Favorite Books

Ever wonder what the most successful business people do in their spare time? They read. If perhaps you are reading this blog during “vacation time” between Christmas and New Years, here are a few library suggestions. If it’s after January 6th, you can always order online from your favorite bookseller.
Bill Gates, Microsoft. We thought Gate’s selection of favorites were particularly interesting, especially in view of the recent election outcome.

  • String Theory by David Foster Wallace
    A collection of essays on the game of tennis. While reading it may be enjoyable if you are a tennis fan, it has nothing to do with business.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
    A memoir by the co-founder of Nike about what the path of business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes.
  • The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
    The past, present, and future of genome science with a special focus on ethics. Time to thinking about all this.
  • The Myth, by Archie Brown
    After the election, a look-back at the book about great leaders: not the ones we perceive as “strong leaders” but the ones who collaborate, delegate and negotiate—and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers.”
  • The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke
    This book has special interest for Gates because his first job in high school was writing software for the company that controls the power grid in the Northwest. It may be especially interesting to us now considering that we live in a scary world dependent on the power grid to keep us informed and alive.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon. Books shaped Bezos’ career, and he continues to shape our culture and what we buy.

  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
    This novel about a butler who recalls his career in service during wartime Great Britain during a motor trip has become for readers a meditation on the condition of modern man.
  • Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton
    An autobiography from the man who founded Walmart—he was made in America, though most of what he sells is not.
  • Memos from the Chairman by Alan Greenberg
    The former chairman of Bear Sterns shares his memos to employees on modesty and frugality, which in light of the collapse in 2008 of the company he led, makes for interesting contemplation.
  • The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.
    An influential computer scientist makes the counterintuitive argument that small groups are more effective at solving problems than large ones. Actually, the basis of Bezos’s 2-pizza team rule at Amazon—that teams should never be larger than what 2 pizzas can feed.
  • Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins
    Why certain companies succeed over time and the core ideologies that guide them (and why only those employees who embrace the central mission flourish while those who don’t are expunged “like a virus” from the companies.

Diana Louiso, DLMoneyMatters

  • Books also shaped my career. Books like ledgers, QuickBooks, and books read to grandchildren curled up on my lap.

Happy New Year 2017!

Avoid Debt This Christmas

Gifts can be expensive at Christmas, but with a little planning and discipline you can put the “merry” back in shopping this season. Here are a few helpful tips:

Christmas presents

  • Make a List. If you prefer to shop the stores, before you go make a list and a budget. Decide in advance how much you’ll spend for each person on your gift list and don’t let anything deter you once you’re in the stores.
  • Use Gift Cards. Before heading for the mall, consider shopping with gift cards. Some stores offer discount gift cards including Apple, Costco, Target and many of the major banks. Discounted Gift Cards
  • Get Cash Back. Rather than use an assortment of store credit cards for purchases, use your credit card with the best deal on cash back. You can’t enjoy an immediate discount, but it may pay off in the long run.
  • Explore Social Media. Social media is packed with deals. If you know where you’ll shop, check their website’s social media buttons like Facebook and Twitter and read their posts to find money-saving discount codes.
  • Ask for Discounts. If shopping online, don’t hesitate to take advantage of a good barter. Once you have a few items in your cart, before you click the purchase button, try the online chat button. Let them know your cart’s total and ask for a 15% discount or you will abandon your cart and make your purchase somewhere else. This won’t work every time, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Group Gift. When buying gifts for an entire family or group, consider a “group” gift instead of individual presents. You might consider a basketball hoop and ball for an active family, or a gift from Omaha steaks that everyone in the family can enjoy.
  • Re-Gift. If you work in an office, suggest a Secret Santa ‘white elephant’ gift exchange.

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, the average shopper intends to spend an average of $830 on gifts, and 30% plan to spend over $1,000. Of the total, the amount spent on family members was $462, and couples, depending on how long they were married, spend from $92.50 in the first year to over $300 in the later years (hmm, how love grows!).

But one statistic stands out: how much you spend on yourself while shopping for others! According to one survey, 55.8% will splurge on themselves adding an extra $132 to their Christmas spending. With all the bargains out there this season, it’s no wonder we find it so easy to justify a little pampering for the weary shopper.

Have a merry shopping Christmas from all of us at DLMoneyMatters.