Top critical review
September 26, 2013
This is a book of helpful reminders, written in a simple, easily read style. It doesn't contain any secrets, just financial common sense that is already understood by most people. The main topics covered include such advice as to stay out of debt, have an emergency fund, tithe to your religious organization and to charities, have a college fund for your children, buy term life insurance, buy used cars, invest in mutual funds, live frugally in order to save, teach your children to earn and respect money, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page financially. That about covers it.
I had to check the publication date, which is 2010, because I thought some of the advice was from a bygone era that no longer exists - specifically the chapter on "the miracle of compound interest." It really amazes me that so many authors of financial advice books continue to discuss this as though the concept had any relevancy today. Have they all been living under a rock for the last couple of decades? With the very highest interest-earning savings accounts paying less than 1% - and most paying far less than that - this concept has no relevance whatsoever to modern times. A better way to use this concept is to plant a vegetable garden. Plant a single bean, and the resulting plant will yield a hundred beans. You can eat some and still have enough left over to plant multiple beans next year. Keep this up for a few years and you will be producing enough beans to feed your family and your neighborhood as well. This is real compound interest that is eternal and will not disappear with fluctuating money markets. Take a lesson from nature!
I did appreciate the reminder to "watch out for small foxes," small foxes being all the small, unnoticed expenses that can eat away at one's financial well being. This is a good metaphor, easy to remember.
In all, I enjoyed reading this book and enjoyed the author's anecdotes. However, given that the same advice is covered, often more thoroughly, in virtually every other basic financial advice book, I felt the book's title to be a bit misleading. And, to be fair, most major religions have similar teachings. I think the key takeaway is that advice, however sensible, must be followed in order to get any benefit. Being part of a cultural group that reinforces the advice and is available to help those who forget and get into trouble, is valuable for many people.