Michael James told me about a booklet entitled If You Can How Millenials Can Get Rich Slowly by William J. Bernstein (ASIN: B00JCC5JKI) (Publisher: Efficient Frontier Publications ) (the Amazon Kindle link is included as well), and I am very impressed by the writing style of Mr. Bernstein and the message he is sending with this inexpensive booklet.

If You Can booklet from Amazon

Amazon Link for Booklet

I usually shy away from reading books on investing and such (I have a large pile of books I have promised to review, but have not quite got around to doing anything about them), so this booklet took only about 3 months for me, to get around to reading. It takes about an hour to read, but it does have a lot of homework assignments in it that could make it longer, if you want to do the homework (the homework is reading some of the books that you should have read already, if you think of yourself as an investor).

The booklet is a how to save enough money to retire, with a strong how-to theme. The booklet is U.S. based, however it is still very applicable and topical for Canadians, if you simply:

  • Think of a 401k and IRA as being similar to RRSPs, and LIRAs (I do realize there are significant differences ).
  • The distribution of Index Funds in your retirement fund could just as easily be:
    • TSE Index Fund
    • Canadian Bond Fund
    • International Index Fund
    • There are many similar “couch potato” portfolios you could use
  • Social Security is like our Canada Pension Plan

The advice given in this very short essay mimics many of the points I have made over the past ten years, and I have no problem listing them here:

  1. If you can’t save you’ll die poor
  2. You must understand how finances work, or you are doomed to fail
  3. If you ignore the past financially you will fail as well
  4. You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to money
  5. “The financial services industry wants to make you poor and stupid” (that is a direct quote)

Yes (5) sounds remarkably like me, but my guess is Mr. Bernstein is much more qualified to make that statement, so I will be quoting him in the future.

Overall Review

Read this booklet, it would be the best $0.99 (US) you have spent this year. I have bought copies and sent them to my kids to read, with a few comments added to it, and you should read it as well. This is a well written, concise and to the point explanation on how to retire with money, and how to save, just read it, it will take a 1/2 an hour tops (if you do the homework, it will take a lot longer, but that would even be better).

Mr. Bernstein has written a bunch of other books, that I may take out of the library and peruse as well.

 

 

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Book Review: 75 Ways to Save Gas

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Book Review: Smoke and Mirrors (2008)

I got a book out of the Ottawa Public Library a week or two ago, and I was very happy with its content. The book in question is: Smoke & Mirrors: Financial Myths that Will Ruin Your Retirement Dreams by David Trahair (CA).

The books subtitle is “Financial Myths That will Ruin Your Retirement Dreams“, and I was very impressed by the thoroughness and the passion of the arguments that Mr. Trahair puts in this book (and helpful CD with some useful spreadsheets to do calculations with). I discussed this book with other N.C.F.B.A. members and those that had read it were also impressed by the message put forward by Mr. Trahair.

Smoke and Mirrors the Book

The Book from Amazon

Mr. Trahair‘s book attempts to debunk the myths that are being pushed by the Financial Institutions and professionals that make money on our retirement planning.

The five major myths he addresses are:

  1. If you have a Million Dollars you can retire (or write a hit song 🙂 ).
  2. RRSPs are the holy grail of retirement
  3. Don’t worry about your investments, you will be fine in the long run
  4. We have met the enemy and he is the Tax Collector
  5. Secure your financial future: buy life insurance

His arguments in these areas are quite compelling and I think I mostly agree with his questions about whether you can trust an “expert” that is making money from their own advice.

The rest of this good book outlines how to “Fight Back” and he outlines some excellent financial models and debunks the “Lease your Car” model and a few other interesting areas.

His major point of “Get out of Debt FIRST” is an excellent point and for that alone I think Mr. Trahair is on the right track with his ideas.

Overall Review

Excellent book, while I don’t necessarily agree with all of Mr. Trahair’s statements, I feel his arguments are very compelling to me, and he does not waiver on his message of “Pay off Your Debt FIRST!!!!”, and for that I am impressed.
I would highly recommend reading this book (I took it out of the Ottawa Public Library).

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