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Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School Paperback – November 1, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 237 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q&A with Author Andrew Hallam
Author Andrew Hallam
You've published personal finance articles for years. But this is your first book. Why do you think so many of the world's most respected personal finance authors have embraced your book so enthusiastically?
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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470830069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470830062
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As with most reviewers have said, the author's writing style is non jargon and causal which makes it a fun read. I love books from non professionals as they are so rare and bring to the investing table a personal experience not shared from the volumes of professionally written finance books. The best part of the book is its focus on the investing process, living within ones means, shunning advisers and seek a low cost diversified index portfolio. And we can learn this stuff! Wonderful. I anticipated he would show us exactly how he made his million on an educator's salary.

His reference to the brilliant book on the subject of frugal living, Millionaire Next Door, which every living human being should read, was a great source of information. He rightfully quotes those authors often. From this reference, this author explains the crucial difference between the image rich and the real rich. It's the assets stupid, not the arrogant Jag owner with car payments, $2500 sport coats and bounced checks. True millionaires wear their finest and dine at home in their work clothes and drive a f150 Ford truck. His frugal experiences were so extreme I felt that his authenticity was at risk IMO. It's hard to believe that he had the heat off in a Canadian winter and he didn't want to turn it on with his father's visit! I know about winters, growing up in Wisconsin. But he was making an important point about frugal living and living within our means so we have the capital to invest and he showed us. I think it might be important to expand on what people can do such as always purchasing good used cars and keeping them for years--the number one expenditure that is never an asset.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I highly recommend this book to anyone that invests, plans on investing or wants to know anything about investing. Whether you are a seasoned financial advisor with a book of your own or you are just starting to invest your own money, this book is a must read. With a finance degree, MBA and experience working on Wall Street this book brought me back to school for the best education I could get and should have gotten prior. The author uses strong empirical data to back up his analysis and plainly spells out how to operate a portfolio of your own with more ease and success than any of the commonplace alternatives. This book has changed my view on investing for the better and if you are serious about making money investing, you should read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first written review. I had never before felt so compelled to write, despite a voracious appetite for books. I wanted to love this book. As a fellow English teacher with a passion for personal finance, I certainly have enough in common with the author.

I will start with the high points. The directive to invest in index funds and to balance your portfolio with bond funds is excellent. The research and testimony behind the strategy is compelling and well-presented. I had index funds in my portfolio, but had them in amongst managed mutuals. I found myself online within the week, reallocating my funds.

So why three stars? Simply because this is the main idea of the book for seven chapters. Chapters 2-8 are essentially the same thing, presented over and over in different ways. When the author touted nine rules, I expected nine distinct pieces of information, a la Your Money or your Life or David Bach's books. Chapters 2-8 in this book could have simply been summed up by the following:

1) Buy an indexed bond fund for your portfolio. The percentage of how much of your portfolio should be invested in bonds should correspond to your age (35 years old = 35%).
2) Split the rest of your portfolio between a US stock index fund and an international stock index fund.
3) Don't jump ship when the market plummets.

As for Chapter 1, while the edict to spend less than you earn is appreciated, it is hardly novel advice. The author brings up many of the salient points from The Millionaire Next Door, but I would rather read those directly from their source than see them quoted secondhand.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I am a mother, a teacher, a wife and not remotely interested in finances. Of course I want to be prepared for the future and am lucky enough to be married to a man who takes care of our investments. This is the first, the only, investment book I have read that makes sense. Andrew Hallam's wit had me laughing out loud, his analogies created a clear picture and when I finished I declared I not only understood investing, I could do it! My husband and I now work together and I have a much better sense of a balanced investment portfolio. Millionaire teacher influenced my husband as well. After reading he reorganized our stocks and increased bonds. This book should be required reading in every high school, university and beyond.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One single action item in this book is to open an account with Vanguard, split your investment into three parts:

Vanguard US Bond Index (VBMFX - 35% or whatever your age is),
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund(VTSMX - 35%),
Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VGTSX - 30%);

remember to rebalance once a year, and you are all set. The rest of the book is pretty much trying to convince you that the above is the absolute right thing to do and never believe otherwise no matter what your financial adviser tells you, which is an easy and fun read.

But what I found missing in this book is the guidance on how to deal with employer-sponsored 401k accounts. I do have an IRA account with Vanguard, but a much bigger chunk of my retirement investments are with Putnam - my employer sponsored 401k plan. The only index fund available through this plan is Putnam S&P 500 index. They don't offer any bond index or international stock index fund, and the rest are all actively managed mutual funds with quite high expense ratio. As far as I understand, you can not take money out of the 401k to put into an IRA while still employed. So in this case, does that mean I'm stuck? I tried to find answers in the real example in Chapter 6 but couldn't. The medical doctor seemed to have all the old investments at his fingertips ready to be transferred to Vanguard. Does he have an ongoing 401k at all? What to do if the majority of his investments are in a 401k plan offered by his current employer?

I've read some of the other reviews and it looks like the author responded to some of those. Thank you Andrew, for doing so. If you see my question here, could you respond with some practical suggestions? And thank you for writing such an intuitive yet useful book. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot.
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