Book Review: Why Enough is Never Enough

So I have told you to buy this book about three times now.  But perhaps you were waiting for your tax refund.  Or perhaps you holding out for my official Catholic Company review, because you, too, had noticed I’d utterly forgotten to post it.  Now you will have to think up a new excuse.

The book you want is:  Why Enough is Enough: Overcoming Worries about Money — A Catholic Perspective, by Gregory S. Jeffrey (OSV, 2010).

What you’ll be getting is:  A book about how to develop a healthy relationship with money.  This is not a book about how to write a budget.  It is not a book about whether to pay off your credit card or your student loan first, or which kind of retirement account to have.  There are other books about that, and they are worth your time. I like those books.  I am a firm believer in the message of [many of] those books.  But this book is more important.

–> If you don’t have a healthy relationship with money, you will never be able to manage it well.

You might be able to accumulate it.  You won’t be able to live well with it.

And conversely: No matter how diligent and prudent and immpeccably sensible you are, it is possible that you just won’t have much money.  Life can be hard.  There is something about your relationship with money that matters much more than your bank balance. And this is what the book is about.

Is this book too hard for me?  No.  Very readable.  Lots of funny stories.  Good candidate for a book club or a parish study group, because it is approachable, friendly, encouraging, and a quick read.

Is this book protestant-friendly?  I think so.  It’s a catholic book, for sure.  Talks about things like “The Church” and “The Catechism”.  But I can’t recall anything that a non-catholic would find objectionable.

But I’m money master, and I have the 401K to prove it.  Surely you don’t mean I, too, should read this book??  Actually, yeah. That ‘buy’ recommend is across the board.  Because though the topic is money, the topic is really your spiritual life and your relationship with God.  If you have a great handle on money, this book is exceedingly helpful in showing you how to take the principles you are using without knowing it when it comes to cash, and applying them to other areas that you do struggle with.

(In keeping with sound financial principles, make that a “borrow” or “beg” recommend, if you don’t have the cash on hand.)

Can I skip around and stuff?  I don’t recommend it.  And I don’t usually say that.  Read it from page 1 forward, you will get the most out of it that way.  BUT, it is so chock full of useful tidbits, that I, the reviewer, can just randomly open anywhere, and find nice review-quality quotes.  Like this:

The notion of trading pleasure for joy works particularly well for almsgiving.  Money can provide a certain amount of personal pleasure, and that can be a good thing.  But the pleasure that comes from spending money is different than the joy of giving it away . . .  to help another person — to provide food, clothing, shelter, education — is a joy that lingers. (p. 116)

Or this:

To believe that every success is motivated by a heart filled with greed is to expose the envy in your own (p. 40).

And this:

God intervenes in our lives constantly.  Not in the sense that he forces: love does not impose.  Rather, we are offered a never-ending series of invitations that await our cooperation.  Even though burdened with self-deception, we can hope to learn humility, because we are aided from on on high. (p.6o).

And one more I really like, and then I promise to quit:

Imagine if we replaced the language of “social justice” with that of “personal justice”.  What if, instead of speaking of “unjust social structures”, we examined “unjust personal behaviors’?  Again, that is the proper starting point.  Society is made up of individuals.  To have any hope of changing social structures, we need individuals willing to embrace their own call to holiness.

–> FYI on this last one: Jeffries is not arguing that we should ignore problems that are properly dealt with at the governmental level.  Read it and see — in fact there is a great story about how the homestead laws of the 19th century had a very powerful — negative — structural impact on North Dakota farm life.  But yes, if it is your opinion that other people’s money should be spent to relieve the poor, but your own wallet is clamped shut, then indeed he will take you to task in no uncertain terms.


So that’s the book.  Get one of your own.  Courtesy of our very patient sponsor The Catholic Company, who reminds me  to remind you that they are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

I also see that The Catholic Company is . . .

STILL Accepting new applicants:

With the completion of our new review book ordering and reporting system, we are now capable of handling more reviewers.  You are welcome to invite other bloggers to join in the fun.  You can find info on joining at

So if your book appetite dwarfs your book budget, sign up.  Great program.  [And FYI, even though I keep ending up with books I really like, they want you to post honest reviews.  I just happen to honestly like this one.]

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Why Enough is Never Enough

  1. To believe that every success is motivated by a heart filled with greed is to expose the envy in your own

    I love this. How come people who want to give away other people’s money but not their own (I am looking at you, Joe Biden) are working out of the goodness of their hearts but anyone who becomes wealthy through hard work and good ideas is just plain greedy? Success is not a zero-sum game. Someone else’s success does not come at the expense of your own and greed is not the only reason people work.

    1. “Success is not a zero-sum game. Someone else’s success does not come at the expense of your own ”

      Yes! Yes!

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