Best Books About Money

Best Books About Money

Use these books to build a strong financial foundation

I have compiled a list of my favorite and best books about money to help those that are interested in learning from some of the experts. The image shows these books as a pyramid, starting with the foundation and working yourself up to the book at the top.

The Foundation:

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

Book by Thomas J. Stanley

What comes to mind when you think of a millionaire? If you are like most Americans, you probably think of someone in an expensive suit, siting on expensive sports carts, in front of expensive mansion with tall, white, Corinthian columns. Well, if you read Thomas Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door, you might be surprised to find out that more often than not, the average millionaire is actually like your more humble and pleasant, “blue-collar” or “middle class” neighbor. After reading this book, you might find that your neighbor is actually much richer than what you had originally thought. In fact, more often than not, your stereotypical image of a millionaire is actually someone who is much poorer and debt ridden than you might have thought. Why is this? Well, reading this essential classic of personal finance will teach you that that the key to becoming a millionaire is rooted in a healthy perception of wealth and income, good habits, and a wise investing plan.

Key takeaways: living below your means, save on the big ticket items, majority of millionaires are business owners. 

 

Wisdom from Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!

Book by Robert Kiyosaki 

Ever feel like you are not just getting enough out of your hard work in both a financial and spiritually fulfilling way? Well, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, another foundational book on personal finance, will teach how to get more out of your income and work life. If you dread waking up every day to a job that you just don’t really care that all much about, this book will teach you the essentials of personal finance when it comes to using your income more efficiently and finding new, more fulfilling ways to make that income.

Kiyosaki wrote this book in a the style of easily digestible parables that each tell the story of his poor dad and his friend’s rich dad. In these parables, you will find that even though each dad both started out in a similar position working just as hard, the rich dad, through his entrepreneurship and savvy investing, was able to become much richer and work much less over time, while the poor dad spent his entire life working hard without seeing nearly as much wealth.  Through improving your financial IQ with strategies like investing in real estate and other assets, as well as starting your own businesses, you can get more money out of your hard work. Not only that, you can start making your money work for you, and end up more like the rich dad and less like the poor dad.

Key takeaways: the quicker you can turn you earned income into passive income the better off you can be. Using assets to pay for your expenses will allow you to ext the “rat race.” 

 

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Book by Dave Ramsey

In Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, you will learn of the essentials to climbing out of debt through budgeting with his “The seven baby steps”:

  1. Save a $1,000 beginner emergency fund
  2. Get out of debt using the debt snowball
  3. Building a fully funded emergency fund
  4. Invest 15% of household income for retirement
  5. Save for children’s college
  6. Pay off your home early
  7. Build wealth and be generous

Each chapter will go into depth on each of these steps on how to go through them for each individual situation that you may have. There is a good reason that the Dave Ramsey brand is so successfully and even taught in schools across the world. Read this book to find out why and find how to achieve financial peace.

 

Intermediate Phase:

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing

Book by Benjamin Graham

Benjamin Graham is widely known as the father of value investing and the mentor to billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Often called the greatest investment advisor of the 20th century, Benjamin Graham, is undoubtedly respected and known across the financial world. Reading this book is an effective way to take anyone’s basic understanding of investing to the next level. Despite being publish in 1949, this classic investing book contains timeless wisdom and advice for understanding and interpreting market conditions. Even so, various financial experts, like Warren Buffet, have repeatedly made contributions and revisions throughout the years to keep it as relevant as ever. All and all, Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor is truly the definitive book on value investing.

 

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Book by Tony Robbins

Combining the methods of the old and of the new, Robbins’s Money Master the Game really is book that tries to take a holistic approach to personal finance.  Tony does not try to hold himself out as an expert on money, instead, he conducts hours of interviews with some of the best minds in finance and investing. They share the principals they believe in to help you become financially free.  Along with direct financial advice, this book also gives advising for improving the reader’s life in many aspects like diet, health, confidence, leadership, and personal relationships, which will ultimately lead to overall better financial health and vice versa. In the process of going to depth with these steps, Robbins debunks many financial myths and provides many strategies for a variety of situations in order to achieve the titular “Financial Freedom”.

 

The Top:

The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness

Book by Morgan Housel

The most recent book on this list, just published last September, Housel’s The Psychology of Money differs from most of other the books on this list. To illustrate, this book focuses on how and why we make money decisions, providing a view of money revolving around people, the world, marketing methods, history, etc. We often think of money management and finance as complicated series of mathematics and algorithms. While this undoubtedly true, we cannot forget that ultimately on an individual, psychological level, money decisions are made by and for the individuals. If you want to get a better understanding of what influences your or someone else’s decision to buy the brand name item over the store brand at the grocery store—or what influences someone to make life-changing financial decisions like going to college or applying for a mortgage, I highly recommend Housel’s The Psychology of Money.

 

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Inflation is Rising, Here is Where You Can Look to Invest

Inflation is Rising, Here is Where You Can Look to Invest

These 3 area can be used to hedge inflation

There has been a lot of talk over the past year about inflation and how that might affect the price of stocks, the price of goods and services and the value of the US Dollar.  Inflation, by definition, is a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.  Throughout this past year we have seen trillions of dollars printed and put into circulation.  In addition to the fiscal stimulus, improving pandemic conditions, private sector liquidity ad pent-up consumer demand could also spur more inflation. This has led many to believe the US dollar will start to lose its value due to a finite number of assets to use our dollars on. These dynamics could also drive-up long-term interest rates. With inflation happening all around us and vast shortages of supplies, where is a good place to invest your money today? Here are 3 areas to look at investing during a period of inflation.

  1. Real Estate

During times of inflation real estate values tend to increase with inflation. In addition to the values of real estate appreciating so does the amount landlords can charge in rent.  Both value and the rent tend to outpace inflation. Unlike bonds that offer fixed cash flows, yields from real estate can rise over time. Real estate assets that have longer duration leases can include rent escalators to mitigate inflationary risks. Supply has remained in check for real estate even with high demand industries like industrials. The cost of land, supplies and labor will more likely reduce a surge in supply for real estate.  When investing in private real estate, this typically makes sense for long term investors that are willing to deal with a lack of liquidity for these investments.  There are several ways to invest in real estate including: direct ownership, private equity funds and publicly traded REITS.  Real estate offer unique tax benefits and these benefits can be passed on to investors.  Lastly, an additional benefit to real estate is diversification. Real estate tends to perform differently from stocks, bonds and commodities and this diversification can help to add to long term performance. 

 

This chart from a recent Blackstone article shows the values of U.S. Private real estate during periods of rising interest rates. 

2. S&P 500

 

Over the long term stocks offer more upside potential than bonds. The Standard and Poors 500 index tracks the stock price of the 500 largest companies within the United States. During periods of high inflation some companies are impacted by their costs of goods rising and this may negatively impact their stock prices. However, companies that pay a good divided can offset drops in purchasing price with the yield the dividend provides.  Also, a rise in interest rates has a positive impact on value companies with large cash amounts on their balance sheets. 

 

 

3. TIPS

Treasury inflation protected securities are the 3 asset class to look at investing in during periods of inflation. TIPS are a U.S. Treasury bond whose price is indexed to inflation.  The purpose of these investments is to explicitly protect investors from inflation.  The principal value of TIPS is fluctuates based off the inflation rate.  TIPS are designed for conservative investors that are looking to protect the purchasing power of their money. These investments are not designed for growth and historically provide a lower overall return than other bonds.  Pictured are two examples of TIPS ETF’s that you can look to invest in via: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/081315/9-top-assets-protection-against-inflation.asp

 

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Proposed Capital Gains Tax Hike

Proposed Capital Gains Tax Hike

New capital gains rate would increase to 39.6% for people earning $1M or more.

Last week President Biden presented his plan to increase capital gains tax rates to 39.6% for those earning $1Million or more per year.  The purpose for the tax hike would be to supply the social programs and try to reduce the deficit that the United States is currently in. The existing capital gains rate for individuals in the top tax bracket is 20%. Keep in mind, this is for long term capital gains, that is investments that have been held for longer than 12 months.  This applies for investments in both private and public companies, as well as fixed income and real estate. This proposal caused the stock market to drop the day it was announced due to the fact that it could drive investors to liquidate their investments ahead of the tax increase.  Capital gains rates have historically been lower than ordinary income rates as a way to incentivize investments in companies to boost the overall economy. Investors are putting their money at risk and the capital gains rate is one of the incentives to do so.

One thing to keep in mind is that capital gains taxes are a form of double taxation. This money is first taxed when it is earned, then was invested and if sold for a profit would experience a capital gain. Therefore, a high income earner has already paid 37% tax on this money.  So essentially for someone that is in the top tax bracket they could pay 37% when they earn the money then another 39.6% if this money is sold at a gain after being invested. While facing this tax rate one would have to ask themselves if it is worth taking the risk of investing this money in the first place. Additionally, one thing to keep in mind is this will not affect highly compensated executives due to the $1Million income threshold. Most executives’ at large corporations are not compensated up to or over $1Million through W2 income. Instead, they receive other benefits such as stock options or have the ability to reduce their income by contributing into qualified or non-qualified retirement plans.

The ultra wealthy will not be affected by this. Elon Musk, Zuckerberg, Bezos aren’t selling their shares because they do not want to give up control.  This capital gains tax could end up hurting the entrepreuner that is looking to get their company started. By doubling the tax rate on a capital gain the institutions or investors that would have the excess money will have a smaller portion and less incentive to invest.  This will not hurt the large venture firms or some of the top ideas but having less capital towards innovative startups could hurt the entrepreneurs in this country, especially the up and coming entrepreneurs that do not have a track record.  Instead this money will be in the hands of the government for them to decide what to do with it. 

 

Lastly, one thing to keep in mind is they could make this a retroactive tax back to January 1, 2021. Although this is not popular it has happened twice before.

 

 

 

 

 

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Taxation of Social Security Benefits

Taxation of Social Security Benefits

Keep an eye on your income amounts when claiming Social Security

Many people are often surprised to learn that once they are retired and start collecting Social Security that they may have to pay taxes on their benefit.  Throughout our working career we have probably all seen the money that gets deducted to fund Social Security. However, when you start drawing your Social Security benefit there is a strong likelihood that you will have to pay taxes on a portion of that income.  These numbers have not been adjusted for inflation and with higher balances in retirement plans and a rising stock market this can lead to more taxation. Also, with retirees taking part time work while on Social Security, those amounts can also increase income making more Social Security taxable. 

Calculation for taxable amount

The first step in determining whether any portion of Social Security is taxable is to calculate what they refer to as “provisional income.” This income is can be thought of as a combination of different income sources.  This income consists of:

  • Adjusted Gross Income
  • Any tax-exempt interest income, example municipals bonds
  • Half of any Social Security benefits

 

Once this amount is calculated it is then compared to the income threshold amounts. 

For single taxpayers:

            Income below $25,000 Social Security is tax free

Income between: $25,000 – $34,000 and 50% of the Social Security benefit is taxed

Income above $34,000 results in up to 85% taxable

For married filing jointly:

            Income below $32,000 Social Security is tax free

            Income between $32,000 – $44,000 up to 50% of Social Security benefit is taxed

            Income above $44,000 up to 85% of Social Security benefit is taxed

One thing to keep in mind is what is all included in your Adjusted Gross Income, by definition gross income includes your wages, dividends, capital gains, business income, retirement distributions as well as other income. Adjustments to your gross income includes, alimony, student loan interest, educator expenses and contributions to a retirement account. 

Here is a quick example of how the taxes would work on a Social Security benefit.

Steve and Mary have an AGI of $27,000 and also have municipal bond interest of $1,000. Their Social Security amount is $20,000 per year. Therefore, to calculate what amount may be taxable they would add $27,000 + $1,000 + $10,000(one half of benefit) = $38,000 of combined income. This is $6,000 over $32,000 threshold, therefore, $3,000(50% of $6,000) of their benefit amount is taxable.

 

One way that you could potentially reduce the taxes you pay on your Social Security benefit is to convert your pretax retirement accounts into a Roth IRA. This would need to be done before you start claiming your Social Security benefit.  This would cause you to pay taxes in the year that you converted, however, if this is before you start claiming Social Security this amount would no longer be included in your pretax account. As long as the Roth IRA is opened for a least 5 years, and you are over the age of 59.5 any withdrawal from that Roth IRA would not be included in income for that year. Therefore, this amount would not be used in the calculation for your taxable Social Security amount. 

 

Keep in mind you can check you Social Security statement which shows the amount of your future benefit by logging into www.ssa.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Studying Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Letter

Studying Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Letter

“Never Bet Against America” – Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha is one of the best investors the world has ever known. Accumulating a fortune that was over $80Billion at certain times.  Studying the words and publications of Warren Buffett has always been a common practice amongst investors. Warren Buffett started investing at the age of 10 and if there is anyone that exemplifies playing the long game it is Buffett.  Buffett is still running his company, Berkshire Hathaway, at the age of 90. He works alongside his long time business partner, Charlie Munger, who is 97 years of age.  Buffett is a great example of the power of compounding and the miraculous effect it can have on multiplying your wealth.  $81.5 Billion of Buffett’s $84.5 Billion net worth came after the age of 65.  Each year Buffett writes a letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway to give an update on their business. This has traditionally been something that is highly valued by all investors, not just shareholders of Berkshire, because of the investment insight it can help to provide.  Buffett is known as a value investor, that is someone that studies the fundamentals of a company relative to the price it is trading at, and if that is low enough, will purchase shares of the stock.  Coca-Cola is one of his most famous investments, big blue chip companies that have a track record for paying and growing their dividend. Coca-Cola has been able to continue to grow its dividend for 57 years.

Should investors still put an emphasis on these letters?

Buffett has had a track record of compounded annual returns of 20% since 1965 compared to 10% compounded return of the S&P 500 during that same time frame.  However, last year he made some ill timed trades, including selling out of all his airline stocks at what seemed to be their bottom. He also sold a large portion of his bank stocks and invested in Barrick Gold. I already stated his massive net worth which has come from his investment knowledge and temperament.  The returns and his success are reasons why investors pay so close attention to his letters and his 13F. This and because when these positions get post publicly it can oftentimes cause the price of those stocks to see a nice pop.  However, with underperformance against the S&P 500 and some questionable trades made in 2021, many people are starting to wonder if these letters and 13F disclosures hold the same amount of weight that they used to.  After all, everyone now has a microphone when it comes to investing and there were or are now others that can make public statements that seem to drive up the price of a stock (think Elon Musk, Donald Trump) or message boards that have that same effect. Another reason why some believe that the Buffett positions do not hold as much weight is the underperformance of value stocks in recent years.  Growth stocks have drastically outperformed value stocks over the past 10 years. Buffett is known for being a famed value investor. Here are Berkshire Hathaway’s largest positions.

Key Takeaways from this letter

One of the things I love about Warren Buffett is his entrepreneurial spirit and belief in the American Dream.  Buffett used one of his most famous quotes again in this letter when he stated, “Never bet against America.” This quote may cause many to stay the course and keep a long-term perspective in mind. That in and of itself is a good enough reason for many to read his letters.  Buffett gives great explanations of Berkshire Hathaway and how they use three key elements to decide an investment purchase: 1. A steep competitive advantage 2. Managers who have character and are capable 3. Price.  Buffett highlighted several businesses that were on the brink of elimination and found a way to turn things around to thrive for years to come. He mentioned See’s Candies, whose business is over 100 years old and has employed thousands of men and women. Another successful venture for Berkshire Hathaway has been GEICO which recently did $35 billion in business and has been around since 1937.  It would be difficult to find someone with a track record like Buffet’s it comes to investing and helping to build businesses over the long term. However, there have been fund managers that have well outpaced Buffett during their time, Jim Simons, of Renaissance Technologies averaged 66% over his tenure but did not start investing until the age of 50. Most recently Cathie Wood has been producing astonishing returns for her ETF, ARKK. It is yet to be seen if they can have the same staying power that Buffett has had throughout his career. Here is a full copy of the annual Berkshire Hathaway letter. 

https://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2020ltr.pdf 

 

 

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