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:

  1. Make a lot of money
  2. Spend less
  3. Invest the difference in low-cost, broad-based index funds
  4. Don’t speculate, make good investments and then hold
  5. Think about the unique asset allocation that is right for you
  6. Have an emergency fund
  7. Understand the  4% rule and how it applies to your specific life and needs
  8. Get enough insurance
  9. Estate Plan
  10. Avoid paying taxes when possible by utilizing tax deferred saving
  11. 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!)

Any questions?

 

 

 

Doc G

A doctor who discovered the FI community but still struggling with RE.

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9 Responses

  1. I have to agree with this! I think I’m going to stop reading PF books, they all start to state the same thing (at least good books do) and your 11 points basically sum them all up perfectly! I think I need to start reading more about business and marketing… for my future practice.

    • Doc G says:

      I got the inspiration for this post when reading A Random Walk….and put it down and knew I was done. Even though it’s a great book.

  2. Caroline says:

    I go thru phases where I need to read a Good PF book just to get a little extra motivation.
    You could argue that PF blogs are all the same too, couldn’t you?

  3. Steveark says:

    Dude, you make it hard on us supposedly older and wiser bloggers. That’s the whole thing tied up with a bow. I guess I’ll switch to blogging about bass fishing, at least I’m really good at that.

  4. You’re right, it’s hard to get new info out of pure finance books. The books and blogs that still provide value are the ones that relate a story or personal situation to improving one’s financial situation or life. It’s one thing to read about the clinical steps to get out of debt. Got it. It’s another to read a story of how someone got out of debt after getting laid off twice, losing a loved one or getting divorced, and having a cancer diagnosis. That’s the kind of writing that people can relate to, that gives them hope for their own situation.

    For me there will always be books and blogs that do the latter and those are the best to read.

    • Doc G says:

      Hey Accidental FIRE. The blogs especially give more flavor and info. Definitely will keep reading them. Like yours😀

  5. Cashflow Cop says:

    Hello from the UK! For most topics, there tend to be a handful of must reads. After you’ve gone through those, I agree with you completely that you get the same things said over and over again, just paraphrased or with a slightly different diagram (which still represents the same damn thing). I think where this rule may not apply is if we want to be an expert in something. This is when we really do need to dive deeper, where each little topic leads you onto a new book and in that book are new topics taking you to even more books. For many of us in the FI community, we like to keep things simple, so I agree with your approach of reading a book or two and then learn from high quality blogs. The last thing I want to do is to spend all my time reading about FI when I can live the life FI could provide.

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