I've read Andrew Tobias' The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need several times already, but I like to periodically pick it up and give it another read-through. It's short, breezily written, and motivating -- I never feel more like virtuously saving my money than when I've just read a book extolling the benefits thereof.

The book treats on three related topics. The first is how to save money, which (while being fundamentally sound) gets ever so slightly ridiculous at times, as with his suggestion to give yourself haircuts. I'll pass, thanks. The second is an exploration of the different avenues of saving and investment open to you, and recommendations of which ones actually make sense. A quote:

Indeed, the chief virtue of this [book] may be its brevity. This one is about the forest, not the trees. ... Accordingly, this book will summarily dismiss investment fields that some people spend lifetimes wandering around in. For example: It is a fact that 90% or more of the people who play the commodities game get burned. I submit that you have now read all you need ever read about commodities.

The third topic is the stock market, which he treats lucidly and sensibly. The most interesting thing about this latest read-through for me was that the edition I have was written in 1998, at the height of the tech boom. It would have been amazingly easy for Tobias to get caught up in the boom hype, and most would forgive him if the book read a bit silly in the light of the second Bush recession. But he didn't get caught up in the excitement; the book actually reads as if he wrote it knowing that the good times were coming to an end. And in a way, he did -- the first edition of this book was written in 1978, at the tail end of one of the worst economic periods of living memory. An investment guide originally written in Carter's administration is not likely to forget that bad times exist as well as good.

The title of this book is chutzpah, but the contents deliver on the promise. Enormously highly recommended to anyone who's not already in complete command of their finances.


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