2017 Personal Finance Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Here on A Journey We Love, we aim to do full time travel by becoming financially independent. However, from time to time we do book reviews about books that we may have read for the year. After all, being on the road means a bit of a downtime, especially if we are traveling from place to place (i.e. on an airplane, an airport, a train, a bus, a car, cruise ship – you get the drift). While we do read a bit of fiction books sometimes, we tend to focus more reviews on non-fiction books, especially ones that have made an impact on our lives.

2017 Personal Finance Book Reviews

You can see a list of the other books we have reviewed below:

  • The Best Books to Improve Your Life – aka non-fiction book reads of 2016.
    • Covering the following books:
      • Four Hour Work Week By Tim Ferriss
      • Your Money or Your Life by Vicky Robbins
      • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
      • The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
      • Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg.
  • Rich Dad Book Reviews (2017)
    • Covering the following books:
      • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
      • Rich Dad’s Retire Young, Retire Rich by Robert Kiyosaki
      • Rich Dad’s Increase Your Financial IQ by Robert Kiyosaki
      • Loopholes of Real Estate by Garrett Sutton
      • Stock Market Cash Flow by Andy Tanner
  • Graphic Novel Roundup of 2016 – reviews a few graphic novel (fiction) books that I managed to read in 2016.
  • The Book Reviews Page – aka all the books we’ve ever reviewed on this blog, in one big post (with links)

Personal Finance Book Reviews

Book on Managing Rental Properties (Biggerpockets)

1.  The Book on Managing Rental Properties – Brandon & Heather Turner

As big fans of BiggerPockets.com we bought this book to help us know more about managing our rental property (15 minutes away from our current house). Since it was on sale (less than $20), we decided to pay the convenience instead of scouring multiple websites or blog posts, and writing them all down on a piece of paper. I can’t say how much this book has helped us in answering some of the questions that we had with our rental and how it has helped guide us in the proper procedures for handling our tenants.

Why You Should Read This Book:

Honestly you should only read this book if you are considering real estate investing or if you own a rental property of your own. As part of our FI strategy, we are going to use different methods for us to generate income, and that means rental properties, dividend investing, and index funds, while also maximizing our tax advantaged accounts like HSA & 401k.

We love this book mainly because it acts like our bible/encyclopedia and it’s an easy reference to use if you come across something that you’re not that familiar with and is very informational. The book was also conveniently written/published fairly recently (2015) and comes with some draft paperwork that you can use and edit to conform to your situation.

While you can always scour the answers to some of your questions online at the BiggerPockets website, sometimes if we’re offline (like we are when we travel to more remote places), it’s good to bring this book as a refresher or if you need something to help pass the time (plus points: you learn while reading it too!)


The Automatic Millionaire (Amazon)

2.  The Automatic Millionaire – David Bach

I picked this up as a whim in the personal finance section of the library because I was in a hurry and badly need a book to read. I’ve seen it being discussed in other personal finance circles/groups, so I thought: “Why Not?”

First of all, the book is very easy to read. It is around 200 pages long, and the font is a bit big so even if you are not a voracious reader, you can finish it within a few weeks (or as the author intended, you can technically read the book in a few hours). As a perk, the book is also widely available in your local libraries so score, you don’t have to pay to read this book! The premise of the book is that everybody can be a millionaire, even if you have a low-paying salary just by automating things to your advantage.

These automations include paying yourself first instead of paying anybody else by trying to contribute to your employer’s 401(k) plan (if they sponsor it), or if not, contributing to your own Traditional IRA plan so that the government can’t touch that first $x thousand of your savings. These plans (401k, 403b or Traditional IRAs) are only applicable in the US setting, and if you max these contributions out, you get a tax deduction and they grow tax free until you withdraw them out. So, you effectively get some money for yourself while the government taxes you less – great, right?

That’s one of the core steps that people trying to reach FI early do: max out your 401k up if possible, max out your HSA contributions, and then max out your Roth IRA contributions yearly as they help grow your nest egg for retirement, and they help with tax deductions/tax-free growth. Another tactic the book mentioned is paying extra principal to your mortgage to help lower your interest as well as own your home quicker.

Why You Should Read This Book:

Honestly, you probably already know more than half of what’s in this book if you are trying to pursue financial independence. However, the book does provide a good call to action on some aspects that you feel you may have forgotten. There are some parts in the book that you can skip if you feel that it does not suit your lifestyle right now, but you can potentially take note of it and then come back to the book when you feel it is more applicable to your life.

For me and Peter, the best part of the book would have to be the additional month’s payment that inadvertently comes if you ‘pay’ your mortgage every 2 weeks (i.e when we get paid from work). While we have no intentions of doing that now seeing as our interest rate in our current home is 3%, we are putting any additional income we may be earning into investments that can give us much more return than the 3% interest we have for our home.

If you’re just starting out on your journey to FI, then this book can be helpful to you and worth perusing.

Note – during FinCon 2017, we got books from David Bach himself during his keynote speech. He’s a really great guy in person and he was persistent in getting his book launched on Oprah. He finally did it and the rest was history!

I haven’t read the new anniversary edition that he has given us, which has updated content. The book I got from the library was the original version. I’ll update this post as soon as I find the time to read this new incarnation of the book and provide my thoughts!

Money Master the Game Book
Money Master the Game Book

3. Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins

Picked this book up on a whim from the library, and my is it massive: 600+ pages long, and would probably be one of the longer books I would have finished.

The premise is how to achieve financial freedom and the author aims to break it down in 7 simple steps. Now, the theme of this blog is full time travel through financial freedom, so why not pick it up, right?

The first 50 pages are full of anecdotes and teasers that you may tend to glaze over and want to skip, but the author does not recommend you to as it is apparently part of his method. There’s also some interviews with various investors (known ones, in fact), which I found interesting.

However, most of the book seems to be fluff and/or a sales pitch to buy an insurance annuity or other financial products that Tony Robbins seems to be touting (as if he needs it, he already gets paid a lot through his seminars).

Why you should NOT read this book

Mmmm I don’t think I’ll personally recommend this book, unless you’re masochistic enough to read 600+ pages and end up going nowhere and reading ‘fluff’ about products that he touts. If you are so inclined, do get it from the library so you don’t have to pay a premium to buy the book.

I’m not sure if the products that he is also ‘recommending’ in the book is worth pursuing (like annuities). If you are on your road to financial independence, best to put your money in either real estate or index funds, where you’ll get more resources from various folks online and not have to pad Mr. Robbins’ already big wallet with commissions from the annuities he is selling.

I have huge respect for Tony Robbins but this book is just bleah. If his newer one Unshakeable is better, then I might just pick it up from the library as well. After all, it is free to get and the only thing that’ll end up wasting is my time.

Investing In Income Properties
Investing In Income Properties

4.The Big Six Guide for Real Estate Investing by Ken Rosen

This was in the browsing section of the library and it had the new book smell (it was new after all), so I picked it up just for kicks. I never expected it to be that engrossing though.

While the book is focusing on commercial properties (like apartment buildings, warehouses, retail), the lessons of the book can be applied to single family houses (which is what we are currently focusing on as part of our strategy for FIRE). In his book, he details the 6 things that you should look out for when buying a property, and I’ll point out a few key notes here:

  1. Location is very important – we got lucky with our current house (where we live in and currently rent out the spare room). We never expected the place to become as developed as this. Thanks also to the Zillow book, it helped us find a home we can live in and where the values are now appreciating quick. We think we got an A location for this unit as well as our rental.
  2. You make money by buying – while not necessarily true in most cases, the author believes you make money by thinking of the appreciation that you’ll get from the property. He suggests that people buy not so great properties in nice areas (A or B+ locations), or buy in up and coming areas.

There’s also a lot of tips that were discussed in the book about commercial real estate investing, which could also be used for residential real estate, such as how to manage said properties, how to deal with tenants, and the like.

Why You Should Read This Book:

It is quite an easy read (at least for me), and even though I am not in the market to buy commercial real estate property, the lessons above also carry through to residential real estate. The book mentions that if you find the right deal, it is enough for you to become financially independent (as most people are pursuing in the FI space). It is very short, only 200-ish pages long, and has a glossary in the back that can serve as a reference should you decide to know more real estate terms.


Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by the Minimalists
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by the Minimalists

5. Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

This is a book that was written to inspire people and make them more aware of what minimalism is. I got this book during Camp Mustache 2017 (now called Camp FI) and I’ve since let it go to another person who wants to learn more by reading in order to reach financial independence.

I packed this in my bag because it was short and thin, perfect for someone who is only traveling with a backpack. I managed to finish it within a week – although in reality, you can finish the whole thing within a day if you are so inclined.

The book is mostly a how-to guide on how you can be a minimalist in your life: how to let go of the ‘anchors’ that are holding you down (like stuff, debt, and toxic relationships), and pursue your passions.

The book tries to help you find your passions by asking a few questions about what excites you as a whole. For us, it is travel and doing new things – be it finishing a book, going kayaking, hiking, it doesn’t matter as long as we are doing something new.

Why you should PROBABLY read this book 

I’m not completely sold on this book. Put it this way, I wouldn’t buy it from a store unless I was a really big fan of the minimalists. Simply put, the text in the book is something you probably know about: passions, relationships, and growth.

To grow, you’ll need to surround yourself with knowledge: read more books, or hang out with like minded people and learn from them. For relationships, let go of the toxic ones that doesn’t allow you to grow as a person. For passions, find something that excites you the most and let that be your goal in your life. You’ll then find your mission afterwards.

I don’t really like the topic on the health part where they suggest diets, but to each their own. It may help you on your path to letting go of your anchors and embracing minimalism, but that’s not for me.

I would say this book is a hit or a miss for most people – hence my recommendation, you should probably read this book – some of the topics may not be for you too.

Until the next set of books

I’m already reading a few more books that will probably get to finish before the end of the year but compiling at least three of them into one post can take a while. Let me know if there are any books you can recommend for me to read and review, as reading more books of this kind helps increase my financial education, and of course, help us go to FI!

The next reviews will only concentrate on 3 books at a time instead of the usual 5. The posts are getting long if they’re 5 books at a time!

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