How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-looking Than your Parents

How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-looking Than your Parents

Book - 2012
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Offers an entertaining finance guide for twentysomethings, which covers everything from buying a car to job hunting to saving for retirement.
Publisher: New York : Portfolio/Penguin, 2012.
ISBN: 9781591845447
Branch Call Number: 332.02400842 BISSO
Characteristics: x, 240 p. ; 22 cm.


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Feb 04, 2018

Bissonnette's basic advice is don't spend money on anything you don't need to, and if you do have to spend money on something, do so wisely. That means paying in cash whenever you can, and paying with an eye toward permanent security. He becomes close to apoplectic at the thought of leasing a new car, and don't get him started on the people he knows who lease a new *luxury* car. Buy a used car, many of which can be found for $1000 to $1500, in cash. And to those who protest that they can't afford $1000 in cash, Bissonnette would answer that you really then can't afford a lease on a more expensive vehicle either.

As for housing, Bissonnette is an advocate of buying a home as opposed to being a permanent renter. However, he is cognizant of the housing bubble which artificially inflated a lot of people's wealth a decade ago. Many of those tragedies could have been avoided if people had followed well-known rules about purchasing a home, including keeping the mortgage to 28% or less of your monthly income... and in general not believing a picture that's too good to be true.

As for other investments, your primary avenue should be whatever kind of matching plan your employer offers, usually a 401(k), although he discusses other options. He also advises everyone to keep it simple, citing evidence that shows that even the most highly trained financial professionals don't usually make decisions better than the overall market performance. And while it is possible to find an investment manager who can beat the market, betting your financial future on being lucky is a lousy strategy.

Bissonnette strongly advises against credit cards but reluctantly acknowledges that in some cases they are necessary in order to build a credit history. However, any other benefits- airline miles, interest accrued in a savings account (because you can delay paying for something)- are specious and not enough incentive for a reasonable person to use a credit card when they could pay cash.

Those four chapters that used the most technical financial terms; the rest was common sense advice about essentially disposable purchases like food (eat inexpensively but healthily) and clothing (look for bargains and don't get hung up on labels). He also advised against acquiring expensive, status-conscious habits: his thoughts on wine connoisseurs made me laugh (shorter: don't bother). He argues that if you need a label or prestige hobby to make you feel better, your money is going to be better spent on therapy than possessions.

His most interesting advice was about how to go about finding a job and creating a career. He advises that people do their research and reach out to someone in their desired field. While there is no guarantee that this will open any doors immediately, it can help distinguish you from the thousands of people sending resumes out each day.

As for finding a job that makes you happy- something Bissonnette believes is key to overall happiness- he asks that his readers step back and focus on what brings them happiness and satisfaction as opposed to a specific job title. Chances are that employment in more than one field will allow you to exercise your analytical skills, write, work with different kinds of people or whatever it is that you enjoy. Learning to see that within an entry level job is critical to long-term success in a tight job market.

While I didn't find Bissonnette's humor offensive at all, it's pretty acerbic throughout the book. (Maybe pretentious people shouldn't be disemboweled, you know?) However, it's pretty easy to tell what's a joke and what's not.

hgeng63 Jun 03, 2013

Pretty funny & sensible for a 23-yr-old.

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