Money at 30: “Things That Matter” Audiobook Review
A couple of years back, I reviewed the book The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker — a popular blogger (Becoming Minimalist) that I’ve continued to be a fan of. After reading it, I was inspired to start my own journey in the direction of minimalism, while admittedly falling well short of being a full-on convert. More recently, Becker released a new book with a slightly different focus. Titled Things That Matter: Overcoming Distraction to Pursue a More Meaningful Life, the book might not exactly be a traditional personal finance read. Nevertheless, I decided to download the audiobook and see if Becker could inspire me once again.
It should come as no surprise that, given Becker’s blog and past works, Things that Matter does include several mentions of minimalism. Yet, I wouldn’t call it a book about that specific topic. In reality, Becker really zooms out for this one, taking a larger look at life, money, happiness, and impact. And while he covers a number of subjects over the book’s runtime, the entire work feels cohesive — with no need to skip over anything IMHO. As a personal finance blogger, I’m also happy that money comes up in several spots, thus justifying my choice to shoehorn this title into my column (yes!).
True to the book’s subtitle, the vast majority of the chapters begin with the phrase “Overcoming the distraction of…”. Some of these distractions you might expect, such as fear, past mistakes, and possessions. Others, however, might come as a bit of a surprise. The distraction of happiness? Yup, that’s one of them. But, although that title might make you raise an eyebrow, Becker does a fantastic job of clearly laying out his premise and supporting it with a mix of survey results, anecdotes, and musings.
One of the most interesting chapters to me was one on retirement. While you might assume that this section would be about prioritizing your savings so you can enjoy your golden years, it’s actually quite the opposite. Instead, Becker breaks down why our views on retirement are wrong, suggesting that we should aim to do work that fulfills us rather than striving to end our days of working. Furthermore, he challenges the very idea of hoarding too much money and, instead, putting those funds to work for more immediate needs — specifically the needs of others by engaging in charitable giving. Although I could make some connections from this philosophy to one espoused in Die with Zero, it was still distinctly different and truly intriguing.
Another key chapter was one on distractions, which (of course) focuses heavily on the tech of today. As someone who’s been interrupted multiple times just while writing this review, I could definitely relate to the woes detailed by Becker. The prescription? A 29-day tech detox. This sounds remarkably nice but, sadly, isn’t exactly something that I (nor many others) can fully commit to. That said, I didn’t get the impression that Becker is suggesting it’s an all-or-nothing proposition but, instead, leaving it up to individuals to set their own realistic parameters to at least consider making larger changes to curb our bad habits. He calls this being a “Tech Rebel,” which does have a nice ring to it.
Like with The More of Less, I found Things that Matter to be completely engaging, fascinating, and, yes, inspiring. Yet, while the former offered more of a “how-to” guide, this title is far more philosophical. Nevertheless, I still came away from it with actionable ideas — such as the tech detox and a plan for increased giving. If anything, while I did enjoy listening to Becker’s voice and thought he gave a great performance of his book, I might recommend picking up a physical copy instead, if for no other reason than this seems like the type of book you’d want to share with a friend after consuming it. Either way, I’d definitely recommend checking out Things That Matter: Overcoming Distraction to Pursue a More Meaningful Life for yourself.