Personal Finance

The Wealthy Barber Returns is a great book

One of the first personal finance books I read was the Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. I thought it was good but being in my early 20’s, I’m not sure I really got it! I was just graduating from University and the one message I remember from the book was saving at least 10% of your income. I’m thankful for that.

More than 20 years later, all of it being in the financial industry, I had the opportunity to read the sequel The Wealthy Barber Returns and I loved the book. I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting during a 3 hour flight from Toronto to Nassau.

The book was smart, funny, witty and just plain brilliant. Chilton has a great conversational writing style that is very entertaining and impactful. I felt like Chilton was right beside me talking to me but when I talked back to him I was disappointed that I got no response. I’d love to have a coffee with Chilton just to share ideas and listen to his funny anecdotes. He’s just one of those guys that you know would be interesting to talk to!

If you were one of the few people that did not read his first book, don’t bother. I think you are better off reading the Wealth Barber Returns. It’s not a sequel. It’s actually nothing like his first book. In fact, I think it’s way better. Here’s a snipit of his common sense and brilliance:

  • The book starts just like this, “I hate to begin with a harsh dose of reality, but here it goes: Unless you marry into wealth or come from a well to do family (Both highly advisable strategies, by the way), you’ll have to learn to spend less than you make.”
  • It’s tough to save because no one has much of a support group. More people are encouraging you to spend as opposed to save. Chilton says “there are only three Canadians that want you to set aside some money – your future, your financial advisor and me.”
  • I love this one . . . “One of the most damaging misconceptions in personal finance is that saving for the future requires sacrifices today that lessen people’s enjoyment of life. Surprisingly, it’s quite the opposite! People who live within their means tend to be happier and less stressed. That’s not only true for the obvious reason – they know their futures look bright – but also because they are not consumed with consumption.”
  • We associate success to wealth and money too much. Chilton says we even “mismeasure this mismeasurement because we gauge people’s financial success not by their net worth statements, but instead by their material possessions.”
  • We have trouble appreciating what we have for it’s own merit. How we feel about our possessions and lifestyles is relative to the possessions and lifestyles of our friends and colleagues. I love this line from the book “Much of what society deems conspicuous consumption is actually competitive consumption.”
  • Sometimes we obsess so much about what we don’t have that it affects our ability to enjoy what we do have. Put another way, Chilton says “ When we covet things we can’t afford, we grow poorer regardless of our incomes. Conversely, when we’re satisfied with what we have, we are truly wealthy.” This reminds me of the the words from a Sheryl Crow song “It’s not about getting what you want. It’s about wanting what you got.”
  • Chilton talks about credit cards in the book. He says “It’s really this simple: Credit cards allow us to act wealthier than we are and acting wealthy now makes it tough to be wealthy later.”

There is so many great lines in this book, I took over 6 pages of notes. If you want to hear more of Chilton’s insights into saving money, inheritance, spending, debt, how much is enough, emergency funds, reverse mortgages, investing, RRSPs, TFSAs, leverage, RESPs, life insurance, you’ll have to read this book.

There’s only one thing I was disappointed with and that was he did not mention my blog his his list of blogs (just kidding). Now you know this review is truly unsolicited.

I think one of the big reasons I liked this book is that I think Chilton’s thoughts and opinions are bang on. I agreed with so many of his views but he has such a talent in communicating simple concepts. I’ve often said, financial planning is simple, not easy. Chilton says “Sound financial planning is surprisingly straight forward – nothing more than a combination of common sense, vanilla products and time-tested principles.” That about sums up the content in his book!

Other reviews of this book

I am not the first to review this book and I know I won’t be the last. Check out some of these other reviews of The Wealthy Barber Returns”


  1. CV

    I just finished this last week. I would also highly recommend it! He addresses some of the same issues as in The Wealthy Barber, but updated for today. I read The Wealthy Barber and this is definitely not just a re-hash to make some $$. One of the nuggets I came away with is his comparison of the use of a TFSA vs RSP and the after tax $ you’ll have. From now on, I will *always* be re-investing my tax refund I’ve received due to my RSP contributions! His layman’s terms approach is refreshing and understandable.

    • Jim Yih

      Thanks for sharing. It’s amazing how there is something for everyone in this book. As I said, I think it’s nothing like the first book. I prefer this one!

  2. Grady Pruitt

    There’s a sequel?! I’m going to have to check it out! The Wealthy Barber is one of my favorites, though I haven’t read it in a while.

    I like the quote about there are only 3 Canadians that want you to save. Though I’m not Canadian, it’s very true.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jim Yih

      Thanks Grady (I love your name)!
      Just change the word Canadian to people and it has the same meaning. Savings rates around the world are pretty much the same!

  3. CV

    I actually think there is one other person who wants you to save and that’s your mother!

    He is totally “on” about the messages we are bombarded with encouraging people to spend money. One of the all-time worst ones I think are the banks etc with ad campaigns that state something along the lines of “spend today to save for tomorrow” when they are advertising accounts or credit cards that give a 1% cash back on purchases.

    • Jim Yih

      You are so bang on with both statements. You mom wants you to leave the house and not come back especially with little kids.

      The financial industry has discovered that debt is not only profitable business but also BIG PROFITABLE Business.

      Thanks for stopping by

  4. Tom Duke

    I enjoyed The Wealthy Barber Returns, but Chilton spends WAY too much time with the self-deprecating remarks. We get it, your editor, your assistant and everyone else thinks you’re old or silly. Make with the advice.

    I enjoyed The Wealthy Barber more and despite its longer form I found it more-easily digestible.

  5. Caroline

    I read The Wealthy Barber very recently and just finished The Wealthy Barber returns.

    I really really enjoyed both books. The second one is as good, if not better, as the first one.

    I like the way David Chilton writes. He talks, with a sense of humour, about very serious stuff. It takes a great deal of talent to be able to interest people in finances while making sure they understand every concept. Being able to simplify complexed concepts is not something every writer can do.

    I really like his opinions on consuming and over-consuming and am totally on his side. I also really like the fact
    that, in the second book, he talks about philosphy and the biological causes that explain how and why the modern man consumes so much.

    I would recommend this book to everyone. It’s just something you have to read.

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