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Investing Made Simple: Index Fund Investing and ETF Investing Explained in 100 Pages or Less Paperback – 2009
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The book provides a great foundation to start from if you know little to nothing about investing and want to get started. That said, if you know a decent amount already (can hold a water cooler conversation about investing) you may not find more than a handful of helpful facts and this book probably isn't for you.
Bottom line: if you're an investing noob then get this book and it'll be a 30-60 minute investment well worth the return. If you already know the basics about investing this will be too easy for you.
For new investors, or for ANY investor who is not really (and I mean *really*) sure they are on top of things, this book is where to begin. It will show you the big picture and give you a clear view of every important aspect of investing for the long haul.
There are other books that go into more detail or that have more rigorous theoretical discussion. Some have very entertaining histories and anecdotes, but most of those swamp the beginner in side issues or details one can't appreciate without the concise overview provided here. There are also many other introductory books, and I have read a few, but this one stands out for its clarity.
You actually don't *need* any more than is in this book, but if you start to dig into the resources listed at the end you will probably want to dig deeper and learn more. When I came across this book I had already read most of what it lists in the Resources section and can say it contains a great selection.
I read this book after about six months of self-education about investment strategies and can say that it covers all the important aspects in a highly organized way that is easy to follow. After reading this I bought three more copies to give to my (adult) children. I didn't think any of the other books I read would have been of any use to them. Perhaps after they read this one they will follow up on their own.
An example of the clear and intelligent writing: 'Be wary of any claim by a financial advisor that he can reliably pick stocks or funds....' Now the justification: 'if most fund *managers* can't beat [low expense ratio, tax efficient] index funds, why should we believe a financial *advisor* who claims that he can? Remember, trying to beat the market is a fund *manager's* full-time job. Financial *advisors* have to spend time meeting with clients and performing marketing activities to find new clients. Researching stocks and mutula funds is, at best, their third-highest priority.' [my emphasis added]
The coverage of what you actually need to know and do is excellent:
Types of accounts
Risk and return
How to know how much you need for retirement
Asset allocation and risk tolerance
Thinking long term
Automate your investing