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Start Late, Finish Rich – Part One and Part Two
Rapidly approaching retirement age, the subtitle to this book: “A No-Fail Plan for Achieving Financial Freedom at Any Age” definitely grabbed my interest. The cover also states: “It’s Never Too Late to be Rich!” Does David Bach’s #1 selling book live up to its cover?
This book is part of “The Finish Rich Book Series” by David Bach. One of the more well-known names in the financial guru set, David Bach has written seven consecutive national bestsellers. I have read and passed around “The Automatic Millionaire”-especially to those I know who are younger and still have decades to take advantage of the magic of compound interest.
Whenever I read a book that talks about compound interest and shows the charts comparing how much you will have if you start at 20 vs. starting at 30, I find myself asking: “Why didn’t anyone tell me that when I was in my 20s?” The sad thing is, as I’m trying to be that “someone” for the younger people who work for me, or my son and his friends, it seems like the message just falls on deaf ears.
Why is it that when we can most benefit from this kind of information, we “know it all” and don’t want to listen? Well, Mr. Bach, I’m listening now!
“The Automatic Millionaire” is a short book and a quick read; “Start Late, Finish Rich” is not. The best way I know of to review this book is to actually review it in parts.
Part One: It’s Time to Get It
In the first part of Bach’s book, he speaks directly to people like me; people who wish they had heard this stuff when they were younger; people who think they would have been different and actually listened to this advice when they were twenty-something. We look at our savings account and retirement fund, and wonder how we are ever going to catch up to where we should be.
At this point, we aren’t even concerned with finishing rich; we just don’t want to live on the streets or in a tiny shack eating Alpo. Bach shows how investing $10 or $20 a day for 20 years you can end up with nearly half a million dollars for retirement.
His point in this section is to get you to stop giving yourself 50 lashes with a wet noodle. Regret, anger and fear won’t get you anywhere. In fact, those negative emotions are more likely to immobilize you. If you feel like it’s hopeless, you won’t even try. And if that’s where you are, I can guarantee that you won’t improve your retirement picture.
Bach’s advice is to give yourself a break already! He then gives some inspiring examples of people who started late and finished not just comfortable, not just well-to-do, but rich.
Part Two: Spend Less
In “The Automatic Millionaire” Bach explains his “Latte Factor.” In “Start Late, Finish Rich” he talks about finding your “Double Latte Factor.” He insists that it isn’t how much we earn, but how much we spend – or, perhaps more accurately, how much we save.
The fact is most of us were programmed to spend what we earn. We believe that if we only had the next big thing, we would be happy. It isn’t until we learn to control our spending that things become easier and we finally do become happier. The “Double Latte Factor” is about going through your purchases and finding out where you can cut back. Those small purchases can add up to amazingly large amounts over time. If you’re getting a late start, you may want to cut back on some things that will actually make the average American think you are a bit strange, like cable TV, for instance.
Another way to spend less is to change your credit card spending. Bach insists that it isn’t the credit card debt that’s killing us, but the interest. He shows us why we’ll never finish rich with credit card debt and how we’ll never get out of debt by paying only the monthly minimum. Other tips he gives are to negotiate a lower interest rate with your credit card company and to stop buying things on credit. If you can’t pay cash, don’t buy it!
Also in Part Two, you will be encouraged to get out of debt but, contrary to many other financial experts, Bach does not recommend paying off your debt first to the exclusion of saving money. He insists that you will lose even more time and compound interest by putting off saving now, and you’ll also lose the psychological benefit of saving for your future.
“DOLP your debt out of existence” is another invention of David Bach’s. DOLP stands for “dead on last payment”. He provides a method of calculating the DOLP number for each of your debts to determine the order you will pay them off. This is similar to the popular debt snowball method.
He wraps up Part Two with advice on Debt Counselors. There are a lot of scam artists out there claiming to want to help you get out of debt. Bach gives you red flags to look for so that you can spot the fakes from the genuine article. Of course, the best way to find an agency to work with is by referral from someone you know and trust. But, for most of us, a debt counseling agency really isn’t necessary. You can do this on your own; it just takes some self-discipline and persistence.
Taking control of your spending and getting out of debt are the first two steps to finishing rich – and they are especially essential for those who are starting out late!
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