Jan 032010

Just released in 2010, One Year to an Organized Financial Life is the latest installment from Regina Leeds, the “Zen Organizer”.  I’ve previously reviewed her book “One Year to an Organized Life” and found it a refreshing change in the field of organization. This book continues a winning pattern and expands it to an area where I (and many others) especially need some serious help – our finances.

Overhauling any aspect of our lives can be an intimidating. There are so many things we could do differently. So many small and large habits that need changing.  Regina approaches this problem by having us concentrate on only one issue at a time, one per week, over the period of a year. Every month she introduces one key habit for the month, one helpful tool for the month, and then introduces one change or habit each week, in nice bite-sized pieces. Follow through on these easily manageable assignments, and in one year, ta-dah! you’re financially organized. Or at least in a lot better shape than when you started.

One of the beauties of this approach is that you can pick up the book any time during the year and start the program. You don’t need to start in January (although January would make a great time to start). Some of the months deal with items specific to that time of the year. for example, in November Regina deals with gift-giving, holiday spending and organizing holiday parties and get-togethers economically. The fact that I tend to start thinking about these things in December instead of November is an indication of just how much help I need.

The chapters and assignments give some really exceptional ideas for spending less money, making more money, saving for the future and protecting yourself from life’s uncertainties. Regina covers insurance (of all kinds), investments, retirement, college planning, budgeting, entertainment, and the aforementioned holiday spending.  In this book, she has a certified financial advisor (Russell Wild) along to supplement her organizational knowledge with expert financial knowledge about such things as various kinds of tax-deferred savings accounts and tax-loss harvesting (if you don’t know what that is… you need this book).

When I open up a book on financial organization, I generally expect to hear that I should spend less, save more and make spartan cuts in my lifestyle. Perhaps that’s why I don’t generally like such books. The ideas in this book, however, are surprisingly fresh. I am getting a lot more new information out of it than I expected.  And, like her previous book, Regina doesn’t focus exclusively on the mechanics of organization, but also explores and rehabilitates your feelings about financial issues, through such tools as journaling tasks. The goal, after all, of “Zen Organizing” is a feeling of peace and security – not organization for its own sake.

So, if you feel your financial life needs some serious help (we know who we are), this is a gentle program that takes you by the hand and leads you through a year of easy steps to feeling much much better about your economic situation. There are no theories without simple, practical steps. Take the first step and give the book a try.

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