A little while ago, I was asked if I’d like a copy of Wealth by Virtue from the publisher to read and review. Without knowing much more than the title, I said yes, assuming that it’d be a quick read- something along the lines of Dave Ramsey, Carl Richards or Suze Orman. It turned out to be a textbook. The author, Chad Gordon, notes at the beginning that it wood be foolhardy to try to make the book encyclopedic, but that he is rather aiming to simply provide a basis for the reader to become a discerning financial consumer. And of course, while the book is no encyclopedia in the sense that it covers every financial topic known to man, the wealth of knowledge in the book, combined with the excellent organization of topics makes it an invaluable reference book to anyone looking for sensible guidance on virtually anything financial related. And while this wouldn’t make great cover-to-cover pleasure reading for most people, the writing was by no means dry and not at all intimidating or difficult to understand.
A Holistic Perspective
A number of things stood out to me about this book. The first was Gordon’s holistic approach to personal finance. Many books on finance and money focus very strictly on how to maximize your wealth and earnings. They seem very focused on teaching people how to be the one that goes to the grave with the most money. Gordon explicitly avoids this trap. He directly asks “What’s the point?” He is clear that money is simply a tool in life, and not the end goal. He asserts that a good philosophy on money will allow you to spend your emotional energy on family, friends, goals and the like instead of on money itself. Coupling with this philosophy, Gordon states the importance of not only having the know-how to grow your wealth, but also growing in wisdom simultaneously.
In pursuing this holistic approach, Gordon devotes several shorter sections throughout the book to more philosophical topics, including exploring minimalism, optimism, altruism and life’s purpose.
A Breadth of Topics
Another remarkable quality of Wealth by Virtue is the broad scope of financial topics covered. As I mentioned earlier, Gordon did not set out to write an encyclopedia. However, he did succeed in covering some of the most important areas pertaining to personal finance. As would be expected of any personal finance book, Wealth by Virtue covers the sexy topics: investments and real estate. Everybody likes these because they focus on growing your money. However, he also covers the flip side- protecting yourself from downside with insurance and legal Planning. He bookends all this with the foundation of finance- banking, and the government’s cut after all is said and done- taxes.
He organizes these 6 areas of finance into 3 groups: what is (banking and taxes), what should happen (investments and real estate), and what could happen (insurance and legal planning). As I mentioned earlier, I think his way of organizing these topics greatly adds to the usefulness of the book. However, beyond this, his approach can help clarify and organize one’s personal approach to finance. Rather than running your finances as a game of grasping for straws, a clear sense of organization will help you develop a precise strategy towards your wealth. Best of all Gordon breaks each of these topics into bite sized subsections that are not at all impossible to understand and digest.
Where’s the Budget?
The one topic noticeably missing from the book was budgeting. To be fair, early on he more or less says that this book is not for financial beginners, but is rather aimed at addressing how to manage the money that people have already saved. However, on the very next page he concedes a list of frugal living ideas for those that are having trouble saving those first few dollars. While his list of ideas was a fantastic list, if he is willing to devote a page to this, the impact would have been fourfold by also spending just one more page on budgeting basics. Nonetheless, this absence by no means undermines the book. Just know that if you’re still struggling to save that first $1000, there are numerous other books to start with before moving on to this one.
Consulting the Experts
Ultimately, Gordon wisely concludes that while his book is a good starting point, one should consult financial experts in each of the 6 areas of finance. He reminds us that each person’s situation is unique in such a way that no book can be a perfect guide to. Rather it takes professionals that are intimately knowledgeable with their areas of expertise, whether it be taxes, insurance, investments, banking, legal planning or real estate. If nothing else, his book will help you evaluate and implement the advice that you do get from those professionals. Or in his words ‘to empower you as someone who makes investments rather than a buyer of financial products.
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- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.