In over two decades of working with people and their money, it’s become clear that the average person generally does precisely the worst thing at the worst time.
As a result, most of us fall short of our financial goals. We struggle with debt, have insufficient savings for children’s education and never achieve the comfortable, worry-free retirement of our dreams. Most of us have too little or the wrong kind of life and disability insurance. Most are about three months away from financial ruin should there be a job loss.
Sheena and Jamie Morelli are a young couple just starting out and riddled with debt who find themselves on a money reality show. After the show, where the host takes shots at their lousy finances, Jamie commits to working toward their financial independence.
The Morellis are the principal characters in a new book, Findependence Day, by Jonathan Chevreau.
It’s no coincidence that Chevreau’s book resembles The Wealthy Barber, a best seller that has set the standard for novel-style financial books. In fact, Barber author David Chilton describes Findependence Day as, “a compelling read, containing even more compelling advice: excellent!”
The book takes the reader though a typical couple’s financial decisions and struggles – through the various phases of life: first-time home ownership, debt repayment, car buying, having children, job loss, bad investments and marital struggles.
Jamie finds a financial planner who becomes the couple’s money mentor. Jamie realizes that a friend who had previously been their money mentor, Al Peters, is a big-hat, no-cattle kind of guy. Al was not as financially stable as he pretended to be.
This is common; many people like to show off their success with big houses, flashy cars and lavish vacations when, in reality, they’re often in debt and have little savings.
With guidance from the show’s financial planner the Morellis set their own findependence day: the time that they’ll have enough money that they won’t need to work unless they choose to. Findependence Day has the couple starting out with oppressive credit card and student loans, then shows how they learn to manage their money. Their lessons include the proper use of RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, stocks and, very importantly, how to spend less than they make so they have the savings to achieve their goals.
I have the same complaint with The Wealthy Barber. Both are written for those with little interest in reading a pure personal-finance book, which I think would be more useful in helping you get your finances in order.
However, education is better than ignorance, even if it’s edutainment. Findependence is short and easy to read, and the lessons are there. Annuities, life and disability insurance, retirement planning, mortgages, education savings…whatever you need to learn about, it’s here.
This book provides a financial tutorial for young people especially, but anyone who struggles to make sense of their finances and money will benefit from the information and advice.
Personal finance should be a life-long learning journey. Your financial need in your 40s and 50s are much different than they were in your 20s. Also, life always takes little twists and never goes as planned. Planning needs to be flexible to make it go more smoothly.
Related article: Financial planning is a road map to financial freedom
Another key aspect of this book is that life isn’t always about planning for retirement – although that’s what many people think. It’s more about achieving financial freedom at a reasonable age. That means different things to different people. For some it means retiring at 60, while for others it may mean working many to age 70 but with the flexibility to retire earlier if health deteriorates.
My two adult children are quite well grounded financially but everyone can improve so they’re going to get this book from me. I hope they read it.