jlcollinsnh – Money, Life, Business

James Collins is financially independent and writes about money, life, and business at, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

There is nothing you can’t learn, no place you can’t go, if you read. So I’m going to cheat with expansion on this one a bit.


I once had an engineer friend proudly tell me he didn’t read fiction because “he couldn’t be bothered with things that weren’t true.” Nonsense. Good fiction writers are meticulous in getting their background facts right and some of the greatest of all truths are to be found in their works.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier might be my all time favorite novel.

George Pelecanos has a series of novels set in the gritty inner city of Washington DC where the African American and Greek American communities intersect. Fun, light, exciting, sometimes intense books with wonderful tone.

Tony Hillerman’s novels will take you out west to the Four Corners desert reservation where you can ride along with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo tribal police. You’ll witness another way of looking at the world while you do.


My blog is about using money to achieve financial freedom. Freedom being the operative word. Two of the more influential books that shaped my thinking are:

How I found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason.

In another realm, Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall almost makes particle physics understandable for me. No small feat that.


I love magazines. I spent my career in the business. At any given moment I have subscriptions to about half a dozen and the subject matter can be just about anything. The serendipity of what you stumble upon in them can be magical.
Once you subscribe to one, you get offers for others. I’m forever letting subscriptions lapse and adding new ones. I once subscribed to a newly launched glossy magazine called Garbage. It didn’t last long, but how could I not?

Good things to watch.

TV. Yeah. I know. The more common advice is to trash can your TV. Not me. Sometimes you just want to be spoon fed entertainment while sinking into the sofa. At least I do. And the programing has never been better. Dexter, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Hell on Wheels are a few that leap to mind, all more captivating than most movies I can remember.

People, preferably from outdoor cafes. Next time you’re traveling to some exotic – or not so exotic – local, skip one of the endless museum and church tours. Park yourself instead on the plaza with a cup of coffee and just sit. Watch and absorb and, for pity’s sake at least for this brief moment, put the camera away.

Live Theater. Every time I go I walk out wondering why I don’t go more often.

Good things to use.

The Public Library. What a brilliant concept. If they don’t have a book I’m looking for, they find it for me. Why anybody not living in the wilderness ever buys a book is one of life’s enduring mysteries to me. Since I hope to publish one of my own one day soon, I’ll be grateful they do. Baffled, but grateful.

Money. We live in a complex world and the single best tool for mastering it is money. Moreover, if you don’t learn to be its master, it will certainly become yours.

Down Time. The irony of my retirement these last two years is just how damn busy I’ve been. It is all self-inflicted and nothing I don’t relish doing, but it over-fills the days all the same. One of the best uses of time is doing nothing. I need to recapture some time for just that.

James isn’t on Twitter but you can read about more of his good things in his Home Again post and this one.

Anna Newell Jones – And Then We Saved

Anna writes about her Spending Fast at as well as at Babble and WiseBread and these are her good things.

Good things to read.

The Happiness Project: This book had me looking at life in a whole new way. I liked the anecdotes and expert insights into the quest for happiness.

Your Money or Your Life: This was the first personal finance book that I ever read and it helped to change my perspective on finances. It showed me that I didn’t have to be a victim to my financial choices and that I could make changes.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: I’m pregnant so I’ve got baby stuff on the brain. I like how this book presents childbirth as something that doesn’t necessarily have to be terrible. Another one I really like in the baby book category is Bringing Up Bebe.

Good things to watch.

Breaking Bad: Great characters, intriguing plot, some violence, blood and you just never know how crazy Walt is going to get. Completely awesome and addictive. Seriously, how crazy is Walt going to get?!

Dexter: Love it.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: This movie had me crying in the theater. It was hard to just pick 3 for this category so the other contenders for this category were the guilty-pleasure TV series Sister Wives, and True Blood.

Good things to use.

Sleep Cycle app: This is a fun app (just a heads up- it doesn’t work well if you have more than one person in your bed) that shows you, not surprisingly, your sleep cycles, length on sleep, and quality of sleep. It’s cool to wake up in the morning and see how the night before went.

Juicer: Nothing feels healthier (and more bad ass) than consuming 4 apples, a bundle of kale, a whole bunch of celery, some cumbers and a bit of ginger and lemon in one single drink.

Body:  Again, something that I’ve come to appreciate more since I’ve been pregnant. I appreciate simple things like sleeping on my belly, running, and bending so much more since I can’t do them as easily now. Also, getting into the gym and lifting weights feels great after not doing it for a little. Oh, and then there’s that whole growing another human thing that’s kind of amazing and makes me appreciate my body that much more;)

Connect with Anna on Twitter, @AndThenWeSaved.

Lois – Living simply free

Lois blogs at Living Simply Free, “simple living in 300 square feet”, and these are her good things.

Good things to read.

Material World by Peter Menzel. Mr. Menzel traveled the world and photographed families in front of their homes with all their possessions around them. What opened my eyes was the happy faces of those families from what we call the third world. They had so little but were content. I began to look around my house and found I felt stifled by all the possessions I owned.

Get Satisfied. How twenty people like you found the satisfaction of enough by Carol Holst and Peter C. Whybrow I read this after my children had moved out on their own to start their adult lives. I again felt swallowed by my belongings. Reading this book I found that enough has many different meanings. For some it might be a larger house but closer to family and away from hour long commutes to work, for others (and what resonated with me) was the process of letting go of all those things holding them back to live life fuller.

Toxic Free by Debra Lynn Dadd. There are plenty of books out there about the toxins we are exposed to on a regular basis, but Ms. Dadd presented the information in a totally new way by connecting the toxins to the effects they have on the body. As a cancer survivor, this information was very helpful in reducing the chemical load, and the possibility of cancer again, in my body.

Good things to watch.

The Following. New this year on Fox, The Following is the story of a serial killer who from prison gathers a group of people (cult) who help him to break out of prison and the story of the FBI agent who first captured him who is again drawn back into the situation after his escape. I am intrigued by the concept of how cults are formed and why someone would follow another so blindly.

Dexter (while this isn’t free to watch online, my son saves this and watches it with me when I visit, so it’s become family time every couple of months). Dexter is a serial killer with a conscience. While this is yet another serial killer program, what intrigues me the most are the societal issues of good and bad and the failure of our current legal system of protecting society from those who would do us harm.

Law Abiding Citizen. I think this is one of the best movies made in recent years. I think we all complain when a criminal gets off on a technicality, but how far are we willing to go to try to fix a broken system.

Good things to use.

Your imagination. There is nothing we can’t do if we take the time to think about it from another view point.

A slow cooker (crock pot). An easy way to have a healthy meal after a busy day.

A farmer’s market. We can keep our money local, the farmers/growers will get full value for their work, and the food is fresher.