Book Review: If Your Money Talked What Secrets Would It Tell by Gary Sirak

Gary Sirak’s primary insight in his book If Your Money Talked What Secrets Would It Tell – an insight I happen to agree with – is that the psychology of money, our personal relationship with money – is usually our biggest personal finance problem.

Financial insecurity often plagues the professional making half a million dollars per year, even while financial sufficiency is possible for a person earning one tenth of that per year.

Whether you love money, or hate money, whether you accumulate it to excess like Scrooge McDuck or spend it wildly like Brewster, the underlying problem starts in our head, not in our paycheck.

Each person’s own personal money secret may be what Sirak calls a “self-limiting belief,” a deeply – probably unconsciously – held belief about money.

Self-limiting beliefs, Sirak explains, form at an early age.  To overcome self-limiting beliefs we need to commit to self-examination and – one presumes – the additional intervention of a financial professional and personal finance books.

I particularly appreciated two things about If Your Money Talked.


Sirak keeps this short enough to read on a flight between Chicago and New York.  Pick this up at the airport bookstore, crack it open upon takeoff, and you’ll be done before the wheels touch down, with extra time leftover to solve the easy Sudoku puzzle in your inflight magazine.

Memorable Anecdotes

Sirak – just like anyone who has ever written a book like this – has a set of “8 Principles of Money,” common sense ideas not unlike ideas from, say, Thomas Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door.

To makes his principles concrete, however, Sirak tells good stories.  Over a thirty-year financial-planning career for individuals, Sirak accumulated illustrative anecdotes about people and their unhealthy relationships to money.

For each of his 8 Principles of Money, Sirak provides a brief and telling sketch from his own financial planning clients as illustration.

  • Getting tricked by smooth-talking scammers? – Sirak tells of his own gullibility about a start-up kids’ sports camp.
  • Worshipping money?  Meet Roger, the ‘successful’ businessman who literally decorated his home with cash, while neglecting relationships with his wife and 5 year-old son.
  • Hiding debts from your spouse? – Sirak describes Ron and Alison, a married couple with totally incompatible spending patterns masked by secretiveness.
  • Spending money before you have it?  We read about Dr. Allen, the newly minted MD who bought the twin BMWs instead of paying off student loan debt before the ink dried on his first paycheck because he felt he finally “deserved to live the good life.”  Financial woes followed in short order.

Through his own and the mistakes of his clients, Sirak cautions us about common personal finance errors.  With a quick series of “How Not To” stories, Sirak helps us begin to self-examine, exploring our self-limiting factors and money mistakes.

Gary Sirak blogs, and also has videos, sample budget spreadsheets, and a “Marriage Money Agreement” plus further information on his site

Please also see related post, All Bankers Anonymous Book Reviews in one place.

Gary Sirak

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One Reply to “Book Review: If Your Money Talked What Secrets Would It Tell by Gary Sirak”

  1. A great review. You succinctly capture the essence of the book. It IS a great read with many lessons. Great as a gift to a recent graduate as to the things to do and not to do with their money. If more would follow the advice, we would see more people comfortable with what they earn, whatever that is, than the many struggling financially. Cudos.

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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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