The Captains Library

Congratulations – by virtue of the fact that you are reading this, you are well on your way to reaching Financial Independence. Step one to reaching FI starts with deep introspection; an honest appraisal of your own knowledge and ability. This should result in a humble and burning desire to learn more, and educate yourself.

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2 The Captains reading list: The best books for financial independence

Finance books are the best way to become Financially Independent

Books are simply one of the best ways to learn. There are many strategies and techniques for devouring books, some are able to burn through pages quickly like no one else’s business, for others it takes longer. Reading the practical examples and visualising them helps me.

Finance books are valuable for many reasons. They allow you to;

  • Undertake Self Education
  • Give Clever or Driven people the information they need
  • Read a trusted source of published information
  • Enjoy both non-fiction texts and fictional ‘parables’ to learn the underlying key messages
  • Get them for free at your local library

Finance books allow Self education

Self education is the way to reach Financial Independence. You will not find it taught in schools, nor universities, nor will you see it on TV shows or featured in the Media – lest it be published as some form of public spectacle or jest for the masses to ‘tut tut’ about and agree that its ‘impossible’.

Your burning desire to learn and improve will help you create a growth mindset. You will adopt an abundance mentality and find ways to succeed. Literature will nourish your soul as you pore over countless lessons and are mentored and guided by page after page. You will become smarter and wealthier with every paragraph. Did you know that the majority of all millionaires spend over an hour per day reading? You do now!

I spent years struggling through the schooling system – a hyperactive child with a gifted mind proved too much for many institutions and teachers. I attended over 17 different schools, and a further 12 institutions and universities as I bounced from one suspension and expulsion to the next. Along my journey though, I met some amazing teachers and mentors which I truly believe changed my life for the better.

I was never taught any money lessons during my formal education – apart from perhaps that which I made the connection with through my advanced engineering mathematics lectures in University. I have studied long and hard during my life; and I learned that self education is the key to success – no one is going to do your job for you!

As a result of rapidly adopting the principles of self education, in high school I graduated top of the nation, at University I graduated with first class honors in aerospace engineering, as a Pilot I was able to earn an Airline Transports Pilot Licence, and continued part time study resulted in a Masters degree in Space engineering. I will continue learning until the day I die, and I have a burning desire to continue post graduate research with a Ph.D in Space flight research in years to come.

Being smart isn’t good enough to become financially independent

I was well on my way to becoming Robert Kiyosakis ‘Poor Dad’ until I discovered FI/RE and how I needed to pay attention to securing my finances and acquiring assets over liabilities. Now I will be a ‘Rich Dad. Take it from me – Self education is the Key. Read more and read often. If this is a skill that you are lacking, stop making excuses and use your positive, abundance mentality and burning desire to improve your reading ability.

Published financial independence and finance authors are a trusted source of information

Published authors have typically been through rigorous editing and publishing process. In the academic world, the scientific method involves hypothesis, research, gathering evidence, trials and experiments and painstakingly detailed examinations; often only to then repeat the process over countless iterations. Works are then thoroughly peer reviewed and ripped apart, and then sent back for further countless revisions prior to being accepted and published. Outside academia, the publishing process can be just as brutal, and a published author is accountable for their works to be fully judged and reviewed in the public eye

Finance reading
Any book you pick up has had a long and rigorous publishing process

There is a fantastic amount of information freely available to you which has been written online, however you should always take what you hear online with a grain of salt; anyone can publish almost anything online these days! I follow a number of fantastic blogs like Mr Money Mustache and the Aussie Firebug, as well as follow a number of great bloggers and personal finance Gurus on Facebook and Instagram. However, the most powerful lessons I have learned have always come through self directed learning through reading and books.

Fact or fiction; Financial Independence books come in both categories

Although I prefer fact (non-fiction), there are a huge number of fictional works and parables (stories) which can be hugely beneficial to you. For example ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ written by George Samuel Clason in 1926 is a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon some 8,000 years ago, but its lessons are just as relevant to modern finances as they are to the ancient Babylonians.

Where to get financial independence books for free

So, less social media (and regular media for that matter!) and more books. Check out your local library to see if you can loan out a free copy of these, if not then jump online to see if you can get a free PDF or downloadable version*. If you still cant find it – ask your friends or family if anyone has a copy you could borrow. Only as a last resort should you resort to surrendering your dollars and buying a copy, and always look for a used or second hand copy first!

Your local library is a treasure trove of free lessons and guidance

*NB I am not advocating pirating or stealing as authors generally work pretty hard and get paid a pittance for doing so, but some offer free downloadable content. Some eBook services like audible offer a few free books as a sign up bonus too

The Captains reading list: The best books for financial independence

In no particular order are the highlights from my library, forming the Captains reading list. I will work through and provide a quick review summary of each these over time to help you select which order you might select them. Once I am through the list I will begin writing a detailed post for each individual book. Happy reading!

The Intelligent Investor | Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffet

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Benjamin Graham
The Intelligent investor

The Intelligent investor is written by Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing and is a fundamental must read for all investors. Whilst it is fairly advanced, it is easy to read and forms part of the due diligence all intelligent investors need to do.

Benjamin Graham is known as the mentor of the Oracle of Omaha, the worlds most successful value investor Mr Warren Buffet, and Buffet has written a valuable and insightful prefix and appendix for this book

Graham explains the principles behind Value investing; the long term investing strategy which ignores market volatility and sentiment by focusing on investing in companies with good fundamentals and intrinsic value to generate steady profits. Learn the difference between an enterprising investor and a defensive investor, as well as the key concepts behind selecting long term profitable investments.

You should definitely find this at your local library, or you can buy it on Amazon here.

How to win friends and influence people | Dale Carnegie

It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.

Dale Carnegie

This book has shaped behavioral psychology since its release in 1936. This self help classic focuses on your relationships and interactions with other people, demonstrating through examples of mindfulness how you can become more likeable, win people over and and lead others without being intrusive.

For example a lesson in emotional intelligence given is to be genuinely interested in other people during your interactions. Listen to their needs and desires and shape the conversation around these to establish a motivation. Elicit agreement (“yes”) on common grounds and gradually work towards your goal whilst using positive body language like smiling and touch, and using the persons name frequently.

You can negotiate everything | Herb Cohen

Most things in the world can be negotiated, so you should learn to do it well!

Herb Cohen

Written in 1980, Cohen shows that life is a constant stream of negotiations which occur in almost every avenue, including many which people don’t understand or are unwilling to recognize. Cohen explains why it’s important to have the skills and understanding to deal with these negotiations, and how this can give you a better life.

Cohen explores common styles of negotiations and then outlines key factors affecting negotiation success – such as whether you are talking to the right person, and properly understanding what the other party wants. Although negotiation success is highly influenced by motivation, power, time and the information that each side has at their disposal, ultimately it is achieving mutual benefit that is the key to successful negotiations.

Warren buffet’s letters |Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway provides a number of fantastic and freely available letters to his shareholders as well as general advice, observations and information which can be found on his no frills website for Berkshire Hathaway.

Motivated money | Peter Thornhill

Investing should be boring. [Whilst people stress over volatility] I will be sitting, bored witless, choking on my dividend cheques.

Peter Thornhill

Peter Thornhill’s experience and insights into wealth creation through investment and his entertaining delivery make for a good read. Motivated Money led to Thornhill becoming a sought after presenter and recognized financial commentator. Thornhill himself lives on a passive dividend income of over $500,000 due to consistent investing in strong dividend yielding stocks.

Thornhill challenges you to check your financial prejudices, such as the concept of certain asset classes being ‘riskier’ or ‘safer’ than others. He then demonstrates that over longer time frames, commonly accepted financial prejudices are just plain wrong.

Thornhill explains how dividends can be used for income, and why over the long term this is preferable to bonds or fixed interest securities. He goes on to outline that realistically you should ignore the capital value or price of the stocks, or fears of stock market crashes. Realistically you should be worrying about things that matter like your family and having fun, whilst your increasing stream of dividends just keeps rolling in..

How not to die | Gene Stone, Michael Greger

The primary reasons that diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.

Michael Greger

How not to die explains how you can extend your life, and your quality of life, based on scientific evidence which recommends switching to a predominantly whole food plant based diet

Let food be thy medicine. Research has shown that your diet has a lot to do with your health, quality of life and how long you live. Whole food plant based diets are not a fad, and changing your diet to avoid processed foods and animal products has an overwhelmingly positive impact in protecting you from diseases of affluence such as Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity and heart disease.

Michael Greger explores the science behind how diet plays a role in these chronic diseases from the lens of his background as a medical doctor. He discusses how the medical industry often ignores poor diet as a causal factor for disease, and how the simple act of eating fruits and vegetables can protect you from them.

The Barefoot Investor | Scott Pape

You can continue living in the past, beating yourself up about the money mistakes you made when you were younger, telling yourself you’ve left it too late… or you can rise up and make yourself proud.

Scott Pape

Scott Pape is one of Australia’s most trusted finance commentators, and is frequently featured in TV and print media. Pape has even advised government as well as world sporting teams on financial issues, and now is using his knowledge to help everyday people through his nine step financial guide.

His top three tips? Simplify your money management by using different bank accounts and ‘money buckets’, Destroy your debt and then automate your retirement saving by planning automated purchases of index funds.

The Barefoot Investor is chock full of practical money tips that you can implement straight away. From organizing your bank accounts, to drastically slashing your bills (he provides scripts for you to recite to your mortgage bank for example) to starting investing, Scott gives you straightforward advice in a very easy to digest format of his ‘Nine barefoot steps’

  • Barefoot step 1. Schedule a monthly ‘Barefoot date night’ to get dressed up and review your finances
  • Barefoot step 2. Set up your ‘buckets’ (automate how your income hits your bank account, pays bills and splits saving for several goals ‘put your money on autopilot’)
  • Barefoot step 3. Domino your debts – pay off your debts, smallest to largest, and escape the cult of credit!
  • Barefoot step 4. Buy your home (Principle Place of Residence)
  • Barefoot step 5. Increase your retirement savings to 15% of your income
  • Barefoot step 6. Boost your Mojo (emergency fund) to three months living cost
  • Barefoot step 7. Get the banker off your back – Knock down your mortgage by making extra repayments
  • Barefoot step 8. Nail your retirement number: Financially plan for retirement using your investments and social security
  • Barefoot step 9. Leave a legacy – how do you want to make a difference in the world?

Want a more in depth review? Check out my 4000 word review HERE

The Barefoot Investor for families | Scott Pape

By the time your child leaves home they should have promised you to never, ever get a credit card.

Scott Pape

In the follow up sequel to his original best selling hit ‘The Barefoot Investor’, Pape turns his attention to the younger generation and helping parents to teach their children how to be financially literate.

Through his ‘Barefoot ten’ he establishes the ten commandments for teaching your child financial literacy; these start with opening up a simple zero-fee high interest savings account, volunteering in their local community, getting a part time job (from age 15 onward), and then progress right through to saving for a home deposit and setting up their ultra-low-cost, high growth index fund based retirement accounts.

Pape extols the virtue of giving and volunteering, and encourages parents to set up three jars for each of their children; A Give, Smile and Splurge jar. Parents can then provide each child with a physical allowance or pocket money for completing age appropriate jobs in the household. The physical payment is the key, as it allows children to reinforce the saving concept by placing their allowance in their ‘three jars’ in whichever ratio they choose.

Barefoot for families is packed full of practical parenting advice on the topic of teaching your kids smart money habits. I would recommend it not only for parents or those expecting, but for everyone as its simplicity and take on the psychology of finance is a great reflection on our modern society.

Rich Dad Poor Dad | Robert Kiyosaki

The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play to not lose. They don’t play to win.

Robert Kiyosaki

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If your still wondering what the difference between an asset and a liability or what leverage is, I’m not sure how you stumbled across the FIRE community, but this book will clear it up for you.

I read this book before I started investing and whilst it doesn’t give you specific advice in how to invest and start buying income producing assets, it really ignited a fire in my belly which drove me to eventually discover the FIRE community and the amazing benefits of passive income.

Rich Dad – Poor Dad is written by Robert Kiyosaki. He is a pretty accomplished author and investor, and was made famous for this stylised work of fiction that really hammers home important financial and life lessons of investing in assets and businesses, including the use of leverage.

If your still wondering what the difference between an asset and a liability or what leverage is, I’m not sure how you stumbled across the FIRE community, but this book will clear it up for you.

I read this book before I started investing and whilst it doesn’t give you specific advice in how to invest and start buying income producing assets, it really ignited a fire in my belly which drove me to eventually discover the FIRE community and the amazing benefits of passive income.

Rich Dad Poor Dad helps you develop the correct mindset and burning desire for success in building wealth and financial freedom through the story of a young boy who grows up with two Dads; A rich Dad, and a poor Dad. While he loved both of his Dads and they both had a huge impact on his life, both were incredibly different in handling finances.

One of Kiyosaki’s Dads is a highly successful academic, who drives an expensive car with a large beautiful house in an expensive suburb. He is conservative and doesn’t take risks with his finances. He is also the Poor Dad.

Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad instead focuses on building wealth through businesses (where he doesn’t trade his time for money), living below his means and acquiring assets that produce income, instead of liabilities like flashy cars and houses. Kiyosakis Rich Dad is actually the father of one of his childhood friends, who takes him under his guidance and mentors him as he grows up.

Although a fairly controversial and often heavily criticized book, Rich Dad Poor Dad is a modern classic of personal finance and is a best seller, having sold over 30 million copies. Its most important lesson is to start getting rid of your liabilities and start buying productive assets today!

You may be able to borrow this for free from your local library, but if you want a copy for yourself or to give someone, you can get the book pretty cheap online on Amazon here or his boxed set here.

The Selfish Gene | Richard Dawkins

An individual organism is a throw away survival machine for the self replicating coded genetic information which it contains. Genes are immortal because they can be replicated with almost total fidelity generation after generation – there are genes now which are identical to what they were hundreds of millions of years ago in some cases.

Richard Dawkins

From the author of the best selling ‘The God delusion’, Dawkins explains the theory behind genetics and the potential for the coded information stored within genes to become immortal through successful survival, adaptation and replication.

Dawkins explains that successful genes are good at surviving; good at building bodies and controlling the processes of embryology to make bodies that has what it takes to preserve those genes and pass them on; to build survival machines.

He explains the inherent drive we all posses for survival and replication as a result of the ‘spark of life’ given to us through our genetics. He discusses ‘gene selection theory’ or ‘selfish gene theory’ and how through adaptive evolution only the toughest and most adaptable genes can survive, building ever slightly changing organisms in the process.

There are interesting ramifications in social theory from this discussion, including the process of dating and relationships. I found this fascinating as it goes some way to helping you understand why you behave the way you do. Both in terms of regarding your survival – how you structure your security through career and finances, and how this is traded-off against reproduction through your relationships and sexual preferences.

The Snowball | Alice Schroeder

Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.

Warren Buffett

The Snowball is authorised biography of Warren Buffett, the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ and worlds best investor. Schroeder details his humble start in life and his burning desire for investing knowledge even as a child, all the way to his incredible successes with value investing and running Berkshire Hathaway.

Warren Buffett under the mentor ship of Benjamin Graham was able to beat the S&P 500 index in 40 out of 50 years, becoming one of the top third richest people in the world. Buffet provides sage advice: Start early (your already late, so get started now!), and be patient. Buffets attitude and mindset resonates well with the FI/RE crowd, who are able to heed his advice and put the needs of tomorrow over the wants of today.

The Snowball is a fantastic and detailed read, and you are sure to take several lessons out of it over the course of reading.

Think and grow rich | Napoleon Hill

The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.

Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a summary of over 20 years of research and observations of over 500 wealthy individuals. Hill describes how he observed these people to be successful, and provides 13 of their most common habits. With over 70 million copies sold, Hill is one of the best selling self help authors around.

Hill suggests the most important habits for success (and growing wealth) are a Strong and unshakeable self belief, an burning desire and tenacious determination. Hill explains that by surrounding yourself with a group of successful mentors, you can drastically cut the time it would normally take to become competent and successful yourself, ‘hacking’ the learning curve.

Raising boys in the 21st Century | Steve Biddulph

If you routinely work a 55 or 60-hour week, including commute times, you just won’t cut it as a dad. Your sons will have problems in life [without active role models], and it will be down to you. Your boys will become men. But what kind of men?

Steve Biddulph

Unfortunately children don’t come with instruction manuals. Parenting can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be an exceptionally confusing and difficult time for parents.

Raising Boys in the 21st Century is one of the most popular parenting books ever written. Biddulph tackles the tricky issue of parenting from baby, toddler to teen, and things you can do to ensure your son grows up to be a strong, kind and successful man. Biddulph recognises the spectrum of gender, and identifies statistical risk factors associated with each.

Biddulph is one of Australia’s best known psychologists, and has worked with schools in over 17 different countries. He focuses on a hands on engagement with your son to really get to know them; “If we understand them, we can help them”. He presents hundreds of practical parenting tips, backed by his concepts of the ‘physical fours’ and ’emotional eights’.

Key issues covered include: Gender, Brain and Hormonal development (focusing on the effect of testosterone on boys), Sexuality development through puberty including topics of pornography, gay and transgender sexuality, Boys and ‘bad’ behaviour, reading and communication and societal expectations.

Raising girls in the 21st Century | Steve Biddulph

The world today does not seem to care about girls as it should, and see’s them just as a way to make money

Steve Biddulph

Biddulph explains in ‘Raising girls in the 21st Century’ that corporations have made millions from the ‘pinkification’ of girlhood. The challenging demands of modern society and the pervasiveness of the internet and social media has exaggerated anxiety, narcissism and led to increased childhood exposure to pornography and other detrimental factors to girls development.

Biddulph challenges societal gender norms with a gentle undertone of antisexism, suggesting that the unconscious gender biases with which we treat our children can lead to much of the complications encountered with raising girls. “I am sure that no parent sets out to disadvantage their girls around a useful number of skills, yet we unconsciously start making the boys practical and the girls emotionally focused. So here is a suggestion – perhaps we ought to reverse this!”

Biddulph classifies girlhood into five stages: Security, exploration, learning to get along with others, finding one’s passion and then preparing for the freedom and responsibilities of adulthood. He provides parents with useful tips and warnings for each stage along with practical advice to help understand your daughters development.

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy |Thomas J. Stanley

Whatever your income, always live below your means

Thomas J. Stanley

The Millionaire Next Door explains the incredibly simple financial habits that the affluent have which leads to an accumulation of wealth and reaching of financial independence. Stanley shows how with some basic planning, living below your means and avoiding being stupid with your money can lead to becoming a Millionaire.

Stanley outlines three rules to become a Millionaire:
1. Save [and invest] responsibly from the moment you first earn an income, 2. Ensure you stay above the ‘financial curve’ (Age multiplied by gross income divided by 10), and
3. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘economic outpatient care’ (that is to say, don’t expect any handouts such as from the bank of mum and dad)

The Millionaire Next Door is full of practical tips about modern frugality, mindset and how and where millionaires invest there money. He highlights the trap of inheritances and handouts, and also highlights what most Millionaires excessively spend their money on (its not what you might think!)

Total money makeover | Dave Ramsey

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramseys Total Money Makeover teaches you through seven steps how to build a strong financial future. Ramsey is the most popular personal finance book of all time, with millions of copies sold globally. Dave Ramsey is on a mission for the world to stop accepting debt as normal!

  • Ramsey presents the challenge of creating wealth through seven ‘baby steps’, which are;
  • Baby step 1. Creating an an emergency or ‘breathing space’ fund
  • Baby step 2. Incrementally paying of all your debts (snowballing from smallest to largest)
  • Baby step 3. Boosting your emergency fund to 3-6 months living expenses
  • Baby step 4. Begin investing 15% of your income for retirement [INDEX FUNDS!]
  • Baby step 5. Save for your children college expense
  • Baby step 6. Pay off your home
  • Baby step 7. Build wealth and give

The Total Money Makeover has common grounds with many personal finance books, such as Scott Pape’s Barefoot Investor. Nevertheless, it is still a good read and presents many unique aspects and practical tips which you can take away and implement. Although I prefer not to discuss the topic of religion, Ramsey often combines biblical references and preaching into his book which can be confronting for some.

Predictably irrational | Dan Ariely

The danger of expecting nothing is that in the end, it might be all we’ll get.

Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke university, and the founder for the research institution ‘ The Centre for Advanced Hindsight’. Ariely has a sharp wit and keen sense of humor which makes him a great author and powerful speaker. Ariely was nominated one of the top 50 most influential living psychologists in the world, and his TED talks have had over 15 million views.

Predictably irrational is a New York Times best seller, and explores the hidden drivers behind how humans act and make decisions, which turns out to be far less logical than you might think. Once aware of these behavioural traits, you can begin to master them in order to conquer your finances, business and social interactions to live healthier and happier lives.

Ariely presents several lessons to the reader, including;
1. People are hard wired to compare things, but often become paralysed by choice (analysis paralysis). To succeed, give others easy comparisons to pick you, or choices which benefit you.
2. Nothing is really free, but free is a powerful emotional trigger. People are hardwired to try and avoid loss, so we value free items disproportionately highly, often at the detriment of true gain or success.
3. People always overvalue what they own

The 7 habits of highly effective people | Stephen Covey

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing

Stephen Covey

Covey provides the reader with 7 Habits of Highly Effective people to improve their personal and professional effectiveness. By understanding how the world works and shifting your mindset to take advantage of this well, you can create great success. Published in 1990, Covey has sold over 25 million copies of the book, which is now referred to as the bible of modern management and leadership.

Covey’s 7 Habits are;

Success Habit 1. Be proactive: Take charge and assume responsibility.

Success Habit 2. Begin with the end in mind: Have a vision for the future and set goals accordingly to make it become reality. If needed, do the funeral test – simply ask yourself what would I want people to say about me at my funeral, what sort of a person do I want to be remembered as, and what do I want to be remembered for?

Success Habit 3. Put first thing first: Learn to prioritise your actions and focus on what is important right now – don’t get distracted by unimportant tasks. This means learning how to say no

Success Habit 4. Think Win-Win: A winner doesn’t necessitate a loser; in negotiations both parties can walk away with their fair share, and build strong relationships in the process.

Success Habit 5. Seek first to understand, then be understood: Don’t jump straight into a solution to a problem; first take the time to really understand and know a problem (or persons problem) before making recommendations or taking actions.

Success Habit 6. Synergise: The contributions of many together will far exceed the sum total of any of those individuals. Work collectively as a team and as a leader strive to inspire and motivate your team and look after its well being.

Success Habit 7. Sharpen the Saw: Strive for a sustainable life with plenty of time to recharge to ensure effectiveness in the long term “Give me 6 hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the Axe” Abraham Lincoln.

The 80/20 Principle | Richard Koch

Strive for Excellence in a few things, rather than good performance in many

Richard Koch

The 80/20 principle, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle or the Principle of Factor Sparsity states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This has been shown to be the case in many scientific and mathematical models in society from land ownership, wealth disparity and income tax distribution. It is also an axiom of business to say that 80% of sales come from 20% of clients, and in management that 80% of your problems come from 20% of your employees.

When applied to your personal or business finances, my take on the 80/20 principle was that you should focus on the basics first (for example starting investing in an ultra low cost index fund). The law of diminishing returns means the effort expended on the advanced details will yield much smaller results (for example trying to pick different types of index fund). The rule of thumb therefore is to focus on the 20% of causes to improve 80% of the results, and not on the 80% of causes (input) for the 20% of results. This is also thought of as getting the ‘80% solution on time’ rather than the ‘100% solution that never comes’.

Koch explains that when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in ’97, he cut the companies product line from 300 down to under 10. This allowed the company to focus on the minority (of products) which was producing the majority of profits for the company, and allowed time and focus to improve those.

A parallel can be drawn to social circles and friendships; do you find that you have the majority of your fun with only 20% of your friends? If you can identify this 20%, you should most of your effort into these relationships. It is much better to have a small group of really good friends than a big bunch of distant friends.

The Pareto principle or 80/20 rule can be applied to any area of your life; you just need to identify the 20% that produces the greatest outcome, and then you can spend more time doing that. It also helps you cut back on the 80% of the things which waste your time but provide only 20% of the results. It encourages you to think efficiently and what really matters.

The ADHD Advantage

Those with ADHD are Life’s entrpreneurs, CEOs, leaders, explorers, champion athletes and out-of-the-box-thinkers

Dale Archer

Dr Dale Archer is a famous psychiatrist and New York Times bestselling author. Dr Archer hosts his own TV and radio show, as well as blogs and writes extensively on the topic of ADHD, the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or sometimes called ADD (attention deficiency disorder). He also happens to suffer from the condition

Unfortunately, ADHD has one of the highest rates of misdiagnosis by health professionals as it is often seen as the ‘bad behaviour’ disability. Furthermore, it is also often mismanaged through over prescription of medication which can have serious health and mental implications.

By changing the way we view ADHD, people with it should learn to embrace it as means of success rather than a disability. Rather than a disease, ADHD is actually an advantage which helps you to thrive and succeed – just as Billionaire Richard Branson has done with the Virgin company (including a space program!)

ADHD makes you great at fast paced activities and rapid decision making, especially when it requires attention to many factors. This means often kids with ADHD are good at sports which forms a perfect challenge. People with ADHD often become leaders and explorers, where their boundary pushing and quick, lateral and creative thinking often allows them to come up with new innovating solutions

The ADHD Advantage is a great read if you might suffer from the condition, or have a family member or friend who is a little hyper, too. Lets work together and change the stigma, one page at a time.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up| Marie Kondo

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life

Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo teaches you to simplify your life and make your home more peaceful by cutting down, organising and storing your possessions in her step by step guide. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up is much more than just a book about cleaning away your clutter though, it focuses on changing your core mindset to an intentional life. This mindfulness perspective impacts the way you think and live, leading to a more deliberate and peaceful life. Just ask yourself – how at peace are you working at a cluttered desk, or how well can you sleep with clothes strewn all over the bed?

Kondo’s first step to tidying involves deciding whether to keep or discard the item, with the (now hilariously meme based phrase) “Does this item spark joy?”. If not, maybe its time to let it go. An example could be an item of clothing you haven’t worn for years, or one that is so ill fitting it makes you feel bad when you wear it. Kondo asks readers to hold the item and ask yourself;

1. What is the purpose of this object?
2. Has it fulfilled its purpose already? (such as letters or cards)
3. Why did I get this thing?
4. When did I get it?
5. How did it land in my house?

She explains that its better to move from easy to hard items when deciding what to keep, and moving through these categories in order to build up momentum and decision making skills

1. Clothes
2. Books (and CDs, DVDs, Magazines etc)
3. Papers, Letters
4. Miscellaneous
5. Mementos or things with sentimental value

The second step to tidying involves deciding where to store the things you will keep. Don’t be tempted to rush into step two, as Kondo explains that everyone has limited space and eventually it will fill up with clutter if your not deliberate about what you keep. She warns that you should not even think of storing your items until you have finished the discarding process of step one. Designated placing and deliberate and thoughtful storage will help you to maximise your available space, such as folding of clothes in such a way as you can see them all.

Learning how to let go and what you should keep ends up being a pretty important life skill. Kondo explains the link between clutter and being afraid to let go because of past emotional bonds and ‘baggage’. It turns out though that when you clear away the clutter, you also clear your mind and soul. And that can be game changing in other aspects such as your relationships, career and finances.

The life changing magic of not giving a F*ck

The life changing magic of not giving a F*ck is all about prioritising. Joy over annoy. Choice over obligation.

Sarah Knight

Sarah Knight is a freelance author and editor who graduated from Harvard University. She has created a funny, informative and practical book in The life changing magic of not giving a F*ck. Her tips on mental decluttering and mindset give you practical advice and things you can do right now to stop yourself caring about things that don’t really matter. The subtitle of “how to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do” encapsulates the message of the book perfectly.

How much of your life do you spend people pleasing? What about stressing over things you cant control? Or overthinking? Maybe you need to embrace Knights ‘NotSorry method’ (a clear parody of Marie Kondo’s KonMari method) and learn to spend your time wisely and reject negative emotions. You should take everything and ask yourself ‘Does this annoy?’ – if it does, you should stop giving a F*ck about it!

Whilst it might be easier said than done, the power of saying ‘No!’ cant be understated, as puts you back in control of your life. Knight gives a few basic examples like declining invitations to baby showers (or equally as annoying events), unfriending annoying people on Facebook and wearing less makeup. She says if you learn to say ‘No!’ that “your spirit will be lighter, your calendar will be clearer, and your time and energy will be spent on only the things and people you enjoy”. This is exactly hat someone on the path to Financial Independence needs.

To help you say no, Knight recommends;

  1. Be honest and polite when you say No (but not too honest or polite! Generalisations are fine, and help to avoid people taking it personally)
  2. Start with small annoyances and progressively work toward bigger ones
  3. Don’t take part in everything just because it seems ‘trendy’
  4. Recognise the destructive marketing power of the internet and social media: limit your part in “social Madness”
  5. Don’t be afraid to let go (of people or things, but especially to toxic or destructive people)
  6. If you HAVE to give a F*ck because its beyond your control, make plans to recharge your batteries afterwards

The Little Book that Beats the Market | Joel Greenblatt

Choosing individual stocks without any idea of what your looking for is like running through a dynamite factory with a burning match. You may life, but you’re still an idiot.

Joel Greenblatt

The Little Book that (still) beats the market is a guide to implementing a simple mathematical formula for deciding whether to buy a stock, in order to generate long term profit. Joel Greenblatt follows in Benjamin Grahams footsteps as a fundamental value investor, much in the same way as Warren Buffet. Just like Buffet, Greenblatt was able to produce seriously amazing returns; his investment firm produced over 40% annualised returns for over two decades running!

Greenblatt echoes the virtues of value investing that he learned from Graham; which means buying stock with high returns (on capital) whenever it is undervalued by the market, and therefore with good long term growth potential. Because it is under priced now, if you wait long enough it will go up to the average (or maybe beyond) meaning a gain for the value investor. The formula for working this out involves;

  1. Calculating earnings yield (quantitative, inverse of P/E ratio) to see if the company stock is good value. For reference, a P/E of 16.4, or earnings yield above 6% is generally accepted as the long term average.
  2. Calculating return on capital (quantitative) to see whether it is a good company or not. Grenblatt suggests 25% RoC as a minimum threshold.
  3. Ranking companies on these two factors combined (quantitative) to find
  4. Analysis of company fundamentals or warning signs (qualitative). Greenblatt suggests ruling out any company with a P/E below 5, as well as utility, financial and all ‘foreign’ stocks.
  5. Buy, hold and being patient over the long term

Whilst Greenblatt suggests long term as being one year, in my (humble and uneducated) opinion I prefer to side with Buffet, with long term in my vocabulary equating to buy and hold ‘forever’ (or at least 50+ years). I also understand his home bias and fear of foreign markets, however I feel my investment risk in these are mitigated through the diversity of my ETFs.

I like how Greenblatt explains the craziness of the stock market and how peoples irrational investing leads to market volatility – he uses a great explanation of a kid selling chewing gum (a confectionery business!) to make his points over his 13 chapters. In the end though, He sides with Buffett and encourages investors to consider index funds like Ultra low cost diversified stock market ETFs over trying to pick individual stocks.

The Power of Habit: ‘Why we do what we do in life and business’ | Charles Duhigg

The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Charles Duhigg

Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’ is behavioural psychology book and a New York Times best seller. Duhigg challenges you to view the the way you go about life and behave; your habits. He explores scientific studies of how habits are formed in our brains, and showcases different examples of how this can be beneficial or negative, and how habits can be be broken and rewired.

For people looking to change habits which are difficult to break, Duhigg’s observations are a game changer. He explains how implementing keystone habits has led to the success of people like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and heroes of civil rights movements like Martin Luther King, Jr. He also shows how businesses like Procter & Gamble and Target have used the power of habit to earn billions of dollars in revenue.

The Automatic Millionaire | David Bach

The fact is, none of us really has a choice. We are all playing the money game whether we want to or not. The only question is – are we winning?

David Bach

Bach offers the reader a simple, step-by-step guide for gradually building wealth. By relying on constant, automatic small transactions and investments, Bach shows that even those with poor discipline can become Millionaires

Bach famously tells his story of learning the power of investing with McDonalds. When he was a child, his grandmother took him to the restaurant and told him “There are three types of people in the world. 1. Those who eat at McDonalds. 2. Those who work at McDonalds, and 3. Those who invest into McDonalds”. She helped him buy his first share in McDonalds stock and Bach took away a lifetime lesson; investing early was the key to success in life.

The Automatic Millionaire provides key lessons for those striving to generate wealth. One of Bach’s most striking lessons is called ‘The Latte factor’. By saving just a little each day, you can retire early and live rich for the rest of your life; consider the cost of $10 a day on a small expense like Coffee; if instead you saved and invested this money into index fund ETF or mutual funds, over a typical 40 year working career you’d have $1.9 Million! By boosting your saving, you can save and invest enough to retire early!

Bach also covers some critically important lessons, like paying yourself first. To put it another way, paying yourself first means that instead of spending first, you invest your money first. You can then spend what is left over after saving and investing. This really challenges you to consider your way of life, lifestyle, the way you make decisions and spending patterns.

The main theme of the book however, is the power of automation. By automating your saving and investing, you can achieve the power of a disciplined investor without using willpower or being disciplined yourself. You wont even notice the money is gone. This also removes the human factor from the investing equation, meaning your less likely to stuff up your own investments by selling during or after a market crash!

Sweet Poison | Dave Gillespie

Sweet poison by Australian Lawyer David Gillespie

Sweet poison is a pretty darn good book, and its easy and quick to read. Its centred around the health dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup and its extensive use in the manufactured food industry.

The author David Gillespie is actually a lawyer who found himself with some pretty troubling health issues being obese (over 40kg over a healthy adult male weight). Its written from the viewpoint of self discovery as Gillespie explores his own diet and health issues and learns about what is making him sick and how he can fix it.

He does this by explaining his own learning process and journey to the reader, which makes sense as Gillespie has no formal health or medical training, but he is clearly a very intelligent person. He references numerous academic papers and specialists (but at times could probably do with a bit tidier and more referencing) but it certainly makes sense and he backs up his arguments well.

He then offers readers some extensive guidelines about food and how to be savvy about avoiding hidden junk in our food when we are shopping. I read this book because it was given to me by a family member, and I have since bought a few paperback copies of it as gifts to give out to my close friends.

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

The Richest Man in Babylon | George S. Clason

Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you only take what is worth having

George Clason

The richest man in Babylon is a pragmatic account of financial advice told through parables and stories from ancient Babylon. The Book is a classic, and demonstrates the power and wealth generation available when you begin saving a part of your income, investing it wisely and protecting it. Clason echoes the virtues of lending money instead of borrowing it, and the dangers of personal debt

One of the biggest themes throughout The Richest Man in Babylon is the simple act of living below your means. By living below your means, you are able to generate surplus wealth which can be multiplied with prudent investing. You also avoid the stress and wealth destruction which comes with taking on personal or non productive debts. The Richest Man in Babylon also talks about the importance of hard work and persistence, in order to’swing the odds in your favour’.

This is a very quick read, and an absolute must read on the path to Financial Independence. It also makes a great gift for someone who maybe hasn’t quite got their shit sorted yet.

Toxic Oil

Toxic Oil written by Australian Lawyer David Gillespie

Toxic oil is another book written by David Gillespie on his journey of health discovery and is similar to Sweet Poison. Toxic Oil is centred around the widespread use of Seed and Vegetable oils by the food manufacturing and fast food industries. He looks at some pretty alarming research on oil consumption and its health impact, and some of the problems of inaction by worldwide health regulatory bodies.

Gillespie provides the reader with some useful information on avoiding some of the dangerous oils in our diet such as trans-fats. He gives a detailed analysis of many products and assists readers in food shopping with some easy to follow guidelines.

Whilst I think it is still a valuable read and it sits on my bookshelf, I am still not entirely convinced of all of his ideas, for example the idea to replace all vegetable oil with animal fats in your diet. Personally I chose to moderate my consumption of all ‘condensed’ oils; for example rather than eat avocado oil I would prefer to just eat a whole avocado (maybe smashed on toast!). I still use a good splash of olive oil on the pan when I am frying something though.

I’ve loaned out my copy of Toxic oil to close friends and bought two copies to give as gifts because I still think it has a lot of really valuable information in it.

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

The Magic of Thinking Big | David J Schwartz

Do what you fear and fear disappears

David Schwartz

I have to thank Mr Money Mustache for putting me onto this one. The Magic of Thinking Big is all about self confidence and believing in yourself. Schwartz teaches you to think big, and about the power of positivity and mindset when you want to achieve your goals.

Rather than be intimidated and fear the unknown, Schwartz compels readers to always be open to new ideas and learn something new whenever you can. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you find an amazing region of personal development and growth, and an ability to achieve even bigger goals.

By shutting down the negative voices in your head, you become more and more successful every day. Schwartz urges readers to go through their positive affirmations every day, and even to write and read them out loud. These affirmations are great things about yourself that you and other people like (for example you might be a really great Pilot, or you are able to make other people feel great and laugh by telling funny jokes).

Going even further, Schwartz suggests to create an environment of positivity around you; surround yourself with high quality and positive people. Only take advice from those who’s values align with yours, who you want to be like and those who have achieved what you wish to. This might mean focusing your efforts away from ‘Negative Nancies’ or ‘Morale Vampires’ who have limiting beliefs and mindset. You are on the path to success with your abundance mindset and the magic of thinking big.

Early Retirement Extreme | Jacob Fisker

When you identify with an object, you’re defined by the object, then controlled by it, and ultimately owned by it. If you relate to your possessions, you’re owned by your stuff, and it will make many of your decisions for you. This trap is not only mental, but also physical.

Jacob Fisker

Early Retirement Extreme is a monster read. Fisker has some pretty great gems of wisdom expressed in the book, but it will take you a few weeks to get through it all and re-read the important bits. This is probably not the best ‘first book’ for FIRE starters (as it will take some time to read and digest) but it is certainly a must read for anyone on the path to FI.

Fisker discusses how the consumer culture in the western world has led to a culture of decadence and waste. Not just waste in terms of rubbish produced that pollutes the environment, or waste in that a third of all of bought groceries end up in the bin, but that we waste so much of our time, energy and happiness. By practising mindfulness (not necessarily minimalism but that helps) and adopting new (and some extreme) ways to become more efficient, we can work out how to meet out needs whilst protecting our precious freedom; our time, energy and happiness.

Fisker discusses the virtues of in sourcing (doing work yourself!) with his concept of the renaissance man. The Renaissance Man is the one who develops a multitude of diverse and interesting skills which cross mesh and interlink with one another to allow you to achieve fantastic results. For example; learning to grow a garden can provide you with fresh organic produce, and this can in turn lead you how to cook delicious home made meals from scratch. Both activities get you active and involved with the family, and lead to spending quality time together. Eating delicious and healthy home made meals leads to improved health, and helps you to be more active which of course has an amazing snowball or spiral affect on improving your quality of life.

The Bogleheads guide to investing | Taylor Larimore

Wise investors won’t try to outsmart the market.They’ll buy index funds for the long term, and they’ll diversify.

John C. Bogle

The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing is a no nonsense, straight up guide to investing for everyone from teenager, to families and single parents and even those approaching retirement! The Forward is by John (jack) Bogle who created Vanguard, the worlds largest mutual fund and provider of exchange traded index funds. John Bogle is the original O.G. FIRE blogger and investor!

The Bogleheads is a name given to the giant fan base he has amassed (and you can visit them at and take part in their forums with over 50,000 active participants). Rather than worry about the vagrancies of Mr Market and volatility, Bogleheads are investors who have adopted John Bogle’s investing philosophy of being “lazy”.

The guide covers an array of topics with interesting discussions on insurance, behavioural economics, ways to save money and of course, how to invest and structure a modern investment portfolio. The book is written for new investors, and shows through countless examples how dumb actively trading the market is, and how active fund managers bleed their customers dry with fees whilst consistently under performing the market.

The Guide features an entire chapter devoted to “Tuning out the noise” (ch 18) which implores investors to “ignore the barrage of investment sales pitches because their promises are fictitious at best and financially disastrous at worst”. Focusing on a passive index strategy, by structuring your portfolio with index funds like the S&P 500 stock index. Having not bought individual stocks in over 30 years, John Bogle is a leading proponent of index investing.

John Bogle’s top tips are;

  1. Stay the course – “you must weather any storm, because even though the market is risky, over time it still produces better returns than any alternatives”.
  2. Beware the experts – Money managers more likely have their best interests at heart, not yours. When discussing the GFC Mr Bogle questioned “How could so many highly skilled, highly paid securities analysts and researchers have failed to question the toxic-filled, leveraged balance sheets of Citigroup and other leading banks and investment banks?”
  3. Keep costs down – “In investing, you get what you don’t pay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”
  4. Don’t get emotional – “Eliminate emotion from your investment program. Have rational expectations for future returns and avoid changing those expectations in response to the ephemeral noise coming from Wall Street.”
  5. Own the entire stock market – Invest in index funds!

From 0 to 130 properties in 3.5 years | Steven McKnight

You will only ever do your first deal once. From then, as your experience broadens, you’ll become more and more confident in dealing with agents, inspecting property and making offers. Its no where near as scary the second time around. If you don’t know the area like a local – don’t invest there. If you want to be treated like a local – look like a local!

Steven McKnight

McKnight has a series of property investing books, and is himself a highly successful property investor and popular author. His common sense books are filled with practical step by step tips and guides and this is probably one of his best reads. Although it should be treated as educational material and not a financial guide

From 0 to 130 properties in 3.5 years stresses the importance of stripping away the emotion from property investing. The only decision worth considering is how much this investment should make, weighed up against how much it costs, and what the risk of losing your capital is. His key take home point is not to get emotional about any property you invest in.

His strategy is that you should only ever buy houses for people to live in. So long as people continue to need to live in houses, investing in property means you’ll ‘buy problems and then sell or rent out solutions‘. McKnight discusses the two main choices in real estate investing: Investing for cash flow, or investing for capital appreciation.

McKnight echoes the important messages of self education especially when it comes to the areas your investing in – you need to invest like a local! A part of this is the critical skill of networking and negotiation. Networking with other real estate investors is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to educate yourself.

He also talks about some hard facts of real estate investing. It is active. It takes a lot of time. There are Risks. But his common sense and practical approach to investing helps minimise these risks; avoid properties that are cashflow negative or ‘suck away your cashflow’, and look for properties that make money from the instant you get them (by negotiating and paying the right price, you lock in your profit upfront). He describes how the only real way to expanding your property portfolio is by being able to access the equity that you earn from capital gains.

Finally, one of the best take-homes from his book is this: Money can be replaced, but time can’t!

The One-Page Financial Plan: A Simple Way to Be Smart About Your Money | Carl Richards

Carl Richards offers readers some simple and basic tips to improve their finances and reduce stress through the use of a very simple financial plan.

He starts with the important question of ‘WHY’ – Why your money should be important to you. Carl challenges the reader to think for themselves, and gets you to actually write down your responses as the start of developing your individually tailored, self made one page financial plan.

The second important step is setting your goals. These need to come from within you and Carl suggests just taking a guess at what they are; you can always revise and fine tune them later!

The third step is writing out a simple balance sheet of incoming and outgoing to asses your current financial situation. List all of your bills; expenses, needs and wants, and all your forms of income. List all of your assets (things that make money) and all of your liabilities (things that cost money).

The fourth step is to simply track what you spend. Budgeting is discussed as a useful tool to help keep within spending limits, but Carl re-frames it to think of it as a bit of a game or a challenging to make budgeting fun! Let your competitive side come out. Removing sources of temptation like online shopping is a great way to get better at this.

The fifth step is to use this budget to save as much of your income as possible and pay off your debts, and then begin to make smart, diversified investments by using scientific methods. Carl recommends consulting peer reviewed and academic journals, which all point to a diversified index tracking strategy. Certainly don’t listen to mainstream media or the morning news for your investment advice!

My Big five take aways for the one page financial plan

  1. Start with Why you are doing this
  2. Set goals with your partner
  3. How you can make budgeting fun
  4. Why you need to pull the plug on online shopping
  5. Why you should ignore the maintstream media’s investing advice

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind | T. Harv Eker

secrets of the millionare mind

“If you want to move to a higher level of life, you have to be willing to let go of some of your old ways of thinking and being and adopt new ones”

T. Harv Eker

T. Harv Eker’s ‘Secrets of the Millionaire Mind’ is about mastering the inner game of Wealth. Eker shifts the readers mindset from a ‘poor’ mentality into a ‘rich’ mentality; He says that rich people believe ‘I create my life’ whereas poor people believe ‘life happens to me’. He explains that many of our ideas of money are a result of our upbringing and we should challenge our preconceptions. Whilst working is important, it is only one of four factors that determine your net worth. These are;

  1. Income
  2. Savings Rate
  3. Investments
  4. Simplification

The crux of ‘Secrets of the Millionaire Mind’ are Eker’s 17 Wealth Files, which he believes you should revisit every month and include in your positive affirmations

You can read more on the dedicated review post Here

What to expect when your expecting | Clifford Neppe, Heidi Murkoff, and Sharon Mazel

Almost four decades and four editions after it was first written in 1984 by Heido Murkoff, What to expect when your expecting has become one of the most authoritative self help guides on pregnancy, with numerous offshoots and spin off guides. According to its publisher, this book has been read by a staggering 93% of American women, and a similar number from other English speaking countries.

What to Expect when your Expecting is set into ‘month-by-month’ chapters from the initial discovery right through to post partum. It contains a heap of Frequently Asked Questions along each stage and explores the minuta behind how each woman’s pregnancy is different and why.

Whilst the book contains a lot of good practical advice, it has been criticised for its incessantly negative tones which can chip away at some mum-to-be’s confidence.

Personally I can’t wait to have kids in the future, so this book presented a really interesting perspective for a man, and fingers crossed that having a basic understanding of pregnancy can make me a better father. Well worth a read.

Your money or your life | Vicki robins

Your Money or your life; 9 steps to transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence was one of the original financial self help books which tackled the concept of ‘FIRE’ all the way back in 1992!

Revised in 2018 with a Forward by Mr Money Mustache, it still as relevant as ever and provides readers with an incredible lesson and startling realisation that nothing is more precious than your life, not even money!

Robins provides readers with a straightforward common sense list of steps they can take to transform their relationship with money. These are expanded in each chapters and are:

  1. Make Peace with your past.
  2. Write down a ‘life energy’ budget to track where you spend your time.
  3. Write down your spending budget to track where you spend your money.
  4. Ask yourself these questions:
    Did I receive fulfilment in proportion to the hours of life energy spend?
    Is this expenditure in alignment with my goals and life purpose?
    How might this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work for a living?

  5. Make your ‘life energy’ (AKA time!) highly visible. Draw a chart or graph of how you spend your time and stick it somewhere obvious like the fridge or bathroom mirror
  6. Value your life energy: minimise your spending!
  7. Value your life energy: Maximise your income!
  8. Calculate your capital and crossover point (capital is money that makes more money, aka your invested assets). This is when your investments cover your cost of living.
  9. Managing your finances

Tough times never last but tough people do | Robert Schuller

OK so disclaimer, Robert H. Schuller is a Pastor and Televangelist and his religious show ‘The Hour of Power’ is one of the most viewed shows in the USA. He has written a load of great books, but if God isn’t your thing you probably won’t be into this. I try not to discuss or get hung up on religion or individual beliefs, and I find him a fascinating author with a lot of valuable lessons to pass on.

Tough times never last, but tough people do goes to lengths to discuss why some people are so resilient and are able to bounce back from difficult or traumatic events, whereas some have much more trouble. Schuller explains the main difference between these people is how they perceive their problems, and explains how the tiny details of how they deal with them snowball into opportunities rather than crisis.

Schuller discusses some of the significant hardships he has faced in his lifetime, especially in his childhood, and is quite inspirational.

Why you act the way you do | Tim Lahaye

Recommended to me by Shang from, Why You Act the way you do by Tim Lahaye in 1984 is a book on behavioural psychology. It is a great read to understand our own mindset, behaviours and habits.

This is especially important for those on the path to Financial Independence, especially if you are trying to curb expensive habits like high spending, or self destructive habits like continually changing investment strategies.

Lahaye explains how you can improve yourself by critically analysing your own strengths and weaknesses, your upbringing and personal development, and how they play a role in your personality.

Lahaye explains understanding your ‘temperaments’ and mapping them to behaviours can help you to understand them better. Our Temperaments are mainly inherited from our parents, and fit into the characteristic of extroverted or introverted in the following categories;

  • Sanguine – Leadership, Responsive, Social, Outgoing, Lively
  • Choleric – Optimistic, Impulsive, Excited, Aggressive, Restless
  • Melancholy – Anxious, Pessimistic, Quiet, Rigid
  • Phlegmatic – Calm, reliable, Controlled, Thoughtful, Passive

Overall, this book challenged a lot of my preconceptions on behaviour and through some critical self reflection I feel like I have improved as a person. The book does have religious undertones which some may not like, but his teachings are just as applicable to any persons belief system. It has helped me to understand why I behave the way I do, for example seeking approval, and help me to stop the destructive and non productive behaviours associated with that. Well worth a read!

The four hour work week | Tim Ferriss

4 hour work week

“Doing something unimportant well does not make it imporant”

Tim Ferriss

The four hour work week was a very eye opening read for me. I actually remember the ‘holy shit’ moment when I stopped being defensive and trying to disprove what he was saying and it was such an important revelation to me.

Whilst for me it was less about the specific example in the book (selling a supplement products), it was the key concepts that underpinned Ferriss’ success that I was interested in.

At its core, the 4-hour work week is about changing your thinking. Ferriss encourages us to forget outdated concepts of working a 9-5 grind and retiring at 65. Instead, he suggests you escape the 9-5 struggle and join the ‘new rich’ of entrepreneurs using their skills online and taking advantage of geographic arbitrage to maximise their lifestyle. Major concepts explained in the book are;

  1. Creating a product and selling / marketing it online is a way you can produce passive income rather than have to work and trade your time for money.
  2. Outsourcing your tasks to Virtual Assistants overseas can rapidly expand your business and free up your time to do whatever you want. You should be effective in what you do, and being good at or efficient at something doesn’t make it important, especially if it can be cheaply outsourced.
  3. Earning in $USD and spending in Pesos means you can maximise your lifestyle for a fraction of the cost. A high income means nothing if your being taxed on and spending all of it.

The Lean Start-up | Eric Ries

At its core, The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries is a book about managing uncertainty in business, and specifically designed for start-ups. Its a fact that most new businesses fail, but the number one factor for determining which businesses will succeed is how quickly they can learn and adapt.

Ries exhaults the importance of learning and fully understanding what your customers want, and why its critical that you do this as quickly as possible. The Lean Start Up explains how you need to provide your customers with what they want and adapting your product to suit their needs before you run out of money is the only way to survive.

Extreme ownership how US navy seals lead and win | Jocko Willink, Leif Babin

Written by two former US Navy SEALS (special forces) who have taken their military training and mindset and applied it to a commercial civilian business, Extreme ownership is a book on Leadership.

Willink and Babin head a skills development and leadership training company. They explain how using simple military techniques such as empowering your team to take ownership, that you will be able to succeed and achieve your goals.

Distilling their advice into a few sentences wasn’t easy, but my key take-aways are

  1. Accept responsibility. Leaders need to own the situation.
  2. Keep your plans simple. Remember your ABC’s – Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity.
  3. Start with the WHY. You must inspire your team to believe in the mission.
  4. Learn how to prioritise. What is important RIGHT now?
  5. Everyone wins if you work together as a team, and with OTHER teams (which may have conflicting beliefs or goals) to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
  6. Check your ego at the door. Business and Leadership is not about you or your emotion. It is about your teams wellbeing.

Economics explained |Robert Heilbroner, Lester Thurow

What is a market system? Essentially, it is one in which economic activities are left to men and women freely responding to the opportunities and discouragements of the marketplace, not to the established routines of tradition or the dictates of someone’s command. Thus, in a market system most individuals are not only free to seek work where they wish, but must shop around for a job.

Heilbroner, Thurow

Before your eyes glaze over and you close the browser for me even suggesting to read an actual university economics text book, this is a great book and even comes with a seal of approval from Mr Money Mustache himself!

Heilbroner and Thurow even revise the book, and now in its fourth edition it is just as relevant today as it was when its first edition was published in 1998. The fourth edition focuses on the American economy as an example, but is just as relevent across the globe.

Economics Explained tackles core economic principles, as well as providing insights on the disturbing growing trends of income inequality, the rise of globalised capitalism, and the silent tax or hidden erosion of wealth through inflation.

Explained in straightforward language and with simple concepts, Economics Explained is a must read for building a solid foundational finance knowledge on the path to Financial Independence

A Random Walk Down Wall Street | Burton Malkiel

Now in its 11th edition, A Random Walk down Wall Street is a classic investing book. It is extremely popular with millions of copies sold, and is usually high on everyone’s recommended reading list for investing fundamentals.

“Technical lore has it that if the price of a stock rose yesterday it is more likely to rise today. However it turns out that the correlation of past price movements with present and future price movements is very close to zero!”

Burton Malkiel

Malkiel presents the author with a mountain of information; this is not a quick rear nor an easy one. His use of investing and financial terminology can be a bit confronting for newer readers, even if it is a bit complex. It is well worth persisting, or even having several read throughs of it to fully digest the messages and understand the content.

The Intelligent Asset Allocator | William J Bernstein

the intelligent asset allocator

The Intelligent Asset Allocator tackles the issue of how to build a modern investment portfolio to maximise returns and minimise your exposure to risk. Bernstein explains the principles of Asset Allocation or Modern portfolio theory and how it can be used to reduce volatility without compromising on long term investment returns.

Towards Rational Exuberance | B. Mark Smith

toward rational exuberance

Towards Rational Exuberance is Mark Smith’s story of how the stock market made its stunning transformation from a very private, closed industry into the widely discussed and openly invested in asset that it is today. He covers the history of the stock market and explains some of the biggest bubbles and market crashes we have seen.

As a professional stock trader with over 20 years experience, Smith explains some of the biggest misconceptions people have about the stock market and investing in general. There are many theories of stock market behaviour, many of which are simply ridiculous and lead investors astray. Smith explains how professional traders have been able to cash in on this, and how modern investing knowledge and simple techniques can overcome this to provide safe and efficient investments for everyone.

I will teach you to be rich | Rahmit Sethi

I will teach you to be Rich is Rahmit Sethi’s advice about how you can be sensible about your income, budgeting, saving and investing and slowly grow richer and richer every day. Sethi explains that the reason your reading the book is probably more about wanting to be free and not have money issues, rather than becoming a financial expert.

“Your goal probably isn’t to become a financial expert. It’s to live your life and let your money serve you

Rahmit Sethi

With any journey, its important to focus on WHY. Sethi starts by asking the reader why they want to be rich, and to visualise their ideal life. Starting with a critical self reflection, I will teach you to be rich then expands into a six-week guided plan to rebuild your financial foundation. Each week has a specific chapter;

  1. Credit cards and your Credit Score
  2. Banking and negotiating how to minimise or eliminate fees
  3. Retirement Savings accounts (Based on the US 401k / Roth IRA system)
  4. Creating a conscious spending plan to be deliberate about your purchases
  5. Connecting and automating your finances, putting it on ‘Auto-pilot’ and taking your decision making out of the loop so you can’t sabotage it
  6. Introduction to investing; the use of diversification and asset allocation to meet your investment goals

I think I will teach you to be Rich is a great starting point for someone however I think Sethi’s savings goals are a bit pathetic; he suggests readers should only allocate 10% of their income to investing. Whilst 10% is still above the average personal savings rate, its still bugger all. On Average for the past 10 years the US is about 7% and Australia is even worse at at 5%. Saving 10% of your income means you’d need to work over 50 years before retirement!

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy | William B. Irvine

“One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life”

William Irvine

Who doesn’t want to be happy, right…? A guide to the good life (the ancient art of stoic joy) is all about being content with less, and letting go of stress. Irvine gives the reader an insight into the stoic philosophy that was so popular in ancient Rome, and is still all to relevant in today’s society.


We are conditioned in many ways, in our capitalist society, to become a consumer-spender. We are bombarded with advertisements to buy more, and by social media posts that we cant live up to, and overall are subject to a constant efflux of information and media. This contributes to a general malaise or sense of chronic dissatisfaction, as if your always not good enough or striving for the next thing to make your life happy. Sometimes it feels like you just need to step away and take a deep breath!

Stoicism offers a unique perspective for attaining tranquillity by simply being content with less. Irvine describes how we can apply the principles and techniques of stoicism into our daily lives; helping to minimise worry, let go of the past, focus our effort on only that which we can control and deal with insults, injury and injustice.

Irvine introduces us to key stoic philosophers and their teachings, such as Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. We learn from Aurelius how to prize only that which we truly value, and from Epictetus how to be more grateful and content with what we have.

Struck by Lightning: The curious world of probabilties|Jeffrey Rosenthal

Struck by lightning is an entertaining read which provides the reader with an insight into the curious world of probabilities. Normally, mentioning statistics and mathematics is a sure fire way to get someones eyes to glaze over, but Rosenthal somehow makes it mildly entertaining as he explains everything from gambling, elections and dating through to terrorist attacks, through the lens of mathematical probability.

Struck by lightning

Rosenthal explains that a basic understanding of probability theory is essential for our every day lives, and can help everyone to make better, more informed decisions. For example, how many statisticians do you see playing slot machines or the lottery?

Rosenthal’s light hearted writing style is fun to read along with as he sets the ‘probability perspective’ on an assortment of real life applications and case studies. These discussions arm you to deal with the real world; helping you to assign probabilities to evaluate potential outcomes or understand what the ‘real odds’ are of something happening really is.

This ‘probability perspective’ skill helps puts your mind at ease when dealing with the unknown, something that usually generates anxiety in most of us. Best of all, it can let you baulk at sensationalised media now that you can evaluate yourself what the real chance of things happening are!

The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need |Andrew Tobias

The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need is a great finance resource that is targeted at an American audience. First printed in 1978, several revised copies of this classic have been printed. I think its worth your time reading this light humoured, informative and somewhat entertaining book (even if you aren’t from the USA!).

Tobias covers some basic foundational knowledge on finance such as how to spent smarter and some of the basic principles of investing, as well as a deeper dive into American specific tax laws and strategies. In the book he covers;

  • Why there is no such thing as a ‘Get-Rich-Quick’ scheme
  • How to budget and save money
  • Setting realistic financial goals
  • How to invest in stocks
  • Using an online broker
  • American specific tax minimisation strategies
  • Trusts, family planning and money management schemes
  • Investing in Annuity funds
  • Investing in real estate
  • Maximising your eligibility for social security
  • Financial lingo dictionary and some FAQ’s

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science | Charles J. Wheelan

Wheelan tackles a notoriously dry subject that is economics and presents what I think is a fantastic, logical and politically central explanation of the facts. Basic economic theories are presented and examined such as interest rates, inflation, government spending, systems of trade.

naked economics

In Naked Economics, Wheelan casually explains how the personal finance space is simply the consequence of global economics, and how understanding the bigger picture helps you to succeed with your individual money goals.

Save, Invest, Repeat!

Charles J. Wheelan

This is a great text for university economics majors and curious minds alike, as Wheelan casually explains the big picture behind how our financial systems work on global, national and personal levels. Wheelan uses many simple and easy to understand examples to demystify the often confusing world of finance; such as comparing interest rates to the cost of rent, and ‘get-rich-quick-schemes’ to ‘celebrity-fad-grapefruit’ diets.

Guide to Economic Indicators: Making Sense of Economics | Richard Stutely and The Economist

Oh no, CaptainFI is recommending yet another college economics textbook! 😂😅 Bear with me here, this one is pretty good. Economic indicators include GDP, Population, unemployment rates, government expenditure, inflation, exchange rates and wages. These form some critical indicators about economic performance and hint at the investment returns of your personal portfolios.

The book is broken down into 13 main chapters

  1. Interpreting Economic Indicators.
  2. Essential Mechanics.
  3. Measuring Economic Activity.
  4. Growth: Trends and Cycles.
  5. Population, Employment and Unemployment.
  6. Fiscal Indicators.
  7. Consumers.
  8. Investment and Savings.
  9. Industry and Commerce.
  10. The Balance of Payments.
  11. Exchange Rates.
  12. Money and Financial Markets.
  13. Prices and Wages.

The Four Pillars of Investing | William Bernstein

A young person saving for retirement should get down on their knees and pray for a market crash, so that they can purchase their nest egg at fire-sale prices.

William Bernstein

Before trying to tell you what to do, Bernstein addresses some of the reasons of ‘Why’ and ‘How’ behind investing. He introduces market theory, discusses the history of investing, and explains the influence of human psychology and the very real impact of the media – identifying how we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to investing.

four pillars of investing

Bernstein has one key difference to many economic and finance professionals; he believes the market is not truly efficient and that you can beat the market and get returns higher than a total market stock index fund would.. How? Not by individually picking stocks, but instead by weighting your portfolio towards small cap stocks (smaller or newer companies) such as by using a small cap stock index ETF. This goes against advice of many investing heavy weights such as Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet and Vanguard’s John Bogle, who both advocate an efficient market and thus holding the entire market in a total stock index fund

Apart from this small difference, Bernstein hits the nail on the head, advocating;

  • Diversification
  • Passively managed Index funds
  • Buy-and-hold for the long term strategy
  • Reducing your investment costs

Bernstein advocates a portfolio to include a percentage of bonds (with maturity dates between 1-5 years) equal to the investors age. This is something I don’t agree with, because I can’t quite yet see the value of Bonds myself.

The Four pillars of investing are: Theory, History, Psychology and Business.

Pillar 1: Investment Theory

Bernstein explains in the first pillar of investing how high returns require high risk, why the market is efficient and how you can benefit by indexing to own it all. He explains how building a portfolio consisting of US total stock market index funds, US small-cap index funds and International total stock market index funds provides the safest long term return. An example is that high previous returns usually indicate low future returns and vice versa.

Pillar 2: Investment History

Bernstein discusses the history of the stock market, including the various crashes and downturns, and how despite all this the total stock market index constantly reaches new all-time highs. Bernstein covers the Mississippi Bubble, Railway Mania,

Pillar 3: Investment Psychology

Pillar three discusses investment psychology and how in the long term, we need to ditch out emotions and invest according to long term results. He discusses the fallacy of seeing patterns in completely random returns, and how media sensationalism allows day traders to prey on the fear or panic of shortsighted investors. Bernstein explains how the most boring investments typically have the highest long term returns, so you should be happy with ‘boring’ old investments and getting rich slowly.

Pillar 4: Investment Business

Your investments should be made just like a business. Cash flow and fees are important; so you need to pay significant attention to your investment costs. Brokerage is a direct cost, but management expense ratios in ETF and managed funds can be a silent killer. On average, 40% of returns investors gain are gobbled up by excessive management and ‘performance’ fees by fund managers. Furthermore, as discussed in Pillar three, you should ignore all investing media due to vested interests. Focus on solid business fundamentals and long term data to invest successfully.

“Wealthy investors need to realise they’re the cash cows of the investment industry and are regularly fleeced

William Bernstein

Essentially you cant control the returns of the market, but you can control your spending (so you can invest more frequently), the fees you pay, and increasing your diversification with smart asset allocation.

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth | Juliet B. Schor

Our current economic system is based around infinite growth, and it is clear that our resources are finite. In a system based on trading ones time for money to indulge in consumer goods, fast spending and convenience that is becoming increasingly expensive, Plenitude offers a new way of thinking about how we live our lives and spend our time.


Schor exults transitioning to a richer, more balanced life by focusing on sustainability. By shifting to new sources of wealth such as green technologies, more sustainable and efficient practices, and focusing on incorporating mindfulness into our every day lives, we can grow not only as individuals but as an economy towards a better future.

Schor discusses how there is an increasing number of people removing themselves from the work-spend consumer cycle and demonstrating more mindful and sustainable ways to live. It’s not about sacrifice and ‘going without’, but rather desiring to simplify ones life and be content with less individual material possessions, and more community focus.

An Example is the FIRE community, and their creative and resourceful use of their time, information, creativity and community. Whether that is using technology to buy and sell second hand items, Urban farming, efficient forms of investing in the economy or learning skills online to ‘in-source’ (such as home or car repairs), these people are pioneering examples of self sufficiency leading. They are able to live more efficiently on a much smaller footprint, whilst still contributing and investing heavily in the econom. They live a rewarding life away from the conventional work-spend economic cycle; an example of living plenitude.

By shifting our focus away from being consumers and looking more toward valuing nature, our communities, intelligence and time, Schor discusses the economics of true wealth.

How the Economy Works: Confidence, Crashes and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies | Roger E.A. Farmer

Farmer is the chair of the economics department at the UCLA, and translates his academic knowledge into an book suitable for most (and not just economics majors) however it is not an easy read and might take most people a good chunk of time and several read throughs.

how the economy works

Farmer offers a fairly jargon-free discussion of modern economics; comparing classical and Keynesian economic theories. Rather than one or the other, Farmer suggests we must learn from the ‘burst bubbles’ and ‘manias’ we have experienced over the past several hundred years and synthesise these two trains of economic thought to proactively manage our economies rather than to ‘let the pendulum swing as it might’.

Farmer makes the case for limited regulation and the input of government policy makers to guide and shape the economy, since their decisions have far reaching consequences. He explains how government monetary and fiscal policy directly impacts interest rates, unemployment and inflation.

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream | Adam Shepard

This book is an interesting read and social commentary on life on the lower end of the financial spectrum.

scratch beginnings

Shepard followed the standard cookie cutter approach of education available to most working class Americans – go to school, go to college and get in debt for a degree and then get a high paying job to pay it off and inflate your lifestyle.

After graduating he felt fairly disillusioned with this lifestyle, and after reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic work ‘Nickel and Dime‘ he set out to conduct a social experiment about ‘starting over’. Scratch beginnings details Shepard’s experiences through these experiments.

Basically, Shepard sets out to a new city with nothing – only $25 in his pocket, the clothes he is wearing and a sleeping bag, and tries to build a new life. Restricted from accepting help from his friends, family or previous relationships, his objective is to find gainful employment and within one year to own a reasonable car, fully furnish his own private accommodation and have $2500 in savings.

It can be a fairly confronting read at time, and there are also mixed reviews about the legitimacy of his story and the techniques he uses. Either way, I found it pretty eye opening to the struggles of our societies poorest and homeless.

What Technology Wants | Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly, the former editor of Wired magazine and self confessed ‘Gadget’ addict, makes commentary on the increasing amounts of technology in our lives and how it shapes and influences our behaviour, emotions and even spending habits.

We are surrounded by the Technium; a global, massively interconnected system of technology vibrating around us. The Technium extends beyond shiny hardware to include culture, art, social institutions and intellectual creations of all types”

Kevin Kelly

Kelly compares colonial American households, which often had less than 100 items within them, to modern households such as his own which he reasons has more than 10,000 items! Rather than side with the Amish as technophobes, Kelly explains this technology is beneficial – but only if we view it in the way the Amish view their tools. Technology should be viewed as a tool to improve your life, and should not control your life.

Kelly explains how modern technology has allowed us to create a world of wonderful abundance and provides us with potential for self-realisation and careers that lets us follow our passions (since you are no longer searching for food or toiling in the fields). He also explains that it provides some unique psychological challenges, such as the paradox of choice (whereby too many choices lead to unhappiness).

The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty | Peter Singer

Peter Singer’s classic ‘The Life You Can Save’ tackles the big issues surrounding World Poverty, Philanthropy and Charities. Singer encourages the reader to be cognisant of their role as a global citizen, and to help others as we help ourselves.

the life you can save

He discusses how eradicating world poverty is actually possible, yet billions of people continue to struggle just to make ends meet – living on less per day than what some spend on a cup of coffee. Singer explains the behavioural psychology behind we fail to give, and what can be done to encourage charity to improve the world and reduce suffering.

The two main take-homes from The Life You Can Save is that you as a global citizen have a moral obligation to help those who are less fortunate than yourself, and that people who live affluently in comparison to world standards should give a percentage of their income to those trapped in extreme poverty in less fortunate nations.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing | John Bogle

“There are a few investment managers, of course, who are very good – though in the short run, it’s difficult to determine whether a great record is due to luck or talent. Most advisers, however, are far better at generating high fees than they are at generating high returns. In truth, their core competence is salesmanship. Rather than listen to their siren songs, investors – large and small – should instead read Jack Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.”

Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, 2014 Annual Shareholder Letter
common sense investing

This book is a bit of a holy grail for investors. It has one clear take-away: owning a diversified portfolio of stocks and holding it for the long term is the only way to guarantee your fair share of stock market returns.

Trying to pick stocks is initially proposed as a zero-sum game – i.e. money transfers from a clear winner to a clear loser. However, Bogle explains due to the drag costs of brokerage and taxation, this ends up becoming a losers game in the long run.

The logical common sense extension is for smart investors to own all stocks, and to hold them forever; something that can be easily achieved with a financial product called a total stock market index fund. John Bogle founded the Vanguard investment group; using his research, experience and knowledge he created the world’s first index tracking mutual fund; a concept which has now grown into the widely available Exchange Traded Funds we see today.

The bottom line is that investing is not easy, but it is very simple. Successful investors require self discipline, common sense and patience. Combining those traits with simple low fee index tracking ETFs is the only real way to guarantee success in the long run.

I can’t predict the market or provide financial advice, but one thing I do guarantee is that reading The Little Book of Common Sense Investing will change your whole attitude towards investing.

Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul | James Livingston

What a provocative title! In Against Thrift, Livingston presents some rational economic arguments which seem counter intuitive, but are worth having a listen to – even if its just to play along with the devils advocate!

Against thrift

Livingston explains how America’s extreme wealth gap (the growing difference between the have’s and the have not’s) undermines its economic growth by hampering the public’s ability to spend. For example dumb people trapped in credit card debt cycles are stuck paying their financial institutions horrendous interest repayments instead of spending this money at their local businesses. Further, victims of poverty cycles in low socioeconomic areas often go on to to become low income earners, reducing their spending ability over their lifespan.

He claims that this ability to spend is the real driver of an economy, as opposed to private investment or money locked up in savings accounts. Livingston makes a powerful arguement on the case for spending driven capitalist economies, and presents convincing reasoning backed by careful research.

With such a clickbaity title though, it would probably be no supersize that this is actually quite a difficult read and a fairly dry book. It is worth a read if you can keep your eyes open.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness|Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

A New York Times bestseller, Nudge is about improving your decision making and is co-authored by the 2017 Nobel Prize winning Author Richard Thaler, and Harvard law processor Cass Sunstein.


Nudge is about improving the decisions you make regarding your Health, Wealth and Happiness. Unfortunately, as Thaler explains, we often make poor choices as a result of laziness, lack of information or because of personal (internal) or influence (external) biases.

External biases can be as simple as advertising, which can use powerful behavioural and psychological tricks to convince you into a particular decision or course of action; for example purchasing and consuming junk food.

Nudge helps the reader improve their small everyday decisions. By understanding the way we think, we can apply a basic decision tree or ‘matrix’, helping nudge us toward making better and more constructive choices.

“Opt-in pension schemes have participation rates of around 60 per cent, while otherwise identical opt-out funds retain between 90 and 95 per cent of employees.

R. Thaler

These nudges can also come from our employers, government or family; helping us to do the right thing. For example opt-out only pension plans have much higher participation rates than opt-in schemes, one reason why Australian Superannuation is mandatory with a minimum contribution – but you can up your contribution rate. You get a nice gentle nudge in the right direction, but the rest is up to you.

Over time, the positive compounding effects of these nudges result in an overall improved Health, Wealth and ideally a Happier life.

The Seven Laws of Money | Mike Phillips

A bit of a cult classic amongst entrepreneurs and executives alike, the Seven laws of Money has been around for nearly half a century. Phillips describes his seven laws about getting, managing and using money effectively. Phillips knows a thing or two about money, having been the former VP of the Bank of California and the developer of the MasterCard universal bank credit card.

“One of the most enduring pieces of writing to emerge in the last thirty years on money, business, and livelihood. Whether you are broke, rich, needy, or simply coping, you will find here timeless wisdom coupled with common-sense advice”

Paul Hawken, on discussing ‘The Seven Laws of Money’
7 laws of money
  1. Money will come when you are doing the right thing.
  2. Money has its own rules.
  3. Money is a dream.
  4. Money is a nightmare.
  5. You can never really give money away.
  6. You can never really receive money as a gift.
  7. There are worlds without money.

Phillips uses these laws to explain the importance of paying bills, keeping track of your spending, Networking and even the crucial task of failing often, and early, as lessons for your own personal development.

The simple path to wealth | J L Collins

JL Collins is one of the undisputed heavy weights of the personal finance industry. He presents his nonsense advice and blogs freely on the topic and about his journey to Financial Independence.

JL Collins

He condensed and summarised his entire blog into the book ‘The Simple Path to Wealth’ with a forward by Mr Money Mustache. Its a great read, and he is quick to point out that you don’t need to buy the book at all – its all freely available on his blog, albeit in a slightly more disorganised state due to the organic nature of how and when he initially thought of and posted the concepts.

“Statistics show that over fifteen years, the index actually beats something like 85% of active fund managers. Over thirty years, the number of active fund managers that can outperform the market is less than 1%. That is statistically insignificant”

J L Collins

Topics in ‘The Simple Path to Wealth’

  • Debt: Why you must avoid it and what to do if you have it.
  • The importance of having F-you Money.
  • How to think about money, and the unique way understanding this is key to building your wealth.
  • Where traditional investing advice goes wrong and what actually works.
  • What the stock market really is and how it really works.
  • Why the stock market always goes up and why most people still lose money investing in it.
  • How to invest in a raging bull, or bear, market.
  • Specific investments to implement these strategies.
  • The Wealth Building and Wealth Preservation phases of your investing life and why they are not always tied to your age.
  • How your asset allocation is tied to those phases and how to choose it.
  • How to simplify the sometimes confusing world of 401(k), 403(b), TSP, IRA and Roth accounts.
  • TRFs (Target Retirement Funds), HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) and RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions).
  • What investment firm to use and why the one I recommend is so far superior to the competition.
  • Why you should be very cautious when engaging an investment advisor and whether you need to at all.
  • Why and how you can be conned, and how to avoid becoming prey.
  • Why I don’t recommend dollar cost averaging.
  • What financial independence looks like and how to have your money support you.
  • What the 4% rule is and how to use it to safely spend your wealth.
  • The truth behind Social Security.
  • A Case Study on how this all can be implemented in real life.

For further reading, check out this interview of the author at a recent Talks at Google session.

JL Collins interview on ‘The Simple Path to Wealth’ February 2018 Google Talks.

Playing with FIRE | Scott Rieckens

Happily married in California with a young daughter, Rieckens had his dream life: A luxury car, yacht club membership and a big house. Underneath this facade, he was struggling with depression, overworked and overwhelmed, with no exit strategy

After discovering the financial Independence, Retire Early movement, Riekens convinced his family it was time to change. He quit his job, the family downsized their home and cut their expenses by 50%.

Playing with Fire is Rieckens’ story as told from their ‘works in progress’ perspective on their journey to financial independence through deliberate minimalism, reduced spending and maximised investing

“To the uninitiated, pursuing financial independence seems exotic, impossible, and/or daunting. But in fact, it is simple and has roots deep in the American psyche. If you wonder what this path is like in real life and in real time, Scott and Taylor will take you along on their journey: not yet finished, a work in progress, and a very engaging tale

JL Collins

Financial Freedom | Grant Sabatier

“Money is unlimited. Time is not. Become financially independence as fast as possible”

Grant Sabatier
financial freedom

Financial Freedom is a guide to helping you make more money in less time, so that you can use your time more effectively on things you enjoy. He challenges the status quo of traditional full time employment and frugal living to save for retirement. Instead, Sabatier’s advice is to;

  • Create profitable side hustles that become passive income streams
  • Save money without sacrificing what makes you happy
  • Negotiate a higher income
  • Travel the world cheaply using his ‘travel hacks’
  • Live for free or profit from your accommodation using ‘house hacks’
  • Invest in a simple portfolio that only needs minor adjustments
  • Think creatively to find new ways to make money
  • Understand the true lifetime cost of a purchase.
  • Set frequent intervals to check your numbers and track progress.
  • Understand that financial planning is not an exact science and is rather… fluid.

Set for Life by | Scott Trench

Scott Trench is the CEO and President of BiggerPockets – a property investment and financial independence blog. In his book Set for Life, he writes about how maintaining a very frugal lifestyle for even just a few years can massively boost an individuals net worth and increase their investment opportunities, allowing them to reach financial independence much quicker and pursue a life of travel, passions, and freedom.

set for life

An underlying theme for the book is the case for accepting personal responsibility; you are responsible for your future. Trench stresses the importance of staying in control of your own emotions, being self sufficient (doing things yourself) and keeping a laser like focus on your goals. Some of my big takeaways from Set for Life are;

  • Save $2000 immediately as your emergency fund!
  • Read as much as you can and educate yourself (aka read the Captains Library)
  • Build and enjoy a frugal lifestyle to save most of your income
  • Start a side hustle that leverages your current skill set.
  • House hack: rent a room, rent OUT your spare rooms or space (such as garage)
  • Learn to become self sufficient and insource – Do It Yourself!
  • Network, always tell people know your goals, and learn as much as you can from people who have achieved your or similar goals.
  • Automate your saving and investing where possible
  • Improve your decision making skills by focusing on what matters (and not trivial crap!)

Work Less Live More | Robert Clyatt

Work is better when you don’t need the money!

Mr Money Mustache

So you’re a professional; after years of hard work, study and sacrifice you’re experiencing the success of your labours and on a decent income. But there’s only one problem – your working long hours and it’s catching up with you! Maybe you’re even thinking about quitting to go and live your best life, but you are not yet Financially Independent and can’t afford to retire… Clyatt has a solution – enter the world of Semi-retirement!

work less live more

Semi-retirement is all about living a more sustainable lifestyle. By simplifying your life with a few simple changes (that have massive upsides) and designing a lifestyle around sustainability, efficiency and your community, you might find that you just don’t need that high income after all…

Work Less Live More is not a get rich quick scheme. But it doesn’t suggest you to go and be a hippie living in a forest eating leaves either. It won’t even give you a way to quit your job tomorrow. It does however, offer a well presented, thoroughly researched and backed up logical presentation about how you can begin to invest your money and create a safe lifetime withdrawal plan. In doing so, you reduce your reliance on your active career; diversifying your income and reducing your overall risk.


  1. Why do you want to work less?
  2. Live below your means.
  3. Put your investing on autopilot.
  4. Take 4% forever.
  5. Stop worrying about taxes
  6. Do anything you want, but do something
  7. Don’t blow it
  8. Make your life matter

Many of us do not realise just how much money and life energy we actually spend in the pursuit of earning our income – expensive cars and time spent commuting (car payments, fuel, registration, tolls, and maintenance just to start), work related costs such as uniforms, laptops and that spent networking, and the general fatigue and burn out associated with full time work which leads to poor lifestyle choices like skipping the gym and eating junk food. And even after all that, you lose a big portion of it to income tax!

Work Less Live More presents the reader with sensible spending guidelines and examples they can use to help reign in wasteful spending. Decades of your life back just because you didn’t drive that brand new Mercedes to work? Yes please!

Through a combination of having multiple income streams and living a less expensive (but equally if not more satisfying) lifestyle, you can work fewer hours. It is as simple as that. This gives you more time to spend with your family and friends, to work on your goals and dreams, and to enjoy your hobbies.

Clyatt gives several case studies and stories of early semi-retirees who demonstrate the benefits of this fundamental shift in mindset. They exalt the benefit of ‘meaningful work’ over ‘full time work’. Clyatt also provides input for those ‘late to the party’ and how they can manage their finances in later stages of life, including managing healthcare

How to Retire Early | Robert and Robin Charlton

How to Retire Early by Robert and Robin Charlton is a summary and practical guide of their personal experiences working to achieve an early retirement by age 43, from idea to Financial Independence amassing over $900,000 within 15 years on a combined family income of under $100,000.

“If you’ve ever dreamed of retiring early to travel the world, not to mention sleeping in on the occasional Monday simply because you can, then this book is for you. We retired from full-time work at the age of 43 and have been living the good life ever since”

The Charltons
How to retire early

How to Retire Early reinforces the key message of how compounding interest works, and the importance of just getting started now and reinvesting your returns. Like right now – Start investing right now! The Charltons explain due to the power of compounding interest they were able to increase their net worth exponentially which let them reach Financial Independence sooner.

During 2006 when the S&P500 (stock market index) only gained 16%, our net worth associated with investments grew much more than in 2003 when the S&P gained 29%!

Robert Charlton

The Charltons are also realists, and tackle some of the big psychological and emotional issues around early retirement and living off an investment portfolio. Having experienced the ‘Great Recession’ in 2008 and seeing almost $200,000 wiped from their Net Worth, they learnt the importance of sticking to the plan, buckling down and tightening the purse strings. In some regards, they say money management is harder than actually earning it.

“One important lesson we learned from the Great Recession was that once you enter retirement and start living off your investments, you are much more reliant on market performance than ever before. You have no new money going into the markets to buffer the effects of poor returns.”

Robin Charlton

Some of my big take-aways from How To Retire Early are;

  • Compound interest allows you to retire early if you start early.
  • Living in a less expensive house and having a less spendy lifestyle means you can invest more and retire sooner.
  • If you can stomach the risk, employer stock programs can be lucrative.
  • Index fund investing (such as a Vanguard S&P 500 fund) is the simplest way to invest.
  • You need to consider health care as medical disasters can ruin you financially.

Meet the Frugalwoods | Elizabeth Willard Thames

Meet the Frugalwoods is a fun read. It is not about hard and fast rules for investing and early retirement, but rather an interesting personal story about a regular American family and their journey to Financial Independence. Although there are some important lessons you will pick up amongst the pages if you read between the lines.

The deeply personal story of why award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced extreme frugality in order to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and retire to a homestead in the woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter“.

Elizabeth W. Thames, describing her book

Elizabeth and Nate Thomas lived a normal suburban life, they had a house, careers as professionals, good savings and had started a young family. But they were becoming increasingly tired spending the majority of their days working without really seeing an end in sight.

They decided to pursue a ‘tree-change’ dream and to become as self sufficient as they could. To achieve this, the young family embraced frugality to achieve a savings rate of over 70%. For three years Elizabeth blogged about their journey, which some saw as extreme frugality, but to them just became the new normal.

Instead of catching a movie, the family took their *frugal hound* down to the dog park. Instead of going to a restaurant, Elizabeth and Nate cooked up many wonderful whole food Veggie based meals at home. Their frugal lifestyle was less about sacrificing, but more about replacing expensive activities; substituting them with more wholesome community and family based events.

We don’t stress out about impressing people with material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with the Jones’. In the process, I discovered self confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to ‘the good life’.

The Frugalwoods

Elizabeth and Nate eventually reached achieved their goal, reaching Financial Independence and buying their dream acreage in Vermont. To maintain Financial Independence and their current homestead lifestyle, they continue many of their ‘frugal’ ways. This has brought them a sense of peace and accomplishment, as they have removed themselves from the rat race. They continue to live there to this day, where they raise their two children.

Quit Like a Millionaire | Kristy Shen, Bryce Leung, forward by JL Collins.

“Kristy Shen retired with a million dollars at the age of thirty-one, and she did it without hitting a home run on the stock market, starting the next Snapchat in her garage, or investing in hot real estate

New York Times, on ‘Quit like a Millionaire’
quit like a millionaire

Quit Like a millionaire is the story of how Canadian couple Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung were able to retire early without any crazy schemes, gimmicks, extreme risk exposure, luck or inherited trust funds. It details their boring, simple financial life and how they discovered the concept of early retirement.

“We were initially saving up for a house in Toronto but decided to keep renting, saving and investing and eventually decided to retire early and travel the world instead”

Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung.

The couple earned a great wage as they were both professional engineers; their combined household income was $164,000 after taxes in the year prior to retiring, of which they carefully saved and invested almost 80%. Over a period of nine years, they were able to save over $1 Million and reach Financial Independence – meticulously documenting and graphing it all along the way to show you how.

While the book gets into some complicated financial talk as they discuss ‘Sequence of Risk Returns’ and how they shift their assets around (between stocks, bonds and cash) to try and time the market and supposedly get better returns with less risk (which immediately raises eyebrows), its generally fairly easy to follow and offers not advice, but demonstrates an example of what they have personally done.

You Need A Budget | Jesse Mecham

We’ve all heard of budgeting. For those without the self discipline to pay themselves first (invest first, then pay bills), budgeting can be a crucial skill to break out of the poverty cycle, get free from debt traps and generally from just stop living pay check to paycheck,

Mecham founded YNAB (You Need a Budget), an online software budgeting tool which has helped thousands of people to successfully create a budget and get on top of their finances. The book is based on the same principles, where he outlines the basic steps to prioritise your financial goals, allocate money, create a safety net and reduce your financial worries.

Jesse gives four simple tricks to help master finances;

  1. Give every dollar a job – budget!
  2. Embrace your True expenses – for example make sure you factor your yearly bills into your monthly budget.
  3. Roll with the punches – be flexible with lifes changes
  4. Age your money – when it is at least a month old, you’ve broken the paycheck to paycheck cycle!

A great book for those just starting on the path to financial independence and learning their first few baby steps on responsible money management. Those with great savings rates and decent investments feel free to skip right past this one.

Work Optional: Retire Early The Non-Penny-Pinching Way | Tanja Heste

Tanja Heste retired from her high stress ‘career driven’ lifestyle at 38, alongside her husband (aged 41) to pursue a simpler life on Lake Tahoe. Heste blogged for many years about her careful saving and investing towards reaching financial Independence, and Work Optional is this the summary of this blog, distilled into a convenient and well edited book.

work optional

Work Optional forms a practical and insightful manual for early retirement. Heste first guides the reader to first address the reason of why – why would you want to retire early? She encourages you to visualise your ideal life, and how you would spend your time.

“Work is a good and noble thing, something nearly every person ever born has had to do in some form, whether or not they were formally employed. [The point of this book is not to be anti-work but to] reclaim your life from our nonstop work culture so that you decide what role work will play in your life, instead of society deciding for you.”

Tanja Heste

She then focuses on strategies for financial planning, boosting your income through the use of strategic job changes, side hustles and the gig economy. She explores confronting your spending habits and helps you understanding core concepts of investing and creating passive income streams. The key point is that if you grow your investments enough, work becomes optional!

“I am not going to tell you to eat rice and beans for every meal, to buy only foods for which you have coupons, or to give up lattes if you truly savor them. You’ll get more bang for your buck if you focus on the largest expenses first. The bulk of most people’s income goes to two things – housing and transportation. So start there!”

“If you can invest enough, eventually you have enough magic money or passive income spinning off of your invested assets that it covers all of your living costs, meaning you don’t need to work anymore, or you can work much less.”

Tanja Heste

The last section is more of a reflection on work optional and early retirement. She addresses some of the psychological and social ramifications of early retirement, which is something not really many authors do. It can be a pretty scary time making the transition, which is why she explains the need for a supporting partner and friends on the journey.

This isn’t about amassing wealth for wealth’s sake or slapping labels on every choice we make, nor is it about spending the most frugally or hacking the most travel points. This is about living our dreams. Making the very most of our limited time here. Seizing an opportunity that most people through history have never dream “

Tanja Heste

How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free | Ernie Zelinksi

How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free tackles the very important and often neglected area of retirement psychology and mental health. Having been translated to over 15 languages and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, Zelinksi is a very popular author.

how to retire happy

Zelinksi is funny author and he pokes fun at the lighter side of retirement with his doodles and cartoons, friendly writing, sharp quips and inspiring quotes – all the while pointing out the importance of mental health and community involvement in order to stay Happy, Wild and Free!

The key to creating an active and fulfilling retirement involves a great deal more than having adequate financial resources; it also encompasses all other aspects of life – interesting leisure activities, creative pursuits, physical well-being, mental well-being, great friends, and solid social support.

Ernie Zelinksi
  • Chapter 1: Thank heaven for retirement
  • Chapter 2: Retirement: A time to become much more than you have ever been
  • Chapter 3: So many worlds, so much to do!
  • Chapter 4: Take special care of yourself – because no one else will!
  • Chapter 5: Learning IS for life.
  • Chapter 6: Your Wealth is where your friends are
  • chapter 7: Travel for fun, adventure and more

The Wealthy Barber: Everyone’s Common-Sense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent | David Chilton

Pay yourself first is the big take away from The Wealthy Barber, a story about being financially boring – but responsible. It’s not about getting rich quick; rather quite the opposite!

“Pay yourself first. Take 10 per cent off every pay cheque as it comes in and invest it. Through the magic of compound interest, this 10 per cent will turn into a substantial nest egg over time.

David Chilton
wealthy barber

Chilton writes a story from the perspective of three people getting their hair cut – by the Wealthy Barber. Whenever they come for a snip, short back and sides or a little off the top, The Wealthy Barber provides them with thought provoking financial discussions and responsible advice instead of the usual small talk. They are impressed that someone on a barber’s salary could really become a millionaire, and are curious to find out how.

“My Barbershop isn’t the place to learn strategies for trading options or commodities. Instead we cover the basics of RRSPs, mutual funds, real estate and insurance”

Dave Chilton

The Wealthy Barber is a great foundational book on personal finance education, and I would compare it to Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (it even reads like its written in the same style and for the same audience). We know saving 10 percent of your income isn’t really enough to become wealthy and retire early, but it’s a good place to start as you learn to become more responsible. Ramp up that saving and investing rate into boring, responsible index funds and watch your required working years melt away!

The Millionaire Mind | Thomas J. Stanley

Thomas J. Stanley is an incredibly clever academic, and author of the best selling novel ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ which has sold over 1 Million copies. In this his follow on book, he delves deeper into the psyche of the average Millionaire, finding out how they tick and seeing if we can reverse engineer any important lessons out of them.

Millionaire mind

Stanley continues his research and survey of over 1,000 millionaires to understand their way of thinking and lifestyle; for example he asks

“Who is the average millionaire? Do they eat gourmet or fast food? Does they drive fancy cars, take chic vacations, and indulge wherever and whenever they can? Or do they resole their shoes, turn off the air conditioning when they leaves the house, and spend a lot of time at home with close friends and family?”

Thomas Stanley

His research finds that most millionaires actually don’t fit the mould as model citizens; many failed at school, were told they wouldn’t amount to much and didn’t even attend college. Stanley proposes these challenges potentially teach some how to overcome challenges and even motivated them to succeed in spite of their failures.

The thing he found in common with most Millionaires, was their propensity to take risks, particularly financial risks. They overcome their fear of failure by failing, and demonstrate the courage to innovate, adapt and learn from these failures.

He found most millionaires to be surprisingly ‘frugal’, more content with quality time spent in strong and committed relationships, rather than being driven by consumer spending. He found some of the most common traits and strategies used by millionaires included;

  • Positive self talk and visualisation
  • Strong communications skills (verbal and non verbal)
  • Sharing concerns with their spouse
  • Outsourcing time consuming jobs to employees
  • Hiring specialist advisers and professionals
  • Exercising regularly
  • Life-long learning
  • Good time management and planning skills
  • Generous with their money and skills but protective of their time

Stop Acting Rich | Thomas J. Stanley

What?! Another Stanley book? You must be thinking I am an affiliate or something by now.

The third book in his ‘millionaire’ series, released in 2009 amidst the Global Financial Crisis and ‘Great Recession’, Stop Acting Rich addresses one of the fundamental mindset deficiencies that stops most people from becoming millionaires: They act rich.

stop acting rich

Stanley is an accomplished author and respected authority on wealth mindset, and in Stop Acting Rich he explains the simple act of spending is what prevents the majority of people from becoming rich;

“The less affluent have fallen into the elite luxury brand trap that keeps them from acquiring wealth. To get out of it, you must emulating the working rich as opposed to the super elite “

Thomas Stanley

Stanley provides a basic formula for what your Net Worth should be; It should be equal or more to 10 percent of your age, multiplied by your annualised total household income. If your Net Worth is above this number, then he considers you are wealthy. He then further categorises the wealthy into three main categories;

  1. Glittering Rich (GR): Hyper wealthy, super consumers who can never out spend their portfolio income. “New York penthouse owners
  2. Income Affluent (IA) – High income earners with low net worth. They idolise the Glittering Rich and try to copy them, in doing so they fail miserably financially. “Big hats, no Cattle”
  3. Balance Sheet Affluent (BA): High Net Worth individuals and families who planned, and continue to be, wealthy by disciplined saving and investing. “Quiet achievers”

Stanley provides some startling mathematical evidence regarding taxation too; he found on average that an Income Affluent (IA) wealthy individual paid nearly $7000 (or roughly 8%) more tax every year than a Balance Sheet Affluent (BA) individual. This is due to the IA individual being in the government income tax cross-hairs! He proposes that this disadvantage to IA’s will only worsen with time given the propensity for tax rate increases.

The only way you will become rich is to play extraordinary defence like those millionaires at the other end of the continuum (Balance Sheet Affluent): by living well below your means, by planning, savings and investing. We need to stop acting rich, and you need to adopt the values and lifestyles of self-made millionaires.

Thomas Stanley

When discussing millionaire mindset against consumption, Stanley found that intrinsic motivation was by far the strongest driver and indicator of financial success;

Most millionaires are motivated by their need to gain financial independence. For most, consumption is a nice side benefit to becoming wealthy.  It is not the most compelling reason why these people become financially successful.  When asked, they will tell you that given the choice, they would readily unload their consumer goodies before ever giving up their independence.

Thomas Stanley

Finally, I will leave you with one last powerful quote which Stanley makes when discussing the lifestyle habits of millionaires, particularly BA individuals;

“The bottom line is that your choice of house and neighbourhood will have the biggest impact on your balance sheet. Your choice of home, more than anything else, will have the greatest impact on your spending — either a lot or not so much.

Thomas Stanley

The Elements of Investing | Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis

“A disciplined approach to investing, complemented by understanding, is all you need to enjoy success.”

Malkiel and Ellis
elements of investing

The theme of this book is dealing with the obsession, greed and fear experienced by the average investor when dealing with their finances and investments.

Malkiel and Ellis aim to remove all the jargon and bullshit the financial industry throws at you, and distil investing down into its most basic and easy to understand form. The big take home – you win by not losing, and not losing means not playing the losers game (stock picking). The book is broken down into five key principles or chapters

  1. Save: Live below your means, get out of debt, and raise capital to invest.
  2. Index: Avoid trying to stock pick, actively managed mutual funds or other sketchy investments. Instead enjoy investing in a total stock market index fund
  3. Diversify: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investments between domestic stocks, international stocks, bonds, cash (emergency fund), and real estate.
  4. Avoid blunders: Stick to the plan and be humble.
  5. Keep it simple. Simplicity gives peace of mind and is easy to manage

Common Sense on Mutual Funds | John Bogle

First published in 1999 by the late John Bogle, Common Sense on Mutual Funds explains how investors can best use mutual funds to reach their investing goals.

“Cogent, honest, and hard-hitting-a must read for every investor.”

Warren Buffett
common sense on mutual funds

Of course, since its being published the financial industry has changed somewhat, with the rise of the Exchange Traded Fund making most mutual funds somewhat obsolete. Nonetheless, many hundreds of billions of dollars are still under active management in mutual funds in some form or another, and thus the book is just as relevant as it was 20 years ago.

The underlying message: Simplicity, low fees and a common sense indexing approach beats costly, complex structures. Bogle proves with examples how a broadly diversified portfolio will always outperform the majority of active fund managers in the long term.

John Bogle on Investing | John Bogle

“Any investor who owns or is thinking of owning shares in a fund should read this book cover to cover.”

Warren Buffet, Chairman Berkshire Hathaway
john bogle

John Bogle on Investing is a collection of the best speeches and lessons presented by John Bogle, founder of Vanguard Investments, over his lifetime. In the book he discusses some of his core investing strategies such as;

  • Why simple strategies are the best
  • Why investing psychology is important (how fear can ruin the best made plans)
  • Why indexing is the clear winning investment strategy
  • Why minimising costs provides the best long term returns

Whilst the book can become a little repetitive at times, its worth reading in its entirety to let these lessons really sink in.

Trust Magic | Dale Gatherum Goss

Trust magic is a book written specifically about Australian Accounting, Taxation and Family law. It Specialises in Trusts and Trustees such as Discretionary (family) trusts and corporate structures.

trust magic

Trust Magic provides an insight into the use of trusts in Australia, and how they can be used for Asset protection and sheltering, for example during property development or for high risk occupations like doctors.

It is approximately 300 pages and fairly dry reading. The sixth edition, published in 2011 has some revisions from the first edition published in 2003. It appears the book is now discontinued, but if you are lucky there are still copies in circulation you might be able to get your hands on

Flash Boys| Michael Lewis

Ever wondered how Wall Street works? Flash Boys is a story about a group of finance professionals who worked together to investigate some of the more shadier practices in the industry – such as High Frequency Trading. For some, this meant walking away from their million dollar salaries to do so…

Flash boys

“The Justice Department, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority had all been investigating High Frequency Trading firms and exchanges for violations of insider trading and other Wall Street rules

Michael Lewis

The Crux of the book is that the ‘Flash Boys’ were siting their computer servers right next to the New York Stock Exchanges servers, meaning they could access its information more rapidly and in effect ‘beat other investors to the punch’ to have their trades settled first. This imperceptible advantage of only a few milliseconds allowed them to slowly siphon huge quantities of profit from High Frequency Trading activities; rapidly buying and selling stocks for profit.

“The stock market is being rigged in favour of front-running traders, and other players are being screwed for having slower connections. Brad Katsuyama, a stock trader for the Royal Bank of Canada, discovered that High Frequency Traders used fibre-optic cables to link their super fast computers to brokers in order to intercept and buy his orders, then sell the shares back to him at a slightly higher price and pocket the margin”

Michael Lewis

In defence of food:

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

Michael Pollan
in defense of food
In Defense of food is written by Michael Pollan and based on his extensive research and work as a food writer

In defence of food – an eaters manifesto is written by accomplished food author and lecturer Michael Pollan. The book was expanded into a Netflix Documentary, which was where I actually first saw it. I believe it has since been turned into a TV ‘docu-series’ or miniseries with PBS and I noticed that his Netflix documentary has been pulled down. If you want to watch the original hour long documentary it you can still access it online for free with SBS on Demand here but you will need to sign in or create a free account.

Michael Pollan’s documentary was great and I have since bought the book to add to my small collection, which is just as good of a read. I really like how he reinforces the importance of simplifying food through the use of his seven simple guidelines to healthy eating

  • Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food
  • Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce
  • Stay out of the middle isle in supermarkets; shop the perimeter section
  • Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually decay
  • Stop eating before you are 100% full
  • Enjoy meals with the people you love, around a table
  • Don’t buy food where you buy your fuel, and don’t eat in the car

To me Pollan is really just reminding us to simplify our eating habits, and helping to bust a bunch of silly food myths. If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

The China study

The China study is a book based on Dr Campbell’s academic paper

The China study is a book written by Dr Colin Campbell, which was first published in 2005 in the United States. It is one of the best selling American books about nutrition, selling well over a million copies. Reading this book was actually a bit of a life changer for me.

Over 30 years ago Dr Campbell started a massive health study based on research he had discovered in his laboratory. Teams from the United States of America, England and China worked together on what has been called the most comprehensive study ever undertaken examining the links between diet and risks of disease.

They looked at the typical Western diet high in animal proteins and fats, as well as processed / manufactured foods, and compared this to the typical eastern diet which is highly plant based (but does have some animal proteins) and mostly whole-food (that is, not highly processed).

By travelling through China they were able to gather detailed health and diet records. All of the data has been published online and is publicly available if you want to check it out. By analysing the data they were able to see some pretty stark links between diet and health. By geolocating and comparing the data gathered in the study, he was able to link disease to economic and diet factors.

Dr Campbell then goes in to classify the diseases he analysed into diseases of affluence such as Heart disease, asthma, diabetes and many cancers, and diseases of poverty such as malnutrition, infectious diseases, malaria and tuberculosis.

Finally, Dr Campbell offers his readers some advice in how to stay healthy and prevent disease with some very simple and basic diet tips. Spoiler alert – its not to continue eating the typical western diet!

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or following the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

3 thoughts on “The Captains Library

  1. Wow, this is a pretty comprehensive list. I’ve read some of them (barefoot and flash boys) but thanks for the suggestions. Looks like I need to get stuck back into it! RIP my amazon account

  2. Interesting book list, i have read and have many of these on my bookshelf and i find it interesting to think that its book likes these that have lead me to have a net worth of over 6.5 Million at the age of 54. As Jim Rohn said.
    “If you want to be wealthy – study wealth” I have studied it and it works along with hard work, nothing in life comes for free.

    1. Hi Paul – it sounds like you are definitely reaping the rewards of all of your hard work, study and its application from your younger years. Great work! setting a fantastic example for us young bloods. What kind of savings rate did you have, type of career and what is your investing style? would love to hear. Cheers

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