Firstly, I don’t think knowledge is actually ever wasted. It doesn’t matter if it’s a decade until something “clicks” or until you use it, it’s not a waste. As you know, I undertook epic finance-stuff in 2017. (And you can read more about money in general in this section of my blog.)
Why I Don’t Want To Read The Barefoot Investor Book
Lots of people recommend this book. Seeing as I don’t buy books (as a writer, that hurts me to admit, but I only borrow books from the library 99.99% of the time), I went to the Barefoot blog first, to see if I’d even want to put a hold on it at the library.
And you know what? I wasn’t impressed. I like how Scott writes. His humour and sarcasm and views of politicians and politics mirror my own. But a few things about the content lead me to the unimpressed position.
(Caveat: I am a blogger – uh in case you didn’t notice. I realise that what is written on a blog and what is published as a paid product can differ in level of detail. This blog post is based on me reading the Barefoot Blog as an introduction to see if I want to read the book. Maybe the book is totally different. But if it is, then I think some work on the content marketing in blogging may be needed. But now I’m really getting off topic.)
My understanding is that the book is meant for anyone and everyone as an introduction to personal finances. I found the blog posts too basic. Um, yes, I can work out on my own that I need to put money aside for bills and emergencies and so on. I already do that with my budget.
Maybe the “problem” I have with the blog posts is that I’ve done so much reading and learning on my own finances in the past year that I have surpassed this level of financial advice? It could be. I don’t have anything to benchmark myself against, except, I suppose, these blog posts I was reading.
Dual Income Focus
This is actually the part that annoyed me most. Of course if I lived in a dual income household we’d be saving the second salary (firstly for debt pay off, then a home deposit). Unfortunately, most advice I read on the Barefoot Blog was for dual income families.
We already live a frugal life on one salary that is below the Australian median. I don’t have a problem managing my money (though as you’ll have seen from my blog posts, I’m always willing to learn and tweak to make my money work better for me), our problem is not having enough coming in to save for things like a house deposit.
I felt like it was approaching the territory of when people tell very low income earners they’d be fine if they just budgeted better, only the focus isn’t on welfare recipients, but dual income families. Maybe by virtue of being a single income household I fall out of the target market of this book? I did do a search on the blog for “single income” and didn’t find anything much of substance. In fact, one post by someone who said they couldn’t work resulted in advice for them to work. Potentially ableist, depending on the reason for the persons inability to work.
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I’m Too Poor For His Advice
And then I found a post that did explain my issues. To a degree, and like I blogged about for low income earners, he does say you need money to make the steps work. While I don’t think that’s helpful advice for those on low incomes, I do respect the honesty that he does say this upfront. So maybe I’m not clicking as much as others do as I’m slightly too poor for this?
The general advice on the blog is about following 9 steps. One of those steps is to allocate 60% of your income to basic living expenses, leaving 20% each for saving and splurging. On paper, I have no reason to disagree with this. However, I took a look at what 60% of my income is. And no, I can’t pay all my bills on 60% of my income. I don’t have expensive rent or bills, and I still can’t pay all of my expenses on 60% of my income. Kind of.
I could probably pay whatever is due that pay period on 60% of my income. But that wouldn’t allow for putting money aside for emergencies, insurances, or large bills like electricity and car registration. I believe if I followed the 60/20/20 rule right now, I would end up going backwards.
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I would like to see financial support for those on less than an average income actually written about. It seems to be an ignored part of the finance world. The too hard basket. Something more substantial than the stupid Joe Hockey style advice of “oh just get a bigger income to save for a house”.
Having said all of this, I’m sure there are tips and tricks and tweaks and general things to learn in the book. I am not an expert or qualified. Of course there’s more I could learn. Basically, for me, for my situation, and based on the blog posts, I don’t understand the high level adoration for basic advice.
I did end up borrowing an e-version of this book and it pretty much confirmed my assumptions based on the blog. I did learn one or two things about investments that were mildly interesting but not of immediate use to me. Again, if you’ve already got a basic budget or organised your finances in some way, there’s little value to the book itself. You can apply the basic knowledge from the blog without spending money on the book.
Have you read the Barefoot Investor book? What did you think of it?