Crush It! and The Best Books on Boosting Your Income

Yesterday, I argued that the most effective path to financial success is to boost your income. Frugality is an important part of personal finance, and you will eventually meet your goals if you simply cut your spending, but it might take you a very long time. Maybe even decades. To super-charge your savings, I believe you should look for ways to increase your income.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy to give advice about increasing income as it is about cutting expenses. General frugality tips are applicable to everyone, but our income situations are all different. Later this week, FMF from Free Money Finance will share a guest post on how to boost your income at a traditional job. Today, I want to share some of my favorite books on entrepreneurship and career management. They offer great advice on how to the “earn more” side of the wealth equation.

Crush It!
Before we look at my book recommendations, here's a brief review of a volume that hits bookstores today. Gary Vaynerchuk sent me a preview copy of Crush It!, his new book on internet entrepreneurship. I've had a chance to read it, and I have mixed feelings.

For those of you unfamiliar with Vaynerchuk, he's the host of Wine Library TV, “the internet's most passionate wine program”. He's also a powerful speaker on personal branding, entrepreneurship, social media, and internet marketing. In the past, Vaynerchuk has provided three video segments for GRS readers: How to find good wines at great prices, Recession romance: Make a delicious Valentine's Day dinner at home, and 12 wines for under $12.

 

When a person attains success doing something they're passionate about, they have a tendency to generalize and say, “If I did it like this, so can everyone else.” It's like me saying, “If I built a personal finance blog that pays a nice income, so can you.” And while there's some truth to this logic, there's a risk of over-generalizing, of believing your particular methods and circumstances are applicable to everyone.

I think that's the case with Crush It! In this short book (142 pages!), Vaynerchuk does a great job of telling his story and explaining his methods. He also provides the broad brushstrokes for building a personal brand, leveraging social media, and creating an internet business. But if you don't already know what these things are, you're not really his target audience. His book doesn't define these terms and doesn't offer a lot of details.

Crush It! is an excellent resource — for the right person. That's both a strength and a weakness. If you want to replicate Vaynerchuk's success, it's helpful to review his methods. But if you're looking for more general advice about business development, you won't find it here. And if you don't have any desire to build your personal brand, this book won't be of much use to you.

Crush It! suffers from some of the same tunnel vision that afflicted Career Renegade (which I reviewed last winter). Both books offer solid advice for those who want to start a web-based business, or whose businesses might have a web-based component. But they have less to offer someone who owns a traditional manufacturing firm (like a small custom box company, to use one example) or who is perfectly contented in her current career. Crush It! and Career Renegade have nothing to offer my wife, for example. She excels at her current job, which she loves (she's a chemist), and she has no need for “personal branding”.

Books about boosting income
So Crush It! is good for some folks. But what if you're not one of them? Over the past five years, I've read a number of books designed to help readers boost their incomes. Here are a few of the better ones:

Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields — Career Renegade and Crush It! are like two peas in a pod. They cover the same material and have the same attitude. The difference is that Vaynerchuk's book is long on motivation and short on practical tips. Fields' book is more about the tips. If you're interested in starting an internet business — and that includes a topic-oriented blog — then you ought to read these two books. They'll steer you in the fight direction. [My review.]

Earn What You Deserve by Jerrold Mundis — This is a queer book. Mundis wrote the excellent How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously [my review], which drew from the methods of Debtors Anonymous. Earn What You Deserve applies the same principles (the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, really) to increasing your earning power. It's a bit spiritual for my tastes, but you may love it.

Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim — This is the best book on entrepreneurship I've read in the past year. Though Slim does include information on social media, she doesn't focus on it exclusively. Her advice is grounded in the real world, and she includes copious concrete tips for doing work you love and boosting your income. My esteem of this book has only grown in the three months since I read it. [My review.]

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss — I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The 4-Hour Workweek is like a kick in the head. It offers a non-stop flow of ideas on how to break free of corporate life to pursue your passions. Ferriss is especially keen on creating automated cashflows: businesses that produce income without intervention by the owner. Not all of his ideas seem practical, but he has so many ideas it doesn't matter. Most readers can find something useful here. Get Rich Slowly would not be what it is today without this book. [My review.]

The Incredible Secret Money Machine by Don Lancaster — This 1978 book is out of print, but can often be found for a few bucks at Amazon. To Lancaster, a “money machine” is any venture that generates “nickels” — small streams of revenue from individual customers. This book won't help you build the next Google or Microsoft, but it can help you launch a business selling your art or providing computer consulting. My father, a serial entrepreneur, loved this book. [My review.]

The Millionaire Maker by Loral Langemeier — This book is a mixed bag. Langemeier provides inspirational entrepreneurship advice and includes specifics in the form of seven case stuides. But I still sometimes feel like this book is pitching a get-rich-quick scheme. Plus, some of her advice is irresponsible. She advocates cashing out retirement funds and home equity to start a business. Really? Really? And the 40% returns she mentions? Despite these problems, this is an inspirational book. Just don't accept Langemeier's advice as gospel. [My review.]

Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny — This book is primarily directed at women. Stanny has done extensive research into successful career women, and Overcoming Underearning draws from what she learned. It contains broad advice and a variety of activities, but not a lot of actionable steps. It will help you find direction, but won't actually tell you what to do next. [Guest review at GRS.]

Finally, I want to recommend a book that isn't even out yet. Alexandra Levit's New Job, New You won't be released until the end of the year, but I've had the chance to read a preview copy. It's great. Each of the seven chapters explores a single reason people change careers or set out on their own. And in each chapter, Levit provides four case studies, examples of real people who have made the choices she describes. This is a great book, and I recommend it highly. (You just have to wait until December 29th to read it…)

As I said yesterday, not everyone is interested in boosting their income. Doing so can require a lot of time and hard work. But if you're one of those looking to jump-start your personal finances, reserve one of these books from your public library. You may find that the ideas and inspiration are just the thing to push you to a higher income. Five years ago, I started reading books like these and acting on their advice. Today I'm in a much better place. Maybe five years from today, you'll be able to say the same.

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Writer's Coin
Writer's Coin
10 years ago

I haven’t read Crush It yet, but I’m assuming he devotes a good chunk of it to Passion, doesn’t he? I mean, that’s why so many people love his show and why he’s become so huge: the man is passionate about what he does and that goes a LONG way.

Foxie || CarsxGirl
Foxie || CarsxGirl
10 years ago

Thanks for the great list! I think I’ll have to put some of them on my Christmas list. 🙂 I especially like books with real life examples — it’s easier for me to understand if I see how someone actually put it to use. Otherwise I just don’t seem to get it as well.

Aaron
Aaron
10 years ago

JD, one of the reasons I love your site is because you are able to really see through some of the hype and make even and fair recommendations. It is so easy to get excited about everything new – right before you drop it for the next shiny toy. It is much harder to see how those new things might fit into real people’s lives. Thanks.

Nelson
Nelson
10 years ago

These books may make you feel good, but I’ve found the best books for increasing income were the ones for my Engineering courses in college.

ami | 40daystochange
ami | 40daystochange
10 years ago

Thanks for the recommendations JD. I agree with the assessment of 4 Hour Workweek – a lot of wild ideas, some of them great (for me), others less so, but perhaps the greatest benefit of the book is getting the reader to stop making excuses and to re-examine the possibilities. I also like Escape from Cubicle Nation, which I am reading now, and, based on your rec, I’ll be putting New Job, New You on my to-read list. thanks again. ami

Shane
Shane
10 years ago

The 4 Hour Work Week sounds like it might be cool, although I might like a twenty hour work week. 😉

The books looks like it is on the same thinking as me. Open our minds to the possibilities. I’m tired of the negativity from people telling me what I can and can’t do.

Andrew
Andrew
10 years ago

My big problem with books like this about “passion” and using that to earn more is fairly simple: What if you really aren’t that passionate about anything? I could care less about wine, scrapbooking…whatever. How do books like this one help me?

Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook
Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook
10 years ago

I’ve heard mixed things about the Tim Ferriss book, but I’m going to check it out on your recommendation. My reading list is getting long! It will take me awhile to catch up.

I’m reading How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins and SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt right now. Both are excellent. Thanks for the recs.

Bart
Bart
10 years ago

Crush it! is probably an interesting read. That it is not the right book for everybody I can live with (not every body wants to start a business). Hopefully it is not mainly a motivational book thought.

Kimmo
Kimmo
10 years ago

Thanks for an excellent post, again! The two Mundis books were among the very first I read several years ago on the subject of personal finance. I liked them at the time, but I’m not sure if I would recommend them anymore. These days I think the 12 step idea of viewing various problematic behavior as diseases isn’t necessary helpful for everybody (it can lower your self-esteem and even make you avoid responsibility). However, the Mundis books did have a strong impact on me in terms of increasing my income. They really made me realize that it’s OK to ask… Read more »

Greg C
Greg C
10 years ago

Personally, for me the easiest way to make money is through something that apparently ( based on your tweet/re-tweet) you dislike. And that is internet marketing with natural SEO ( personally I hate “social media”- so there, lol). And all of the information you need about internet marketing- whether it’s your preferred version or not- is available through online resources for free. Most print books just aren’t going to do much. As far as passion goes, it certainly helps to be passionate about something. In an ideal world everyone would be passionate about his work, whatever it is. Obviously it… Read more »

Paul
Paul
10 years ago

JD, you are becoming my financial buddha! Cheers, Paul

Oleg Mokhov
Oleg Mokhov
10 years ago

Hey JD, The 4-Hour Workweek is like a humongous grab bag of life-improving ideas. Like you mentioned, not all ideas are for everyone, but it’s packed to the brim with incredibly useful tips for maximizing and automating life and work. It’s not so much Tim Ferriss’ unique philosophy or anything as much as a definitive collection of the best tips and techniques. Do what you’re passionate about and spend the least amount of time building a lifestyle that supports it. Be effective, not just productive. The 4-Hour Workweek was the first personal development book I consumed, and it changed my… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
10 years ago

@Andrew, jeesch, if you don’t care about anything then nobody can help you. And btw, if you “could care less” about wine, etc then you actually do care. (Syntax police, sorry.) Like Aaron, I enjoy these capsule reviews because I think that J.D. reviews objectively. I never get the sense that he’s adding something to his recommended reading just because it’s the latest title. Passion is what gets you through the periods when your investment (in training, education, materials or whatever) is just simmering, before you start to earn back that investment and see a positive cash flow from a… Read more »

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
10 years ago

I think it is VERY important to believe in yourself and set an income goal.

Jim Carrey wrote himself a $20 million check while at SNL, and achieved his goal when his father died.

Make a goal for yourself, whether it is $100k or $1 million. ONce you do, I know you will get there.

Best,
FS

FrugalHomeAV
FrugalHomeAV
10 years ago

I think books are great, and I should probably read MUCH more, but I think the most important step for increasing your income is to actually close the book and work. So many people in our society read and read and discuss and think, but they are slow to lift a finger and git ‘er done.

That said, I do appreciate this post and I will defintly check out some of those books (since I DO need to read more).

-Joel

Shane
Shane
10 years ago

Writing a check to yourself seems like it might be a good idea. Seeing a check every day for $1m would tempt me to work even harder for my goal.

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
10 years ago

@ Shane – Indeed. Get a blank check, make it out to yourself, and write the figure of your desire. In my case, I have a $3 million check written out to me, which I’ve taped on the fridge. It motivates me EVERYDAY to never whine, and just find ways to do better.

@FrugalHomeAV – I agree exactly. Too many people have ideas, but never execute. Got to go execute!!

Patty - Why Not Start Now?
Patty - Why Not Start Now?
10 years ago

About the passion thing: that word is off putting to many people, and makes them think, “What’s wrong with me that I don’t have it?” Years ago a client explained this to me, and she said she liked the word “fascination” better, as in “What absolutely fascinates you?” If you can start answering that question, and keep pulling the thread, it will lead somewhere. And as interesting as these books are, I’m not sure they’re really set up to help people answer the deeper questions about purpose and right livelihood.

Creating Wealth
Creating Wealth
10 years ago

Instead of things you are passionate about, think of the things you talk about for free. What subjects are you willing to talk about? These are the areas you have passion.. you just haven’t labelled it as such yet. Starting a small business takes effort. Most people are not willing to take the plunge. It is the fastest way to accumulate wealth but does come with work. The internet has made it much simpler to get started and have a very broad reach. Many times it takes a coach to help you get started and past the point of inertia.… Read more »

NY Jason
NY Jason
10 years ago

Has anyone read Loral Langemeier’s new book Put More Cash In Your Pocket?

Saw it today at my local Barnes & Noble and wondering if anyone has read it yet and what they think?

Dustin | Engaged Marriage
Dustin | Engaged Marriage
10 years ago

Excellent, I now have several books to add to my reading list! One book I would throw in here in a non-direct way is “No More Mondays” by Dan Miller. It is not a book devoted specifically to increasing your income or getting rich quick. However, it does provide solid guidance and lots of great examples to inspire you to get creative and break out of the 9-to-5, cubicle world (if you desire). And, if you like that world, it helps outline what you can do within that context. I am actually going to write a review of this book… Read more »

Credit Card Chaser
Credit Card Chaser
10 years ago

I love the 4 Hour Workweek! Glad to see that you are a fan as well!

Becky
Becky
10 years ago

Great list of books. Another great business book is a book titled, “What You Don’t Know You Know: Our Hidden Motives in Life, Business, and Everything Else” by Kenneth Eisold- I truly learned a lot about myself through reading this book. As for your list, I plan to check out “Crush It,” this is the 3rd time I have seen this book tonight- must be good.

matt anrey
matt anrey
10 years ago

The books looks like it is on the same thinking as me. Open our minds to the possibilities. I’m tired of the negativity from people telling me what I can and can’t do.Most books aren’t for everyone. A good marketer realizes he should focus on a passionate group rather than a masses. Focus is the difference between a flashlight and a laser (well that an power source too 🙂

Jack @ Master Your Card
Jack @ Master Your Card
10 years ago

Thanks for this list – I’ve picked up one or two books about blogging and making money blogging and making money online, etc and been kind of disappointed with the generalist advice (“Do something you love,” “Further your personal brand,” “Work hard”). I’ve been looking for a book that gives me practical, step by step advice for the REALLY tough parts. I don’t need a 60 page run up on the merits of leaving the rat race or why it’s important to follow your dreams – I already know that. But it seems like most of these books these days… Read more »

Vas
Vas
10 years ago

Thanks for the list. It’s always good getting a bunch of books recommended by someone who has all ready had the chance to read the book. The alternative which I have done on numerous occasions is spend hours in the book shop. Who has time for that?

Steve
Steve
10 years ago

Want to boost your income! Don’t buy these books. At one time I would buy these books but after awhile started to realize that they all have some gimic and pretty much say the same thing. If you would doll out $25 per month for the new best financial advice book, that adds up over the course of several years. This is not to say that if you enjoy reading to stop. Like others, I still buy Jim Cramer’s books, but for comic relief as much as financial advise. I guess my point is to be judicious in your purchases,… Read more »

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