For me, the past few months have been transformative. There have been some monumental changes in my mindset, which have begun to be reflected in my everyday life. Some of these changes are public — I’m doing more interviews, I’m preparing to tackle my next book project — and some of the changes are private. But it’s my hope that all of them will allow me to better pursue my personal goals and to live a happier life.

Making these changes hasn’t been easy. In fact, some of them have been tremendously difficult — not to mention scary. There are risks involved, there’s uncertainty. My decisions affect other people’s lives, both directly and indirectly. Ultimately, though, I believe my choices will lead to a better world, both for me and for those around me.

As part of this process, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is I’m here for. Why am I on the Earth? Deep stuff, I know, but I’m not a spiritual guy in any way, so I don’t often dwell on personal philosophy like this. Still, I can’t deny that I feel called to help others improve their lives, especially their financial lives. Sometimes I fight against this — do I really want to write about money for the rest of my life? — but I always return to the fact that this is what I seem to do best. This is how I’m able to help the most people.

All of this navel-gazing is prelude to a simple announcement: My friend and colleague Chris Guillebeau has just released a short (and completely free) “manifesto” that he calls The Tower. It’s all about building something great, about creating a legacy that’s bigger than just you. The Tower is short but filled with wisdom. Guillebeau doesn’t pitch any products or websites here. He’s simply written a long essay about the importance of doing great work. I urge you to download it.

Guillebeau’s isn’t the only work that’s caught my eye lately. Here are some other things I’ve liked from around the web:

First, both Kris and Wendy sent a link to this NPR story about why Americans spend too much. This is an interview with Princeton professor Sheldon Garon, who has just released a book about why the U.S. is a spender nation. He seems to think the issues are systemic — easy access to credit, a lack of incentive to save — which I believe is only part of the issue. (What do I think is of greater importance? Check out yesterday’s post about why financial literacy fails to find out.

Note: Help a reporter! Every so often, I help reporters look for leads. Today I have somebody looking for folks who plan to celebrate Christmas after the actual date in order to take advantage of post-holiday sales. Is that you and your family? If so, drop me a line.

Next, Tyler (and several others) pointed to yet another xkcd comic strip about money. In this case, it’s a chart of almost all money in the U.S., where it is, and what it can do. This is an amazing piece of work (with every stat documented) that I could explore for hours. (And in a similar vein, this year’s version of the Death and Taxes poster has now been released!)

Elsewhere, Kevin McKee (the Thousandaire) has produced another personal-finance music video. This time he’s tackling a controversial topic: prenuptial agreements. Here’s his latest work:

Finally, if you have the time, take a look at this long but interesting article from Todd at Financial Mentor. “Are safe withdrawal rates really safe?” he asks, breaking down the guideline that you can generally withdraw 4% of your retirement saving every year. If you’re thinking about retirement planning, and especially if you’re nearing retirement, you ought to read this.

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