Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Live Rich, Die Broke by Stephen M. Pollan

A decade after their original publication dates, these two self-help books by 'America's most trusted financial adviser' aren't exactly still 'hot' - yet despite the details which date them, Stephen M. Pollan's financial advice ultimately remains pertinent today.

I made a mistake when I tackled Stephen M. Pollan's duo of financial advice books - I read the sequel, 'Live Rich,' before the original, 'Die Broke.' This is because I'd (somewhat understandably) imagined 'living' occurred before 'dying.'

As it turned out, it didn't really matter. Although ostensibly offering advice on two different facets of your financial affairs, the advice contained within 'Live Rich' is pretty-much paralleled word for word in 'Die Broke'.

'Die Broke' is a straightforward guide to getting the best out of life while you're still alive. Summed up, it simply advises readers to spend their kid's inheritance - so a family can enjoy that money together, instead of only after their parent's death.

The best line of the book (easily worth the purchase price) is this mantra: "The last cheque you write should be to the funeral director - and it should bounce."

'Live Rich,' the sequel, has more practical financial advice. Much of it is rehashed from 'Die Broke' - such as cutting up your credit cards, paying cash where you can and forgetting about the concept of 'retirement.' It adds a new dimension, though, with Pollan's advice to 'quit today.'

That shouldn't be taken literally - he doesn't advise readers to hand in their two weeks notice - but he does suggest that they abandon the obedient 'worker bee' mentality and treat their job like a temporary assignment, rather than a career.

It's a 21st century alternative to a 19th century work mentality and neatly mirrors the way corporate America has similarly abandoned the concept of employee loyalty.

The bulk of both books is taken up with a glossary of advice, which is where the age of the books is most noticeable. Pollan advices his clients to get a pager, recommends the fastest modem available (a whopping 56.6k) and ponders if cell-phones will be a technology that catches on.

But despite some aspects of these books being obviously dated, the advice contained within them is sterling stuff. I'm not going to suggest reading them will 'change your life' but it'll certainly change your preconceptions.

My only advice? It's really not necessary to read both - 'Live Rich' is more of an updated version of 'Die Broke' than a follow-up - so you'll get the gist of Pollan's pragmatic advice from reading that edition alone.

1 comment:

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