Book review: The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need

By Philip Brewer on 7 September 2007 (Updated 3 December 2008) 8 comments

The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias.

This is the perfect book for a Wise Bread reader. It covers just about everything we talk about here--life hacks, investing, frugality--and does it with insight and humor. (And not just a little humor. If you're at all interested in money, this book is hilarious.)

When I posted my review of The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, I mentioned that there were two books I recommend to people who ask me about investing. This is the other one--the one I recommend to people who are actually interested in the topic. Most especially, to the ones who might fall into one of the many "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" traps.

The book covers all the topics of Wise Bread, and does it in a logical order. It begins with frugality and saving--how else do you get the money you need to invest? It talks about the basic financial arrangements you need to make before you start investing--the obvious parts, such as paying off credit cards and saving up some cash in an emergency fund, but also the less obvious parts, such as figuring out if you need life insurance, and if so, how much.

Once the basics are covered, it goes on to talk about investing. It gives an extensive description of the important tools for investing (low-cost index funds), an adequate description of the useful but less critical tools (low-cost internet brokerage firms), and just enough information about the tools that are useless and dangerous for most people, but may be appropriate in narrow circumstances (and are interesting--even exciting--to just the sort of people who need to be most careful of them): margin, options, commodities, futures, penny stocks, strategic metals. It's in those last bits where the humor comes through most strongly, with funny but vivid warnings of just how badly these investments have sometimes turned out for the author or someone he knows.

This is in many ways the best part of the book. There's enough information about how these tools can be useful to a tiny fraction of the population for them to figure out that it might be worth learning more, together with enough warnings to immunize the vast majority of us against them. (Plus, it provides a few useful phrases for appearing more knowledgeable than you actually are, in case someone else is talking about all the money he's making in LEAPs, and you want to hold your own in the conversation.)

In a book-length format, Tobias is able to cover details that we often have to skip over on Wise Bread, such as tax treatments of investments. There's also a good chapter on financial planning for families (wills, beneficiaries, joint ownership).

It's worth mentioning that Andrew Tobias has a blog. It is as much about politics as it is about money, but it's funny and insightful as well.

The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need is not the only good book on investing. It's not even the only investment book you'll need, if you have any special financial situations where expert advice is needed (a disabled child who will never be able to take care of himself, for example). But it covers just about everything you need to know, plus a bunch of stuff that's merely fun to know.

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Myscha Theriault's picture

I've been thinking about checking out some additional investment / financial advice books. This looks like a good one, with some real world advice. If it has some humorous stories included, all the better. It's hard to find that in an investing book.

Thanks for the review.

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George

I love this guys tone and wit. He makes his advice fun and that's why this book is in its second edition.

Philip Brewer's picture

I'm a fan of Andrew Tobias from way back. I happened upon one of his first books, Getting by on $100,000 a Year and Other Sad Tales back when it was new--back when $100,000 was a lot of money--and found it hilarious. This book is almost as funny, and a lot more useful.

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Tony K

I read this book (OIG) when it first came out about 25 years ago.

I have been a fan and admirer of Andrew Tobias ever since.

Truly, everything in OIG is as true today as it was then. Slow and steady wins the race.

The cover of the book says, "Only a booby or a billionaire would fail to benefit."

If you follow his advice you will become one of the "Millionaires Next Door."

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Bigswig

Absolutely wonderful book!!! Tobias really does make it simple.

Guest's picture

haven't read it, but it sounds like a good read.

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Nice Post about investment! Guidance require in every field of life, so investment always require guidance. The tips and guidance you have given about investment are excellent and a new investor will benefit for these suggestions.

Guest's picture

It may be a really wonderful and substantial book. Your review has made me more interested on this kind of learning stuffs. I'm sure that it'll give a lot of sense on the subject of financial investments. The overview of its contents are just amazingly relative.