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Read your way to a better financial outlook in 2012

The No. 1 resolution for 2012 is to lose weight. Not surprising. The second most popular resolution is to read at least one book a month, according to, a website where millions of members post goals and offer support for those working to achieve them. After reading this, I asked each member of my money group to select a book she found to be a helpful resource during the months and years we were working our way out of more than $50,000 of consumer debt, buying homes, starting families and businesses, and in general, learning to take control of our finances. If you're resolving to read more and looking to add personal finance picks to your list, then consider the titles below.

Mind over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health, Drs. Brad and Ted Klontz

If you have anxiety around your finances, and let's face it most of us have some dysfunction with our money, then this is worth a read. Getting control of our money is equal parts about the numbers as it is about our personal histories and the psychology around spending and saving. We all have a "money script," and if you're not where you want to be financially then yours is likely hurting you. As an emotional spender, who blew through thousands of dollars after a divorce and was spiralling down, this book asked the right questions to help me recognize my spending patterns and my limiting beliefs around money. It also helped me develop a healthier attitude towards money that I've taken into my second marriage and will pass along to my daughter. While it's not packed with investment or budgeting advice, it will show you how to have a healthier relationship with your money, and for me this is the first step in getting your finances on track.

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– Robyn Gunn, a social worker

Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

In our 20s and early 30s, it's imperative to be paid what we're worth. We build on these salaries and to get a head start we need to be making a decent living. However, asking for a raise or negotiating for more money can be tough, especially for women since the authors say that men negotiate on their behalf four times more than women. I've taken the principles learned in this book and applied them to other areas of my life to make more and save more. As a business owner, I'm negotiating salaries, vendor costs, client fees, and so many other non-monetary things on a regular basis, that it's crucial to be a strong negotiator. If you're starting out in your career, or want to build your negotiating muscles, this is a good start.

– Katie Reiach, owner of a public relations firm

The Style Strategy, Nina Garcia

As someone who used to live beyond her means and rack up debt trying to portray a particular image, this book was for me. If you find yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses or admit to living well beyond your means, then this is the book to show you, too. We likely only use less than half of the items we consume, and the rest of the items that we buy on impulse just serve as a reminder that we've overspent – again! The author advises us to ask three questions before spending: What do I have? What do I need? What do I want? The strategies in this book will help you create a new spending mantra, one that helps to eliminate unnecessary spending on – not just clothes – but all consumer items. It's a fun read that proves you can still be stylish while saving.

– Andrea Baxter, director of corporate marketing

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The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey

If you're working your way through debt, and most of us are, then this book is full of the baby steps to get you going. If you're motivated by success stories then you'll also appreciate the inspirational testimonials in the book. Sometimes stories of other people just like us are the kick we need to get going. I feel like I could write my own testimonial now: homeowner, business owner, on the same financial page with my partner, and in control of my family's future. As a small business owner I also found the tips on how to manage your money on an irregular income practical.

– Sandra Grahame, a small business owner

I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi

This book is one of the favourites of the money group. If you're in your 20s and early 30s then it likely speaks to you the most. It's full of practical tips, and while it is a U.S. book, the advice easily translates. One of the best pieces of advice we applied immediately was to automate our finances. The book will have you laughing – how many personal finance books can do that? – and the tell-it-like-it-is approach to finances is appreciated.

Whether you're in a money group that works personal finance books into the mix, or resolving to read more money books on your own, it helps to have some accountability. Reading money books regularly doesn't mean much unless you're putting the advice into action. Pull even one concept from each read and apply it to your life, and you'll be further ahead than many.

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Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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