If I’m So Smart Where Did All My Money Go Review

If I'm So Smart Where Did All My Money Go by Doug WarshauerI think a lot of people will like reading this book because it is told as a story and not like a traditional finance book. It had a good and logical flow to the information with real world application. It also provided the reader with ways to figure out the math easily for each individual. I recommend that everyone read this book, but I don’t recommend all of the advice the author gives so take it for what it’s worth.

Doug Warshauer gives plenty of solid financial advice like paying off debt and saving for cars but some of his advice is really out there. His math seems solid but I simply cannot get on board with not saving for retirement until I am in my 50s. Also I don’t agree in using all my savings to pay off all debts right away. In these troubled economic times, one cannot afford to have no savings in case of job loss.

The information is worth reading and the worksheets and statistics are great to do and understand. I recommend reading this book but take it with a grain of salt.

Tim Ferro

All Investors Must Read The Shadow Market

With the now astounding amount of wealth possessed by sovereign wealth funds, as well as the amount of debt issued and owned by countries worldwide, it was only a matter of time before those nations became world economic powers. The deals they make and investments they hold are not regulated by any agency yet they move markets all over the world. While the United States uses its capital to encourage business and further democracy, many foreign countries use their immense resources and funds to further their country’s power and political agenda as a whole. This radical and fundamental difference between nations has lead to the ever increasing threat of economic warfare as a means to level the international playing field.

If you are an active investor or just a hobbyist, this book is a must read. Eric Weiner’s The Shadow Market explains how the current state of global economics and finance. To get a firm handle on today’s investing environment, first read Jim Cramer’s Getting Back To Even, then this book.

Tim Ferro

Jim Cramer’s Getting Back to Even is a Must Read!

As a prerequisite to reading this book, first read Jim Cramer’s Stay Mad for Life. Once you have gotten a solid hold on your finances and retirement, then you are ready for this book.

Yes the market tanked. Yes we got screwed by others’ mistakes. Yes the market is less reliable than it ever has been. No, you should not take your money elsewhere. Now is the time to be in the market, and this is the book that will tell and show you how. Jim Cramer’s Getting Back to Even is the must read financial book of 2010 for every investor.

Jim lays out his financial advice in easy to follow steps and tells the real deal about the market. I have incorporated his advice into my own portfolio and have already seen gains. My advice is to read the whole book and latch on to certain investing strategies that can help short and long term. For the advanced investor, the chapter on options is a MUST READ. Once explained, it is both simple and genius. Long term, Jim’s advice on high dividend stocks and China are crucial to your strategy.

This book will help you make more money than any other book you read this year so move it to the top of your reading list!

Tim Ferro

Review of Jack Cashill’s Popes & Bankers

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Truer words were never spoken, especially on the topic of credit and debt. In Jack Cashill‘s Popes & Bankers: A Cultural History of Credit and Debt, from Aristotle to AIG, Cashill educates, entertains and enlightens the readers with numerous historical stories about the progression of credit and debt starting with Aristotle and ending with the epic failure of AIG.

This must read book will give everyone a new perspective on the history of credit, debt, and finance. If you want to know how we got into this most recent crisis, this book will not only explain that but also the thousands of years that led up to it. I could not believe how many times history has repeated itself. The most in depth parts of the book dealt with American financial history and the chapters about the foundation of the Federal Reserve and J.P. Morgan were especially interesting.

This book is incredibly well written and researched. Cashill’s style, though he utilizes his massive vocabulary, is easy to read and understand. This book is for both finance buffs and history buffs. I enjoyed every chapter and back story.

Tim Ferro

George Soros Needs A Ghost Writer

I like finance. I like finance a lot. I like it more than most people. I like it enough to go out and read a book titled: The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means by George Soros. But I really struggled through over half of this book. Soros is a brilliant financial mind but he spends over half of this book extolling his personal theory on human sociology and how that relates to financial markets and creates a “super bubble”. Early in the book, when he says to skip ahead, do it. Trust me.

Now the parts of the book, though brief, that deal with the topics depicted in the title of the book are very good but it left me wanting more. A follow up sequel is desperately needed as the book leaves off during the peak of the financial crisis of 2008. I respect George Soros and I know that he is definitely a financial genius but I just cannot recommend this book. A second edition or sequel would possibly change my mind; in fact, I volunteer to ghost write it with him. If you do pick up this book, I suggest you skip ahead where he suggests you do and just read the financially focused sections.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? Can you recommend any better books on the same topic?

Tim Ferro

The Price of Owning Stocks

I spent an hour or so Sunday night reading three very important documents instead of watching part of the Pro-Bowl. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, but my financial future is more important, and so is yours. The three documents were: Verizon’s 8-K filing, Verizon’s press release about the 8-K filing, and the transcript of Verizon’s earnings conference call. These three documents tell me everything I need to know about Verizon’s future to make an informed decision about owning their stock.

When you own stock in a company, you should be doing your due diligence as an investor to keep up with SEC filings, conference call transcripts, and general information from the internet. Jim Cramer recommends “an hour a week” per stock and I completely agree. It is much more labor intensive to own stocks than it is to own mutual or index funds, but the rewards are far greater. If you had invested in an S&P 500 index fund 10 years ago, you would have lost 19.92% of your money. Owning stocks and doing the necessary research will put you in the financial driver’s seat.

If you are not committed to checking your stocks every day for prices and news, then don’t buy them. If you are not willing to read every 8-K, 10-K, and 10-Q, then don’t buy them. If you are willing to do that work as well as read some financial books and sometimes watch Mad Money, then you are ready to start investing in your future.

Disclosure: Long Verizon (VZ)

Tim Ferro

Gen Y, What’s Your 2010 Reading List?

With the release of Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin, I have now finalized my 2010 reading list! I have not been great at keeping up with reading but my new year’s resolution is to read one book per month all year. I have had the beginning of my list done for a bit but I have been looking for some books to round out my list. I am now done and I present this list for your consideration and as a way to keep myself on task. I will blog about each book after I finish it. Admittedly I am already behind on my first month but I am stepping up my effort to get back to even soon. So without further ado, here is my reading list:

George SorosJanuary

“In the midst of the most serious financial upheaval since the Great Depression, legendary financier George Soros explores the origins of the crisis and its implications for the future. Soros, whose breadth of experience in financial markets is unrivaled, places the current crisis in the context of decades of study of how individuals and institutions handle the boom and bust cycles that now dominate global economic activity. “This is the worst financial crisis since the 1930s,” writes Soros in characterizing the scale of financial distress spreading across Wall Street and other financial centers around the world. In a concise essay that combines practical insight with philosophical depth, Soros makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the great credit crisis and its implications for our nation and the world.” – Amazon.com

Jim Cramer February

“In his new book, Cramer offers the most detailed guidance he has ever given on how to invest in a changed market. Savvy investors will not just survive; they will thrive. Cramer begins with six rules for protecting the money you have and making sure that you have the money you need. (Rule Number 3: Skip the first four stages of portfolio grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.) Your portfolio won’t fix itself; you have to do that. It’s easy to close your eyes and pretend that it all never happened, but you’ll never get back to even that way, much less profit from the opportunities that this new market offers to investors who know where to put their money. One key to making investment decisions is to watch what the mutual-fund managers are doing and — better yet — to anticipate their moves. Cramer tells you how to do this. Their decisions will move markets, and you want to profit from these moves.” – Amazon.com

Joseph HellerMarch

“Just like the original Catch-22, this sequel opens with Yossarian in a hospital bed, flirting with the nurses. Now in his seventies, Yossarian is depressed by his perfect health: things can only get worse. He lives alone in a Manhattan apartment not far from most of his old war buddies, including Milo Minderbinder, a defense contractor straight out of Dr. Strangelove. Yossarian and company mourn the decline of New York City and American culture in general and look back longingly to the golden age of prewar Coney Island. The symbolic center of the book is a surreal wedding extravaganza held at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and hosted by Minderbinder, who recruits highly paid actors to portray derelicts and prostitutes. This work attempts the same sort of giddy black humor that made its predecessor a classic, but the underlying mood is somber, almost elegiac. A profoundly disturbing novel, if not quite up to the standard of Catch-22; recommended for all fiction collections.” – Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles

Taylor ClarkApril

“Part Fast Food Nation, part Bobos in Paradise, STARBUCKED combines investigative heft with witty cultural observation in telling the story of how the coffeehouse movement changed our everyday lives, from our evolving neighborhoods and workplaces to the ways we shop, socialize, and self-medicate.

In STARBUCKED, Taylor Clark provides an objective, meticulously reported look at the volatile issues like gentrification and fair trade that distress activists and coffee zealots alike. Through a cast of characters that includes coffee-wild hippies, business sharks, slackers, Hollywood trendsetters and more, STARBUCKED explores how America transformed into a nation of coffee gourmets in only a few years, how Starbucks manipulates psyches and social habits to snare loyal customers, and why many of the things we think we know about the coffee commodity chain are false.” – Amazon.com

Hank MoodyMay

“A wry literary masterpiece, God Hates Us All is a coming-of-age tale for the apathetic generation. Hank Moody’s self-loathing yet darkly likeable narrator is a college drop-out-turned-accidental-drug-dealer enveloped in a world of contradictions. His boss — a bong-hitting, dreadlocked Pontiff figure — runs a remarkably organized and ingenious illegal trade patronized by, among others, a sweater-set-wearing Upper East Sider, a Wall Street hotshot, and a wannabe rock star with a hard-to-resist model girlfriend. The lonely narrator yearns for more than the tenuous but intimate thread he shares with his clients. To escape his mother’s desperate expectations, his father’s endless disappointments, and his certifiably insane ex-girlfriend, he moves to the city’s mecca of ambitious slackers — the Chelsea Hotel — where the pursuit of lust (and the rock star’s girlfriend) sends him on a series of well-intentioned misadventures that lead him right back where he started. Told in a unique and subtle voice, God Hates Us All is ironic, optimistic, and unforgettable.” – Amazon.com

Joseph Heller

June

“With his first book, the seminal anti-war novel Catch-22, Joseph Heller became one of American literature’s most important 20th-century writers. The posthumous collection, Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings, shows Heller’s early development as a writer, but in essence provides the “outtakes,” “B-sides,” and sketches related to Catch-22, and several nonfiction pieces regarding it, mixed with juvenilia. A more appropriate title might have been The Making of Catch-22.” – Amazon.com

Dambisa Moyo

July

“In this important analysis of the past fifty years of international (largely American) aid to Africa, economist and former World Bank consultant Moyo, a native of Zambia, prescribes a tough dose of medicine: stopping the tide of money that, however well-intentioned, only promotes corruption in government and dependence in citizens. With a global perspective and on-the-ground details, Moyo reveals that aid is often diverted to the coffers of cruel despotisms, and occasionally conflicts outright with the interests of citizens-free mosquito nets, for instance, killing the market for the native who sells them. In its place, Moyo advocates a smarter, though admittedly more difficult, policy of investment that has already worked to grow the economies of poor countries like Argentina and Brazil. Moyo writes with a general audience in mind, and doesn’t hesitate to slow down and explain the intricacies of, say, the bond market. This is a brief, accessible look at the goals and reasons behind anti-aid advocates, with a hopeful outlook and a respectful attitude for the well-being and good faith of all involved. ” – Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Sam Davidson, Stephen Moseley

August

“New Day Revolution shows you how small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference. Next time you throw out the juice carton, take five seconds to compact it and save space in the landfill, or grab an extra box of crayons for your local school when you buy a box for your child. For people who feel they have little time, this first book from the duo that launched CoolPeopleCare.org gives helpful hints, practical tips, and step by step instructions on how to make a big difference in the local community and the world at-large with whatever time you have. We can’t all be Jack Bauer, running down bad guys and defusing bombs – but we can all make an impact where we are with what we’ve got.” – Amazon.com

Seth GodinSeptember

“In bestsellers such as Purple Cow and Tribes, Seth Godin taught readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. But this book is different. It’s about you – your choices, your future, and your potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose.

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.

Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom.” – Amazon.com

Louis LowensteinOctober

“Based on cutting-edge research by leading corporate critic Louis Lowenstein, The Investor’s Dilemma: How Mutual Funds Are Betraying Your Trust and What to Do About It reveals how highly overpaid fund sponsors really operate and walks you through the conflicts of interest found throughout the industry. Page by page, you’ll discover the real problems within the world of mutual funds and learn how to overcome them through a value-oriented approach to this market.” – Amazon.com

“A valuable text for passive investors.”–Barron’s

Jonathan Lethem

November

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: Jonathan Lethem, the home-grown frontrunner of a generation of Brooklyn writers, crosses the bridge to Manhattan in Chronic City, a smart, unsettling, and meticulously hilarious novel of friendship and real estate among the rich and the rent-controlled. Lethem’s story centers around two unlikely friends, Chase Insteadman, a genial nonentity who was once a child sitcom star and now is best known as the loyal fiancé of a space-stranded astronaut, and Perkus Tooth, a skinny, moody, underemployed cultural critic. Chase and Perkus are free-floating, dope-dependent bohemians in a borough built on ambition, living on its margins but with surprising access to its centers of power, even to the city’s billionaire mayor. Paranoiac Perkus sees urgent plots everywhere–in the font of The New Yorker, in an old VHS copy of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid–but Chronic City, despite the presence of death, politics, and a mysterious, marauding tiger, is itself light on plot. Eschewing dramatic staples like romance and artistic creation for the more meandering passions of friendship and observation, Chronic City thrives instead on the brilliance of Lethem’s ear and eye. Every page is a pleasure of pitch-perfect banter and spot-on cultural satire, cut sharply with the melancholic sense that being able to explain your city doesn’t make you any more capable of living in it.” -Tom Nissley

jack Kerouac

December

The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West Twentieth Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac’s revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.

It was not until more than six years later, and several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of On the Road, Viking will publish the 1951 scroll in a standard book format. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac’s friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them. The transcription of the scroll was done by Howard Cunnell who, along with Joshua Kupetz, George Mouratidis, and Penny Vlagopoulos, provides a critical introduction that explains the fascinating compositional and publication history of On the Road and anchors the text in its historical, political, and social context.” – Amazon.com

So that’s my list. I am excited to read them all. Clearly I have a bias toward financial books but other than that, it’s a mix of classic and new. Gen Y, what’s your 2010 reading list?

Tim Ferro

The Last 10 Books I’ve Read

I came across this blog post the other day and it inspired me to write about some recent books that I have read. I recommend them all and hope that you will enjoy them as much as I have. Comment with your thoughts!

Closing TimeClosing Time by Joseph Heller – I am currently reading this amazing sequel to Catch-22. I first learned about this book a number of years ago but I decided to reread Catch-22 to make sure I remembered everything. I incorrectly assumed that the story would pick right up after the ending of the first book, but it did not. It actually takes place about 40 years later and is not solely based around the main character. The book is wonderful and Heller’s style, descriptions, and storytelling is the same as the first. This is a must read if you liked Catch-22.

Catch-22Catch-22 by Joseph Heller -This is my all time favorite book. Rereading it was even better the second time around. I noticed a greater depth to the story and appreciated Heller’s style even more. This is arguably the best novel of the 20th century and a must read if you have not already.

Confessions of a Street AddictConfessions of a Street Addict by James J. Cramer – I decided to read Jim Cramer’s autobiography after reading 3 of his other books. He has an electric personality and a fantastic and interesting life. Jim faced incredible odds all his life and has come out on top. A true tale of perseverance. If you want to know about the real man behind CNBC‘s “Mad Money“, this book is for you.

Real MoneyMad MoneyStay Mad for LifeReal Money by James J. Cramer
Mad Money by James J. Cramer
Stay Mad for Life by James J. Cramer

I am grouping these 3 books together so that I can talk about them in a fluid manner. I read the last book first, not knowing that I would like it enough to read the other 2. The 3rd book is about more than just investing in stocks, it discusses all types of investments from mutual funds to bonds. It is incredibly informative and I have loaned it out numerous times to friends and family. This is a must read for everyone since all of you have investments and retirement accounts. If not, read this and start one.

The first book, Real Money, and it’s sequel, Mad Money, are all about how to pick and invest in stocks. They offer solid investment advice and an incredibly deep understanding of how “the market” works. Cramer has a great, easy to understand style of writing that is intuitive and informative. I can’t wait for the next book.

Brazen CareeristBrazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk – This book is a fresh and real look at the modern work environment. I read this book after being invited to become a blogger for the Brazen Careerist website. That website, her blog, and this book are great resources for Generation Y. I recommend you check out all 3.

The Cosmic BurritoThe Cosmic Burrito by David Shiffman – What a trippy escape. Reading this was a nice relaxing time. The cross country trip taken by 2 unique friends, made for a great ride. This book is so much more than the search for a great burrito. It is about life, existence, and soul. Read this if you are in college now, a recent graduate, or you just want an awesome read.

Arkham AsylumArkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean – My favorite graphic novel of all time. This story blurs the line between sanity and insanity. Arkham is overwhelming to Batman, and in my favorite scene, he stabs himself through the hand with a piece of broken glass. A must read for Batman fans, but an interesting read in its own right.

The Cathedral and the BazaarThe Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond – For open source and Linux geeks like myself, this was an incredibly interesting read about the origins of a number of open source software. But this is more than that, it’s a motivating experience to continue furthering the open source movement.

Tim Ferro

Stock Market Advice: Buy, Buy, Buy!

To steal a phrase from the legendary Jim Cramer, “Buy, Buy, Buy”! I have been watching this crazy market very closely for a number of years now. My analysis of the S&P 500 leads me to believe that we are hovering just above the bottom and now is a great time to buy back into the market. I know that, like me, numerous people have been sitting on the sideline waiting to get back into the game. With money tight and the bills from the holidays coming due soon, most people do not have the cash to being investing again. This is one of the mistakes that investors make that the professionals don’t. Pros always have cash on hand for times like this. But I digress, sometime early in the new year the market will dip a little and that is when you should buy.

“What should I buy?” you might be asking yourself. The easiest way to take advantage of this market right now is to invest in an S&P 500 Index Fund. They are cheaper to own that mutual funds and perform slightly better based on performance minus fees. Hey, if it’s good enough for Buffet, it’s good enough for me.

If you are a little more daring, then I will recommend a couple of stocks. Disclaimer: purchase stocks at your own risk. Done. First I would recommend Caterpillar Inc. (CAT). With Obama’s electio, comes a commitment to America’s infrastructure and CAT is a global leader. Next I will recommend a biotech stock that has consistantly beat the S&P 500 and is a great play because biotech stocks are not as leveraged to market movement. They move more based on drugs and clinical trials. Gen-Probe Inc. (GPRO) is a fantasticly run company and a stock that I personally own. I have listened to the quarterly conference calls for the past two quarters and they are exactly what you would look for in any company: great finanaces and business pipeline. Finally I will recommend stocks that have high dividends. Buying these stocks and reinvesting the dividends are a great way to grow your portfolio in tough economic times.

What do you think? Leave comments about financial advice for 2009.

Tim Ferro

Financial Goals for 2009

2008 was a crazy year for me financially. I changed jobs twice, bought a house, saw my 401k and the stock market fall, and refinanced my mortgage. On the last day of the year I am taking financial stock of the situation and making some goals for 2009. I encourage everyone to do the same. Here are my goals:

  1. Pay off my mortgage faster.
  2. Play the drugstore game.
  3. Save more to take advantage of compound interest.
  4. Max out my 401k and IRA contributions.
  5. Donate more to charity.

These are my main goals for the year. As I am now established financially, these are appropriate goals. If you are newer to this, check out my previous post about getting set up financially for retirement. Leave comments about your goals or if you have questions.

Tim Ferro