If there is a book that highlights the importance of financial planning at any age, and makes it accessible to those who may not have many resources to plan with, this is it. Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck: A Conversation About Income, Wealth, and the Steps in Between was written by Michael Rubin of Total Candor. What really stands out is the conversational approach. You almost get the feeling that you’re sitting down and talking with Michael directly. I think this approach has many advantages over more conventional books that can come off as a bit preachy. I think this goes a long way in making sure that people who read it actually go on to take action.
Packed With Information Without Overloading the Reader
Financial topics are a bit dry and full of numbers by nature, and for the person who’s just getting their feet wet, it can easily turn them off or make them feel that it is just too much to learn. Michael strikes a balance between providing the essential information without boring you to death with every little detail or math formula. For example, you could write an entire book about IRA account, but how many people who are just getting started will have the patience for, or even care about everything there is to know about these accounts?
In this book, there is a lot of information pertaining to retirement, and IRAs are no exception. But instead of dragging on, it covers the topic of Traditional and Roth IRAs in just over ten pages, and covers everything the average person needs to know. The book does this because it continues the conversational approach throughout. When beginning the discussion on IRAs, the sub-topics are broken down by questions that the typical reader would ask. It reads as if you are asking the questions, and Michael is answering them. This is a great way to absorb a lot of information compared to most books that will just bombard you with facts and examples.
Dealing with Gary
One of the best aspects of the book is the occasional interjection in the conversation of someone named Gary. From the Total Candor website:
Gary is a commission-obsessed salesman playing a key role in the motivational personal financial planning book Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck. Preying on the lesser-informed, this unscrupulous villain sells you products first and asks you questions second. Well, sometimes. Other times, he never asks questions at all.
Although we hope you never meet Gary in the real-world, your best defense is a solid financial education. Therefore, we are compelled to inform you about his habits, tell you the types of questions you should ask him, and always provide you an alternative source for the truth.
I think this is a great part of the book because the things that Gary says and does are exactly what people will come across when dealing with many so-called financial advisors out there. So, you not only get a lot of information, but you are faced with some real world examples of what to look out for if someone is trying to sell you something.
Going Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck
This book is a great resource for many people in Generation X, and the information and style of the book highlight that. If you ask the average 30-something about their finances, I bet a lot of people would say that they basically live paycheck to paycheck. They may still be saving and aren’t drowning in debt, but most people still feel that their money is only lasting from one check to another without much room to get further ahead. This book does a good job and showing people how they can get over that mentality.
Also, the style of the book really resonates with our generation. Let’s face it, we don’t want to be told how to do something, especially by older people that can’t relate to us. We’re entrepreneurial by nature and enjoy seeking out our own path with a hands on approach. Since this book is really just a conversation between you and the author (and sometimes Gary), it allows you to come to your own conclusions and see how to best utilize the techniques in the book for your own situation.
If you are thinking about getting serious about your finances, regardless of age, this book is a great starting point. It brings together the most important topics to consider as you get started without putting you to sleep, and without feeling like you’re reading a textbook. To learn more about the book, the author, and gain access to more financial resources, be sure to check out the Total Candor website.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Nice review. It sounds like a great book for college grads just starting out in life. There aren't a lot of books geared towards looking at the basics.
Sara, that was what I was trying to get to, but may not have explained it properly. This book does just that, it talks with you, in the form of a conversation, as opposed to many books that talk at, or simply say, "this is how you do it."
So, it is the tone of the book that I think resonates with the generation, as it comes across as more personal, and not as some expert talking to you, just telling you what should be done.
"Gary" sounds like a brilliant idea! I might pick this one up just to get some writing tips. I don't quite agree with your assessment of our generation's willingness to listen to others, though. I think many of us are willing to listen, provided we're being talked with, not talked at.