31 Days to Radically Reducing Your Expenses gives you a lot of options for cutting back. The author helps you realize that you can – even when you don’t see it – and that planning is everything.

A big part of adulting is managing your money. From negotiating a salary to managing a budget to starting a side hustle, money is present in every aspect of your adult life. So why not read a book on how to make the most of what you have?

Enter 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses by Kalyn Brooke.

The premise of the book is simple: take a long, hard look at your finances and figure out how to reduce them. And not just the little expenses, like the daily coffee or new purse or book. The big ones like your housing expenses (there’s more than you think!) or groceries. Reducing your expenses on the big things frees up more money for the fun things so you can maximize your income and even save!

It’s not always an easy task, reducing your expenses. It takes time and means making some hard choices and trying to do it all at once is overwhelming. Fortunately for the reader, Kalyn breaks it down, day by day. As in, she gives you a task to do each day.

For instance, one day you’ll look at your electric bill and the next you’ll negotiate your car insurance and the next you’ll learn how to manage special occasions. And while the book is structured in a way that all items under one category are grouped together, you can read and apply them in an order that’s most helpful to you without losing the message.

Each budget category she has you examine comes with a minimum of 4 tips to practically and realistically reduce your spending. She’ll tell you where you can find deals or coupons, websites for ideas, even simple and frugal hints for hair and pet care. Everything she presents is reasonable and at no point does she make you feel like you must do what she says.

It’s all helpful advice, like you’d get from a financially savvy or frugal friend (and she even includes tips from her blog readers. I enjoyed getting their perspectives as well as Kalyn’s). And even those who are already great with money might pick up a hint or two.

The only part of the book I’d caution about is that the first 14 days or so are very homeowner directed. While renters can certainly find pieces of helpful information, it’s not necessary to heavily invest in those chapters if you don’t own a home. Maybe read and store the information for a later day, when and if you choose to buy a home.

Overall, this is a practical guide to keep on hand for when you feel like your budget is getting away from you. It also makes a great primer for anyone just starting out or finding themselves on their own for the first time.

These are the important Adulting takeaways.

  • There’s always room to reduce an expense, even when you think you can’t
  • Everything is negotiable
  • Fixing your budget doesn’t happen in one day; it takes time, discipline and patience
  • DIY is a great way to save money but sometimes you need a professional. Have an emergency fund for those occasions
  • Understanding Parkinson’s Law alters your position on your income dramatically
  • Planning is key to managing your money
  • Changing your money habits ultimately falls on you
Kalyn Brook

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If you’re not making any progress on your reading list, read more using the best apps and technology.

Maybe you’ve been following along with our reading series. Maybe you’ve gone through all the benefits of reading and maybe you’ve even signed up for our reading challenge. But maybe you’re struggling to get those books read because you can’t find the time or you can’t get to the library or buying books isn’t in your budget right now. And maybe it’s making you not want to read.

That’s not cool. Not cool at all.

Fortunately for you, there’s a ton of apps that you can add right to your smartphone or tablet that give you access to all the books you can want, making it easier for you to find and take your books with you. Best of all? Most of them are free!

Here are some of my favorites:

Kindle. If you want the benefits of a Kindle without buying one (or if you’re like me, you want one but don’t want another device to keep track of), all you have to do is download the app to your phone or tablet. It’s free and you get most the perks of owning a Kindle (for instance, you can’t access the Kindle lending library or Amazon store directly from the app. At least I can’t. If you know how to do this, please share your tricks.)

Flipster. This is a free library app for magazines. It’s great if you want to read magazines but don’t want to commit to any subscriptions. You can’t get all the magazines but you can get a lot and there’s a ton of variety. All you need is a library card.

Overdrive. Another free library app but this one is for books. You can access your library’s entire eBook catalog (pro tip: sometimes the wait for an eBook, especially a new or popular book, is shorter) and not only that, you can add books from places like Project Gutenberg (more about that in a minute) and you can read books directly on the app. Again, all you need is a library card. P.S., you can also get audiobooks via Overdrive.

Project Gutenberg. An online database of free eBooks that have expired US copyright protections. That means not only can you read them for free, you can use the material in them as you see fit. A word of caution: double check to make sure the book you’re reading has an expired copyright as there are some with protections.

BookBub. A daily deals site exclusively for eBooks. Books range from obscure to popular, there’s a range of genres, and there are often free books available.

Serial Reader. Not to be confused with the incredible podcast, Serial Reader is an app that helps you read classics in 20 minutes a day. It’s perfect for people who want to dive into classic literature but don’t have a ton of time each day.

Litsy. A hybrid of Instagram and Goodreads, and it’s exclusively devoted to bookish things so if you find yourself scrolling through IG just for book pictures or reviews, or for ideas on what books to read, get on Litsy stat.

NetGalley. THE source for ARCs. They’re free, they’re eBooks, and the only thing you need to do is review the book somewhere. You won’t always get all the books you request but you will get most of them. The best part is finding ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of books by popular authors and getting to read them before all your friends.

iBooks. If you have an iPhone, you don’t even need anything else because you have a bookstore and reading app built into your phone! If you use your library app or Overdrive or any of the other ones listed, you can have the book delivered right to your phone in ePub format for easy iPhone reading.

Google Play Books. Similar to iBooks but I’m not sure if it comes as a default on Androids. If not, you can simply download it and access the millions of books in the Google library.

For those who like audiobooks, there’s Audible. However, it’s not included on the list because not only is there a membership fee, you have to pay for the audiobooks. Same for Kindle Unlimited. You pay a monthly fee ($9.99) but unlike Audible, you can download and read all the books you want without an additional cost.

Now that you have your books literally at your fingertips, it’s up to you to carve out the time to use them. My favorite tip? Every time you feel the urge to open Facebook, open your reading app instead. Before you know it, you’ll be through one book and onto the next!

What apps do you use to keep up with your reading? If you use any of the above, which are your favorites?

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Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle offers personal stories with pop culture references in a highly-entertaining and modest read.

This is the second in an ongoing book review series we’re doing here at Adulting. If you have a book you’d like us to review, or if you’re an author with a book you’d like us to review, please let us know! We’ll consider all submissions but cannot guarantee that we’ll select yours.

Today we’re talking about Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle by Clayton Daniel. Clayton is a former financial adviser who realized, after talking with his clients, that people wanted more choice and freedom in how they use their money. Based on his personal and professional experience in creating ideal lifestyles, his book (and accompanying website) was born. Bonus: if you go to his website, you can download the first chapter for free!

Listen to our recent interview with Clayton Daniel!

Unlike most motivational lifestyle books, this one encourages you to decide for yourself what your ideal lifestyle looks like. He doesn’t bang the retire early drum or force you to travel the world; he recognizes that not everyone has those goals. But he wants you to identify what your goals are so, throughout the book, he guides you through a series of exercises to determine exactly that. Because once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can set up your money and your choices to make it come true.

Money, and how you manage it, is the crux of the book. As an advocate for reducing decision fatigue, Clayton presents his 5 bucket system as a solution. The system involves automating as many decisions as possible so that you can give your energy and attention to what’s actually important. Knowing that your rent money will automatically be paid on the due date or that your discretionary spending money will appear in your account relieves you of the reminders and the pressure to do so. And for those who are leery of not having control? He maintains that every decision regarding the automation is left in your hands; not one choice or movement is made without you authorizing it.

It’s essentially using the banking and bill payment features already at our disposal to our advantage. He just gives the push to do it.

Also in his automation strategy is investing. As a warning: there’s a lot about investing in this book. Clayton makes a strong case that investing is the best way to create wealth and fund your ideal lifestyle. The information is logical and easy to digest, and he infuses it with humor and examples to lighten up the dryness but still. Investing is boring. Necessary. But boring. Fortunately, you can always skim it on the first read and then reread each section one at a time when you’re ready for it. This isn’t a one-sitting book, and it’s not a one-read only book.

Now you’re probably thinking that there’s dozens of books like this one. What separates this book from others in its genre and why should you read it instead? Well, it has personality. It’s not a dry, boring book. It’s filled with humor (especially in the footnotes — not since Jen Lancaster’s books have I been so entertained by footnotes), subtle pop culture references, personal anecdotes that both tell stories and make him relatable, and it has its version of Cliffs Notes at the end of each chapter. Think chapter summaries but focused in helping you use the information effectively. The exercises he has throughout are thought-provoking and useful as well.

The book also doesn’t present itself as the only solution to your problems. It presents itself as one, although highly effective, solution. The lack of arrogance combined with a genuine desire to help the reader certainly sets it apart.

These are the important Adulting takeaways.

  • Automate your finances to reduce decision fatigue.
  • Determine what’s important to you and spend your money on those things.
  • Having discretionary money (and spending it) is okay!
  • Ask yourself “what’s my purpose in life”, a vague but important question.
  • Everyone’s definition of ideal lifestyle is different.
  • Spending and saving are fluid. Goals change and how you use your money should reflect those changes.
  • Invest, invest, invest.
Clayton Daniel

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Hustle Away Debt strikes a good balance, and the author shares what he learned from experience.

Over the next several months, I’ll be reading and reviewing a number of books that can help you with your finances, career, work/life balance, and all the facets of life that comprise #adulting. Welcome to the Books for Adults series.

While I’m not 100% on board with the self-improvement genre and gurus as gospel, I do believe that they offer some insights or tricks to make life easier or provide a “hey, I never thought of it that way” moment.

Up first for review is Hustle Away Debt: Eliminate Your Debt by Making More Money by David Carlson. David is the founder of Young Adult Money, and the book (and the site) is a result of the approach he and his wife took to pay off their massive student loan debt. He maintains that it’s not always possible to cut expenses but it is always possible to earn more money.

This extra money, derived from side hustling, is what you can use to ramp up your debt repayment or savings.

However, this isn’t just a “you need to side hustle” book. For those who’ve already decided they want to, or those who are on the fence, it reads like a comprehensive handbook or manual. Not only does the book provide an objective view of side hustling, covering both the pros and cons as well as dozens of easy to implement ideas, it provides a roadmap for how to start a side hustle.

The author guides you, step by step, even giving helpful information and instruction on the back-end tasks like taxes, improving your 9-to-5 performance, and seizing opportunity.

For those who are overwhelmed by the idea of a side hustle, this book breaks it down into small, simple steps. You can probably start a side job doing something you’re already doing!

But he also recognizes that having a side hustle isn’t for everyone and asks that you look at your motivations and circumstances for starting one. You might realize it’s not a good fit and that’s fine.

While the book comprehensively looks at both sides of side hustling, the best part is David’s tone. He strikes a balance between motivation and encouragement without making the reader feel like having a side hustle is something they absolutely, 100% need to do; he admits there are benefits to a full-time job that a side job cannot provide.

For the reader who doesn’t want to surrender working full-time, that’s helpful to hear. Beyond that, David asks the reader to look at their finances. Rather than berate or condescend to the reader who might be in debt, he accepts that it’s a fact for many people, including him and his wife, and provides a plan for taking control of their money that doesn’t involve selling everything they own, giving up their Dunkin Donuts coffee, or living a spartan existence.

Books like this, when they’re derived from personal experience, provide more value to the reader than books from experts who’ve never been there. There’s a level of understanding and practicality that you don’t always find, especially when you feel like the author is talking to you instead of at you and with a tone that doesn’t insult your intelligence.

These are the important Adulting takeaways.

  • Before starting your side hustle, define your “why.” Without your “why,” it’s almost impossible to sustain.
  • It’s possible to turn anything into a side hustle, even if you’re stuck at a desk 40 hours per week, if you use a little creativity.
  • Side hustles provide diversified income, can help protect your finances in the event of a job loss, and can help you get ahead.
  • A side hustle does not have to convert to a full-time job; in fact, there are benefits to a full-time job a side gig cannot provide.
  • There are tangible and intangible benefits to side hustling including time management, learning to prioritize, and skill building.
  • Look at all facets of your circumstances (for example, time, relationships, employment, finances) before deciding to side hustle then determine what kind you should implement.
  • Side hustles do not have to be permanent. They can provide a temporary boost in income for debt or savings and, once you’ve achieved those goals, you can let the side hustle go.
David Carlson

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Looking for a few good books? We’ll help you find 12! Join the Adulting.tv Reading Challenge and read at least one book a month in 2017.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about why it’s important to read, how you can find time to read, and even provided you with a comprehensive (yet not exclusive) list of important and life-changing books to read.

If you can’t tell, I think books are pretty important. So I’m challenging you, in 2017, to up your reading game.

You can do it by setting a goal for the total amount of books you want to read. (If you use Goodreads, it makes it incredibly easy to track.) You can do it by committing to reading one book outside of your preferred genre. You can do it by reading every single day — don’t break the chain.

Or, if you want, you can do it by joining our first ever Adulting.tv Reading Challenge 2017!

Disclosure: Adulting.tv may be compensated if you take action after visiting certain links in this article. We stand by our editorial integrity and would not be linking to or discussing this topic if we didn’t believe it was in the best interest of you, our audience.

What’s the Adulting.tv Reading Challenge?

The Adulting.tv Reading Challenge, or ARC2017, is a year-long challenge designed to encourage Adulting readers to read more books.

Rather than give you specific books to read because a) this isn’t school and b) we’re all adults who can make our own choices, we’re giving you a list of topics and suggestions.

Here are the topics.

JANUARY: A book about politics or current events
FEBRUARY: A memoir
MARCH: A finance book
APRIL: A translated book
MAY: A classic book
JUNE: A banned book
JULY: A book written before 1950
AUGUST: A book of short stories or essays
SEPTEMBER: A book about a historical event
OCTOBER: A book over 500 pages
NOVEMBER: A book under 150 pages
DECEMBER: A self-improvement book

You do not have to read the books in the order the topics are listed. The month names are here just to guide you, if you choose. You can start with the one you want to read the most and work your way down. You can start with the one that you’re least looking forward to reading and work your way up. You can start randomly in the middle. Doesn’t matter at all. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. And, you can start any time!

How you pick your books is up to you. There are plenty of lists you can browse, you can crowdsource options, you can tweet me (@saysjana) and I’ll be happy to give you a suggestion or two, or you can ask a librarian. Anything you want. It’s your choice.

If you want to combine a couple of the categories into one book, you can. For instance, you can use Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People for May or July. Or you can use Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for April or October. It’s okay. We’re flexible!

Join the Adulting.tv Reading Challenge!

You can absolutely do this challenge on your own without checking in with us. We’re not going to come after you if you don’t. But part of the fun is talking to other participants so if you want to do that, here’s what you do:

First, review the topics and make a list of what you plan to read. Please note that these selections are not set in stone, you can change them any time you want, and, if you find yourself hating your selection, stop reading it! Life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy. Then pick something else for that category.

Also, you do not have to buy any books. You can use the library, borrow from a friend, read what’s on your shelf, or any other economical way you can think of to find books.

We picked 12 so you’re only reading one book a month. If you regularly read more than that, add one of these to your rotation. If you’re not a regular reader, this is a good place to start. (In fact, the average person only reads about 10 books a year so this puts you above average.)

Second, share your list! Share it on Instagram or Twitter or whatever social media makes you happy. Make sure to use the #adultingreads hashtag so we can find you.

Third, join the #Adulting Community on Facebook. About once a month, we’ll post a question asking how you guys are progressing through the challenge.

We want to know about the book you’ve read and how you like them. The monthly book discussion is a great way to engage with your fellow readers and maybe get some ideas for future reads. We’ll even have prizes throughout the year within these discussions..

Fourth, read the books!

That’s all there is to it.

Remember, this is a challenge, not a competition. We want you to read harder, smarter, and more often. It doesn’t matter who gets through their list first or if you’re the last one across the finish line. Or even if you don’t complete your list. All that matters is that you’re reading.

P.S. I still haven’t finished my list but when I do, I’ll be sharing it with the #Adulting Community on Facebook so make sure you join us!

Editor’s note: Feel free to share this using the graphic below to spread the word about the Adulting.tv Reading Challenge. If you’re a blogger, look for the badge at the top of this article. You are free to use the badge on your own website. Share a post about what you are reading!

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You do have time to read. Make it a priority, if even for a few minutes a day, and you’ll see the benefits.

Remember being assigned reading lists in high school? Assuming you did your homework, that might have been the last time you took the time to read a real book. Or any book. Or anything beyond a social media post.

You’re not alone if that’s true. After all, we’re getting busier and busier with family, work, and other obligations, and reading for fun or pleasure gets pushed farther and farther down the priority list.

But that’s not an excuse to feel better about it. Even if you’re not an avid reader like I am, you should still be reading books (or blog posts or magazines or newspapers or anything, really).


Because what we gain from reading is limitless. Reading gives you some place to go when you’re stuck at home, it helps pass the time in boring situations, it’s a cheap hobby, there’s a book for everyone, and they can change your thinking. That’s just the beginning, too.

Reading reduces stress. If you spend your day working hard, a relaxing book or entertaining graphic novel could be what you need at the end of the day to wind down.

Reading improves vocabulary. A more diverse and nuanced vocabulary makes you a better communicator, and that advantage has a positive effect on all aspects of life as an adult.

Reading increases empathy. Books can expose you to ideas and cultures you may not experience day-to-day. Being able to see life from other perspectives strengthens your emotional intelligence.

Reading expands knowledge. Ideas are best expressed through writing, and even with video and blogs, written words in the form of books continue to be the best way to spread knowledge.

Reading improves writing and comprehension skills. Effective writing is a crucial skill, and you can easily find examples of poor writing. Just look at any meme on Facebook. As your writing skills improve, you’ll stand out more and make better impressions when it’s important to do so.

Reading sharpens your memory. As you read, you’re giving your brain a work-out, the kind of exercise it needs to stay healthy and sharp. Reading is harder work for your mind than just watching a movie, and a lifetime of reading leads to a complex mind with strong comprehension and retention.

Now you’re probably saying, “Jana, you’ve sold me. I really should read more. But it’s just so hard to find time or motivation to read a book — or anything printed with words. How can I do it?” Well, you’re in luck because it’s a lot easier than you think and you definitely have more time to read than you think you do.

Here are some tips.

Read intentionally.

Define your purpose for reading. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? What do you want to learn? Are you reading to relax? Once you know why you are reading, you can focus, find the appropriate material that will engage you and keep you interested, and you’ll find yourself wanting to read.

Schedule a reading appointment.

Yes, it’s hard to find time in the day to read. Which is why you need to make the time. What’s the difference between the two? When you say you need to find the time, it’s easy to push it off with other tasks that are more or less important. When you make the time, you schedule it in like you would a conference call or a doctor’s appointment.

One is a choice, the other is set task. Although I’m not a fan of looking at reading as a task or to-do list item, if you’re finding it hard to fit reading into your day, this is a way to do it until it becomes habit. And it doesn’t have to be a long block of time. Fifteen minutes in the morning or before bed is enough to get through one book a month.

Set reading goals.

I don’t mean the arbitrary “I’m going to read 50 books this year” type of goal. Set small, reasonable goals like “I’m going to read 20 pages every day” or “I’m going to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People this year” or “I’m going to join my favorite blogger’s book launch team to ensure I read the book before I write about it.” Setting these small goals not only makes you read every day but it keeps with the theme of reading intentionally. And if you’re goal oriented, it’s another incentive to get that book read.

Get a library card.

Books are expensive, even if you’re using daily deal sites, and if you get in the mindset that you can only read if you buy books, then it’s definitely easy to not read. So why not get a library card? It’s free, it’s easy, and interlibrary loans are a gift from the book gods. Even if you live in an area with a poor selection of books or it’s difficult to get to the library, apps like Overdrive make it easy to borrow eBooks. If you don’t have a tablet or Kindle but you have a smartphone, you can download the Overdrive app or the Kindle app onto your phone and use that to read the books as well. And Flipster is a great way to borrow magazines from your library.

Read a variety.

It’s easy to quit on reading if you’re sticking to one topic. You get bored and you just can’t read one more business or self-improvement book. So don’t. Instead of nonfiction, read a fiction book. Sick of historical fiction? Read a young adult book. Liked comic books as a kid? Read a graphic novel.

Reading the same kind of books on repeat is like eating the same breakfast every day for a year. You know you like it, you know it’s simple to plan, but after awhile, you just can’t choke it down anymore so you maybe stop eating it altogether.

Don’t let your reading habit fall into that pattern. It’s supposed to be fun and if it starts to feel like a boring chore, it’s time to change it up.

In the song “Big Casino” by Jimmy Eat World, they sing “There’s lots of smart ideas in books I never read. When the girls come talk to me I wish to hell I had.”

Don’t let that be you. Start with one from this list of influential books.

What are some of your best tips for reading like an adult?

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Reading can give you a different perspective or even change your life. These are some adults’ most influential books.

When we think of the things that have influenced us, we think of our parents, clergy, coaches, teachers, and friends. All the usual suspects. We think of people who’ve impacted our lives, our thinking, and our careers, and how they’ve changed us or set us on a particular course.

We think about how they’ve helped us make important, life-changing decisions or encouraged us when we simply couldn’t continue to encourage ourselves. They’ve been there for us when we’ve needed it most.

They’ve been our mentors.

At least that’s how it’s been for me.

Books, as well as people, have profoundly influenced me. There have been books that have come into my life when I needed them most (Start by Jon Acuff and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, for example) or have appeared and proved their worth years later (The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the book that made me want to write) or have simply been there are the right time and place (Late, Late at Night by Rick Springfield. Yes. THAT Rick Springfield). They’ve all served a different purpose and have shaped how and who I am now.

Reflecting on the books, fiction and nonfiction, that have changed me, it made me think that I can’t possibly be the only one who’s been profoundly impacted by books. So I asked some people. And, as it turns out, I’m not alone. Many of my friends and colleagues have been affected by books, too.

Disclosure: Adulting.tv may be compensated if you take action after visiting certain links in this article. We stand by our editorial integrity and would not be linking to or discussing this topic if we didn’t believe it was in the best interest of you, our audience.

Here’s what they recommend:

What’s great about this list is that there’s a variety of topics, covering all types of practical skills and lessons. There’s something for everyone!

How about you guys? Have you read any of these?

What are some books that have influenced you?

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!