Why I No Longer Read Personal Finance Books
I first discovered FI (financial independence) through blog posts. Like almost every one else in this community, after a hard day of work, I googled some version of “retire early” and came upon all the usual suspects. Within hours, I had begun my deep dive into financial blogs. I came up for breath months later with hundreds of blogs on my reading list, and thousands of posts under my belt.
I can’t begin to describe the elation involved in those first few hours. I was like a blind man roaming the earth for centuries and suddenly given magical glasses. My outlook and perspective had instantaneously changed. I began to detect new colors, shapes, and details of my financial situation. With laser like focus, I could see the errors in my current investing philosophy The high expense ratios, stock chasing, and mangled asset allocation all became clear with that first splash of water that leapt up into my face.
I had it all wrong. My retirement number was too high. My spending was out of control and, therefore, not leading to greater contentment. I didn’t understand my investments because I was too afraid or too lazy to do the necessary research to maintain a clear-eyed view.
This all changed in nanoseconds. My sudden realizations forced an unquenchable search for even greater and more knowledge.
The blogs I read suggested discussion forums. So I joined the forums. In the forums I learned about podcasts. So I listened to podcasts. And in just about every medium of knowledge transfer, there was a running list of books to devour.
Books. I liked reading. Almost as much as I like writing. So I ran down to the local library and renewed my expired membership. The only thing better than books is free books!
I searched through all the blogs, forums, and podcasts and compiled a list of must read selections.
Then I read. And read. And read. And read some more.
My first one:
Was a classic and I suggest it to anyone at the beginning of their journey.
Then, since I’m a physician:
And there were a few others:
After those four, I read another ten books on general personal finance and investing. Guess what? My ROI was absolutely nill. Well not nill, I did pick up a few tricks here and there. But it was nothing like the massive learning I did with the first few books.
My conclusion after countless wasted hours is that you really don’t need to read that many general personal finance books. You will be able to grasp the basic concepts after book one or two (or more likely after reading blogs). OR you can read this short list:
- Make a lot of money
- Spend less
- Invest the difference in low-cost, broad-based index funds
- Don’t speculate, make good investments and then hold
- Think about the unique asset allocation that is right for you
- Have an emergency fund
- Understand the 4% rule and how it applies to your specific life and needs
- Get enough insurance
- Estate Plan
- Avoid paying taxes when possible by utilizing tax deferred saving
- Exercise, eat moderately, wear your seat belt, practice gun safety, cut down on stress (Ok, this is my advice as a physician not gleaned from investment books!)