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The Little Book of Main Street Money: 21 Simple Truths that Help Real People Make Real Money


"A gem from one of the most brilliant minds in personal finance."
Ben Stein, author, actor, TV personality, and New York Times columnist

"Investing, as it is said, is simple but it is not easy. Jonathan Clements's fine new Little Book underscores the priceless (and price-less) value of simplicity. And his sage advice on living the good life and on spending well and saving wisely will surely make it, if not easy, at least easier for us to achieve financial peace of mind."
John ...

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"A gem from one of the most brilliant minds in personal finance."
Ben Stein, author, actor, TV personality, and New York Times columnist

"Investing, as it is said, is simple but it is not easy. Jonathan Clements's fine new Little Book underscores the priceless (and price-less) value of simplicity. And his sage advice on living the good life and on spending well and saving wisely will surely make it, if not easy, at least easier for us to achieve financial peace of mind."
John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard and author of Enough

"Nobody, and I mean nobody, can make the world of investing as easy to understand as Jonathan Clements can. In this wonderful book, he teaches Main Street how to beat Wall Street at its own game-and how to have fun along the way. This book does not stop at merely making you richer and smarter; it will even help you lead a better life."
Jason Zweig, author of Your Money and Your Brain and editor of Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor

"Jonathan Clements is one of our wisest and finest writers in the field of personal finance. This Little Book contains gems of wisdom not only about investing, but also about living a full and satisfying life."
Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street

"Easy to read, easy to understan-and easy to put to work-this Little Book is a winner. I'm getting copies for our children-and their children, too."
Charles D. Ellis, author of Winning the Loser's Game

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Many people are so stressed about the global economy that they can't even bear to read anything that might help them through the crunch times. Fortunately, there are numerous authors out there who can enhance your money IQ without raising your anxiety level. Wall Street Journal personal finance columnist Jonathan Clements manages that neat trick by demystifying the jargon that helped get us into the mess. As promised in the subtitle, The Little Book of Main Street Money delivers a manageable list of easy-to-follow rules that can guide readers towards a more secure, less worrisome financial future.
From the Publisher
"Any consumer concerned about money issues, from managing college to retirement, will find The Little Book of Main Street Money an excellent reference. Wall Street is demystified, with common strategies for money management geared to general readers and based on the wisdom of Wall Street successes. Taxes, inflation concerns, and investing are all covered within a series of 21 'truths' about success, perfect for general lending libraries."
(Midwest Book Review)

"’The Little Book of Main Street Money’ is aptly named. . . it's unintimidating to all but the most hopeless finance-phobics. The book is also written in spare and concise language. . . Clements's sure-footed advice on fundamentals is comforting after last year's meltdown. When he strays toward more opinionated views, he's even better: Investing in your house will historically offer you a lackluster 4.7% annual return. Or, to those buying insurance as an investment. . . Best of all, Clements isn't only a sound financial planner, but something of an armchair shrink. Beating the market isn't what it's all about. It's more about meeting your personal goals and achieving peace of mind: ‘We should strive to ensure money is enhancing our lives, rather than getting in the way.’" (

“The Little Book of Main Street Money . . does a brilliant job of navigating us through the post financial crash landscape. . . offers investors some tried-and-true, timeless advice, such as keeping investing simple and uncluttered by emotion. . . but what I love best about this book is the exploration of the relationship between money and happiness. Clements notes, in spite of the U.S. standard of living skyrocketing over the past few decades, that quantitative research indicates Americans are no happier than when we were less economically well off. . . Clements goes beyond the accumulation of money and essentially tells us how to convert the stored energy from our portfolio into happiness.” (CBS

"This small book . . . packs a good dose of practical financial advice to help you weather this brutal economy and work toward building wealth. Clements . . . advice goes beyond simple money management and offers tips for living a more fulfilled life. The book's nuggets of valuable information include 'We can't have it all,' 'Our Finances Are Bigger than a Brokerage Account,' 'Time Is as Valuable as Money' and 'Markets May Be Rational, but We Aren't' . . . The take-away from this book is that money is tied up in all aspects of our lives, and we should give appropriate attention to managing it wisely." (WalletPop)

"Because it is a "Little Book," each chapter is short. The entire book can almost be read in one sitting (unless you’re a slow reader like I am). The concepts in the book aren’t new but have clearly been ignored by lots of people as you can tell by watching the news or reading the newspaper. It’s time to get back to the basics and that is what Jonathan’s book is all about." (AllFinancialMatters)

"The Little Book of Main Street Money is far and away the best of the "Little Books" series. The advice is truly approachable and actually useful, particularly for people who are in reasonably good financial shape and have a lot of years left ahead of them. . . it just provides - in Clements' approachable writing tone - excellent basic advice and principles to follow. This advice is timeless and forms the foundation of whatever personal finance strategy you might choose to follow - this book is a great starter." (The Simple Dollar)

"From how to save more to how to invest better, this book delivers the goods on how to lead a rich life (in every sense) and does so in less than 200 pages."
MoneySense magazine

“This useful guide is unintimidating but chock full of excellent advice, presented in spare and concise language. Clements … offers sure-footed advice on fundamentals.”’s list of “Best Finance Books of the Year”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470473238
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Series: Little Books. Big Profits Series , #23
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 194
  • Sales rank: 373,822
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Clements is Director of Financial Guidance for myFi (, a new financial service from banking giant Citicorp. Before joining myFi, he spent eighteen years at the Wall Street Journal, where he was the newspaper's award-winning personal finance columnist. He has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC's Today show, and Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, and is an occasional guest on public radio.

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Table of Contents



Let the Rebuilding Begin.

Chapter One: Our Finances Are Bigger than a Brokerage Account.

Chapter Two: We Can’t Have It All.

Chapter Three: Money Can Buy Happiness—If We Spend It Carefully.

Chapter Four: Even the Best Investors Need to Be Great Savers.

Chapter Five: Time Is as Valuable as Money.

Chapter Six: No Investment Is Risk-Free.

Chapter Seven: Portfolio Performance: It’s All in the Mix.

Chapter Eight: Stocks Are Worth Something.

Chapter Nine: To Add Wealth, We Need to Overcome the Subtractions.

Chapter Ten: Aiming for Average Is the Only Sure Way to Win.

Chapter Eleven: Wild Investments Can Tame Our Portfolios.

Chapter Twelve: Short-Term Results Matter to Long-Term Investors.

Chapter Thirteen: A Long Life Is a Big Risk.

Chapter Fourteen: Markets May Be Rational, but We Aren’t.

Chapter Fifteen: Our Homes Are a Fine Investment that Won’t Appreciate Much.

Chapter Sixteen: Paying off Debts Could Be Our Best Bond Investment.

Chapter Seventeen: Saving Taxes Can Cost Us Dearly.

Chapter Eighteen: A Tax Deferred Is Extra Money Made.

Chapter Nineteen: Insurance Won’t Make Us Any Money—If We’re Lucky.

Chapter Twenty: Even If We Have a Will, We May Not Get Our Way.

Chapter Twenty-One: Financial Success: It’s About More than Money.


Wall Street? That Isn’t So Far from Main Street.


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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2012

    Excellent book easy read with great information

    This is a great book that covers all aspects of improving your financial situation as well as enjoying the money when you get it. I would highly recommend this book to people that have been working on creating wealth for a while as well as those just getting started in life. Regardless of where you are in your life you will find this book worth the read.

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  • Posted December 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Finally A Book That Takes The Main Streeter Seriously!

    If the last year and a half has taught those of us in the investment world anything, it is that there is something to be said for the Main Street way of doing things over the professional slicksterism of Wall Street. This brilliant, little (~36,000 words) piece of writing by the former Wall Street Journal columnist, Jonathan Clements, who happens to be one of the most universally trusted names in the financial industry today, effectively taps into this popular, contemporary current. "The Little Book of Main Street Money" is written with the same kind of good intentions and overwhelming sincerity that won Clements so many loyal readers during his days as a financial reporter and columnist. This "Little Book" can be read as a blueprint for establishing sound personal financial practices that will enable you to bring your finances in line with your life goals.
    Jonathan Clements' 21 rules to live by and the rationale behind each of them are articulated clearly and concisely-each rule gets its own chapter, approximately 10 pages in length-the goal being to keep investors managing their portfolios in as farsighted and responsible a manner as possible. Many of Clements' tenants are unorthodox, some are downright counterintuitive. Consider Chapter Ten, "Aiming for Average Is the Only Sure Way to Win," or Chapter 12, "Short-Term Results Matter to Long Term Investors," or Chapter 13, "A Long Life is A Big Risk," or Chapter 20 "Even If We Have a Will, We May Not Get Our Way." These are clearly not things a down-on-his-luck investor expects or particularly wants to hear. Of course, that isn't the point. Clements trades in none of the feel-good backpatting that has become easy solace for a whole generation of investors whose savings have been eviscerated by the vagaries of the market and the sheer stupidity of the financial bigwigs on Wall Street. What Clements does offer is tough love and a realistic plan of attack for getting to a point where the constant struggle for financial security and freedom no longer controls your life. A Main Streeter all the way, Clements definitely has the little guy's best interests at heart! Check out more about Jonathan Clements and his "The Little Book of Main Street Money" at
    Note: It's also good to know that Jonathan Clements is not the only financial expert who cares about what ordinary investors are dealing with in these troubled economic times. Two other books that have come out recently which definitely share a Main Street approach to getting our financial lives back in order are Thomas C. Scott's "Fasten Your Financial Seatbelt" and John E. Girouard's "Ten Truths of Wealth Creation." These two books are sharply worded manifestoes arguing, along with Clements, for a return to the basics and a renewed appreciation for investment simplicity.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    One of the few books to read regarding personal finance/investing

    Jonathan tries to give clear and simple advice on a topic that is fairly simple and he does a great job in doing so. It's a shame that there are so many authors on this topic that aren't worth listening to. Jonathan is on the short list of people that are worth listening to. The compliments that he received from John Bogle, Jason Zweig and Ben Stein are well deserved.
    I also recommend his writings from his years at the Wall Street Journal.

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