A Review of “The Index Card” by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack

The Index Card

I received a review copy of The Index Card: Why Personal Finance DoesnÂ’t Have to Be Complicated* by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack a couple of weeks ago.

As you can probably imagine from the title, this is a little book. It’s a book that can be read in one setting, which is nice.

The book is composed of ten rules (the authors even include an index card with the 10 rules), which are:

The Index Card

As you can see, they are pretty basic rules. Most of us would agree with all of them.

One rule that I definitely agree with is no. 6: Make your financial advisor commit to the fiduciary standard. That is a must in my book. If they won’t do that, then find another advisor.

The two rules I don’t agree with are no. 4: Never buy or sell individual stocks. and no. 9: Do what you can to support the social safety net.

Although I think index funds should make up the bulk of a person’s investment portfolio, I would stop short of telling people to never buy individual stocks.

The chapter on rule no. 9 left a sour taste in my mouth. Here’s an excerpt:

“When someone decries Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, remind him or her that many elderly would lead much poorer lives without it. When you hear someone say the government should keep its mitts of Medicare, speak up and say it is a government program.

“But it’s more than that. We need to admit we are the 96%. Be honest about not just what you pay in taxes but what you receive in return. Almost all of us have been helped—or have friends or relatives who have been helped—by unemployment insurance, Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants to attend college, or other government offerings. All too often, we take them for granted, but without them many of us would be in worse financial shape. Acting together, we can protect one another against financial and health risks that would crush anyone of us, were we forced to face them unassisted.

“We must take care of ourselves and our immediate families through better planning, saving, and investing. When we do that, we are in a better place. But we must take care of our fellow citizens too. That’s the best way to ensure that all the new changes we’ve adopted over the course of this book have the best chance for success.”

Sounds like a page right out of the Democrat talking points, doesn’t it? It’s not my intent to take this review down the political path. Let’s just say that I think the above excerpt from the book is absolute hogwash. The book could have easily been written without it.

Politics aside, this is a decent book. It’s a great primer for someone starting out.

Other reviews from around the web: Adam Chudy

*Affiliate Link

Great Christmas Gift Idea: Money Guide 2016

If you are looking for a great gift idea for this Christmas, check out Jonathan Clements’ Money Guide 2016. I have the 2015 edition and find it useful.

Money Guide 2016

NOTE: This isn’t a paid post, nor do I receive any compensation whatsoever from this post. I’m just sharing information and trying to help out a friend.

What Bradley Owed

I read this story earlier this morning.

There was once a boy named Bradley. When he was about eight years old, he fell into the habit of thinking of everything in terms of money. He wanted to know the price of everything he saw, and if it didn’t cost a great deal, it did not seem to him to be worth anything at all.

But there are a great many things money cannot buy. And some of them are the best things in the world.

One morning when Bradley came down to breakfast, he put a little piece of paper, neatly folded, on his mother’s plate. his mother opened it, and she could hardly believe it, but this is what her son had written:

What Bradley Owed (1 of 2)

His mother smiled when she read that, but she did not say anything.

When lunchtime came she put the bill on Bradley’s plate along with eight dollars. Bradley’s eyes lit up when he saw the money. He stuffed it into his pocket as fast as he could and started dreaming about what he would buy with his reward.

All at once he saw there was another piece of paper besides his plate, neatly folded, just like the first one. When he opened it up, he found it was a bill from his mother. It read:

What Bradley Owed (2 of 2)

Bradley sat looking at this new bill, without saying a word. After a few minutes he got up, pulled the eight dollars out of his pocket, and placed them in his mother’s hand.

And after that, he helped his mother for love.

Source: The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life’s Journey (affiliate link) by William Bennett, pgs. 22-23

Ibbotson SBBI 2015 Classic Yearbook

I sprang for an updated Ibbotson SBBI Classic Yearbook this year. My last edition was from 2007. At a $180 (plus tax and shipping), the book is hardly cheap.

I placed my order in March. The book was supposed to ship in mid-April (it used to ship in March).

April came and went. No book.

I called to find out what was up and was told that there was an error and that they were sending out the books as soon as they were ready.

I finally received my copy last week. Last night, while looking at it, I noticed that Table C-1 and C-2 in Appendix C contain the same data.

I called Morningstar this morning and was told that they were aware of the mistake and that they were printing up a PDF to send out. This will be the second PDF because the book already came with a PDF correction for page 109. This “solution” didn’t make me happy. I told the woman it was unacceptable and that Morningstar should send out replacement books. She said that wouldn’t happen because the books are expensive to print.

It would be nice if companies would stand behind their products.

I Am Addicted to Audible

I have been an Audible member for a couple of years now. I used sporadically for the first year and a half. Once we moved and got settled into our new house, I really started using the program during the time when I had to drive my kids to school (17 miles one way). Let me tell you: it’s addictive! Once we got our son a truck to drive to and from school, I cut back on my listening time, but still use it on my morning walks.

According to the app on my iPhone, I am 132 hours away from becoming an Audible Master.

“What is a Master,” you ask? It’s someone who has listened to LOTS OF HOURS of Audible:

5 Hours – Newbie
50 Hours – Novice
100 Hours – Professional
300 Hours – Scholar
500 Hours – Master

The numbers in that list are hard to find. I googled them and couldn’t find anything definitive, so I emailed Audible and they were kind enough to email me the information.

Audible is awesome. Through the app, I have been able to listen to a lot of books. Here is what I have been through so far (I don’t “read” fiction):

“How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life” by Russ Roberts
“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
“Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt
“New Deal or Raw Deal” by Burton Folsom
“Think Like a Freak” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
“The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield
“The Magic Ladder to Success” by Napoleon Hill
“The 48 Laws of Power” (abridged) by Robert Greene
“The Power of Ambition” by Jim Rohn
“The Practicing Mind” by Thomas Sterner
“The Five Elements of Effective Thinking” by Edward Burger and Michael Starbird
“Influence: Science and Practice” by Robert Cialdini
“The Virgin Way” by Richard Branson
“Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing Our World” by George Gilder
“Zero to One” by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek
“Jack: Straight from the Gut” by Jack Welch with John Byrne
“The Little Gold Book of YES!” by Jeffrey Gitomer
“Be a People Person” by John Maxwell
“Mastery” by Robert Greene
“As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen
“The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman
“The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” by John Maxwell
“The Difference Maker” by John Maxwell
“How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie
“Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars” by Patrick Lencioni
“Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell
“The Love Dare for Parents” by Stephen Kendrick, Alex Kendrick, and Lawrence Kimbrough
“Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” by Ron Chernow
“Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas
“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
“The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry” by Brad Miner

One cool thing cool is some of Audible books are linked to the Kindle version of the book, which allows the reader to switch back and forth between the Audible and Kindle version of the book without losing the place. The technology is called “whispersync for voice” and it is pretty cool. Also, a lot of times the Audible version can be added to the Kindle purchase for a reduced price.

A basic Audible account is $14.99 per month, which allows for one download per month. There are other account options available.

The only downside to Audible is now I have less time to listen to music.

What Are You Reading or Listening to These Days?

We moved to our temporary location a couple of weeks ago. We will be here until our house is complete in a few more weeks. I have been driving my kids back and forth to school in another town (the school in the town we will be living in). It’s 30 miles round trip, which gives me a lot of time to listen to music and books.

I signed up for Audible last year and love it. I also like that some Kindle books sync with the audible version of the book. Often, the Audible version can be added to the Kindle purchase fairly inexpensively. I like this because I can listen in the car via my iPhone, and then at night, I can open the Kindle app on my iPad and it starts me at roughly where I left off on the Audible app. Very nice.

So, what have I been reading? Here’s a quick summary:

Good book with good reminders on how to take an interest in other people. It’s all stuff we should already know, but is still good to get a refresher on. John Maxwell is always practical (though he can be repetitive from book to book).

I’m about halfway through this book. I picked out to listen to with my youngest son, who is a high school senior. It’s written for a younger audience (high school and college kids). Practical advice is offered, but can be a little on the dry side.

A classic. I HIGHLY recommend anything by Jeffrey Gitomer. I plan on adding his complete Audible collection to my collection. I could listen to them over and over again.

Finally, this is what I am listening to right now. Josh Kaufman did a great job with this book. I’m nearly 45-years old and I still find most of the information in this book useful. I highly recommend it for everyone. Yep, I said everyone.


What are you listening to or reading right now? Please let me know in the comments. If you post a link in your comment, it will go to moderation, but fear not, I will approve it.

NOTE: All links in this post are affiliate links. Your purchasing of anything via one of these links will help me send our kids to college.

The Miser

I read this in Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power*:

The Miser

A miser, to make sure of his property, sold all that he had and converted it into a great lump of gold, which he hid in a hole in the ground, and went continually to visit and inspect it. This roused the curiosity of one of his workmen, who, suspecting that there was a treasure, when his master’s back was turned, went to the spot and stole it away. When the miser returned and found the place empty, he wept and tore his hair. But a neighbor who saw him in this extravagant grief, and learned the cause of it, said: “Fret thyself no longer, but take a stone and put it in the same place, and think that is your lump of gold; For, as you never meant to use it, the one will do you as much good as the other. ” The worth of money is not in his possession but in its use. – Fables, Aesop, Sixth Century BC