Book review: “Eventual Millionaire”
There are many personal finance books and tools out there that are useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be helpful if I shared some of what I learn with you.
My recent reviews include “Personal Finance for Dummies, Fifth edition,” by Eric Tyson, MBA. This week, I'm reviewing “The Eventual Millionaire: How Anyone can be an Entrepreneur and Successfully Grow their own Start-up” by Jaime Tardy, who has previously guest-posted right here on Get Rich Slowly. After finding out that corporate America wasn't all it's cracked up to be and racking up significant debt (~$70,000) while on a six-figure salary, Tardy left that world behind to focus on being happy.
However, she wouldn't mind being happy and being a millionaire. Who would? Today she runs the website EventualMillionaire.com. She's interviewed over a hundred millionaires to track down some common denominators in financial success, and this book shares her discoveries with you.
Philosophy behind the book
As mentioned above, Tardy was miserable in her corporate job. When she left, she decided to focus first on creating a career that made her happy. Once she'd done that, she got ambitious again. Was there a way to combine work she loved with traditional financial success?
Her conclusion was that yes, it is possible. However, if you're not willing to sacrifice friends, family, or hobbies (in other words, if work-life balance is important to you) then becoming wealthy is probably going to take longer. You might get rich slowly, in fact! She believes that this is not only healthier for your psyche, but increases the chance that you will become a “moral millionaire” who helps others (instead of a Scrooge).
The book's chapters cover topics like:
Becoming debt free
Finding an idea
Finding a mentor and building a network
Setting and achieving goals
There are also case studies with actual millionaires to give you an idea of how other people have put these principles to work in their own lives. Case studies are important, but not for the reason you may think. As someone who spent several years teaching writing at the university level, I know that the goal for many teachers is to give their students transferable skills.
What does that mean exactly? In the case of “Eventual Millionaire,” it means that everyone's situation is different. No one is going to have exactly the same interests, skills, and resources that you do. Similarly, you're not going to be able to replicate someone else's success exactly. The trick is learning what you can from others and adapting that to your own life.
In other words, while this book is intended to make some connections and give you some guidelines, it's not going to do the work for you. Taking action is your job. You can be intimidated by that … or inspired by it. Tardy votes for inspiration.
What I didn't like
OK, OK, I guess I'm a cynic. There was a lot of focus on happiness and how to find it that came across as hokey to me. I am a little suspicious of the idea that everyone can be fulfilled through their work. On the other hand, just because your work isn't your “one true happiness,” that doesn't mean that you can't find something that you enjoy and find value in. To be fair, Tardy does come to this conclusion eventually. For me, it just came a bit late in the book.
Similarly, the section on overcoming your fears seemed a bit contrived to me as well. How, exactly, does one harness fear in order to overcome it? Accept the fear and let it pass? Engage in visioning with meditation? That kind of language makes me feel squicky. I acknowledge, though, that this may just be my own preference.
I tend to be more inspired by Ramit Sethi's sarcasm than I do by a sense of gentle and supportive guidance. After all, one of my own business ideas is for gym equipment with motion sensors that automatically mocks anyone who walks by. However, just because the self-help-y and optimistic tone of Tardy's book doesn't appeal to me doesn't mean it won't work for you, so take this critique with a grain of salt.
What I loved
I really enjoyed the chapter on paying off debt. Tardy and her husband got rid of a brand new car (that they were under water on) to decrease the amount of money they owed. They changed their auto insurance coverage and their cell phone plans. They set a budget and tracked their spending.
There's nothing earth-shattering about any of it. However, as one of the early chapters it went a long way toward establishing credibility. If Tardy cut back her spending using normal, common-sense methods, then it stands to reason that her entrepreneurial advice isn't coming out of left field. And in the finding-ideas chapter, things remain pretty practical. According to Tardy, millionaires who own their own businesses use three main strategies:
Use the skill their day job employs them to do, but strike out on their own.
Identify an unmet need in their own lives, find a way to meet that need, and reach out to others who are likely to have that same unmet need.
Talk to other people to find out what they need and find a way to provide it.
She also talks about committing to one idea instead of bailing the instant something's not successful. That has to be balanced, however, with not picking (or sticking with) an idea that's clearly not working just because you're emotionally attached to it. Talking to other people is the best way to get grounded about whether your pet project is actually something that is valuable to others.
And of course I loved the case studies. There was a wide array of industries and individuals represented. Fascinating stuff!
Who should read “Eventual Millionaire”
Despite my pooh-pooh-ing of the optimistic tone of this book, it does contain a ton of examples of what worked for other people. This book might be for you if you are inspired by others' success (without expecting to replicate it exactly), enjoy worksheets and lists of action items (without getting bogged down in them and failing to follow through on the big stuff), and have always wanted to start your own business.
Anyone out there read “Eventual Millionaire”? What did you think? Are there other books for aspiring entrepreneurs you would recommend?
A note about swag: While I was provided with a free copy of this book for review purposes, I am not affiliated in any way with Jaime Tardy or her publisher, and my opinions are entirely my own.