A Money Book with the Heart of a Teacher

Money BookTitles of favorite personal finance books are volleyed about all across social media. Books that win favor based on their content as much as their titles, like The 4-Hour Work Week and I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Then, there are the heavyweight financial gurus: Suze Orman, David Bach, and even Dave Ramsey.

I always have at least one finance book in my library haul, but I’m equally interested in the history and the philosophy of money. For instance, most people read The Richest Man in Babylon to learn the secrets of smart wealth building. It’s not that I didn’t take note of those themes, but I also spent my time fact checking the history and applying all sorts of gender theory to the writing. I am that person.

So when this perennial-student-turned-teacher was gifted a copy of It is Only Money & It Grows on Trees by Cara MacMillan, my heart fluttered. The book promised a deep dive into finance using different cultures and religions, and it more than delivered. In a small-but-mighty format, the text explores the meaning of money, the ways in which money is utilized, and smart finance tips in a way that is really comprehensible. 

Written as if it spans several school classes about money, It is Only Money has students and readers explore ten different actions people can take regarding money as their teacher Catherine facilitates the different lessons. In fact, the book is subdivided into chapters focused on specific verbs. Because, yes, money and action should go together! From value and create to balance and begin, each section builds to create a solid foundation about money — not just how to save it or how to make it, but also why it matters and the power it wields in different societies and cultures.


At various parts, I found myself wanting each chapter to continue, because I was questioning the comments of the students and the responses of the teacher. Initially, I wanted to write it off as a shortcoming of the book. However, just like leaving a meaningful lecture or a Socratic discussion, I couldn’t get the ideas out of my head later on. That’s when I realized that the book served me better than many others. While it may not have offered specific investment data or steps to diversify a portfolio, it allowed me to engage in an intellectual conversation with the characters, stirring up more questions and compelling me think harder.

After the final class is dismissed, you will turn to the workbook in the appendix, if they haven’t already done so as each chapter unfolds. Here, you can explore your own personal philosophies and attitudes towards money by considering everything from your current life situation to your very first memories about money. There are also different inventories to help you align your finances with your belief systems, discern between needs and wants, and take actionable steps to improve your finances based on the class discussions.

While I think that this book would be an incredible gift to young adults, I don’t see how most people couldn’t uncover a pearl of wisdom or two. From encouraging side hustles and home businesses to really forcing you to think about why you act the way you do with money, this tiny novel packs a terrific punch. It is only money. It does grow on trees. Isn’t it time to learn a little bit more about it?

Note: Cara MacMillan and her publicist graciously sent me a copy of the book to read. Very belatedly, I opted to write this review based on my own thoughts. To check out more information about the book, visit It Is Only Money.

So Tell Me…What is your favorite book, finance or otherwise?

A Money Book with the Heart of a Teacher

5 thoughts on “A Money Book with the Heart of a Teacher

  1. Sounds like an interesting book. I like that it takes a different approach to help people understand their beliefs around money.

    I checked my library and they don’t have the ebook, but it looks like the Kindle version is only $2.99 right now. Definitely going to check it out!

  2. This book sounds very interesting–it’s on my list now!

    The book that made the most impact for me was Your Money or Your Life. It validated a lot of the feelings I’d had and gave me the confidence to stop comparing myself to others and trying to keep up. It helped to articulate a philosophy that had been there all along but I couldn’t explain.
    Marie Kondo’s decluttering books are a close second. While technically not finance books, learning to love what you have and stop wanting more for the sake of more sure do help save money, and they help the environment too.

  3. Checking out It Is Only Money when I’m done typing – love the idea of looking at finances through cultures/religions! I agree with Julie that Your Money or Your Life was the big “aha” for me. I had to read it a few times to make sure I “got it” – but when I did, it was life changing. I need to check out the Kondo books to on decluttering too! Maybe it’s just the teacher in us, but I just previewed Jim (JL) Collin’s book – The Simple Path to Wealth and when I got done reading it I totally related it to being in class with my favorite high school teacher/college professor. A great book for all ages too – and with a little off color language and a few jokes, it might keep my teens’ attention too.

  4. This book sounds fascinating. I also am the woman who always analyzes books based on the gender assumptions, and the race assumptions, and class, and disability, and on and on.

    Socratic method is an amazing method for truly learning.

    1. I couldn’t get over that in Babylon. I kept trying to decide if women were written (or ignored) the way they were as a reflection of the society he was describing…or because of the time at which the book was written!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *