Mixed Review. Some good info, some dangerous advice. Podcast promo better than book.
Reviewed in the United States on 12 February 2019
Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. While there were definitely some useful and helpful ideas, there was also some dangerous and flat out terrible advice. Overall, the podcast appearances promoting the book and the information discussed on those podcasts was much more impactful than the book itself in my opinion.
- Some useful websites for side hustles
- Unique and powerful ways to change your mindset
- Emphasis on the importance of doing as much as possible as soon as possible
- Some general guidelines around categorical spending
- Limited discussion until the end of the book (p. 290) about Sequence of Return Risk. This is something few people understand and it is flat out dangerous to lead someone to potentially believe that they can retire decades earlier than "standard/normal retirement age" with significantly less money than they would supposedly otherwise need to accumulate by age 65, immediately starting withdrawing from these funds, and that their money will likely double, triple, or quadruple by the time they're much older. Yes, this is possible IF someone can remain flexible (on taking withdrawals from their assets, on generating income in "retirement"), IF someone has alternate income sources, IF market conditions are generally favorable during at least the first decade of "retirement," etc., but there is a major risk here as well. The author does mention these items and does provide a few cautionary words, but I do not think this was stressed enough for the average reader to truly understand the complete impact/considerations. I feel like most people will think, "oh, awesome, I can retire in my 30s with $1.25M, starting taking withdrawals right away, never run out of money, and my portfolio will be worth multiples of the $1.25M in my later years." More time should be spent discussing sequence of return risk.
- Asset Allocation Metrics Are Questionable: p.235 suggests only a 5% international allocation. For most investors, especially younger ones with likely higher risk tolerances, this is unnecessarily low.
- Qualified Dividends Categorization: p. 252 suggests that whether or not dividends are qualified (versus ordinary) is based on the length of time a stock is held. Not true.
- Holding Bonds/Fixed Income in Taxable Accounts: p. 254 says [...] you will keep your tax burden as low as possible at the end of each year, since bonds typically have lower returns than stocks." Really?!? Bonds income is taxed as ordinary income. Why would you voluntarily hold bonds in a taxable account and pay ordinary income taxes? Anyone who knows anything about financial planning knows that, generally speaking, it makes sense to hold growth-oriented investments, like stocks, in a taxable brokerage account (due to more favorable taxation) and fixed income investments like bonds in tax-deferred plans (since bonds are taxed at ordinary income and all funds coming out of pre-tax plans are going to be taxed at ordinary income tax rates anyway). It's not just about returns from the standpoint of capital appreciation, but total returns, which include dividend income, interest income, etc. While stocks may increase in value faster than/more than stocks over a long period of time, that does NOT mean you should hold bonds in a taxable account!
- Bonds vs. Bond Funds: p. 289 says "One nice feature of bonds is that you know exactly how your bond investments will grow each year, so the income is guaranteed." Is it? No, no it's not at all - especially if you're using bond FUNDS like the author suggests. If you hold an actual bond to maturity, it works slightly differently. Either way, that bond income is not "guaranteed."
I think the author means well and I think his story of going from dead broke to millionaire in 5 years is awesome. As he mentions, he did that with some sacrifices, including personal relationships. I wish he would have spend more time digging into this and its importance, as I feel like many people struggle with this. I think it's a great book for him to tell his story and what worked for him, but I think he should leave the financial advice to those that are much more familiar with how this stuff works. If you're looking for a similar book, but much better, I would recommend Set for Life by Scott Trench. For those interested in real estate, the section in this book on real estate is generally weak in my opinion. I agree with the author's position on putting less than 20% down in certain situations - his examples of why on this are right on. In general, though, I would suggest checking out BiggerPockets for in-depth real estate investing info.
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