The Meaningful Money Handbook – Book Review

Book cover

The Meaningful Money Handbook by Pete Matthew

Available on Goodreads

My rating: 5/5

Important: Please keep in mind that though I rate this book highly, I do so not for the observed effectiveness of its methods (as I’m writing this prior to undertaking the majority of the tasks it advises) but for the knowledge it has provided me.

A helpful, though sometimes sobering read, The Meaningful Money Handbook is a great choice for anyone looking to better manage their finances by getting out of debt, saving money, protecting against the worst, and investing. It provides a basic understanding of the financial aspects involved and advises on what to actually do.

Written by personal finance expert and podcaster Pete Matthew, The Meaningful Money Handbook is a guide which takes you through everything you need to KNOW and everything you need to do to DO to secure your financial future. The handbook focuses on three key steps that should help to achieve this; 1. Spend less than you earn; 2. Insure against disaster; 3. Invest wisely.

Knowing and doing, are a clear theme running throughout the handbook and chapters are clearly divided into KNOW and DO sections. As the names suggest, the KNOW sections give background information on the topics covered, and the DO sections explain to do to act upon that knowledge and get closer to financial security.

1. Spend less than you earn

Whilst the concept of saving money is straight forward enough, I’ll admit that when I made the decision to start managing my finances, my thoughts on how to go about budgeting and saving were slightly half-formed. I appreciated Matthew’s coverage of this topic in the handbook. He not only explains why and how to budget, he also gives advice on how to stick to your budget so that you can successfully direct some of your earnings towards savings and investment.

Quite helpfully, Matthew’s also directs to his free budget planner which provides a format to input the details of your earnings, debt and bill payments, and budget. There is also space provided to enable weekly review. I’ve actually already started using it and can say that its easy to use and understand, and the pre-existing functions help to simplify inputting information and updating.

Though it doesn’t apply to me because I don’t have any debt (excluding student debt, which works differently to other kinds), I read through the section that covers getting out of debt and protecting against further debt. It was straight forward advice that I think could be easily followed and benefit those who do struggle in this regard.

2. Insure against disaster

Insuring against disaster is admittedly the step I’d given the littlest thought to before I purchased Matthew’s handbook. Though I’m not naïve to the fact that the worst can indeed happen, I seldom stopped to consider the financial ramifications if I were to experience a disaster such as major injury, critical illness, or death.

Matthew explains why it is important to protect against potential disaster, not only for yourself but also for the people around you. And, in the case of death, for the people you leave behind.

The Meaningful Money Handbook goes through different types of insurance and in doing so helps the reader to start to understand which protections might be most beneficial for them. It also advises on how to best go about keeping track of your insurance information.

A chapter also covers wills, trusts, and power of attorney (topics which I’d considered even less than insurance prior to reading the handbook). Matthew very much stresses the importance of having a will and establishing power of attorney and explains what trusts are, which I very much benefited from as someone who prior to reading the book didn’t understand them beyond any reference to a “trust fund baby”.

Regarding everything covered in this section, whilst I very much hope that my need for such protections remain distant, Matthew has definitely encouraged me to seriously think about these aspects of my financial security and to go about initiating such protections.

As vague as the idea of a disaster is in my mind, I’m sure that if I go about protecting myself as Matthew advises, I’ll feel better for knowing that any potential disaster will be more easily managed by me, or the people around me.

3. Invest wisely

Investing was admittedly the portion of the handbook I was most looking forward to reading. In fact, my decision to buy this handbook in particular hinged on the inclusion of this topic. Though my current savings are destined for not-too-distant purchases, I do have savings power which I’ve been hoping that I could direct to investment at some point in the future.

I was quite pleased with the information that The Meaningful Money Handbook provided. It delved into topics such as types of investment, what you might get out of them, and how best to invest depending on whether you want to take a hands-on or hands-off approach.

The chapters for this step included more financial jargon than any other – which I admit made certain lessons difficult for me to completely understand. However, I do think I at least have enough to begin doing further research.

A good place to start

Matthew notes that his book is not a comprehensive font of knowledge, but only seeks to provide the basic understanding of how to secure one’s finances.

After reading the handbook cover-to-cover, I have a much clearer idea of what I should do to help me reach at least some of my future financial goals – like buying a house, living comfortably, and eventually, retiring comfortably.

Throughout the handbook, Matthew stresses the importance of intent and how it can benefit a person aiming to improve their financial situation, and I very much agree that this is the way to go about things. And though I am a little overwhelmed about all the tasks involved in actually getting to a place where my financial future might actually look bright, I’ll endeavour to take things step-by-step and keep The Meaningful Money Handbook close at hand for ongoing future reference.

I am now really hopeful that I can achieve the financial future that I want, and I’m excited about doing so. (And, hopefully that excitement feeds into my intent and vice versa, providing a useful feedback loop.) I very much think the handbook will do the same for any other person who picks it up, so I really do recommend this to anyone and everyone wanting to secure their financial future.

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