Category Archives: Book Reviews
- Everything you need to know about FHA loans becoming more expensive. But still, you could get the FHA loan and refinance when you’re at 20% equity value, no?
- I’m no fan of unnecessary government surveillance, but I really liked Edward Snowden is No Hero.
- I’ve always wanted dreadlocks. It’s true. But I just didn’t want them to be so permanent. So I will probably never get them.
- Bill Burr recently went on the Joe Rogan Podcast and the two rant and rave for like 3 hours. It was awesome.
- Khaled Hosseini’s third book, And the Mountains Echoed, was released. Not *quite* as heartbreakingly tragic as A Thousand Splendid Suns, but Hosseini does it again with killer storycrafting and characters.
- Jon Stewart is directing a movie about Maziar Bahari’s 118 days in Evin Prison called Rosewater. Exciting and feeling fairly confident that this won’t be another Not Without My Daughter or Argo. (Future Jeopardy Question: The reason why all Iranians loathe Sally Field. Answer: What is Not Without My Daughter?”)
- I have $3,968 in debt left.
- Everyone needs a personal investment philosophy before diving into investing. I have invested before without a defined strategy or philosophy and anything that haphazard simply can’t end well. So I am working on that as I will finally be focusing my energy on investing. Here’s a good summary of developing a personal investment philosophy.
- What do you know about primal living? Check out Mark’s Daily Apple for obvious but good ideas like “Get lots of sunlight” and “Move at a slow pace for a long time.” Beats all those lunges Jillian Michaels has me doing!
- And finally, it’s been too long: Reggaeton Video of the Week: Reggaeton Latino by Don Omar
I am a big fan of Todd Tresidder at Financial Mentor, so I was excited to review one of his 60 Minute Financial Solutions books. How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? helps you accurately analyze all of the conventional assumptions in retirement planning in order to understand why they can be extremely misleading. This helped me a lot. I’ve always known that the whole “8% annual return” number couldn’t be entirely accurate, but Todd shows exactly why it’s such a dangerous assumption (the short answer is that it’s never a neat 8% return and the volatility of negative returns one year followed by positive returns the next can be devestating on your portfolio.) Next, even small changes in inflation can have dramatic eroding effects on your retirement portfolio. So when searching for that Magic Retirement Number, it helps to realize that actually, there is no magic number. You should calculate for a range that you feel comfortable with, based on different spending, saving, inflation and investment return scenarios. The book is worth your time and I just want to leave you with Todd’s two critical numbers that will help you best plan your retirement:
- #1: Percentage of income saved versus income spent
- #2: Return on investment minus inflation
There is a ton of helpful information and ideas in this book, even if you think you are many years away from retirement (I know I am). I like the Ultimate Retirement Calculator that lets you play with a bunch of variables. I also like that it delves into business and real estate assets as part of a retirement portfolio, since I really don’t think of myself ever retiring, I always want to be active in business, knee-deep in projects, and an owner of rental properties.
Giveaway: I have a copy to giveaway and entry is really, really easy! Either follow me on Twitter or show me some like on Facebook and enter using the Rafflecopter below. You’ll get this awesome book mailed to you!
There are less than two months left in 2012 and I have a lot of reading to do! To recap, I designated five books to be my foundation in personal finance:
1. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Caslon (Click for my review)
2. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Dank (Click for my review)
3. Think and Grow Rich Action Pack by Napoleon Hill
4. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
5. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
With Think and Grow Rich, we’re moving away from the foundation of personal finance success (like: not being a flashy bastard, spending less than you make, etc) and taking steps to create an above-average income, and hopefully an above-average life with it. It’s time to look beyond changing my habits and creating self discipline. I want to move to the next level in income. That’s where inspirational authors from the 1930s come in! Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937. Hill was a student of Dale Carnegie, whose How To Win Friends and Influence People from 1936 is timeless advice that can teach you the basics of salesmanship and how to connect with people better than any contemporary work. Think and Grow Rich is well-cited and is an entrepreneurial must-read. I was excited to read it. But first, a question.
I run into lots of resistance when I talk about money. Being rich is a goal that makes many people uncomfortable and doesn’t really make sense as an end unto itself. Is the desire for wealth a base desire? Are we giving into greed and avarice by focusing any sort of effort into acquiring wealth? I have struggled to justify spending any time on building wealth because I held the belief for a long time that I cannot think about money because that would make me crass, base or deprived. But not thinking about money sends you down many wrong paths. A little bit of self-discipline over the past year and a half and I feel much less emotional about money and confident that I can use money as a tool to do good, have fun, be creative and be myself. I think many of us hesitate to think of “having a lot of money” as a noble goal because we equate “having a lot of money” with “being a total jerk who stomped on a lot of necks and sacrificed family and friends to get where he is”. I’m not the only one right? If we have not come from wealth and our understanding of having it has always been ostentatious wealth, then it’s easy to assume a desire for wealth makes you a less noble or interesting human being. But I have come around from that understanding. Wealth does not need to be ostentatious. Nor does it need to be your only shining goal in life. You can be who you are while building wealth. And if you are driven to create and are interested in building your own business, accumulating wealth from those efforts should be one of the rewards of those efforts! To conclude, wealth is not evil. If you want to make a lot of money, be comfortable with it. If you are focused, determined and willing to work towards your goal, Think and Grow Rich can help you get there.
Back to my review: The book is divided into 13 steps towards riches AND THEY ARE IN ALL CAPS IN THE BOOK TOO with lots of punctuation marks!!! (Did Tom Wolfe read Napoleon Hill?):
- Step One: DESIRE
- Step Two: FAITH
- Step Three: AUTOSUGGESTION
- Step Four: SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE
- Step Five: IMAGINATION
- Step Six: ORGANIZED PLANNING
- Step Seven: DECISION
- Step Eight: PERSISTENCE
- Step Nine: POWER OF THE MASTER MIND
- Step Ten: THE MYSTERY OF SEX TRANSMUTATION
- Step Eleven: THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
- Step Twelve: THE BRAIN
- Step Thirteen: THE SIXTH SENSE
While some of the titles are self-explanatory, many are not. I will let you enjoy the wonders of SEX TRANSMUTATION on your own. Each chapter is filled with both personal and now-historical anecdotes about Henry Ford, JP Morgan, Charles Schwab, Thomas Edison and many others. The Points to Pin Down give you an easy summary of the chapter, but you will learn more by really reading and re-reading this book. Do you have a master mind group? The power of the collective mind is incredible. I’ve been collaborating on a weekly basis with some blogging friends among other things, and it’s been effective and bringing back my creative side. Are you persistent? Do you know how to keep trying and to stay focused even when you are ready to let discouragement take over? Think and Grow Rich is one of my favorite books about money. It doesn’t have any technical education, but I guarantee it will make you richer, if you’re into that sort of thing.
A few great quotes from Think and Grow Rich
The “missing link” in all systems of education may be found in the failure of educational institutions to teach their students how to organize and use knowledge after they acquire it.
The majority of people who fail to accumulate money sufficient for their needs are generally easily influenced by the opinions of others…If you are influenced by the opinions of others, you will have no desire of your own.
Genuine wisdom is usually conspicuous through modesty and silence.
Spasmodic or occasional effort to apply the rules will be of no value to you. To get results, you must apply all of the rules until their application becomes a fixed habit with you. In no other way can you develop the neccesary “money consciousness”.
Next Time on Personal Finance Classics
It’s happening. Im reading the mother of all value investing books, The Intelligent Investor. In order to properly digest it, I think I may have to review one chapter at a time. I am also not convinced A Random Walk Down Wall Street needs to be in the Top 5. I really like the other four, and need to find a worthy final pick. What’s your favorite personal finance/money/investing book? I’d love to find the last book for this series!
To adapt a line from Bridesmaids, “At first, I did not know that The Rich and the Rest of Us was a book. I thought it was a very long rant that had no point.”
What I wanted from The Rich And The Rest Of Us: A Poverty Manifesto was an examination of US policy and culture that explained why the US is so lopsided in its wealth and what other countries have done to reduce extreme inequities in wealth (such as Brazil). I wanted to understand what people who are not of extreme wealth or extreme poverty can do to better understand their economy and have an impact on their local economies. I wanted a healthy mix of analysis and history along with some feel-good “action lists” that would remind individuals they still have power, our choices matter, and organization of ourselves and our resources, above all, can create powerful instruments that change what’s normal or what has always been.
Maybe I expected too much.
What I got out of The Rich and the Rest of Us was an endless tirade against corporate fat cats, the mega-rich, the massively rich, and a pervading sense that half of the country is one paycheck (or less) away from utter poverty. While I have no doubt that we are in hard times for a large percentage of Americans, many of us live paycheck to paycheck (You can count me in there, if I wasn’t getting my next paycheck I would be screwed) and wages are stagnant compared to the cost of living, what I don’t agree with is the sense of hopelessness and desperation that West and Smiley try to inject into each person’s story. Each person who they interview is presented as a tragedy. Some parts are left unexplained, key parts of a story which might explain why a person is in poverty, and details about generations of poverty and lack of education are glossed over so that West and Smiley can editorialize all over this book. I am already sympathetic to the cause. In fact, I wager 99% (get it??) of the people who would read West and Smiley’s book are already sympathetic to the cause: we all want to alleviate poverty in this country, we want to give people opportunities and the dignity of a living wage. You don’t need to jam it down my throat that people have it rough out there and people who have been proven to be irresponsible or downright fraudulent during the downturn have received little punishment. I know all that already.
My question is how do we address these problems? What can we change? Why is healthcare prohibitively expensive? Why does a hospital stay have the potential to bankrupt someone? How do we lower housing costs? Can we reduce our transportation costs with better public transportation? Is online education a tool for people to become masters of their own destiny? Should people become more self-sufficient through home gardening and raising our own chickens? I like creative ideas and I think there is plenty out there we can do. We should address problems within our government openly and honestly, but also understand government’s limitations and maybe stop complaining so much (I’m looking at you, KPFK).
A few details that got me all wound up:
- Fuzzy math: In one section an increase in poverty rates was “the largest poverty rate increase in years” at 2.3%. And then just a few pages later, the “draconian welfare-to-work reform bill” of the Clinton era was tidily denounced for having “reduced poverty by only 2.5%”. West and Smiley: you’re making people who care about social causes look bad and also stupid.
- Suze Orman was described as an “acclaimed personal finance expert”. Clearly not doing your research…
- The authors talk about “personal responsibility” in quotation marks. I know the political implications but really, personal responsibility shouldn’t be considered a bad thing.
There was one great section in this book with ideas on how to reduce poverty. One such idea was for more tenants to become landlords, perhaps pooling resources to buy a small apartment complex and offer shared resources like transportation and a community garden. That sounds so cool! I like the idea of the combined purchasing power of a group and the ability of that group to pay itself in terms of the repaying the mortgage and having an asset of real property. That section on action and ideas was way too short.
I want to learn more about society, policy and be excited about starting conversations with people about why the US is great and why we have the capacity to grow and be stronger than ever. Unfortunately, the conversation gets way too polarized right away and it’s easy to pick a side. The only way we’ll make a difference is by getting rid of the sides and asking questions that aren’t being asked right now. Is the question really “Is Obamacare a good thing” or would it be better to ask “Why are healthcare costs rising much faster than any other factor in the US?” and “What are the structures in place that make insurance providers so entrenched in our national healthcare dialogue? Is it like this in every country? Have we looked at how other countries provide care and how we compare?”
I know you mean well, West and Smiley, but the radio shows and tours seem to be more your forte. My next related book review will be A People’s History of the United States.