book reviews


Book Review: “The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed”

A friend mentioned that I ought to read something by Bogle so I trotted down to the library to fetch one the other day.   Our library didn’t have any in stock so I ordered it through inter-library loan, but in the meantime I picked up a few books from the same section of the library shelves. So I just finished reading “The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: the only personal finance system for people […]


Book Review: “Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth” by Nick Murray

One of the members of my financial planning study group mentioned that he gives all his prospect clients a copy of “Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth” by Nick Murray. I was intrigued: I like to give the prospects something that pertains to them. It’s a tangible benefit I prefer over marketing things like pens or mugs with my company name on them. I have a bit of a library in my office of books I’ve bought […]


Financial Literacy for Young Adults

A client asked me if I had any financial literacy suggestions for teenagers. It kicked off a reading festival! Here are my notes. Years ago I read Suze Orman’s Young Fabulous and Broke and I was underwhelmed. She seems to think that everyone is as clueless as she was and needs to have a come-to-Jesus moment and she’ll tell you how. Most people I know just want to know some facts and they’ll integrate them into their […]


Book Review: “The Age of Deleveraging”, a tome by A. Gary Shilling

I heard Gary Shilling speak at a conference last month and his discussion of demographics was interesting and insightful so I sought out his most recent book: “The Age of Deleveraging: Investment Strategies for a Decade of Slow Growth and Deflation”. This book was 500 pages long. Five hundred. I told B. I felt like I was taking a graduate level course in economic forecasting. I’m not even sure how to integrate this book into […]


Retirement Income Generators

I’ve been reading a bunch of books on income in retirement. See the last two entries for more in depth discussions of annuities. I enjoyed and would recommend “Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck” by Steve Vernon, FSA. I don’t actually know what the initials FSA stand for, but he mentions in the book that his background is as an actuary, so that gives me a guess as […]


How to NOT Get Ripped Off When Buying an Annuity

As I wrote yesterday, there is precious little good to say about variable annuities. If you want to leave a legacy for your heirs there are better ways to do it. If you want to have income in retirement there are less expensive ways to do it. However, the urge to hold on to your wad of retirement cash, preferably leaving it to your heirs, is super intense in humans. Many people simply want what […]


Why Annuities are So Terrible (and why you might need a specific kind anyway.)

In the (somewhat mythical) “Good Old Days” you would retire from your corporate or union job with a pension. Combined with a check from social security and some of your own savings, you’d be comfortable in retirement. The biggest problem was that you might have a fixed income that didn’t keep up with inflation. But you didn’t worry about running out of money: pensions are for life. Remember the inflation of the Carter Years? I […]


Thanksgiving Family Money Letter – 2015

  Happy Thanksgiving! The biggest payoff comes from being good at things that are absolutely under our control. That’s the lesson I’ve learned studying economics, finance, and investment theory. That includes saving for goals, being a judicious consumer, and maintaining your relationships, your health, and your emotional wellness. One of my new gurus, Bert Whitehead, wrote a book called Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money: Overcoming Financial Dysfunction. He says not to put too […]


“Save Your Retirement”: a book review

The hook for this book by Frank Armstrong III and Paul Brown is in the subtitle.  Notice it’s not “Save FOR your retirement”.  It’s “Save Your Retirement: What do Do if You haven’t Save Enough or If Your Investments Were Devastated” is a book of distilled wisdom compiled by a CFP and professional financial journalist. It’s really mostly the gloss they put on it as an excuse to write yet another book on a tired […]


Book Review: “Debt-Proof Your Marriage” by Mary Hunt

The subtitle of “Debt-Proof Your Marriage” is “How to achieve financial harmony: become effective money partners; create a get-out-of-debt plan that works, be prepared for unexpected expenses; slash mortgage payback time in half; deal effectively with roller coaster income.” Quite a mouthful, but I’d say it pretty much delivers. Apparently she wrote a book called “Debt Proof Living” and this is the revamped and remarketed version that throws in marital advice. I think it’s great. […]


Book Review: Julie Jason’s AARP Retirement Survival Guide

ulie Jason’s book is entitled: “The AARP Retirement Survival Guide: How to Make Smart Financial Decisions in Good Times and Bad”. It’s a title done by committee. Really it’s a guide to avoiding the sharks swirling around you in retirement. It’s filled with hints of things to watch out for, with sections called “Julie’s Don’t-Be-Fooled Rules”. I liked her clear explanations and approved of her hints and warnings. I think it did good coverage of […]


Book Review: “All Your Worth” by Elizabeth Warren

I’ve heard wonderful things about Elizabeth Warren and I was intrigued by the concept of this personal financial husbandry book. The title of the first books I read, “All Your Worth”, made me cringe as it makes me think of a misspelled contraction. But it’s not a pronouncement or a discussion of what you are worth. Instead, it is a suggestion that you might be better off if you built some net worth. The basic […]


Book Review: “Your Money & Your Brain”

This book explains just how stupid you really are. I’ve heard this mentioned a couple of times and so, when I saw it on the shelves at the local library (what, you don’t cruise the 332 section of the library just on spec?) I picked up Jason Zweig’s “Your Money & Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich.”   I liked it. I dislike the subtitle, though.  I bet there […]


Book Review: “Show Me the Money” by Ron Groenke

I’d subtitle this one, “First, buy a stock right before it goes up… One of my clients passed along a book for me to read: “Show Me The Money: Covered Calls and Naked Puts for a Monthly Cash Income” by Ron Groenke. It was all about the uses of covered calls and naked puts and how much money a few good stocks you have in your portfolio could make for you by selling these options […]


Three book reviews on investing

I’m reading up on retirement planning both because I’m trying to rationalize why I bought a vacation property (it’s part of my retirement portfolio! Really!) and because I’m supposed to be making a living counseling people on financial matters. (Perhaps I should be quiet about the cottage.) I’ve recently read three books that say the same thing in vastly different ways. The first is “The New Coffee House Investor: How to Build Wealth, Ignore Wall […]


Book Review: “Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune” by Ed Slott

I’ve been having a mid-life crisis of sorts regarding the value of tax-deferred savings. I decided to go back and reread the “conventional” wisdom before I disrespect it in front of my clients. Ed Slott is one of the foremost experts on IRAs in the country. He knows every single nuance of how to milk an IRA to the absolute tip top tax advantage possible. He speaks from the same perspective as I do as […]


Book Review: “The Road to Serfdoom”

Lord Keynes is said to have quipped a response to Hayek’s analysis of what happens in the long run: “In the long run, we’re all dead.”  Guess what?  You and I, Dear Reader, are not dead.  It turns out Hayek was right and Keynes was too short-sighted. This book was written 70 years ago and is so devastatingly right in its predictions and analysis that it’s stunning that it hasn’t been more widely taught and […]


Book Review: “Wealth, War & Wisdom”

Financial Wellness Lessons Learned from WWII Confucius said, “Study the past if you would divine the future”.  With that in mind, I’ve always been a fan of history.  I recall reading Greek comedies in high school and realizing that they were the same plot as Shakespearian comedies as 70’s sitcoms.  People are people are people.  Study what people did in the past under various pressures and you can get a pretty good clue about what […]


Book Review: Pay It Down

Jean Chatzky’s take on debt.   This was a quick read from the library: Pay It Down: From Debt to Wealth on $10/day by Jean Chatzky.   The  book is abbreviated and condensed into this series of articles on Money.cnn. First off, this book is nearly entirely about budgeting.  Figure out what you’re already spending, and then take a look.  The topic was just as dreary as it could be in this relentless little book.  It would not let you […]


Books about Changing

Change sucks. These books can help. I just finished reading “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes: Strategies for coping with the difficult, painful, and confusing times in your life” by William Bridges (copyright 1980). It was really helpful, one of those books that everyone needs on their shelf for when life gobsmacks you.  This is just a stub for this entry, but I would consider it a good companion book for most life changes, along […]


Book Review: “Oil on the Brain”.

This is everything you never knew about oil but really ought to find out. I’ve just finished an amazing book.  It’s taken me three months to read this, partly because the information was so astonishing and new that I kept having to put it down and go assimilate what I’ve learned. The title of this book is “Oil On The Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline.”  It’s an investigative journalist’s take on what’s involved […]