Securing Your Financial Future by Chris Smith is an excellent book and one that I wholeheartedly recommend. It is the most clear and comprehensive guide on personal finance for young adults that I’ve come across. If you’re in the 16-30 age range, it’s a must read. If you are older than that, I still recommend you check it out.
Table of Contents
The Book Review
From the very beginning, Chris Smith’s writing style is clear and concise. It’s like a conversation, except all you’ll want to do is listen. He sets up his commitment to analogies from the very beginning, which is something that makes the book so easy to read. The book is full of excellent stories that boldly teach personal finance lessons. Chris finds a way to make personal finance appealing and entertaining, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Chris gives a clear description of the employment landscape facing young adults today. Gone are the days of lifetime pensions and free healthcare for life. What’s now in practice is self employment. You’ve got to pave your own path and figure out how to achieve financial security (dare I say freedom) on your own terms.
Securing Your Financial Future is broken up into 4 easy reading parts. Each part is designed to build on the earlier parts, like a pyramid. You won’t be successful in part IV until you master the earlier sections.
Part I introduces the essential concepts. Part II deals with building a foundation. Part III talks about big ticket items. Part IV is a great look at long term investing. Each part is 5 chapters. That makes for 20 enjoyable chapters and right around 300 pages.
Part I – The Essential Concepts
As stated above, Securing Your Financial Future targets young adults who are described as just starting their “financial life.” These individuals are often in their younger 20’s and have just begun working full time or earning a livable wage. Chris and I both agree that these early years are without a doubt the most important. Why? Habits and simple math.
Financial habits are formed at an early age, and very commonly at the onset of a career. Once those habits form, they are tough to break. That’s why forming good habits early on is of the utmost importance. In addition, the effects of compound interest are almost unreal. Starting at 20 is infinitely better than starting at 30. Those years can’t be made up and the difference in overall return on investment at age 65 will floor you.
Chris does a phenomenal job in Part 1 explaining how to build wealth. It’s not about big salaries or winning the lottery, it’s about proper planning and delayed gratification. Chris says that the easiest way to build wealth is by carefully controlling spending, and I couldn’t agree more.
There is an emphasis on saving and paying yourself first. In fact, that’s the first rule of the book – always pay yourself AT LEAST 10% of your gross (before tax income). And don’t even think about debt or loans except for a mortgage.
Chapter 1 deals with compound interest with an emphasis on the ability of compounding to make or break your financial life.
Chapter 2 looks at overall financial health and financial net worth.
Chapter 3 emphasizes the big picture and long term thinking.
Chapter 4 touches on the personal side of personal finance. It’s a detailed look at many common problems people create for themselves due to various flawed thinking habits.
Chapter 5 is labeled the Ultimate Acceleration Strategy. As you can imagine, it’s focus is on quickly increasing total net worth.
Part II – Building Your Foundation
Part II of Securing Your Financial Future moves from concept to action and explains how to build a solid financial foundation. From budgeting to risk management, Chris has you covered.
I love the advice on avoiding cash in favor of credit/debit. Cash is not king. It’s far easier to track and use the plastic cards.
There is an unbelievably entertaining case study on Billy Bigshot who moves from consumer to saver. Billy was living high on the hog, until a wise friend points out his bankruptcy. Whoops! Luckily, Billy is more interested in financial freedom than his new car, and he realizes that it’s pretty easy to change spending habits if your intelligent and willing to research purchases.
How about this line to set things straight on borrowing:
What’s the rule when it comes to borrowing money?
Don’t borrow any money (yes, there is an exception with mortgages)
I can’t imagine any better tax advice in a personal finance book than that given in Securing Your Financial Future. You want an excerpt?
- Pay your taxes in full, on time, every time.
- Pay the minimum legal amount that you owe and not a penny more.
Chapter 6 is all about budgeting. It’s an excellent chapter even if you despise paper budgets like The Cash Cow Couple.
Chapter 7 is easily the most entertaining chapter in the book. Read it to see why.
Chapter 8 shows you how to fill your cash bucket (emergency fund).
Chapter 9 deals with borrowing and credit scores.
Chapter 10 has more excellent tax advice and insurance guidance.
Part III – Big Ticket Items
It’s time to look at major purchase items – cars and homes.
The chapter on cars is worth the price of the book alone. Remember the earlier rule about no borrowing? Well it still applies. Chris says a car is meant to be purchased with cash. And to that, I stand and applaud.
New or used? That’s not a question, it’s always used. In the words of Chris, “Think of that new car smell as the smell of your net worth shrinking.” Beyond that brilliant quote, Chris provides solid buying advice and information on pricing used cars.
The chapters on housing are also great. There is fair case study on buying versus renting. Chris explains why buying is the better value IF you have 27% down and will stay put for at least 5 years time. Read the book to better understand why.
Chapter 11 = Cars
Chapter 12 -15 deals with buying a home. It’s comprehensive and it’s vital.
Part IV – Long Term Investing
Part IV of Securing Your Financial Future focuses on investing. Everything covered before chapter 16 set the stage for the final few chapters.
Investing is key in preparing for retirement (or financial freedom). Preparing for retirement is now solely up to the individual. Long gone are the fat pensions, and who knows where Social Security is headed. Chris does an excellent job explaining all of the investing information necessary to get started.
As a champion of index investing, I once again stand and applaud the efforts of Chris. He managed to put together a complete primer on index investing. Take his buy and hold advice. Trying to pick winners in the stock market is a fools game.
Risk and reward, diversification, allocation, it’s all there. There is even an excellent overview of retirement account tax benefits and proper strategies to minimize taxable investment gains.
One final shout out. Despite all his knowledge, Chris continually advises individuals to find a good (not commission based) financial planner. That’s good advice. Sometimes an expert is worth hiring.
Chapter 16 is an introduction to investing
Chapter 17 explains why investing is simple but not easy.
Chapter 18 discusses a proper portfolio.
Chapter 19 shows you how to protect your investments from taxes
Chapter 20 Gives you a step by step plan to begin investing today.
Why You Might Not Like It
His advice is on housing won’t be appreciated by some. He absolutely requires 27% down and a 5 year location commitment before purchasing. His advice is sound, but most people won’t appreciate or follow it.
Chris is bold, and somewhat opinionated. His personal finance methods aren’t the easiest or the quickest. What he recommends takes persistence, patience, and sacrifice. If you want to live a lavish lifestyle and/or spend every penny that you earn, you’ll hate this book. If you are interested in financial freedom at a young age, you’ll love it.
About The Author
Let me end the review with more praise. This time it’s for the author. Chris reached out to The Cash Cow Couple and freely offered us a copy of the book to check out. At the time, I knew nothing about Chris or his book. It turned out that both author and book were of the highest quality. Chris is a fantastic person and is someone I greatly admire. We have exchanged several emails since that first book and I’m amazed by his character and willingness to answer questions or comments I’ve had. This guy is the real deal and he knows his stuff.
In addition to the book, Chris has created a series of 7 minute online videos, many of them free, which cover the most important points from the book. It’s called Awesome Financial Future, and you can check it out here.
I hope you enjoyed my Securing Your Financial Future book review. It is a brilliant book. So good that I wish it were required reading for every individual aged 16-30.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book. It’s available on Amazon here -> Securing Your Financial Future