(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The jacket copy for this slim book makes appealing promises, for example, stating that it will show how to build an investment portfolio of more than a million dollars from savings of $25 a week and how to switch from low-interest investments into “low-risk, high-yield, crash-proof investments.” The promises are not precisely false, but neither are they exactly fulfilled. In the first example, an interest rate of about 10 percent is assumed (with no source provided concerning how to find such a rate), along with savings beginning at a young age; in the second, the authors discuss long-range trends to show that diversification makes even a relatively high-yield portfolio “crash-proof” because not all markets fail simultaneously and over the long run several well-performing investments will cancel out the effects of a risk that does not pay off. These are hardly financial secrets.

The book also claims to use an investor’s federal tax return as a guide to investing. In reality, it serves only as a focus for checking off items and answering questions on a list relegated to an appendix. The items on the list are important, but many investors will not need their tax returns to answer the questions. The text itself does not begin referring to the questions until page 42, almost one-third into the book. At many turns, the book suggests that issues are too complex to be understood by most individuals, not surprising given that the authors sell a system on which this book is based to a network of financial advisers.

On the positive side, the volume offers a good guide to different investment options, discussing the merits of each. The discussions of insurance and of workplace benefit programs are particularly good. The primary advice concerning the two subtopics is as follows: “how to get it” is to save; “how to keep it” is to avoid taxes, including estate taxes. This is neither surprising nor novel advice, but the authors do suggest a few sensible and nonobvious ways of achieving both goals.