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on June 14, 2009
In a sense, Jonathan Clements's new book was painful to read. Clements was the long-time personal finance columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and he has a real knack for explaining investment stuff. He wrote nearly 1,000 columns for the Journal and he's forgotten more about personal finance than many brokers ever knew.

Mainstreet Money, 21 Simple Truths that Help Real People Make Real Money is an excellent book. I recommend it highly to anyone who needs a basic finance guide, or those who want a refresher course. In Clements's usual style, it's easy to read, understandable, and helpful. I'll add this to our website's recommended reading list.

Clements once famously noted that there are only seven real stories in personal finance, and he cites them in his introduction. I won't list them all here, but one is "simplicity is a great financial virtue." I agree with his other six, too, but as a practicing advisor, this one stands out as genuine wisdom. There are few absolutes in economics or finance, but that comes pretty close!

It tracks that his 21 Simple Truths follow this theme. He tackles everything from portfolio construction to the merits of saving. Each chapter illuminates a different topic, and offers explanations, ideas, and suggestions. All in that comfortable and engaging style he's known for.

I especially like his tenth chapter, where he offers ten reasons why it's so tough to beat the market. This is heresy in many hallowed halls of Wall Street, but he does a nice job of explaining why so many smart people abandoned that game. "The harder you try to beat the market, the more likely you are to fail, thanks to the investment costs involved."

Why, then, was my reading painful? Another simple truth is that every thinking adult should already know much of this stuff. Seriously, folks, this isn't nuclear physics and these truths aren't obscure. These are the pots and pans of personal finance and every home should already have a basic collection. It just hurts to acknowledge (again) that - as a people - we're rich in things, but poor in basic money knowledge.

People should already know the merits of diversification. They should already know that every investment (every single one) has risks. They should know that tax deferral is smart and that today's retirement can last many decades. If they don't, then this little book makes those powerful and productive points. And, in many ways, Clements makes them and others better than anyone else could. He has a gift.

I like Jon Clements and I recommend his book highly. I just wish that it wasn't necessary.
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on June 18, 2009
In his new book, The Little Book of Main Street Money, Jonathan Clements provides readers with solid financial information in an easy-to-read writing style that's been polished over years of writing his columns for the Wall Street Journal. The book covers investing and financial matters from A to Z in Jonathan's usual clear and concise manner.

While this is not a "get rich quick" book, it is, nevertheless, a "get rich the old-fashioned way" book. Jonathan provides solid common sense information that's too often overlooked or ignored by investors.

This book is a must read for young investors and it's a great refresher course for all investors. Give a copy of this book to your kids and grandkids, and don't forget to keep a copy for youself.
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on June 16, 2009
This is Jonathan Clements' best writing yet, and I've been following his financial advice since 1992. Out of all the works of respected financial authors I've read, none have proved to be as provoking or as true over the years as his. There is something about his clear-headed approach and British wit that inspires me to keep doing better. (It's one thing to know what to do; and then it's a second thing to actually do it. This book helps the reader in both.) The bottom-line is that reading this book helped me firmly acknowledge my true priorities (financial and otherwise) and inspired me to sally forth with the gumption to stick to them. The book also clears up the thorny financial questions a typical investor has. I am giving copies of this book as gifts to people I care about, and I recommend it to everyone who wants to get ahead financially and otherwise. And after you read this book, you'll see clearly what the "and otherwise" means in relation to your finances.
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on June 19, 2009
There are very few journalists who actually have investor's interests at heart. They write about what might be called the science of investing, or evidence based investing. The rest write about the noise, or what Jane Bryant Quinn called "investment porn."

Jonathan was not only one of the few that truly had investor interests at heart but he was one of, if not the best, of the group. I considered his weekly column a must read. The same could be said of this little book.

It is only little in size. It is giant in terms of the number of pearls of wisdom that it contains; pearls not limited to investing but finance in general and life as well.

I highly recommend this book especially for those just beginning their financial journey--it is a journey you should not take without this book as a guide.

Larry Swedroe, author of Wise Investing Made Simple and six other books on investing.
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on June 22, 2009
This book can benefit alomst anyone from the novice investor to the experienced financial advisor. After 27 years in the investment business I have also found that investing is simple but not easy. With all of the financial porn and noise that we are inundated with daily, investing can seem overwelming and confusing. Following these simple and practical investing guidelines will not make you rich overnight but in my view will achieve long term results that will outperform over 90% of investors.

Jonathan's book distills the essence from the collective thinking of many respected investors including John Bogle, William Bernstein and Charles Ellis and combines it with his more than 25 years as a financial columnist.

Although this is a short book it really says it all.
The concepts in this book are timless.

I especially like many of the thoughts Jonathan conveys about making wise everyday life decisions and living richly and mindfully.

This book is a must read for virtually anyone.
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on May 27, 2011
Maybe it was the foreword by Bernstein that inflated my expectations, or the fact that Clements has years of experience in the personal finance field, but I have to admit I was not overly impressed by this book. While there are helpful ideas here and there, nothing ground breaking or especially remarkable. One of the better lines in the book came on the next to last page, "We should strive to ensure money is enhancing our lives, rather than getting in the way." While I respect Clements, I don't suggest this book to anyone with a previous basic knowledge of financial matters.
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on July 13, 2009
Of all the people we interact with in the world, there are maybe six or seven that really change our life. Our parents make sacrafices so we are able to earn our degrees. One or two teachers make a strong impression on us. Our spouse shares their life with us. Perhaps there is a religious person who helps us understand the concept of God. In my life Jonathan Clements is one of these people.
As a young man I spent money buying the latest hot mutual fund in an effort to beat the market. I paid huge fees, and last year's hot fund turned out to be this year's loser. Jonathan's book lays out the framework for investing using index funds with low fees to build a strong financial base.
Equally important is his advice not to buy too much house, too much car, and too much stuff. We can have a good life, but we cannot do everything. His comments on health, diet, happiness, and physical fitness also add perspective. I highly recommend this book. Buy copies for your children also.
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on September 18, 2010
I like this book. It is a quick read and it hits on many (21 to be precise) important aspects of achieving financial success. Jonathan wrote about this sort of thing in his Wall Street Journal columns. Much of it isn't rocket science as the top review on Amazon points out. On the other hand people make mistakes in their thinking and many can benefit from this sort of book. As an example, he points out that it is silly to put money in a low return savings account if you are paying double digit interest on outstanding credit card debt (except for an emergency fund.) The fact is that people make this mistake because they compartmentalize. Who thinks of debt as a negative bond? Not many I am sure. If you are an experienced investor you may not pick up much new here. This book reminds me of little of Jonathan's 1999 book "25 financial myths." I am not sure which myths didn't have corresponding "truths." The book would be good for someone new to personal finance. I think it could make a good gift to a young person or perhaps someone who was struggling with financial issues.
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on June 18, 2009
I really enjoyed reading The Little Book of Main Street Money. It was simple and easy to understand and should be read by high school and college students.

I like the fact that this is a "Little Book" and had to be written in a concise way. It's almost like reading a series of Jonathan's "Getting Going" columns from his Wall Street Journal days.

I highly recommend this book.
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on August 12, 2009
This book offers readers sound advice about money. The author covers topics such as the importance of living within one means, treating time as something of value, and realizing that all investments carry some risk. Time is extremely valuable because a younger person needs to put less money away to reach the same financial goal as an older person. This happens because of the power of compounding. Many people shy away from stock investments especially during the tough economic times of 2008 and 2009.

The author recommends that the simplest investment approach is indexing. This investment style mirrors returns of the general market at low costs. Also, it does not require a lot of work or professional assistance. Over the long-term, the general market shows returns above interest paid on CDs, bonds, and saving accounts. Even the greatest investor, Warren Buffett, recommend this style for people who are not going to be managing money full-time.

Educating oneself about money is extremely important especially since we live longer. The author points out that the risk of living longer is running out of money before running out of breath. I recommend this book.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
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