A practical guide to building wealth and managing finances, aimed at beginning investors.
In this debut personal-finance guide, Lamb addresses a range of issues, from paying down credit-card debt to participating in the stock market. However, what sets this financial management book apart from others is the author’s own working-class history. He shares stories from his days as a truck driver and warehouse laborer and connects those experiences to his gradual financial education. He acknowledges the flaws of the current financial system, addressing such subjects as capital-gains taxes and the rise of income inequality. However, he drives home a message that even a person without economic advantages can create a financially secure future, through a combination of self-discipline, financial literacy and hard work. Much of the material here, such as a comparison of renting versus buying a house, will be familiar to many readers, but it’s primarily aimed at people who have scarcely begun to think about saving for retirement. As a result, the advice is tempered with a strong dose of practicality; for instance, the author explains that paying off credit card debt is the equivalent of earning guaranteed double-digit returns, but he also urges readers not to pay off debt at the expense of saving for retirement. He coherently explains the concept of emergency funds and the rationales for maintaining them (“So what if it takes a long time to reach your goal? As long as you are making forward progress…there is no set dollar figure you need to achieve in order to feel that you have ‘won’ the game”), as well as how to maximize employer contributions to a 401(k) and obtain necessary insurance. His story of how he learned about renter’s insurance will make many readers groan in sympathy and perhaps remember their own youthful mistakes. His advice on investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds is clearly meant for readers who already have some financial security, and it seems out of place next to sections about tracking spending and creating a basic budget. That said, it does offer a reasonable analysis of the market’s relationship to the small investor.
A concise, coherent overview of financial basics.