A Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom: A Handbook for those starting out

Instead of continuing with a lot of poetry, I thought it would be good to add some book reviews. But the question then is what to review. Firstly, I have to have read it. At least twice. Secondly, it has to either hit the hard copy test — when I go out and buy a hardback version, either for my own library or for someone elses . Thirdly, it has to be practical in this time and in this crisis. This does not mean that some theoretical books won’t get here, or books of beauty. Art itself is practical.

There could be some doubling up on other things: both John Milton and George Herbert can go up on Sundays. Let the woke seethe. The good shall remain. But I want to start with a book I acquired after reading a review.

When the Australian gentleman who writes under the deeply ironic pseudonym Nikolai Vladivostok contacted me to look over a book he had written on financial advice, I did my usual inward groan and went outside and shot a few kittens in the kneecaps for the hell of it. The reason for this unusual behavior is that I get quite a number of book manuscripts sent my way to ‘have a look over’. The reason I hate these unsolicited advances are twofold: the books are invariably rubbish and written very badly indeed, and they are always, always about 100,000 words longer than they need to be. Fun fact – when I launched my own first book, I too sent it out to people to read and promote it for me. The difference was that I had worked with two editors on the book, (in other words it was amazingly high quality), and I said that I would pay them for the time it took them to read it. Thus was launched my stellar writing career. Anyhoo, I have some small respect for Nikolai so I gave it a look. And my feedback was far different than anything that I had given before. I told him that it was too short, far too short and that he needed to beef it up. And Nikolai followed my advice to the letter.

Adam Piggott

The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom is a handbook. There is very little new in it. The audience is not this blogger. I’m getting closer to the official retirement age: I have contributed to the pension scheme since I joined my employer: the house is paid off and Kea and I discuss the budget regularly. I don’t want to retire that much: I enjoy what I do. However, I could have done with this book years ago, particularly when getting over the divorce.

You might be thinking, meh, I’m going to move up in my career soon enough anyway. Once I’m earning the big bucks I’ll pay off my debts, start investing, and all of that sort of thing. What’s the point of struggling through all this now when I don’t have much money anyway? It’ll be easier to do it later on. This is the path to hell. Time is money, as will become increasingly apparent the more you read. The longer it takes to pay off your debts, the larger they will grow. The later you wait to save an emergency fund, the longer you will spend at risk of getting into a serious pickle. And the longer you put off investing, the lower your eventual returns will be. To state this in the positive, the sooner you start working on getting your financial affairs in order, the faster you’ll pay off your debts, the sooner you’ll have a good safety net, and the larger your investments will grow. The time to start is today, and three years ago would have been even better.

The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom.

But I’m not most people. Most people, including my sons, do jobs which are tedious a fair amount of the time, have significant consequences if things go wrong, and to not pay that well.

Nikolai wrote for those people, starting at the beginning. He begins by telling you to get rid of the credit cards, and then do a budget, which requires you know what you spend. This involves. writing down every darn thing you spend.

This is a time-consuming step. You might like to put this book aside for a month or so, get your budgeting app, diligently fill it with data, then come back here to see what’s next. I’ll be right here when you’re ready to continue. Don’t try too hard to modify your spending yet. We’ll demonstrate how to do that in the following section. And by the way, I know that some of you are strongly averse to doing this because you know that you overspend at the pub or on whatever your weakness is, and you fear seeing the actual figure. You don’t want to look. You don’t want to know the awful truth. This is common and natural. However, reaching financial freedom means using facts and figures to help you, and you must find out precisely what is going on, however painful it may be. The exact numbers matter. Would you go to a doctor who was too squeamish to look at your gaping wound? If you’re not prepared to look at the mangled limb or flesh-eating bacteria that is your spending, you are going to be just as unable to cure what ails y

The Poor Man’s guide to financial freedom.

A useful step, and one I still do at times. It requires that you carry your notebook or journal and write down what you spend. Last time I did this we were travelling, and realised that we better start cooking or getting food from the supermarket, as the biggest cost was eating out.

I disagree about apps: the one I have used (including the ones he recommends) nag at me. I like pen and paper. I agree about defensive assets, and I don’;t consider my house to be one of them. You have to live somewhere. I agree about indexed funds, and if you live in New Zealand go for a Kiwisaver account that does this and then get that paid before you do your budget.

I intend to get some hard copies of this book. For my sons.

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9 months ago

PS Decent advice for sons would be the 10% rule. Put away 10% of every penny you make before expenses. It is actually easy to live on 90% of your income (almost no matter how low that income is). Good book I read years ago called The Wealthy Barber. Not to undercut Nikolai’s offerings as I think they are addressing different issues, but he discusses the difference between wants and needs and how we upgrade wants to needs when we have extra money. By setting aside a percentage, that extra money isn’t there to be spent on upgrades. I did this for quite a while and the only reason it didn’t work better for me was the aforementioned divorce and the attendant issues (like paying the bill for the spouse’s DUIs and criminal charges) which sapped the savings and required some cash outs.

9 months ago

Is the picture of the car supposed to suggest to us that one strategy is to buy an old car, thereby saving money? 😃

I also am in the “too late to take advice on what to do when starting out” category. I will say that choosing poorly when getting married is a strategy that set me back many years. I would have a significantly better retirement had I chosen better but that being said, by virtue of working very hard for about five years at two jobs, I now have no debt, house almost paid off, decent retirement savings so you can recover so long as you make the effort.

I will probably pick up a copy of the book just to check out the investment advice since I’ve heard good things about it from several places, but one strategy for a decent retirement is not to buy every book about investment strategies and savings that crosses the radar.

Nikolai Vladivostok
9 months ago

Cheers Weka, hope it helps them out.