As the weather gets nicer (it’s over 70 today in Boston – finally), it’s only a matter of time before you’re heading to the beach or relaxing on the porch, book in tow. If you’re looking for a great read that also fulfills your love of all things personal finance  (or maybe you’re not as nerdy as I am and just love a great book) – look no further.

Cara MacMillian’s It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees! does an excellent job of breaking down different attitudes about money in a way that causes the reader to reevaluate their spending habits and the influences that impact their financial mindset. The book center’s around a professor, Catherine, and her teaching of financial attitudes and concepts to a diverse student base. She dissects how the students’ wide array of religions, upbringings and experiences contributes to how they think and feel about money, as well as how they choose to spend it. Cara does an incredible job of breaking down financial terms into easily understood concepts that make this book both applicable and easy to read for a variety of audiences with or without a financial background. The appendix contains a workbook, broken down into sections relating to each chapter, with questions that pertain to the main concepts of each chapter. The workbook, again in an easily digestible format, allows the reader to consider the influences and experiences that contribute to their attitude around making, saving and spending money. My only wish is that each section of the workbook came directly after each chapter, as I didn’t see the workbook until after I had finished the book and would have found it more impactful to complete each section as I read. All in all, It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees! Is a great and easy read for those with diverse backgrounds and levels of financial literacy.

*I was not compensated for this review. I was provided a copy of the book to read, however all opinions expressed are my own.


Overview

It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!, by Cara MacMillan, is a narrative that explores how the concept of money differs throughout various world religions and cultures. It also looks at ways in which readers can increase their own wealth through consideration of these practices.

The story takes place in a classroom where a teacher named Catherine has written the word, Money, in large capital letters on the blackboard. She invites her students to help her define what money is. The students propose varying answers, and Catherine explains how each of these different definitions comes from our cultural, religious, family, and economic backgrounds.

“This is not a get rich quick book – it is a book about authenticity,” says MacMillan. “When we learn to break free of our patterns and choose to recognize that money is just a resource, we too can become rich and truly enjoy today.”


Praise (…it’s not just me)

“It Is Only Money is a well-written and imaginative multi ethnic and multi-cultural look at acquiring wealth. I loved the give and take between Catherine, the teacher, and the diverse group of students who are in her class. Through this device, the author explores the role of money in Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religions….” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“I have absolutely loved reading It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees by Cara MacMillan. I definitely recommend it. It’s a fun, quick and easy read.”Eat, Drink, and Save Money

“It Is Only Money tackles personal finance from a perspective I had never really seen or thought about before, providing stories of how money and finances are viewed by various cultures and religions around the world.”Ditching the Daily Grind

“For as much time as we spend talking about what to do with money, I think we’d all benefit from taking a step back every once in a while and having a discussion about what money really is, what it means to us, and how that meaning shapes our behavior. It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees by Cara MacMillan does exactly this. With a super-readable narrative, Cara explores how different cultures, religions, and personal backgrounds shape peoples’ views of money… Overall, It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees is a great resource to help you to pause and reflect on where your views about money come from and what you can do to approach money in a healthier way. With that new knowledge and the lessons you’ll learn about the other views out there, you’ll find yourself in a better position to make sound choices about how to handle your money and build a better future for yourself and those around you.”Keep Thrifty

“The story keeps your interest, while the classroom stories and discussion will keep you thinking. If you are looking for a break from the normal personal finance book, with ‘how to’ steps I would suggest It Is Only Money.”Debt Discipline

“Honestly, this is one of the only books that deals with finance and money that I could not only read cover to cover, but also understood and enjoyed reading…Totally a five-star book!” – Dhwani Swadia, There and Their


About the Author

 Cara MacMillan is a thought leader in sustainability and financial management. She has the privilege of teaching and learning with courageous individuals who are committed to making a difference for themselves, their world, and future generations. As a thought leader, Cara regularly publishes in the areas of personal finance and investments.

As an adjunct professor in the School of Business at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada, her vision is to empower people to think and act for themselves financially.

She also serves as a Climate Reality Leader in The Climate Reality Leadership Corps. This group is a global network of activists committed to taking on the climate crisis by providing training in climate science, communications, and organizing to tell the story of climate change and inspire communities everywhere to take action. The result is a dynamic group of world-changers shaping the conversation on climate in forums from family dinners to international summits and building a 21st-century movement for solutions.

Cara lives in Ottawa with her life partner and best friend, David, and their two children. She is currently working on her next book, Make Big Money and Make a Big Difference, for readers who want to learn how to invest in responsible companies and opportunities.  It is due out later this year.

Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://caramacmillan.com/.


Excerpt

Introduction

As the students walked in to the classroom, they looked up to see “Money” written in large letters on the whiteboard. Grumbling could be heard as kids elbowed each other and pointed to the board.

David finally spoke up. “It’s about time this class got interesting.”

The kids sat down just as the guest professor walked in.

“Hi, m name is Catherine. I am here to teach you about money. Let’s start with a question—let me qualify, every answer is right—so, what is money?”

There was silence for a while. Then finally, the answers started to come…

“Money makes you popular.”
“Money is power.”
“Money means shopping.”
“Money means rich.”
“Money means you can buy whatever you want.”
“Money means you don’t have to work.”
“Money is something you fight over.”
“Money is greed.”
“Money is fun.”

The answers paused at this point, so Catherine asked if anyone else had anything to say.
Amal spoke very quietly. “Money is responsibility.”
Joseph smiled. “Money grows on trees!”
Everyone laughed.
Dayo spoke up. “Money is everywhere.”
Prisha added, “Money is necessary.”
Sean said, “Money is abundance.”
“And what is abundance?” Catherine asked.
Sean smiled. “I don’t know, but I saw it on the board over there.”

With this the whole class laughed again. Catherine smiled and looked around the classroom. “You each have a true definition of money. Yes, they are all very different, but we each are very different. Our definition of money comes from our families, our cultures, and our society. We each have a paradigm, or a picture in our heads, about what money means to us. Today we are going to look at those definitions and try to come up with a class definition.

“So, what is money? Simply put, money is the resource that we use for exchange. We exchange work for money. We exchange other resources like food or shelter for money. But that definition did not come up in our brainstorming. “It seems that we have added so much to the meaning of money that we all mean something very different when we say the same word. Why?

“Many aspects of our lives have become complicated. It is the price to pay for industrialization and globalization. e truth is, as we became industrialized, our demand for resources dramatically increased. So we wanted more things, and for that we needed more money. And we kept accumulating.”

“And the more things that we have, the richer we are, and the more popular we are,” Zoe said.

“But each culture still has its own teaching about money and our relationship with it. Each family has its own history and experience with money on top of the cultural teaching. So when we add this all up…it’s complicated.

“It is time to simplify and break it down into its basic components. What is money? What are our beliefs about money? What are society’s beliefs about money that are similar to our own? How do we follow our own beliefs about money rather than someone else’s?

“Are you ready? Let’s start.”

 

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