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Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School Paperback – November 1, 2011
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Q&A with Author Andrew Hallam
I think my book has a couple of differences to most personal finance books. First, it's very easy to understand—even for someone who knows nothing about finances. Second, it's real: I followed this advice myself, building a million dollar portfolio on a modest salary, at a relatively young age. My book doesn't just espouse financial theory, but it shows how I utilized that theory in real life.
And I chuckled while writing it, so readers get a chance to see my quirky sense of humor.
To be honest, many of the great endorsements I received came from my financial heroes---people who literally changed my life at a very young age, by teaching me (through their writing) the sound financial concepts that don't get taught in schools. My book espouses very similar, common sense messages about living below your means, investing effectively in low cost index funds, and thinking correctly about stock market swings (young people, for instance, should rejoice when the stock markets fall).
Why should anyone rejoice when stock markets fall?
Anyone with a job (who intends to keep working for a number of years) should prefer stagnating or falling stock markets. Foundations for great wealth are never established by purchasing stock market investments that are rising in value. Instead, we lay foundations for huge wealth when we enthusiastically buy assets that are cheap. For instance, the stock markets in the U.S. jumped up and down from 1965 to 1982 (17 years) without going anywhere. Most people, during this 17 year period, were growing distrustful of the stock market because they hadn’t made any money. But for patient investors who regularly invested during those 17 years, they were seriously rewarded when the markets erupted nearly 1,700 percent in the following 18 year period. All of those stock market assets they previously bought, at low prices, rose significantly during the next 18 year period (from 1982-2000). People who didn't start buying until the stock market started getting more expensive, voluntarily gave up significant, future riches.
The stock markets haven't made much headway in the past decade. Does that mean this is a good time to invest?
It seems counter-intuitive, but yes. And when the stock markets are volatile, or not moving much, the media is always suggesting that stocks are a bad investment—and that you should seek financial safety elsewhere. For 200 years, the same story has played out over and over again. The general population is always afraid of the stock market when it's most attractive, and they love investing when it gets more and more expensive to do so.
I'm currently preparing to teach a personal finance class to high school kids. And I'm going to show them a huge, long-term stock market chart, spanning the past 200 years. Then I'll ask them: "Show me what would have been the best 15 year historical time periods to plough money into the stock markets, on a monthly basis." Simply by asking them questions (and not giving them the answers) they'll quickly see, without me telling them, that the best times to regularly add money to the markets have always been when markets were stagnant or falling. And coincidentally, media headlines have always been scariest during those times as well! To maximize wealth, my students—and readers of my book---will need to think long term, not short term. And they'll learn to ignore the media.
Your book is a withering critique of the financial service industry. Why is that?
I definitely join the chorus of investment academics who believe that the investment business is (mostly) a giant scam, filled with empty promises and high fees, which hurt the average investor's returns. The big picture is pretty shocking. Take this example: If you had put $10,000 in the AVERAGE global stock, in 1981, and held it until today, with all reinvested dividends, it would be worth nearly $200,000 by 2011. I’m not talking about buying Microsoft or Apple shares, I’m talking about the average stock. But if you ask people who were investing 30 years ago, how many of them turned $10,000 into $200,000, you probably wouldn't find anyone who had. Most investors deal with brokers and financial advisors who skim money off the top, in fees that may appear small---but aren't. And people also become victims to the silly decisions that many brokers and advisors make.
You can find advisors without a conflict of interest (which my book shows) but you can also easily invest your own money. Warren Buffett suggests that, as an aggregate, financial advisors don't tend to add value. And I agree with him.
"...if you are looking for the first, and possibly only, book to read if you want to figure out how to finance the rest of your life, you can read Andrew Hallam’s “The Millionaire Teacher.”" -- Scott Burns
"'Millionaire Teacher' is a an inspiring must-read." -- Canadian Business
"It’s that kind of experience and wisdom that makes 'Millionaire Teacher' such an outstanding book. It’s easy to find excellent books about investing, but it’s rare to read an author who so clearly understands how people think and act in their financial lives." -- canadiancouchpotato.com
"The book itself focuses on nine rules of wealth that people should have learned in school... These rules nicely distill what has been said in many of the better personal finance books out there: particularly those that cover indexing and the futility of high-cost actively managed investment approaches." -- Financial Post
"I would recommend Hallam’s book as a great investment guide for the investor that wants to be more engaged with their portfolio." -- Jim Yih, retirehappyblog.ca
"Written simply, the book is suitable even for those who have little knowledge of finances." -- Personal Money"If you want to make sure that your money is invested wisely, then this is the book for you." -- turnonepoundintoamillion.com
"...quirky, upbeat and above all interesting...a book for anyone." -- blog.iii.co.uk
"This book is engaging and easy to read." -- retireby40.org
Top customer reviews
That said, I will take exception with his suggestion to put what I consider lots of your money into bond funds. Since interest rates peaked in 1981 when money market funds were paying about 14%, owning bond funds has been a good thing. But with interest rates near zero, we may be looking at a 20 or 30-year bear market for bonds. The great Peter Lynch the author quotes to support his suggestion to put money into index funds also said put all your money into stocks and none into bonds. Warren Buffett is also quoted, but the fact that he recommends individual investors put all their money into stock index funds with none in bond funds is also ignored. Lynch did say to sell all stocks and go 100% into 30-year US Bonds if the yield on them hits 9%, but we are a long way from that.
Ignoring half of what these two great investors said is why I give 4 stars instead of 5. I can't tell you that you are wrong to put half of your money into bond funds, but two really great investors do.
The Expat Teacher's Property Guide
The ninth chapter is like advanced investing introduction. It disclaimers over and again that you are not going to beat the index investing benchmark, but nonetheless it is good to understand the fundamentals of economics. He does an excellent job of describing common ratios and acronyms used in finance. If anything, it demonstrates why the market is so complex and another reason to invest in index funds.
Loved the book! Every chapter. I will read it again and give my highest recommendation to all my friends.
Some particularly notable good things about the book:
-His set of arguments for index funds over actively managed funds is flawless. He really puts the nail in the coffin of actively managed funds. Not only does he make extremely effective arguments backed up by statistics, history, and reasoning, he even counters the expected counterarguments made by people who wish to sell you those funds anyway. His devastating arguments against the enormous self-serving financial services industry should be clear to any rational mind.
-The 184 page book is an elegant read. This isn't a financial guru writing a book; it's a self-made millionaire English teacher. It can be read in a weekend, is easily accessible to a multitude of different types of readers, and the "nine rules of wealth" that the book is organized as break it up into easily read chunks. He artfully blends personal stories, humor, facts, and images to create a rather effortless reading experience. He has a significant amount of international experience, and so the book is appropriate for people from many countries.
My only criticism of the book and its advocacy of index funds is the loss of shareholder voting rights that accompanies index funds, mutual funds, and ETFs. I disagree with a primarily indexed portfolio, and instead believe indexes are great as portfolio supplements. But, for those that invest in actively managed funds, index funds are a much better solution.
Millionaire Teacher is an excellent, easy-to-read book. In my opinion, this should be on the reading list for every high school student in the world, considering how lacking financial education is for most students. In addition, I suggest that everyone who currently invests in actively managed funds should read this, since I couldn't agree more that index funds in almost every case are far more rational to invest in than actively managed funds.
Most recent customer reviews
This should be taught in school and handed out to all new employees.
I am acting on it now. Never too late.Read more