Book Review: Worry Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons

by | Apr 3, 2018

Worry Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life by Shannon Lee Simmons isn’t making empty promises in the title. There’s literally no guilt in it. None.

The revolutionary thing about Worry Free Money is that it doesn’t start with spreadsheets, calculators, or systems. Oh, there are plenty of great tools in here, but you don’t even meet them until the Hard Limit system shows up on page 74; instead, Shannon spends the first quarter of the book identifying and dismantling the reasons money and spending are so entwined with our feelings of adequacy, belonging, and success. Her training as a life coach is evident throughout, but particularly here, where she makes it clear that the tools in the following sections aren’t going to fix your relationship with money if you aren’t willing to look at why it’s broken in the first place.

Anyone who can write 301 pages about personal finance without relying on shaming readers into following “the rules” must be incredibly entertaining or super smart. Shannon is both, and more: she’s empathetic, funny, and so, so practical.

Who should read it?

Almost everyone should read Worry Free Money: Newly independent kids just learning how to adult, singles, couples, families, people with enough money, people with more than enough money, self-employed folks, 9-5 lifers, people thinking about retiring and people who are financially independent, people who love spreadsheets and people who don’t.

If you’re already confident in your ability to happily spend less than you make, however, or consistently save enough to reach your goals, carry no debt, and have never woken up at three in the morning wondering if you’re screwed, Worry Free Money probably isn’t for you (although it might give you valuable insight into how other people think about money). The book also can’t help you much if — for any number of reasons — you aren’t earning a living wage, have to choose between paying for necessities like food, shelter, power, and clean water, or are facing troubles no amount of facility with personal finance can solve.

If you only have time to read one chapter: Chapter 11: Saying No without Feeling Guilty, hands down. If you have little difficulty saying “no” to spending on yourself but find it incredibly hard to say “no” to friends, family, and community (join the club, btw), you’ll breathe an enormous sigh of relief once you get through Chapter 11. Trust me.

If you only have time to read one paragraph: “There are bound to be some Life Checklist goals that you have already accomplished and some that you fantasize about achieving, even if they aren’t realistic in terms of what you can actually afford. Those things might include travel, becoming debt-free this year, renting a bigger apartment without roommates, starting a business, putting your kids in Montessori school, buying or renovating a home, rock climbing, a year in Provence — the possibilities are endless. Chances are your people — your Joneses — will have many of the same boxes on their own lists. When you see them ticking off the boxes faster than you are, beware of falling victim to the Inadequacy Influence. You may feel anxious, frustrated and ready to throw money at them, simply to prove that you can have all those things too. When you feel that happening, focus instead on what you have already achieved on your list and what’s truly important going forward. And know that you haven’t failed at life. You’ve just made different choices.” (from Chapter 2: The Joneses and the Life Checklist)

If you only have time to read one two sentences: “If budgeting isn’t working for you, it’s not you. It’s the budget” (from Chapter 5: Why You Need to Stop Budgeting)

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