich Life, gets into investing, retirement topics and how money ties in with your goals and the things that matter most to you — your relationships with friends, family, church, charity and community. The final chapters allow you to look at money at a deeper level and hone in on the stuff that’s truly important. Actually, allow me to rephrase that — I found many reminders in this book, from start to finish, that brought forth the importance of understanding the role of money in our lives and making sure that we knew what it meant to us. It’s this extra treatment that adds a wonderful substance to the book that you won’t find in many other works on the subject.

If you want to pick up your own copy, you can check out Your Money, The Missing Manual at

A Few Final Thoughts

I like J.D.’s use of tip and note boxes but there’s also one more thing that I found both unusual and quite helpful, which added an extra dimension of interactivity (no, sorry there’s no multimedia CD included): you’ll discover that the book generously references Internet resources via tinyurls (shortened URLs). So if there were relevant online resources to a money topic at hand, you’d find them both sprinkled in the book and also cross referenced in a site called in an organized fashion.

And sure, while I have given you many reasons why I’ve been enjoying this book, there’s just one more reason why you may accuse me of a little bias (which I’ll quickly protest as unfounded 😉 ). The fact is, J.D. was kind enough to give me a shout out in a couple of its pages! Check out pages 145 and 267 for a mention of a couple of articles I’ve written here, some time ago:

The vibe and tone of the book is surely something you’ll find friendly, engaging and accessible. Pretty similar to the first impressions I received from the author himself, whom I also had the pleasure to meet in a finance blogger conference a couple of years ago.

Copyright © 2010 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Bennett April 15, 2010 at 5:48 am

I didn’t think that the book focused enough on J.D.’s biggest strength — his understanding of the emotional issues that come up in trying to save money. The aim was to provide a broadly focused guide, a sort of Everything You Need to Know About Money. There are of course people who need that and it serves that purpose fine. But I will be more excited when J.D. writes a book that hits the buttons that J.D. regularly hits in his blog entries. That will be something truly special.


Andy @ FirstFound April 15, 2010 at 7:47 am

Having a tie-in website with links is something many authors just don’t do. So when you stumble across on someone that does, kudos to them!

It certainly looks like this is a book worth investing in.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

I think J.D. started off the right way though. Bear in mind that this is likely only the start for him and for a first book, this kind of wide coverage on money is, to me, a great way to go. It introduces your writing and you make a stamp in the field, so to speak. I’ve read lots of money books and this one does make a great connection because it’s such an easy read. I’m pretty curious about what J.D. will come up with next. Perhaps it will be along the lines of what you mentioned (perhaps in the area of behavioral finance).

CJ April 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I’ll have to check this one out. Most of the books I’ve read about managing finances are a bit too dense for the inexperienced, like me. I’m young and just starting to think about those “big ticket” items. My goal is to hit that happy area where I’m not rich, but I have enough.

Rob Bennett April 16, 2010 at 2:14 am

It introduces your writing and you make a stamp in the field, so to speak.

Yes, it fills a niche. There are lots of people who will benefit from it. I certainly wouldn’t have turned down the book contract if it had been offered to me. It’s a great thing that we have a fellow blogger who have achieved this level of success.

I’m pretty curious about what J.D. will come up with next. Perhaps it will be along the lines of what you mentioned (perhaps in the area of behavioral finance).

I’ve had an e-mail conversation with J.D. about this and he indicated that he would love someday to write something with more of a behavioral finance focus.


ConsumerMiser April 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm

I hope I get around to reading this book. It sounds interesting. I am especially interested in reading J.D.’s section on “Laying The Foundation”, which you say addresses how you can live richly with less and how you can make some money on the side. Also nice to see that J.D. is giving shout outs to other personal finance folks. Thanks for the summary.

Jimmy April 18, 2010 at 5:38 am

I just found your blog and I have to say it’s impressive. I’m a fairly new blogger and just to throw out my 2 cents, you seem to know about quite a few topics and seem very personable. So…subscribe!!!

Ms. Smartypants April 25, 2010 at 10:09 am

Looks like a great personal finance book. I’m off to check it out.

Michael Smith April 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm


I’m really a big fan of some of the books you mentioned above. The book “your money” is extremely recommended, it gives a whole new insight of how to put money in your pocket. Thanks for the valuable information.


Golden ISA May 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Hmm, i really think that looks like a great book. I really want to get my hands on it, but it still haven’t arrive in my country bookstore 🙁

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