Cashing in On the American Dream

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

A cursory glance at the title might lead one to think this book offers yet another “get-rich-quick” scheme. Not quite. According to Paul Terhorst, the estimated four million Americans who have assets of more than $100,000 are already rich enough to retire; they just do not know how.

Terhorst does give some advice on how to build up the necessary nest egg (about $400,000 for a more comfortable retirement), but most of the book focuses on what to do after accumulating the money. The formula is not magic: It involves a series of hard choices and changes that some people will be unwilling to make. Moving to a location with a lower cost of living may be the most difficult.

Some of the forty-six rules are helpful and thought-provoking, even for those who are not interested in following them all. For example, re-evaluating which things are important, simplifying life, and reducing one’s “load” would be healthy for many people. Terhorst’s observations about inexpensive travel in the United States and foreign countries are also worthwhile. Although he is a CPA, his text reads easily and the financial calculations given as examples are simple.

In large measure CASHING IN ON THE AMERICAN DREAM involves redefining what the dream is all about and giving up those parts that are more like nightmares.