Do I Have To? by Sheri A. Wilson

Book Blurb

Living in today’s world is expensive. In order to live a financially balanced life, there are fundamentals you must learn. Getting your financial house in order is the key to living the life you truly want, with the income you have. Do I Have To? will teach you how to put that basic structure in place and purposefully spend your money.  

You can achieve what you want when you make a plan. In these pages, you will learn the fundamentals to create the balance you need to spend wisely, stay out of debt, and save for your future. You will also discover a different way to think about money and how you spend it. Starting with a shift in your mindset, you will determine how to adjust your spending habits based on what you value, your principles, and what you desire for your future. A solid plan takes time, patience, and commitment. In creating your plan, you will become more confident in who you are and where you are headed. Stick with it, you’ll be glad you did. 


This book’s title is a little confusing, but it sets a precedent for the rest of the book’s message and says a lot about why I enjoyed it. On the cover, the title reads like a conversation and is stated as follows: “Creating my financial plan: Do I have to? No, but you’ll be glad you did.”  

Before you even crack the spine, author Sheri A. Wilson sets the tone: you don’t have to take any of her advice nor do any of the things she recommends, but if you do, you’ll most likely be glad you listened. This message – you have the power to choose what you do with your finances – which is established in the title, is consistent throughout the book. 

I think this is a smart way to begin sharing financial advice with someone young and stubborn, like myself, and if I had to guess, like many of the other people interested in this book! Being told that saving is often smarter than spending isn’t easy to hear, at any age, but especially not for young people in possession of their first real paycheck.  

Thankfully, Wilson has a way of getting the message across without sounding preachy, judgmental, or just plain annoyingI am more willing to listen to and heed her advice because she continually reminds me that, ultimately, the decision to do what I want with my money is in my hands.  

I recently read The Missing Semester, another book about managing personal finances that’s geared toward young people. While the book wasn’t awful, and the author came off as pushy. I was left feeling guilty, like if I ever decided to spend rather than save, I would ultimately regret it. As a person who naturally tends toward frugalitythat book’s message didn’t resonate with me like Wilson’s messages to choose wisely and strike a balance did.  

Along with a solid title and good tone, there are many other reasons I enjoyed this book. As a Christian, Wilson shares relevant Bible verses throughout the book that put financial concepts into Biblical context.  

She discusses stewardship as an essential part of financial planning. Most believers know we are called by God to steward, or “carefully and responsibly manage,” many things. It’s good to be reminded that our finances are one of those things. 

Because we are called to steward our money, Wilson also addresses the importance of tithing. If memory serves me correctly, charitable giving of any kind was not discussed in The Missing Semester. I appreciate Wilson’s reminder that part of stewarding my finances means including tithes in my budget and giving intentionally. 

Wilson shares many personal anecdotes and wisdom she learned from her parents, and she urges readers to value the advice and options of trusted elders in their own lives. She even includes a few lined pages at the back of the book where she encourages readers to write down the “nuggets of wisdom” they pick up along the way. 

In addition, Wilson includes lined pages in between each chapter where readers may take notes and digest the material. Also, at the back of the book, Wilson includes samples and templates for assessing your short-term and long-term goals, creating a spending plan (budget), and calculating net worth. These all provide an easy, practical way to put into action the concept she discusses in the text.  

My only complaint about Do I Have To? is that it ended a little abruptly. Wilson did such a good job tying faith and finance together throughout the book, but I feel she missed an opportunity to drive her points home, especially for non-believers, when she didn’t write a concluding chapter.  

Overall, this book is a great read for people of all ages and all financial situations. Read it with your teenagers to spark conversations about the importance of financial planning. Gift it to your graduate, like my dad did for me, as they begin planning to assume financial independence. Or, read it on your own as a financially stable adult – reminders never hurt, and you may find something worth passing along to a struggling friend or relative. 

If anyone were to ask me, “Do I have to read this book?” In keeping with the title, I would respond, “No, but you’ll be glad you did!” 

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