It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees by Cara MacMillan
Cara MacMillan’s It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees is an exploration of different sociocultural attitudes toward money. MacMillan examines these attitudes through a narrative that tells the stories of a diverse group of students, learning about financial responsibility in a class taught by a guest professor named Catherine, who leads her students to an understanding of their own approaches to money by attempting to answer a variety of questions, such as “What is money? What are our beliefs about money? What are society’s beliefs about money that are similar to our own? How do we follow our own beliefs about money rather someone else’s?” As Catherine leads her students to an understanding of these concepts, MacMillan guides the reader on the same journey, revealing how our earliest experiences can color our relationship with money and offering important financial advice through an interesting story.
What is most interesting is MacMillan’s ability to unpack and explain a variety of religious beliefs about money, as well as her easily understandable explanations of complicated financial ideas such as the differences between stocks and bonds and how to create passive income. MacMillan even tackles the global economy, deftly explaining why merely striving to get a good job is no longer a guarantee of financial success. MacMillan relies a little too heavily on the concept of the “rational actor,” the idea that people make rational economic decisions, a concept that has been debunked repeatedly, and the language is occasionally stilted, but otherwise this is a great introduction to fiscal responsibility and an interesting, if basic, history of money for all audiences.
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