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Finances & Money

Does Your Bag Have Holes? [Book Review]

Usually I wait until the end of my book reviews to say whether a book is a good pick or not, but in this case, I’ll say it up front. “Does Your Bag Have Holes” by Cameron Taylor is a definite MUST BUY. Why? Well not many non-fiction books capture my attention enough to make me want to keep it on my bookshelf to read and re-read again in the future. However, “Does Your Bag Have Holes” does make it onto the short list of keepers, in my honest opinion. Oh, and it comes with an abridged audio CD!

Now let’s get into the meat of the review so I can explain why.

Creating a Solid Moral and Financial Foundation

Here at CleverDude.com, my tagline is “Family, Marriage, Finances & Life”, but there’s one major item missing that really precedes all four of those: God.

I have purposely tried to keep religion out of my articles for the simple fact that I know many people get distracted by controversy and would lose the core material I’m trying to convey. I know other fellow personal finance bloggers successfully insert religion into their writing, but I just haven’t felt confident enough in my beliefs to do so myself. But after reading “Does Your Bag Have Holes”, I’ve realized that one major thing that was missing in my writing to link everything together and provide a solid foundation for making the right decisions.

In the book, Cameron successfully avoids the “preachy” tone that normally dissuades many readers from truly grasping the principles, methods or teachings that the writer is trying to convey. Through metaphors, parables, Biblical and other literary citations, and plain life experience, Cameron relates mankind’s true place in the world. He outlines the proper role of the government in supporting society and our freedom to choose. I’ve already commented on what Cameron states about government and welfare programs (including social security), but I still don’t think I described it as well as he does in his book considering he devotes at least an entire chapter to the topic.

The 4 Principles of Prosperity

Cameron first describes how “prosperity” differs from “wealth” or “richness”, and then proceeds to identify four main principles that must be followed to be truly prosperous:

  1. Our Creator Gives Us All Good Things
  2. Liberty is Given to All Men by Our Creator – Of course this is meant as “all mankind”, not just men
  3. Consequences are the Results of Our Choices
  4. Government is Created by the People to Protect Our God-Given Rights

Just by reading the title of each principle, you can understand where Cameron is going with his book. The source of our freedom and talents is God. Mankind then uses those gifts to create things in this world, such as wealth and institutions like governments. And finally, because we have the ability to choose (i.e. “free will”), we are responsible also for our actions. However, as you’ll read later, we don’t have the ability to decide the consequences of our choices, but we should have a clear understanding of the range of probable outcomes.

The 6 Choices of Prosperity

And since we have “free will” from our Creator, we also have to look at the good and bad of our decisions:

  1. Blame or Responsibility
  2. Pride or Humility
  3. Hypocrisy or Integrity
  4. Idleness or Industry
  5. Debt or Ownership
  6. Greed or Charity

Again, each of these list items is self-explanatory, but keep in mind that one choice is self-centered while the other is based on God’s laws. And then finally sprinkled throughout the book, well really the core of the entire book, are

24 Financial Myths

I’m not going to list all of them here, but just enough to tempt you to get the book and learn more. Each myth has its own chapter which discusses each in length:

  • Myth 1: Faith is a crutch for the weak
  • Myth 3: I am not worthy or deserving of prosperity
  • Myth 4: I can only succeed at the expense of others
  • Myth 5: Bad things should not happen to good people
  • Myth 7: The Constitution calls for the separation of church and state
  • Myth 11: The grass is always greener on the other side
  • Myth 16: It’s not personal. It’s just business
  • Myth 18: Everything is the result of luck
  • Myth 19: Failure is bad
  • Myth 20: If I can make payments, I can afford it
  • Myth 24: That’s their business, not mine

With only reading some of the myth titles, it might look like Cameron is simply trying to justify why being rich isn’t bad. However, I must point you to read the entire book to see the full length of his answers on each myth.

One of the myths is “Everyone is entitled to a high standard of living”. In that chapter, Cameron highlights hard work, ethics and determination as the paths to wealth. That is, you have to work if you want to earn an honest living. And by being industrious and earning more money than you need to survive, you should then be (wisely) generous with your extra income. You shouldn’t hoard your money. That’s not being rich, that’s being greedy and sinful.

No one is entitled to be wealthy or even have a high standard of living. God or our fellow man can take it all away from us in an instant, and I sense that Cameron is teaching that if all you have is a sense of “I deserve it”, then how could you ever support yourself on your own if disaster struck? If all you do is complain about how the government owes you a living, or be envious of people living comfortably while you’re struggling to survive, then you’re probably robbing yourself from living your own prosperous life.

Conclusion

I can’t find one part of the book that didn’t keep my eyes glued to the pages and pondering my own life. It’s not often that I run across a book that makes me reflect so deeply on both my faith and my understanding of worldly principles (including finances), but I found it with “Does Your Bag Have Holes”.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I recommend buying the book. I also recommend getting it directly from Cameron’s site, DoesYourBagHaveHoles.org. Normally I give an Amazon referral link, but Cameron is offering his book for $5 less than Amazon (only $12.95) AND he’s personally autographing each book. You probably don’t get that through Amazon!

About the author

Clever Dude

16 Comments

  • Nice review of this book. Good to see you stepping out into an area that can be controversial and sharing some of your opinions. It’s all good stuff!

  • Four principles of prosperity? I can agree with one of those and about half of another. I do like the, “Everyone is entitled to a high standard of living”, myth. However, I don’t see this book bringing much to the table, and I really don’t see how it can’t be preachy. Though, I won’t be buying it, you did a quality review.

  • As a political scientist, I find some of the book’s precepts downright scary.
    For example, the fourth “rule of prosperity” states that “Government is Created by the People to Protect Our God-Given Rights.” Umm.. not really… >_> In virtually all cases, a country’s government is created to protect the people’s main interests that usually involve survival, comfort and some sort of assurance that they won’t be destroyed by neighboring nation-states. (A good example here is Israel. It was created not as a result of a theological debate, but because Jews were nearly exterminated by Hitler and his Catholic buddies… But that’s a different story.)

    Also, the Constitution does call for the separation of church and state. Religion is mentioned in the Constitution twice, and the phrase itself originated from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Furhtermore, the Supreme Court is right there in the Constitution, and it is the Court’s job to interpret it.

    *sigh* I rather doubt that anybody will ever read this comment, let alone have his or her mind changed by it…

  • Wow! I missed myth #7. Separation of Church and State is a myth?!! This book is on scary ground. I guess I need to read instead of skim. What does that have to do with prosperity at all? This is just another attempt to force others through religious propaganda to believe an extremists view.

    What are the christian extremists trying to do? Create a christian Caliphate? The continued erosion of a government that is supposed to be neutral and function only as a government, not as a spiritual entity, is becoming more alarming everyday.

  • GL, perhaps you should read the book before you make assumptions about it just from a phrase. For instance, what do you think “God-given rights” are compared to the ones you listed? Protection, food, water, etc.?

  • Chad, you should also read the book before leaving a snarky comment. Just because it says the constitution does not state separation of church and state doesn’t mean that the book is stating that church and state should be together; just that the constitution DOESN’T say it.

  • @Chad, “like to hear it”? How about just reading that chapter in the book at the bookstore without committing to buying the book if you’re afraid of actually giving your money to an apparently raving God lover. Then come back once you’re informed about what you’re crapping on.

  • Exactly. I wasn’t wrong. The only reason the author brings that up is to work towards having church and state joined. To beat down what has kept this country special and prevented government ordered beliefs. What other reason could there be? Just a random fact about the constitution in a personal finance and prosperity book? Either he is a good writer and included it with a purpose or he is a bad writer and just randomly tossed it in. I don’t see the possibility of another purpose. If there is another reason I would like to hear it.

  • Strange, the “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” feature isn’t working…

    I don’t need to read every single book to know what’s inside – it’s kind of like watching trailers to judge whether I like the movie. I’ve seen fundamentalist Christians try to disguise their arguments many times before, and this appears to be the first attempt to breach the PF literature… I appreciate your interest in religion, but I can find no justification for bringing up the issue of Separation in a personal finance book.

  • @GL, again, if you can find no justification, maybe it’s because you’re only basing it only on a book’s table of contents. Could I understand what’s in the Bible by only knowing the names of the books? What the heck is Ruth about, or Matthew?

    I understand your reaction, but don’t try to have a literary debate when you don’t know the material you’re standing against. Either read the book so you can comment on its merits or don’t read it and don’t comment on it.

  • My whole point is that the debate on separation of church and state does not belong in a personal finance book. For example, let’s assume that I’m racist. I’ll write a Japanese textbook. One of the chapters will be titled “Why the White Race is Better than All Others.” Offensive? You bet. Controversial? Definitely. Does it belong in a Japanese textbook? No, it does not. However, I would stifle all attempts to discuss the chapter by saying “Buy my book first – then we will talk.”

  • G.L. I’m not continuing this conversation on my site because it’s ridiculous. You have no basis for your arguments simply because you’re making assumptions on how the author fit the subject matter into his book. Perhaps he’s comparing socialism and capitalism (he is) and how the formation of each stifles or promotes entrepreneurship and free thinking (hence the separation comment).

    If you wanted to debate that “Japanese textbook” without reading it, then you’re just being lazy and childish. THAT’S why I’m saying you need to just read the book or stop arguing, because I don’t want to hear baseless criticisms.

  • Of course – your blog, your rules. I just find it sad that one of the top PF bloggers puts his religion first, regardless of anything…

  • G.L. – “religion first”? Do a search on this site and see how often I’ve ever talked about religion or even faith. I can probably count them on one hand, and that’s out of almost 800 posts (and I don’t do short little one paragraph posts).

    I purposely don’t push my religion on anyone because I’m not even certain what I believe myself, but I know that believing in a higher power than yourself changes your perspective on this considerably. It helps you to look at the bigger picture and not be so selfish, but that’s only if you truly believe in the higher power (not specifically the Christian God, but any higher power).

    My own finances were becoming too self-centered and I wasn’t able to see the bigger picture. I was believing many of the myths that the author puts forth and it was holding me back personally, professionally and financially.

    I’m not pushing the book on you (the general reader) than to let you decide for yourself whether it has any impact in your life, if it holds any truth, or if it’s flat-out wrong (or somewhere in the middle). But bashing even a single idea from the book, or any book, show, poem, blog, speech, etc, based on a single sentence fragment is rather ignorant and I think my readers, including yourself, are better than that.

    Do yourself justice by researching your claims. I’m calling you on them just like my own readers call me on my own pretty often. But I listen to them when they can back them up, such as when I bashed The Golden Compass before even finishing the book or seeing the movie. I jumped the gun and people saw through it, just like I saw through your claims. Hence, either read the book or don’t argue about it.

  • The 6 Choices of Prosperity
    1. Blame or Responsibility
    2. Pride or Humility
    3. Hypocrisy or Integrity
    4. Idleness or Industry
    5. Debt or Ownership
    6. Greed or Charity

    This list really nails it. I’ve never seen it listed so succinctly. I’ve printed it out to remind myself especially about number 3. If I commit something to someone (myself included), then I can’t allow excuses to interfere with me completing my task.

    Over the weekend I was at a swim meet and spoke with a dad I’ve known for years. I hadn’t seen his daughter at practice and wondered what was going on. Swim registration is in March. At the end of the school year she was selected to be on the school’s drill team for the next Fall. Practice begins during the summer and conflicted with swim. She talked it over with her dad and he gave his blessing for her to quit the Summer swim team (it meets in May and June); however, he had already committed to judging the meets on Saturdays. I told him I thought it was really going above and beyond to continue to participate when his daughter was no longer taking part. His response was he endevours to teach his kids that their words count. The best way to teach it is to live it. That’s what I call a Dad and someone who values integrity.

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