Book Review: “It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!” by Cara MacMillan

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I think we’ve all heard the saying that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” This phrase was commonplace when I was growing up both in, and even more so, outside the home. That’s why I was so intrigued when I was approached to review “It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!” by Cara MacMillan. The title is captivating and makes you wonder just what Cara has up her sleeve.

I am happy to say that she does not disappoint.

Let’s get this out of the way first. If you’re looking for a book that will take you step by step with fixing any type of financial mess you find yourself in, this book isn’t for you. You should also look elsewhere if you’re wanting detailed instructions on how to invest your money.

This book is a mindset book.

And that’s a good thing. Mindset is one of the most important tools in your journey to financial betterment. This book comes highly recommended most importantly for that reason.

What is it About?

“It is Only Money and It Grows on Trees” is refreshingly different than other personal finance books I’ve read in that it is set in a fictional classroom. You won’t find someone just writing at you on what to do with your money. This book reads like a story.

There is a teacher (named Catherine), students from varying backgrounds, and plenty of topics covered. The idea of the book is to teach how our cultural, religious, family, and economic backgrounds influence how we think about and act around money. The book not only challenges us to look inside ourselves to discover these influences but also inspires us to learn from each other’s backgrounds as well.

Along the way, you’ll learn what money means to different people of all different kinds of upbringings. You’ll learn the perspectives of Hinduism, Christianity, Jewish, Islam, as well as what young adults, in general, think about money.

My Thoughts

The best part of this book is the fact that it presents a lot of basic concepts in a unique way. I’ve never read a personal finance book that was (and was as easy to read as) a story. It is its biggest strength. It is a very conversational read.

Topics covered include investing, saving, not spending more than you make, and shifting your mindset. There isn’t a ton of detail on each topic, however, they are presented in a way that feels fresh due to the way the book is written. It’s rather enjoyable.

Cara gives a great lesson in openness in her book. You can see the students’ proverbial eyes opening as they share their beliefs about money and their own backgrounds. As the story continues, they become more accepting of each other’s beliefs. You notice a strengthening of their relationships which leads to increased learning.

Cara also does a great job with all of the information presented on the different religious views on money. You can really tell how much research went into this book. She beautifully explains the similarities and differences between each religion.

This book will also inspire you to try something different with your money.

For example, through the story of a student, Cara illustrates the Jewish view on money. This method involves six “jars” that align with what you do with your money. The jars are:

  • Tithing – Giving 10% back to God
  • Offering – Giving 10% to charity or helping others
  • Saving – 10% goes in this one for Saving, specifically for unexpected expenses
  • Investing – 10% is given in this jar
  • Just for Me – This jar gets 10% to spend on whatever you want
  • Living Expense – This is for the remaining 50% of your money

The six jars is an interesting way of looking at and managing your money. It has some great concepts for applying it to your own finances.

Just in this one teaching, there is something for everyone. What I took most out of the lesson of the six jars is that it is our responsibility to give back. One of the six jars is for giving and helping others. It inspires me to continue to look for ways to bless and help others.

Even the little bit of basic business advice will help you to understand how to manage your own money better.

Tools to Help You

Another great thing about this book is that it gives you a workbook to help you discover the way you think about money. The workbook takes you chapter by chapter and helps you to understand the lessons by asking some great questions for you to answer.

I would recommend going through the workbook as your reading the book instead of waiting until after like I did. It’s easier to learn with the students of the book rather than going back to try and fill everything in.

There are also more tools on Cara’s companion website to the book,


I love the mantra of “it’s only money.” Some people consider money this huge thing but it IS just money. I love how this book teaches all of the different views on money. Ultimately, it comes to the conclusion that money is a tool.

This book is not for everyone, but most good things rarely are. This book is a short conversational read on what money is to different religions, upbringings, and people.

I can promise you that you will learn something from this book, whether it’s about yourself or about a different viewpoint. It is well worth the $3 price of admission to get the digital copy on Amazon or iBooks.

There’s also a paperback edition as well.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that 10% of proceeds go to help the refugees of Climate Change as part of the Development and Peace organization ( Cara is walking the walk when it comes to giving back and not just writing about it.

Full disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own. I am not getting compensated to review the book.

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Hey! I'm Tim.

I’m an expert budgeter, author, and Certified Financial Coach. My mission is to not only teach you money principles, but to teach you how to mold them to fit who you are and build the life you want. I don’t like typical money advice. I’ve tried to fit into a mold by using typical money advice and I had less control of my money and went further into unnecessary debt. Now, I live to teach others how to break the mold in their own lives and find their version of financial freedom. Read more about me.

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