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The Average Family's Guide to Financial Freedom How You can Save a Small Fortune on a Modest Income 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471352280
ISBN-10: 0471352284
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bill and Mary Toohey are about as average as a couple can be. They live in Iowa, pull down about $65,000 a year combined, and have three children. What's not average about them is that they have a net worth of about a half-million dollars. They've paid off their mortgage, and they paid cash for their cars. Their oldest daughter graduated from college with no debts and with money in the bank. How did they manage? It takes a book to explain the particulars, but the executive summary is this: They lived on about half their income, and saved and invested the other half. Part of their plan is simply saying no to impulse purchases such as soft drinks and candy bars. (They show how they accumulated $26,733 in eight years by investing the money they didn't spend on junk.) Their strategy involves, in part, shopping around for the best price on their big-ticket purchases. (They take you step by step through a few transactions, from research to purchase, so you can do this yourself.) But the biggest part is living small. They have a modest house (one bathroom). They don't try to keep up with the Joneses. Their investment strategy is very simple, mostly stock index and bond funds. By never trying to be more than average, they made themselves extraordinary.

It's hard to imagine that many people will be able to follow their entire program--that one-bathroom house will probably stop most readers in their tracks--and some of their ideas about cheap entertainment seem a little far-fetched. For example, if you're thinking of taking the children to the circus when it comes to town, they advise, take them instead to watch the circus troupe setting up tents and feeding the animals. Imagine the family fun when the kids go to school and realize all their friends got to see the actual circus. Still, there should be plenty of useful advice in this Guide to Financial Freedom for any family. Most of it is simple and makes intuitive sense, and the Tooheys' breezy, conversational writing style makes you feel as though you were sitting with them in their (small) living room while they shared it. Best of all, their plan clearly works. A half-million in savings on a middle-class income is a pretty good leg to stand on when offering advice. --Lou Schuler

From Booklist

Money magazine named the Tooheys the "Best Personal Finance Managers in America" in 1994; later they outlined their financial strategy in Money's April 1997 issue. Now they lay out a comprehensive spending and saving program that focuses on spending less rather than saving more. What will make the Tooheys' advice so appealing to many is that they truly are "average" Americans, not professional money managers. Over the past several years, their annual income has averaged $65,000. Bill is a state vocational rehabilitation counselor; Mary is an office manager. They discuss how family finances affect relationships and how to build a money-saving mind-set, covering home buying and grocery shopping and all the necessary purchases in between. The Tooheys advise simplicity and self-reliance, yet their recommendations are not austere. They also include detailed guidance on investing, retirement planning, and parenting. Their goal is financial independence, and they stress that this does not mean not having to work. The Tooheys make a strong argument for the value of work beyond a paycheck. David Rouse
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Product Details

  • Series: Personal Finance
  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1st edition (March 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471352284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471352280
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,820,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
We've been budgeting, investing and paying off debt for a few years, but we've been anxious to speed the process up and start accumulating real wealth.
This book was amazing, because it did several things for us:
(1) It got us motivated! We realized we didn't have a definition of financial freedom, or any goals set. We just wanted to "get out of debt", whereas now we say "we want to be out of debt by the time we're 45". Without a goal or plan we had no light at the end of the tunnel! Now it's there.
(2) We learned a few new things. For example, we'd always built a certain percentage of savings into our budget. We were putting a cap on our savings! Instead, we should constantly be looking at ways to lower our spending, which will automatically produce higher levels of saving and investing.
(3) We learned we didn't have to feel guilty about not wanting to "skimp". Our family of 5 likes to eat out--at McDonald's or Friendly's. Nothing fancy. But we always felt guilty. Well, the Tooheys showed us that you can still enjoy life while living below your means. Same goes for hiring a decorator!
(4) Last but not least, we got a great bibliography of books to read, that will hopefully fine-tune what we already know.
Bill and Mary, we can't thank you enough for your insights. You wrote the book as if we were sitting across the table from you, and it sure felt that way. Now we really feel as though we can be financially free, worry less, and give/spend our money as we wish and God directs. Thanks!
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Format: Hardcover
One thing has not been mentioned in reviews yet. This book gives a little information on a lot of topics (the chapter on taxes is only 5 and 1/2 pages). Great if you know nothing about taxes and are unsure where to start learning, but useless if you have even some clue about taxes and how to find the deductions you're entitled to. If you have a middle class income and want a first book on how to move towards a more stable financial footing, this is a starting point. If you have some knowledge already, skip this one and do a search under Larry Burkett for more specific books. For people with less than average income, ie: under $35,000 per year, this book will frustrate you to no end. It mentions getting on a budget and getting out of debt, but gives no ideas how to do that. It talks a lot about how to invest, which is a great beginners lesson, by the way, but it assumes you have some to invest. Once again, I'd check out Burkett's books first for actual how-to books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been on a true quest to educate myself and my husband about finances. We need to plan for retirement and still be able to enjoy this stage of our life too. I have read a lot books and talked to several experts and was always left with the "too late, too bad" feeling. This book was so well thought out and the advise so "doable" I feel I have at last found the proper tool to get (and keep) our financial life in the order I have been looking for all this time. This is a real treasure of information presented in such a friendly format even my hesiatant husband read it cover to cover. My husband has stayed away from all the other books I have read because he did not want to be scolded or dictated to, this book is like having a long talk with that favorite uncle ----information but not judgements or unreal suggestions. Thank you Bill and Mary!!!
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By A Customer on August 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a recently divorced mother of two and didn't have a clue about investing. I read this book because it was written by real people who aren't financial experts. I guess I thought I might be able to understand it and that it would deal with issues I face. I was right. I liked the book and have loaned it to my sister and she likes it too. It's a quick read and it held my attention throughout. Now I'll need to start reading some of the other books recommended in this book. Thank you Tooheys, for sharing your experiences and showing me how it's done.
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By A Customer on August 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've read a few financial books and this one was very helpful. I also liked Personal Finance for Dummies which I read first, and I noticed that these authors also recommend that book. I liked them both a great deal. This book really is for average people. It deals with things others don't and the investing section clarified some things I didn't quite understand. I really liked the car buying section and plan to use that next time I'm in the market. The record-keeping section is very unique and leaves you wondering why you didn't think of that! A good book.
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By A Customer on August 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Like other reviewers, I couldn't put this one down. It reads like a good novel, yet it includes everything needed to put one on the road to financial freedom. I bought one for my daughter. If you're looking to change your life or to achieve financial freedom, I highly recommend this book. It's the best financial book I've seen.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was easy to read, interesting, and tells me what I need to know to achieve financial freedom. I plan to recommend it to friends and family. If you want freedom and don't know where to start, buy this book.
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By A Customer on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A clear look at what an average wage-earner can do to turn their financial fortunes around. Easy to read and understand, the Tooheys approach will take a little work (great rewards rarely fall into your lap) but can be attained by most of us. Strong recommendation.
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