Retired Money: What I’m reading this summer in personal finance


My latest MoneySense Retired Money column is a mini review of roughly a dozen personal finance or Retirement books I’ve been reading of late, or intending to finish. You can find the full column by clicking on the highlighted headline here: 12 Top Personal Finance books to read this summer.

First up are a couple of macroeconomics books: Graham Summers’ The Everything Bubble: The Endgame for Central Bank Policy, first published in 2017. It describes what the author calls “serial bubbles” – not just stocks but virtually every asset class, including fixed income and real estate. The book also tackles the two sources of financial repression for retirees hoping to live on interest income: ZIRP and NIRP, which stand respectively for Zero Interest Rate Policy and Negative Interest Rate Policy.

Like it or not, the November 2020 U.S. election is likely to have an impact on investors and would-be retirees, no matter how it works out. Two years ago, my MoneySense column reviewed several other Trump books in an attempt to understand the investment implications of his presidency.

Have we reached Peak Trump?


Since then, I’ve also read Peak Trump: The Undrainable Swamp and the Fantasy of MAGA, by David Stockman, published in 2019.  Peak Trump includes a chapter also titled The Everything Bubble. Stockman believes the Trump boom – aided by the Federal Reserve’s “rotten regime of Bubble Finance” — has been a mirage and is fated to fade away. Presidential incumbents usually win re-election if the economy and stock market stay strong, but that’s hardly a slam dunk after the depression-level unemployment and social unrest that has come about in the wake of Covid-19.

Dual citizen and political pundit David Frum has just released his second Trump book: Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy, a followup to his earlier Trumpocracy, which was mentioned in the link above. The blizzard of online and media reviews seem to suggest Frum believes Trump has lost the plot and may be vulnerable in the upcoming election.

With all this talk of asset bubbles and negative interest rates, it seems everyone is fated to worry about money and not just near-retirees. Worry-Free Money, by financial planner Shannon Lee Simmons, was published in 2017, and will primarily interest younger investors with a long time horizon. Simmons declares “everyone is worried about money” and says social media has only aggravated the situation. But if you’re worried she will nag you about things like budgeting, fear not: she gives reasons why “you need to stop budgeting.” Rather, you have to control your spending, living within your “hard limit” and say “No” to unhappy spending.

The Joy of Being Retired

For those closer to Retirement The Joy of Being Retired, by the prolific Edmonton-based international self-publishing master Ernie J. Zelinski, is a light read, with 365 reasons (and cartoons) on why Retirement Rocks “and Work Sucks.”

Zelinski is also out with a new book this year: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success: Financial Independence and Personal Freedom Too! His tips include working less and thinking more, tapping your creativity, and using money to buy time.

Morneau Shepell

For the nitty gritty on how to pull off a satisfying Retirement, I still like Fred Vettese’s Retirement Income for Life, published in 2018, reviewed in this column. Also useful is the older Your Retirement Income Blueprint, by Daryl Diamond, as well as the just-published The Sleep-Easy Retirement Guide, by long-time MoneySense contributor David Aston. See my review earlier this year.

A primer on using discount online brokers

Another Canadian book is useful for anyone who wants hands-on detailed instructions on do-it-yourself investing at online discount brokerages. Ian Duncan MacDonald’s self-published Income and Wealth from Self-Directed Investingwas first published in 2018 and in paperback in 2019. If you hate the idea of overpaying for financial advice or packaged investment products, this book may be the antidote.

Finally, no book roundup is complete without a mention of Warren Buffett. Thanks to a friend who gave me a copy for my birthday, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the long (more than 800 pages) The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. This was first published right after the financial crisis in 2009 but I promise you your image of the avuncular investor will never be quite the same after you read this #1 NYT bestseller.



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