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The most recent tome on my money reading list steps away from the typical advice book model with a seamless blend of fiction and personal finance. Jonathan Chevreau’s latest manifest proves to be a unique and engrossing read; I read it cover to cover in less than a week!
A veteran personal finance columnist, Chevreau held a 19-year stint as Wealthy Boomer columnist for the National Post, and is current editor at large for MoneySense Magazine. He has also authored and co-authored several mutual fund guides, two books on the stock market and wealth management, and most recently, a National Post e-book titled The Best of Jonathan Chevreau.
Not Another Personal Finance Book
But he takes a story-telling tack in Findependence Day: How to Achieve Financial Independence: While You’re Still Young Enough to Enjoy It. Rather than “preaching to the converted”, Findependence Day follows the fictional journey of a couple who go from financial disaster to success. After being humiliated in front of millions on national TV, the young couple vows to get their finances under control at all costs. The husband, Jamie Morelli, sets the ambitious goal of reaching his Financial Independence Day – or Findependence Day, a term coined by Chevreau – by the age of 50.
Note that financial independence is different from retirement – it’s when you’re financially able to stop working, but you continue to work because you want to, not because you need to. It’s an ambitious goal to say the least for the debt-ridden couple, who adopt a strict “guerrilla frugality” stance and make saving and investing a priority.
A Couple’s Financial Journey
The book also touches on the topic of facing financial hurdles as a couple, pointing out that money is the leading cause of divorce. Couples who are emotionally compatible often make the mistake of tying the knot before they have “the talk” about the f-word – their finances. If one spouse is a saver and the one is a spender, it can lead to a lot of problems down the line.
Findependence Day’s spendthrift couple experiences everything from job loss, buying real estate, raising children, investing, retirement, and starting their own business; there’s lots to relate to, whether you’re single, newlywed, or even a wealthy boomer.
A Rockin’ Read
Chevreau jazzes up each chapter by naming it after hit songs by iconic bands and artists like the Beatles and Abba. At first I found the talk show segment a little cheesy – but I grew to appreciate it. What struck me most was the relatable qualify of the narrative – the frank money discussions had by the fictional couple were very realistic and compelling.
What I find refreshing about this book is the ability to learn financial lessons without it seeming like work – from divorce to business deals gone bad, this book provides insight for everyone, from the personal finance newbie to the money scholar, and will be a good addition to any finance book collection. After all, financial success isn’t just about stocks and bonds, it’s about doing the small things right – spending less than you make, paying down high-interest debt, paying yourself first and saving towards your future. Chevreau hammers these lessons home and more in this entertaining read.
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Sean Cooper is a pension analyst by day and financial journalist by night, living in Toronto, Ontario. He is a first-time homebuyer and landlord who aspires to be mortgage-free by age 31. Follow him on Twitter @SeanCooperWrite and read his blogs and request his writing services on his personal website: http://www.seancooperwriter.com/