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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