The Barnes & Noble Review
Most people who save and invest do so for similar reasons: to buy a house, to secure their children's education, to be able to retire comfortably. However, as Ric Edelman reminds us, these worthy goals are just part of a much larger picture: What about traveling the world? Or taking oil painting classes? Or making a donation to a worthy cause? While it's crucial to plan for the most important events in your life, such planning needn't be an imprisoning or all-consuming process: In fact, it should still allow you to realize your more individual dreams as well.
In Discover the Wealth Within You, Edelman's fifth book, he offers a sometimes irreverent but always sensible take on financial planning that might just excite you -- especially those of you who would rather do anything else than make a financial decision. First, Edelman argues, you must have specific goals, and therefore he carefully guides the reader through the goal-setting process. He admonishes his readers not to list such items as
retirement or college education, but to include the things that will make their present lives more fulfilling. If you're stumped as to possibilities, Edelman offers extensive lists in a handy journal section.
Once you've established your goals, it's time to make them happen. Edelman uses the analogy of baking a cake to liven things up, and it's a charming tactic. He lists various types of "cakes" (or financial plans) but advocates
using mutual funds to create a diversified portfolio. There's plenty of charts and numbers to make his case, as well as an indispensable guide to understanding the Morningstar ratings. There are also warnings about Wall
Street analysts, mutual fund "window dressing," and the noise of the less-than-informative news media.
Whether you're just beginning to invest or already have a plan in place, Discover the Wealth Within You should be a wonderful source for advice. The funny footnotes and asides (as well as pertinent cartoons) are icing on the cake, so to speak. Read, learn, and reap the benefits down the road. (Holly McGuire)
Holly McGuire is a book editor and consultant based in Chicago, Illinois.
Read an Excerpt
Discover The Wealth Within
Have you ever gotten into a cab but refused to tell the driver where you want to go? Of course not. The whole point of hailing a cab is to have the driver help you get to your destination. You tell him your goal, and the cabbie both develops the plan for getting you there and implements it for you.
Financial planning operates the same way. Thus, if you don't have goals, the planning effort is as pointless as asking a cabbie to drive you around town, with no destination in mind.
I bet you can tell me what surveys reveal are the top three reasons people save money. They are:
- To buy a home
- To pay for college
- To afford a comfortable retirement
If you were to expand this list, you could add:
- wedding costs
- capital expenses, such as a car
- celebrations, such as a couple's 50th anniversary
- major medical expenses
- elder care costs
- and, ultimately, leaving your money to your kids and/or other heirs.
Each of the above is a common reason why people save and invest. Each requires or constitutes a set of goals. And when combined, each fits into an overall financial plan.
But one thing bothers me about this entire list. And I imagine it bothers you, too. You know what the problem is?
Simple: The entire list is boring.
I mean, really boring. Yeah, I'll grow up. Buy a car. Get married. Have kids. Pay for college. Maybe foot the bill for a wedding or two. Retire. Wither away in some old-age home. Die.
And to make this even more fun, I'm supposed to pay some financial planner to tell me I can't afford it.
There's more to life than this, isn't there? Tell me there is! Please! Yes, there is much more to life than obligation and responsibility. There is also personal fulfillment and happiness. In fact, it's partly why our nation was founded.
In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of our nation recognized our right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The pursuit of happiness.
The document doesn't say anything about financial planning.
This is what makes the United States of America the greatest nation on earth. If anyone ever disputed that notion, no one has dared do so since September 11, 2001. On that day, our lives changed forever. At some point -- was it days? weeks? I can't remember -- I began wondering if this book's message would still be valid. So, I reread my manuscript, and discovered that you still need the message this book offers you, and that perhaps you need to hear this message even more so than before that horrible day.
That's because this book is all about setting and achieving goals. More than ever, you need to focus on your future. But as you read, you'll see that my emphasis on goal-setting is of a personal, and in many cases, materialistic nature. And in the aftermath of September 11, I suspect that many of us will have replaced many such goals with different, more fundamental ones. Where in the past goals might have pertained to beach houses, fancy cars and exotic vacations, people increasingly are considering goals that involve their communities, charities and families. All of this is healthy, and as you'll see as you read on, it is entirely consistent with my message.
Life is about the future. And our future is bright, thanks to the incredible foresight of our nation's founders. So, let's return to our nation's roots -- and begin our journey, a journey in the pursuit of happiness.