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