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Max Ong Zong Bao
Max Ong Zong Bao

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Personal Finance Principles I Learnt From Books

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash


I recently came across an episode on the Startup Therapy podcast called "Startup Don't Go Bankrupt - Founders Do".

That podcast episode resonates with me that brings back bad memories and cold sweats in my first year after graduating from university.

Luckily going through it had made me stronger and landed me in where I am now.

Doing hard work which time passes very quickly every single day instead of dreading work every single day.

Here are some principles of personal finance that I learnt growing up through books to help me navigate the waves of financial uncertainty in my first year graduating from university.

My hope with these financial principles from books could help in making better purchase decisions and growing yourself to be a better person as you go through life.

Pay Yourself First

This is one of the first few financial principles that I learnt while reading the book RIchest Man in Babylon.

Which talks about setting aside 10% of your monthly salary to a savings & investment account, 10% for giving it away & 10% for enjoyment before paying everyone else.

This was especially important to help you cultivate the mindset of accumulating wealth.

This had helped me to overcome problems in life by using this principle alone.

Invest in Yourself

By investing in yourself to shape yourself to a better person can set you on a path to do work that matters and live a fulfilling life.

The main gist of Investment in yourself is to be proactive and not being passive by waiting for your HR or someone to designate where you should train yourself to become better.

Investing in yourself can come in different forms which could be a non-monetary basis.

It could be spending time and effort to pick up new technology like what I did to pick up Django to be a Django Developer.

Paying for a mentor, advisor or coach who has the skills, experience or network you want to be over coffee & tea to pick their brains.

It could be spending both time & money for books, conferences, workshop, seminars or just doing volunteering work to gains skill like by teaching coding classes.

Focus on Cost, Not on Price

I remember that a gif quote was floating around on my facebook feed a few weeks ago on buying cheap clothes makes you a better person.

I laugh when I saw that cause through the book Stop Acting Rich by Thomas J Stanely.

You should focus on the cost of ownership not the price of a product.

Say you have 2 different t-shirts of the same style, colour and brand but the difference is the material & build quality.

The price of the first t-shirts is $40 whereas the second t-shirt costs $80. Which would you choose?

Is it the first t-shirt instead of the second t-shirt due to the price?

Now, what if I were to tell you that the first t-shirt can last you for about 3 months whereas the 2nd t-shirt lasts you about 1 year due to the build quality.

Essentially the total cost ownership of the first t-shirt if you were to buy 4 of those to last you a year before it spoils is $120.

By just buying the 2nd t-shirt which is $80 is more affordable in the long run due to the material used & build quality.

I'm pretty sure you will spark joy in using less and focusing on just the essential with high-quality items that last a long time.


I just practice what I had learnt from books that I had read over the years in the area of personal finance and investing.

This has helped me to make better decisions in buying things for myself and growing my mind to be acceptable of new wisdom.

There are tons of books on personal finance and investing, here are 3 books that I really like and had open doors to my understanding of it.

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This post was originally posted on Max's blog at Personal Finance Principles I Learnt From Book and Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash


Top comments (2)

lukewduncan profile image
Luke Duncan

Just a note - I know Max linked a Dave Ramsey article in his references. Dave Ramsey is a personal finance god. He does a really great podcast and live Youtube videos pretty much everyday. If you listen to him for a week, I guarantee you'll have everything you need to know about what you should be doing in your personal finances. And he shares techniques for getting out of doubt, how to pay off all your debt, how to invest once your out of debt, spending habits etc!

Great article Max. Thanks for creating and sharing!

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Dave Ramsey is awesome which I based some of my other financial principles around him as well like having a debit card and baby step 1 which is to save a thousand as an emergency fund.

He often quotes the "Millionaire Next Door" & "Richest Man in Babylon" as part of the way you should live your life and managing your finances.

I'm more aligned n towards Robert T Kiyosaki which focus on entrepreneurship and becoming an investor.

Which the 3 books that I had listed offer views that are both different and challenge your convention of wealth and being rich that allows enough room for you to pick your own journey.