175 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2002
This is a good book. Tobias' main point is that you need to start saving 10% of your income, and he also gives advice on ways to cut costs and where you can put your money. I've read a lot of investing books and some of what he said was not new to me. However, I did learn some new things. Some parts of the book that I found helpful were Chapter 5 which explains Treasuries (bills, notes, and bonds). I also liked his advice in Chapter 10 about what to do if you fall into a large sum of money (Lottery or inheritance). There are also some useful resources in the appendices in the back of the book such as contact info for discount brokers, mutual funds, a compound interest chart, and finally a quick summary of his main point (save 10% of your income). I gave the book four stars instead of five because I don't agree with ALL of his advice, for example I do not believe in purchasing rental properties (too big of a headache), and I think that home equity loans are a BAD idea. Other than that, a great book.
94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2005
Andrew Tobias weaves through the dizzy world of T-bills, municipal bonds, alternative minimum taxes, and a host of esoteric personal finance topics. But the bottom line he preaches is simple: be happy living on less than you make, and save the rest in safe no load mutual funds, diversifying between domestic and international stocks. Tobias tries to assure most of us average Joes that we are a fool if we think we can outsmart the Warren Buffetts of the world, so don't go crazy speculating on individual stocks. At best, you will make a broker happy. At worst, you will lose your shirt. There now - I just saved you $14 you can add to your no load mutual fund account (lol).
82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
As a young and overwhelmed newlywed twenty-some years ago, I read The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need. It was clear, fun to read, and full of good advice. I was recently surprised to see it is still in print, revised and updated.
If you're already the sort of person who reads personal finance books, it won't be the only one you'll read, but it may be the one that holds up the best over time. Tips such as "invest" in staples such as coffee when they are cheap and ride out times of inflated prices by using your surplus are as useful today as they were in 1978. (Although if I remember, Tobias used canned tuna as the example in the earlier editions, and now uses cases of wine to illustrate the point.)
Tobias has updated the book to include investment advice that we never considered in 1978. He includes tips on how to find the best online air fares, when and when not to use eBay, TiVo, and reverse mortgages. He has some simple and effective ideas on how to make Social Security viable for the foreseeable future (without resorting to privitization). He gives specific advice to couples who are married and couples who aren't or who can't be.
One of my favorite sections is on what to do if you win the lottery. How many long drives have I passed by planning that very thing? (My first step: get an unlisted phone number.) Tobias's advice on this unlikely event is excellent, especially step 5b.) Don't buy a boat.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
This book helped me (a novice) understand a lot and gave me the confidence I needed to deal with a chunk of severance money from a former employer.
In that situation, obviously you need access to the cash if necessary, but maybe you also want to score some interest. Before reading this, I was confused about several instruments with about the same level of risk (CDs, money market funds, money market accounts, I-bonds, TIPs, and Treasury bills). Tobias laid it all out very clearly--and humorously--and helped me to evaluate the options intelligently.
There's also a great chapter on everyday savings you can make. It's sort of like David Bach's Latte Factor, but Tobias's take is a lot (dare I say) smarter in its outlook and scope.
This author started early as a whiz kid and is very accomplished, but he's self-effacing and honest about his own mistakes--so you really do trust him to be straight with advice. Most people will definitely get something out of this book.
63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
This is a fun book and a great start if you know nothing about investing. But if you know the basics (stocks, funds, real estate, etc) you won't learn much.
I doubt you can get rich or even have a comfortable retirement by simply not losing money, but it doesn't hurt and that's the best part of this book. Again, if you know you should pay off your credit cards, buy large quantities at Costco, drive a small used car and get plane tickets from Priceline, you won't find much new.
But what about building some wealth? Now here, we have a problem. The correct "answer" is, you start putting money in a Roth IRA and an index fund, when you are in your 20's. In just 30 or 40 short years you will have a pile of dough. Even better, with 30 or 40 years, no matter what the stock market does, you can ride it out.
But alas, hardly anybody in their 20s or even 30s has money to put aside and leave untouched for all those years. Say you're 40 and decide its never too late. As I write this, the stock market is hitting a new high almost every day. Yet the news about jobs, housing and Iraq is all bad. So sooner or later (and probably sooner) the market will tank and it may take 10 years to recover. Now you're age 50 and you've got just 10-15 years to earn enough for retirement.
Its not the fault of this book that there is no solution to this dilemma. But I think a more realistic approach would be to offer these four possible "solutions". (1) Inherit lots of money. (2) Be very lucky in the stock market, (3) Get a job that offers a pension, preferably written into law so they cannot screw you or, best of all (4) Get a high paying job early in your career, so you can put all that money aside.
The strength of this book is in what it tells you not to do. But minimizing mistakes only takes you so far.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
I purchased my first copy of Mr. Tobias's book when I was in my mid thirties and it truly changed my life. I found it to be such practical advice that I started following it immediately. Written in a self depreciating manner the author just made the complicated financial decisions we all mishandle or put off seem so simple. Insurance, banking, investments, clipping coupons, saving money - he addresses it all and you can understand it.
I am now 56 and retired and I know a lot of it I owe to this book. Read it!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2002
I read this book several times in the early 1980s. I read it until it fell apart. Since then I've been through dozens (more like hundreds) of other investment books, but this is the one that taught me first principles and taught them the best. Basically this guy is a really fine writer who happens to write about investments and personal finance. He's witty, entertaining, and right on target.
As for the content, the basics of investing and frugality are covered. When you get right down to it the basics are all you need, and you can fit them on a 3 by 5 card. Almost all of my investing mistakes in the past 20 years have been a result of trying to make things too complicated. Tobias keeps his message simple, and that's one of this book's strengths.
Like other reviewers, I've given this book as a gift over the years. However, there's another good writer out there in recent years -- Jason Kelly, author of "The Neatest Little Guide..." series.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2006
I have found the advice in this book to be invaluable. You simply can't go wrong. Those looking for a book with stock/mutual fund investing howtos should keep looking however. This is a broad brush stroke at handling one's money. Period. If you are going to read this book, be sure to read My Vast Fortune as well. The two tell quite a story and show that Mr Tobias is not just blowing air between his gums. This book is eminently readable and there is just not much wrong with it. Everything from what to do if you inherit wealth, to what type of life insurance to buy, to how to buy a car, to how to use the internet to save money on staying at a hotel are covered, as well as everything in between. Read this and prosper.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2002
His ideas are simple, effective and just plain easy! It is perfect for the non-investor who wants a simple plan on how to invest and save for retirement. I plan on reading his other books now. This is the 20th book I have read on investing - and this is by far the best and most clear!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The best line in Andrew Tobias's 25-year old classic is, one penny saved is two pennies earned. Why? Because when you save two pennis, close to one is taken away by the government, unless you are some dirt-wealthy person protected by tax shelters and a carribean passport. So by not eating that $... sushi meal, it's the same as you just earned $..., minus the cost of the McD burger.
Tobias also points out the pitfalls in many popular investments, ranging from stamps to whole life insurance to insider stocks. The book is refreshing, even after 25 years. I totally wish I had had heeded his advice all these years. Indeed, if I had just bought some long-term bonds back when interest rate hit double digits, I would have retired long ago. Instead I played the equity market and in all these years, came out flat at best, not counting the uncountable number of sleepless hours and numerous occasions of near heart attacks.
Because Tobias aims to keep the volume slim -- although the latest edition is bigger and 3 times more expensive than the last one I bought back in 1989 -- a lot of important things are left out, e.g., real estate, trusts, etc. Half of the book is devoted to stocks. While the advice is must-read for every small investor, I was hoping to see more content on bonds and also chapters devoted to hedge funds and real estate. Sure Tobias can say something about these increasingly popular vehicles.
A timeless classic marred by some missing chapters, but still a gem in a world populated by useless investment advice, in book form or in person.