Thursday, March 28, 2013

Seven Must Read Self Help Books

I decided to take a break from financial blogging and decided to write on some thing else. As I mentioned earlier, this blog is for financially illiterate people, and to keep them visiting, I should occasionally write about non financial topics.

This time I selected to write on books. What are my favorite books? If I include fictions also, it is a very difficult question. So, I exclude those and concentrate on self help books. You cannot be a successful man or woman by reading or copying ideas from these books. But, those books help you to see your life and problems in a different angle and brings in new ideas, which you never thought of before.

Here are my favorite Seven self help books. I deliberately mentioned "must read" to raise your curiosity. These are just my personal choice. You may have a different taste altogether.


This is a book, which does not need any introduction. First published in 1989 and sold out more than 25 million copies, I believe most of you already read this book. If not, don't waste time, grab one and read it.

2. NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS by  Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

This is a book, which triggered a paradigm shift for me. I believed I can ignore my strengths and need to improve my weakness for a successful living, until I read this book. But when I read this book, I realized that I need to work on my strengths rather than my weakness. For an example, just imagine in his childhood Sachin Tendulkar realized that bating is his strength and he needs to improve his bowling. If he ignored bating and tried to improve his bowling, would we have a bating genius now? Just read this book.


 I am a big Carnegie fan, and I would recommend all books written by him. All his advises are simple, practical and effective. Read any one of his books, and I am sure you will agree with me.

4. RICH DAD POOR DAD by Robert Kiyosaki

My friends say whatever I talk to it will end up in finance. Here is the best finance book, I have ever read. The tag line "what the rich teach their kids about money that the poor and middle class do not" is enough to make you curious to read this book. I believe after this book, people used to use the term Rich to denote financially intelligent people.


Who will be winners in this world? People with greatest talent, dedication and education? This book says the winners are people who are not only competent, but also have the ability to negotiate. Learn the negotiation techniques from this book.



This is a book I recommend to all married couples and people who plan to marry soon. We know men and women are different in their attitudes and behaviors. How different? The book answers this. By understanding the fundamental difference of genders, we can improve the relationships.

7. WHO MOVED MY CHEESE by Spencer Johnson

The less than 100 pages book, which can be read in one hour time, helps you to deal with change. When I first completed this book, I thought it says about things I already knew. In some of the situations where change is forced on me, which is similar to scenario described in this book, I adopted quickly and moved on. But I believe it is due to the nature of my profession. This book may be useful to thousands of other people. 

Do you have some other books to suggest? Please leave those names as comments.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Money, Happiness and Luck

The astrologer in the newspaper column advices me (not specifically to me, but to all, who shares my sun sign) that happiness is not related to money. I smiled reading this, wondering how he knew that I am unhappy because of money. Some times, you should believe in astrology.

Can some one be happy if he gets half the salary for two months? No? Exactly that happened to me this month. Next month also same will happen. Don't think I made some mistake at work and the company fined me. Then why the half salary? It is the Income Tax.

At the start of each financial year, we need to submit our investment plans for tax exemption to our employers. They will reduce Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) based on these plans. At the end of the financial year, we need to submit the proof of our investments. If these proof match with the plans we submitted, then every thing is fine. If not, they will reduce TDS based on the proofs.

So, what happened in my case this month? I have submitted the investment plan at the start of the financial year. At end of financial year, our company allows two time frames to submit the proofs. One week in  December and one week in January. There are many companies that allow to submit investment proofs until February last week, but we are not that lucky. So, if we miss these two windows, we are done. They will reduce the taxes without any tax exception from last two months salaries of the year (February and March).

Then, why did not I submit the proofs during these time frames? No, I was not on vacation. We Indians are not in the habit of taking one month vacation. Then what happened? During the submission window in December, I decided that I will submit in the January. Not due to procrastination, but I wanted to include my payments in the January in the proofs. And in January, I had to go on an official trip on a very short notice.  I have not even get time to think about investment proofs, I am in the flight. When I returned from the trip, Alas, the time frame is over.

Anyway, whatever happened is happened. What is the learning from this? No more agree to office trips on short notice? Well, that is not always practical. Submit whatever proofs available in the first window itself? But, Anticrastination is one of my problems, and I am trying to get rid of it. Change to a company, which allows more time frame to submit investment proofs? I can think of it.

On the other side, what is the impact of this half salary? The money which is deducted will not go for ever. I can claim this from IT department, when I submit IT returns. So, I may get back this money, may be in six months time. So, only problem is managing these two months.

What are the options in front of me to survive these two months?
  1. Go in an aggressive cost cutting mode, to live with half the salary.
  2. Use my emergency funds.
  3. Live on credit cards.
  4. Break one or two of my investments and live on it.
  5. Lend money from friends
  6. Go for a loan.
Well, obviously I will use the combination of 1 and 2, and may be 3 in worst case. If luck is on my side, I will not have to go options below it.

Now, come back to the learning from this. Unlike many of my friends, I planned my investments for the tax from start of last financial year. Continued those investments without fail during the entire year. All these planning and efforts went futile, just because of a bit of bad luck. Yes, I am coming to my point, Luck.

What is the biggest ingredient you needed to get rich? I will say it is luck. I know it is not inspiring, but I believe in luck. Because of luck you are born to this parents. Because of luck you selected the school or college you went. Because of luck you got this job. Because of luck you started investing early. Because of luck you continued your investment for long period. Because of luck you got good returns. Because of luck you are rich.

Convincing? My be not. Just because of luck, you cannot do every thing. For example, you need to put some efforts to start investing early. And to keep those investments even during hard times. But, remember, from where you came to know about the idea of investing early? From a friend? From a book? From a movie? Isn't it because of luck you happened to hear it? Well, many are unlucky not to hear about the idea of investing early in their careers. And some heard, but did not give any attention. Some gave some attention, but did not put efforts to do it.

Thinking more about it, to get rich you need luck and efforts. Only one is not going to work. So if you have not started investing early, at least be lucky enough to start it now. Put on efforts, and luck will follow. One or two times, bad luck may take you over, but not always. Start now. All the best.