Book Review
Title: "The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need"
Author: Andrew Tobias
Publisher: Mariner, 2011; 306 pages; $14.95

Audacity sells. And in the book publishing industry, audacious titles sell much more than the same content under a different name would. (Case in point: "The 4-Hour Workweek," which was originally titled "Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit." Yeah.)

Anyhow, New York Times best-selling author Andrew Tobias not only bestowed on his 1978 personal finance classic the uber-audacious title "The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need," but he’s also audaciously revised it eight times (by my count).

Even more extreme: Tobias acknowledges the out-there title at the very beginning of the book, then points out that the title is true not because his book is so great, but because most of its competition is so lame!

"The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need" is a funny, smart guide to simplifying your finance and executing most or all of the common financial goals the average American holds in their thoughts, dreams and resolution lists. From saving more, to spending less, to investing more profitably, to retiring flush, the book offers Tobias’ entertaining and commonsense take on it all.

And this latest edition offers Tobias’ take, updated to account for the economic apocalypse of which we are all now card-carrying survivors (even if barely).

Tobias starts out debunking the vast majority of books, schemes, salespeople, etc., that promise riches, demonstrating handily with a couple of vivid and entertaining stories that, uh, they just don’t work. Moving right along, he offers a full chapter of specific action items that can, for sure, save readers at least $1,000 or more a year, ranging from the solid and actionable to the slightly "out there" and less likely, but still entertaining (e.g., spreading bubble-wrap over your pool to harness the power of "solar" heating).

This chapter has a fabulous list of money-saving websites that easily, easily saved me more than the cost of the book. Use it.

Next, Tobias shakes readers by the shoulders and makes them sit down and get their income and expenses laid out on paper (of the tangible or virtual sort). In just a couple of pages, Tobias offers a solid guide to a simple process so many find to be so excruciating.

Lots of frequently encountered logistical dilemmas to setting up a monthly spending plan, budget or getting a handle on household cash flow — whatever you want to call it — get covered here, eliminating the drama and making it much easier for a reader who has been stuck on budgeting to push through and get it done.

Tobias also offers some simple and simplifying financial strategies for those who find the ongoing maintenance of a good budget too tedious to handle.

In a chapter called, provocatively, "Trust No One," Tobias pleads the case against trusting advisers, pitch people and sales folk, simultaneously proving beyond question the case for taking responsibility for fully and maturely handling our own finances, each of us — even when we have an adviser or planner we trust.

He goes on, in the also colorfully entitled chapter, "The Case for Cowardice," to explore the risk-reward conundrum and offer some words of advice for the "chickenhearted" to manage their risk aversion enough to earn the returns they’ll need for the inescapable expenses of retirement.

Tobias covers tax strategies ranging from college savings plans to retirement plans (even for children!), real estate and business ownership. Great strategies, some of which I am willing to bet you’ve never heard or read of before. I hadn’t.

In Part Two, Tobias covers stock investing in-depth, including why and how to do it, and some fabulous scripts for handling complications like insider tips, broker advice, and fancy strategies and indicators.

Part Three covers what Tobias calls "Family Planning," which runs the gamut from estate planning to teaching your kids about money, to caring for your parents to what to do with inherited money.

The book covers it all, from travel savings to tax planning and investing, to saving cash on movie nights and school tuition — plus what to do with what you’ve saved. I’d put myself out of business if I agreed that this truly is the only investment guide you’ll ever need, but it’s certainly one of the only ones! I kid, but if you’re serious about your money you do need this book.

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