I have not read any other books in this series, but the subject matter of this book appealed to me. I often run into people who (for various reasons) don't have much liquid wealth going into their 40s. Yet I haven't seen much written to suggest what these folks should do. I was hoping to get some ideas to share. Unfortunately, I didn't really find any that I didn't know about already.
If you are over 50, this book won't provide you with the advice you need. The intellectual process that Mr. Bach went through was to take the familiar arguments about the power of compound interest and saving with pre-tax dollars . . . and think of a few ways to shorten up the number of years required for compound interest to do its thing on your behalf. His best suggestions outside the standard financial planning advice are to be more valuable at work so you can earn more raises and promotions . . . and paying down your mortgage a little faster than is required.
I applaud his advice that people spend less on things that don't provide much benefit . . . but most people are going to be demoralized if that's the main source of increased liquid wealth. After all, most people want wealth not for retirement . . . but to enjoy life before and after they retire.
I found his arguments about starting your own business to earn more money to be naive at best . . . and overoptimistic at worst. Buying and running . . . or starting and running a business requires a lot of hard work and skill. Most successful entrepreneurs are off doing this by around age 35. Most people at 49 will find it a tough hill to climb. I applaud Mr. Bach's suggestion that people look into buying, operating, expanding and then selling franchised operations that meet his criteria. The other ideas won't work for most people based on historical averages.
I was also puzzled by his emphasis on having one-third of your liquid financial wealth in bonds. That's been one of the lowest returning classes of investment over the last 150, 100, 50, and 25 years. Why deliberately earn less when you have a long time horizon?
Much of the appeal of this book is that Mr. Bach is optimistic by nature, has a kindly interest in people and aspires for people to accomplish more. Bravo for that attitude!
I also found that Mr. Bach uses quantitative examples to explain compound interest and pre-tax versus after-tax investments much better than most financial planners do.
If you are under 45 and have never read a book about financial planning before, you will find this to be a valuable resource. If you are familiar with financial planning, you can skip this book. If you are not inclined to plan, don't know anything about financial planning and find math to be challenging, this book will provide useful new perspectives for you.
on February 14, 2005
For the longest time, I thought I was the only one- the only one drowning in debt, with no savings and not a dime in retirement. I thought I would be the only one of my family or friends that would have to say no to all those wonderful travel opportunities, who wouldn't be able to take those leisurely, late afternoon lunches, who would never go shopping again unless it was for groceries, the only one who would have to continue working well through my "golden years" just to make ends meet. I was so scared that I would be living on such a fixed income, that I would worry about every last cent that I spent. I thought I would never be able to retire because I had started thinking about my long term financial plans much too late.
Then I read Start Late, Finish Rich and now I understand that I haven't doomed myself to working into my seventies or eighties. I can still make it and make it big!
I started with my debt as I felt like this was the biggest factor holding me back. I took Mr. Bach's advice to call all of my credit card companies and ask for lower interest rates. At first they balked, but with a little persistence and, sometimes a supervisor on the phone, almost every one of them lowered my interest rate by at least 5-10%. There were a few companies that wouldn't cooperate and therefore, didn't deserve my business. Those balances I transferred to new cards offering me a ZERO % interest rate. Next, I began making more than the minimum monthly payments, as much more as I could. Now I can see the progress I am making with each monthly statement and I am proud of the difference I am making in my own life!
Then, I began contributing more to my 401k. I set aside an additional $20 a week, just an extra $80 a month. I found this money in my "double latte factor", literally. When I began to realize how much I spent each day on gourmet coffee, my mouth dropped open. I still enjoy one cup of the coffee of the day (not a latte or some other fancy drink) and still managed to save $5 a day and there was my extra $20 a week! And, my amazing employer matches my contribution 100%. I am saving an extra $160 a month. That's $1920 a year and it is money I was literally just throwing away.
I still have a ways to go and more of this wonderful advice to incorporate, but after all, as David Bach says, this is not a sprint- it is a marathon. But thanks to Start Late, Finish Rich, I will finish that marathon just a little faster and a little richer! I am now confident that I will be able to retire comfortably and will be able to enjoy every minute!
on January 25, 2005
David Bach is in the business of making money, not of helping people. As soon as he has you figure out your "Latte Factor" (the way you overspend without realizing it -- like buying daily lattes), he draws you to his website where he tries to sell you more books, tapes, CDs, etc., directly threatening that Latte Factor. Please don't be fooled by this man's intentions.
If you're forty, in excellent health, live in an affordable neighborhood, and plan to spend your life making money, this book will probably work for you, although there is nothing here you won't find in a hundred other books on personal finance. Try "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." It's an easier read.
David Bach does not consider people on fixed incomes, those with health issues, people who are required to stay in certain locations because of work, and those of us who simply do not want to give up the treat of one movie a month in order to devote our existences to Making More Money.
Mr. Bach really doesn't intend this book for anyone over forty . . . maybe forty-five. If you're in your fifties or sixties, this book will most likely frustrate you and make you feel like a failure, unless you've got a prime job and a nice nest egg already begun.
The author sees the world of the middle-and-lower classes through rose colored glasses. His answer to credit debt is to just get on the phone, call your creditors, and "talk them into" lowering your rates so you can pay your cards off sooner. If any of you have tried this you know it's easier said than done. Mr. Bach denies the fact that he really does expect everyone to give up lattes, movies, dinners out, and other treats . . . except for his book. That's an "investment." The author also seems to think that everyone lives in a neighborhood where foreclosures are nice little homes in the suburbs rather than shacks built on gang turf. He gives false information about IRAs; he is simply wrong in his figures. The author further thinks that all of his suggested investments will bring you a ten percent profit. I've been watching a couple of his favorite funds, and they're not all that stable. He also expect those of us who're growing older and less energetic to take on second jobs, including franchises. And of course everyone must get into the real estate game. I don't know how many hours a day are on Mr. Bach's clock, but my middle-class clock only gives me twenty-four.
To shorten this up, please believe that there are many many assumptions and descrepancies in this book. People with any sort of limitations fall right through the cracks. So unless you are in very early middle-age, are in perfect health, and plan to devote your life to dying with the thought "Hey, at least I'm rich!", please forego this book for one that's easier on the ego and nerves.
I stood in front of our local bookstore and gave my copy of "Start Late, Finish Rich" to the first over-fifty customer who walked by. He said he'd pass it on.
Bach does indeed give a common-sense approach to money management - but that's the problem. Spend less and save more, he says, and most of us heard this from the cradle. If you know nothing about budgeting, investing, credit control, and responsible spending, this book is for you, but there's really nothing in it that most of us haven't heard before. Might be useful for young people just getting started, but not really for people late in life. We've already heard it and if folks who don't get it by now probably won't just from reading this. I DO highly recommend Suze Orman's "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke." It's aimed at 30- and 40-somethings but has practical advice for anyone
on January 26, 2005
My wife and I consider ourselves average fiftysomethings. I'm a Vietnam vet, and have taught school for thirty years. I have some minor heart trouble. We've got an IRA and a money market account, but never played the stock market. My wife was a magazine editor, but can no longer work due to medical problems. We have two grown kids. We live in San Francisco. Average, normal people.
We read Mr. Bach's book together, and found nothing new in it. Our latte factor is virtually nonexistent because we budget (something Mr. Bach disapproves of), and keep running expense envelopes in our dayplanners. Even with the help of the V.A., we can't afford a house here; we'd have to move North and I'd lose my job. It would be impossible for us to buy and sell real estate, because it would require me to leave my wife at home alone on weekends. Besides, I'm too darned tired to work a second job.
To sum up, we bought this book because it claimed to be written for us older folk. It wasn't. We have financial and physical limitations that make Mr. Bach's utopian ideas impossible for us. (The friends we loaned the book to agree with us, because they're in the same boat.)
Mr. Bach just doesn't realize that as time runs out, so do financial, energy, and other resources. If you've ever read a book on personal finance, don't waste your money on another one full of the same darned stuff.
on October 13, 2005
This book is not for everyone. In fact it is for a small group of people. I believe that if you find yourself in your late 30's or older and have not set aside money for retirement this book will help kick you in the rear to get going. But it is not just motivation; it gives you several ways to really get going.
As with anything you can say this book is better then that one. But I always think that those people are just pushing their own books or their companies books.
As I said if you a business major this book is not for you. If you are someone who has always lived within their means and put money away this book is not for you. If you are young and believe in saving this book is not for you. But for those of us who have been focused on other things such as a career and found ourselves without proper savings it gives a good starting point.
on January 9, 2005
This book is full of advice on how to save money, how to invest, why it is good to buy a home vs renting, why you should fund your retirement plans at the same time you are paying down your debt, and even how to get a raise by becoming a GREAT employee (vs a mediocre one) or start your own business. I enjoyed the chapter on giving (known in old-fashioned times as tithing) because opening up your heart to give, opens you up to receive.
The book was not as easy to read as some of David Bach's other books. For instance, his "Smart Women Finish Rich" basically changed my young adult views of money, and I've given "Smart Couples Finish Rich" to all of my friends when they get married. "The Automatic Millionaire" is still a fairly easy read, with stories and basic how-to advice. "Start Late, Finish Rich" is full of even more advice than the others, but it doesn't flow as well.
Also, I wish it had more advice on how to help kids learn about money, and how to set up college savings accounts or UGMA/UTMA accounts for them. There is just one brief chapter dealing with this. I also wish it had a bit more on estate planning, bu then there are other books for that. This is about becoming secure yourself.
I'm 33, so this book is really targeted for folks maybe a decade older than myself. If you are in that age group or older, this is the book for you. If you're my age, his other books are better, unless you're just curious about finances in general or want to give it to your parents. I'm giving it 5 stars, because the book fulfills its basic idea of "Start Late, Finish Rich" even though I'm not the target population. I still learned from it.
I find that David Bach's books become deeper and he has more life insights with every book. I also specifically like his encouragement of our dreams, he describes people who squash your hopes as "dream stealers" instead of "dream creators" which are phrases that I will remember for my everyday life. David Bach is a "dream creator" who will help you dream big, and give you the tools to help make it happen.
on January 10, 2005
I bought this book for my parents, who are in their early 50s (I'm in my early 30s). I decided to flip through a few pages and wound up reading the whole thing! Although it reiterated some info from The Automatic Millionaire (as expected), I learned even more (i.e. ideas for adding income and real estate)and am anxious to put some of the ideas in action. I am not an experienced investor, so his straight-forward, easy-to-understand way of presenting information helped immensely and gave me confidence to try things I might not have before. Even though I may not be the target audience for this book, it presents information that anyone can use, regardless of age. If anything, maybe I can get little AHEAD of the game! I think I'm going to have to buy a second copy!
on July 24, 2005
I've read a ton of financial self-help books over the years, and this one goes far beyond the majority of them in delivering solid content and sound advice without wasting the reader's time. David Bach does an excellent job in showing how cutting tiny expenses can really add up and increase your savings rate. America has one of the worst savings rates in the world, and there are plenty who should be reading the author's advice. He also covers consolidating debt, real estate, investing, and different ways to make additional income without quitting your day job. If you have read any of the books in of Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series, then you probably noticed they are sometimes inspirational but thoroughly content-free. You won't find that with "Start Late, Finish Rich". David Bach provides really useful information, and you may even find that you read the book twice to take it all in. It's money well spent.
on February 8, 2005
This book contains some helpful general advice on how to build your net worth. For example, Bach drives home the importance of eliminating wasteful spending by showing how that money could become a tidy sum, if invested instead. He not only stresses the importance of paying down credit card debt, but also includes ideas on how to get credit card companies to lower their interest rates. And, Bach talks about the advantages of using pre-income tax savings plans, such as IRAs.
However, most of this advice is pretty general...not exactly what I call "lightbulb moments". After all, don't most readers already know this stuff? The fact that Bach appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show may have helped catapult his work to rank amongst the best-sellers, but I personally found the book to lack the necessary specific detail to successfully implement a couple of interesting investing strategies.
For example in his discussion on the stock market, I was quite intrigued with Bach's mention of investing in exchange traded funds - he calls them ETFs. This part alone is worth the price of the book. I had never heard of ETFs before....But his brief description left me wanting more. After a search, I was able to find a uniquely focused guide to serve that purpose. "Create Your Own Hedge Fund" is chockfull of the exquisite detail I craved on the subject of ETFs and includes why they are so much better than ordinary mutual funds. Wolfinger's very hands-on material is a welcome compliment to the more global information in "Start Late, Retire Rich." I recommend both books for your self-help investment savvy.