Friday, June 26, 2009

I Will Teach You to be Rich, by Ramit Sethi

I read this book, having learned of it through a blog that I follow, to see if it is worth recommending to my kids. The advice is sound, reasonable, and delivered in a pleasant and conversational tone. The intended audience is clearly 20-somethings.

My only serious complaint about is that in spite of the youthful target demographic, the financial examples use numbers like $100,000 annual salary -- I expect this is hardly the typical income for most readers.

So the verdict: yes, I do recommend it. Don't expect any breakthrough thinking though - just the kind of nagging advice I give, in a more youthful and objective tone:
  • There's nothing wrong with frugality; just decide what your priority expense is and - if you can afford it after paying your bills and saving some money (i.e., via overall frugality) - then go for it
  • Pay off credit cards in full each month
  • Minimize debt to essentials (e.g., house, car), and make sure to get the best rate
  • Pay yourself first - i.e., save regularly and automatic payroll deductions to a separate savings account make that easy to do
  • Take advantage of 401k plans if there's any employer matching; use IRAs, especially Roth IRAs if your income doesn't preclude their use
  • Once you have a year's pay in the bank (Ramit thinks three month's pay is sufficient; by the way, he hates Wells Fargo, and he really likes internet banks), then invest; index funds can be very low overhead (e.g., via Vanguard) and require little thought, and dollar -cost -averaging (invest the same amount month-in and month-out) works well for them
By the way, Ramit doesn't mention this wonderful tip: get this book from your local free public lending library. Costs you nothing. Of course, then he has fewer books to sell :-)