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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

June is flying by, and I’m flying through stacks of review and library books. Here’s what I have been reading:

Empathy Economics: Janet Yellen’s Remarkable Rise to Power and Her Drive to Forge Prosperity for All, Owen Ullmann
Janet Yellen is a fascinating figure: not only is she the first woman to hold several key US financial positions, including Treasury secretary, but her approach to economics consistently aims to benefit ordinary citizens. Ullmann has written a thorough, well-researched biography of Yellen’s life and career, which is also a crash course in the U.S. financial system. Dense at times, but mostly very clear, and important. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 27).

Now What? How to Move Forward When We’re Divided (About Basically Everything), Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
I love the ladies of Pantsuit Politics and their wise, thoughtful approach to politics and other difficult conversations. This, their second book, explores how to talk about tough stuff with our families, friends and communities. Practical and thought-provoking, with examples from their own lives; I loved it.

The Betel Nut Tree Mystery, Ovidia Yu
Just after Britain’s king abdicates to marry Wallis Simpson, a wealthy British man (engaged to an American widow) is murdered in Singapore. Chen Su Lin, assistant to Chief Inspector Le Froy, investigates. A fun second adventure with an engaging protagonist, and a fascinating slice of colonial life.

The Last Karankawas, Kimberly Garza
Garza’s stunning debut novel takes us into the Filipino- and Mexican-American communities in Galveston and nearby parts of south Texas. I loved her narrative voice, and the way her characters’ lives are intertwined. As Hurricane Ike heads for the Gulf Coast, residents must make the choice to evacuate or to stay and hunker down. This is a part of Texas I don’t know as well; it is recognizable but also new. Gorgeous. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 9).

Alias Emma, Ava Glass
Emma Makepeace (not her real name, of course) always wanted to be a spy: her father died honorably attempting to help bring democracy to Russia. Years later, Emma receives her first major assignment: she must ferry the son of Russian dissidents across London, before sunrise, while staying well away from the city’s surveillance system. A fun, twisty modern-day British spy thriller; first in a new series. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 2).

With Love from Wish & Co., Minnie Darke
Marnie Fairchild has spent her adult life working hard to build up her gift-wrapping and -buying business – and wishing she could move into her grandfather’s old shop. When she mixes up the gifts intended for a wealthy client’s wife and his mistress, trouble ensues – and to top it off, Marnie finds herself falling for the client’s son. A warmhearted story with some interesting ethical questions at its center and engaging characters. I particularly liked Suzanne, the client’s wife, and Saski, Marnie’s big-hearted accountant and friend. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 16).

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

What are you reading?

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The weather, their kids, books we’re reading, joys, frustrations, existential questions, virtual hugs. I miss in-person time, but this is a vital way to say I see you, and be seen.

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I am married to a marriage and family therapist.

And up until about a month ago, we rarely talked about money.

I know. My sweet husband spends his days helping couples, teenagers and families talk through their biggest issues, and we usually don’t have a problem talking about ours. But since our financial situation has fluctuated rather wildly during our three years of marriage (due to graduate school, a cross-country move and shifting employment situations for both of us), and since we’re both frugal, make-it-work people, we’d adopted a make-it-work policy of budgeting, paying bills and treating ourselves once in a while. This policy was working pretty well – but we didn’t have an overall plan. We’d never actually sat down to have any sort of financial “meeting.”

Enter Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class, which we’re taking this fall (along with about a dozen others at our church). I admit, Dave Ramsey’s style kinda drives me nuts (either the man drinks too much coffee or he’s just naturally caffeinated) – but his principles so far seem mostly practical and sound to me. And the course is forcing us to do what we’d never done: take a good hard look at our finances, and talk at length about our attitudes toward money, our spending/saving/giving habits, and our plans for the future. (And give us a big push toward knocking out some of our substantial student loan debt.)

I’ve picked up some useful tidbits from Dave’s video lessons, and from our post-lesson discussions with the group. (It doesn’t hurt that our course leader is a financial planner and CPA.) But by far the most formative, challenging part of the course has happened when I’ve sat down at the kitchen table with J, pencil and bank statements at hand, to discuss where our money’s going, and how we can save more, give more and manage it better. (Side note: I love Mint.com’s handy budgeting tools and pie charts, where you can see all your accounts in one place.)

We are not rich, nor are we accountants (and talking about money for too long stresses J out, so we’ve learned to take breaks and focus on the most important things during each session, rather than hashing out every single detail). But it feels good to be formulating a purposeful plan for our money, rather than flying by a slapdash strategy. It’s helping me think more deliberately about purchases large and small – and coming to terms with my own attitude, and fears, about money. Most importantly, it’s drawing me closer to the man with whom I share my life and bank accounts – and that, to quote our friends at MasterCard, is priceless.

Have you taken a financial management course? If so, what have you learned? (I’m always eager for more tips.)

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