O’Leary is a straightforward and sensible author but he provided no new information in this book. His book contains sound advice on how people should manage their money so it would be a good read for anyone who has struggled with managing their money. For me and (I assume) for a lot of people though, everything he says in the book is common sense.
His approach to money is so stingy; I wouldn’t be surprised if he drove away a lot of people because he is cheap, and this evaluation is coming from ME who is not at all generous. Overall, his values on money are similar to mine, which I learned from my mother just like he learned from his mother.
In between chapters, O’Leary provides little quizzes and exercises; they are helpful because people learn best by doing. I also liked his presenting information in the cradle-to-grave order and his “a-money-problem-and-here-is-my-solution” format.
He puts a heavy emphasis on saving money but if it is less costly to borrow due to inflation coupled with low interest rates, then wouldn’t people have more incentive to borrow than save? Yet, the lenders such as banks would never engage in a losing business so it would always make sense to save than borrow regardless of interest rates and inflation.
In some parts of the book, he made me think “Is he being serious?”: when he says “invest like a woman” (58), “even a true gold digger deserves a little financial advice” (226), “broke and in your 50s or even 60s? Look at the bright side: at least gold diggers aren’t after your money” (228), where is his social grace?
Quotes and ideas from the book that people may find useful
-Main idea: “Don’t spend too much. Mostly save. Always invest.”
-Money karma: if you don’t spend wisely and save, money will haunt you later in your life (205). e.g. if you spend $4 on coffee everyday in your twenties, you’ll be serving that coffee in your forties. (scary metaphor!) (46).
-90 day #: 90 days of income (input) - 90 days of expenses (output). Know this number down to cents (23).
-Credit card: have it just for establishing a credit rating; pay off the credit balance in full; do not pay any interest (31).
-Have a separate credit card for internet purchases.
-When spending money, assess value (e.g. think about how much you could resell it for), not the cost.
-Pay for value, not the price: ”value is about consistency. It’s about what things are worth over a given stretch of time” (86).
-Set aside at least 10% of your income every year.
-Don’t mix money with emotions. Consider money as a tool for your freedom. Money is not power, gratification, nor love, and it shouldn’t be equated with other feelings. If you don’t mix them together, you won’t spend money foolishly. Examples of misspending are retail therapy or fighting over money with family and friends after lending or asking for money. Don’t lend, if you must, just give money as a gift (47).
-Investing: start when you’re debt-free (52), 1. always on the stock that pays dividends and diversify: never invest more than 5% on one stock. 2. always save a consistent portion of your income. 3. spend the interest never the principal (53).
-Win the numbers’ game: gain more interest from the bank than paying it (79).
-Importance of financial literacy and personal finance education: ”these people I met (those at a Debtors Anonymous meeting) are suffering, no question, but society -you and I- are suffering along with them. Because their debts will become our debts. The illnesses they’ll incur because of the stress they’re facing will be our bills, in the form of increased taxes. When we’re in this together, I’m not talking about holding hands and singing ‘Kumbaya’ around the campfire…. no matter what stage of life you’re at now, if you keep spending more than you make, this is where you’ll end up (68-69).
-Simple rules: 1. save young. 2. scrutinize everything you buy. 3. work while you’re in school to pay down debt. 4. invest early and often. 5. pay down your student loan before you buy a car or take on a mortgage. 6. buy a home you can afford 7. don’t grow your lifestyle along with your income. 8. never carry credit card balances. 9. make biweekly mortgage payments. 10. pay down your mortgage as quickly as possible (80).
-Distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs;’ do not pay for ‘wants’ (83).
-High cost of education: “I am discouraging people from committing to expensive degrees from universities and institutions that sell a pipe dream. ‘Study this and you’ll be guaranteed a job!’ Remember this, kids: colleges and universities are businesses. Even though many are structured like charities and have loftier mandates than corporations, universities have bottom lines and ever-increasing operating costs. They have to fill desks, too….. (my stepfather) taught me that if I knew how to do something, I could be anything…. (the idea is to pursue your dream while having a well-paying job)(107).”
-Get an electronic bike; don’t buy a car (108).
-Unemployment: just go where jobs are not back to your parents’ basement (123).
-Work during school and keep that part-time job even after you get your full-time gig (132).
-Do not increase how much you spend even after you start working full-time. Maintain the student lifestyle (133).
-Do pren-ups (149) and don’t mix your money with your spouse (152); maintain your 10% secret savings (147).
-“…. the most important financial decision you’ll ever make is who you’ll marry. Not because of the money you both bring to the partnership, but the attitudes, outlook, honesty, career potential and any number of other factors that determine compatibility…. the one thing you both need to align on is this: prioritize paying down debt” (147).
-Invest in your future, not your wedding (149): I agree with O’Leary on this. I don’t understand why people spend fortunes on weddings… I would rather spend that money more wisely for a happier marriage that does NOT start with debt.
-Mortgage: make a down payment of 20 to 25 percent; and maintaining your house shouldn’t cost more than 25% of your income per year.
-Do consider renting that can make more sense than owning a home (170).
-Having a pet is expensive and you shouldn’t do it just because you’re lonely in your twilight years (207).
-Spending money on beauty products is a waste of money… “when it comes to feeling youthful, vital and energized, no amount of Botox beats money in the bank” (211).
-Ensure you have at least 65% of your current income per year during your retirement (229).
-Set aside money and have your funeral ready; so funeral companies cannot take advantage of you. They make about 300 to 500% mark-ups on your coffin (240-241).