Book Review: The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

The Wealthy Barber was lent to me by a friend who wasn't very keen on financial planning (her boyfriend gave it to her)- she hadn't finished yet. So I borrowed it.

It's an easy read. It's an older book (published 1995) but it's very relevant… timeless! It's kind of a page turner in a way- you want to find out what Roy says next, or what happens next to the characters in the book… I guess it's like the Harry Potter or Twilight of financial planning. Somehow the author manages to pack in everything you need to know about finances (wills, RRSPs, insurance etc) into this neat storyline.

The Wealthy Barber

You follow the events of people who are in their mid to late 20's in search of answers to their financial questions from the small town barber. His name's Roy and even though he doesn't look it, he's wealthy.

He shares some common sense tips on personal finance and financial planning with the visitors from the city.

  • Pay yourself 10% of each paycheck first

I think I read this book before The Automatic Millionaire but I guess great minds think alike.  Paying yourself first before you pay everyone else (before you even think about spending it away), and whatever is left over is yours to play around with.  It's a tried and true way of making sure you save money and grow it.  I started doing preauthorized withdrawals from my BMO account to the Manulife Bank high interest savings account every pay check.  It's much easier this way

  • Get insurance

Basically the book says that if you have dependents (hmm in the future? When someday we will be financially ready for children?) you should get life insurance.

  • Write up a will

This is important especially if you have dependents or children.  Otherwise, the government will take your money or it will be held up.  I guess you don't want to leave that kind of a legacy!

  • RRSPs!

Darn, The Wealthy Barber says that 10% that you're saving each paycheck isn't for your RRSP?  Oh well, I guess you get some money back from the government.  I know it's hard to think about retirement, but just think about “home buyer's plan.. home buyer's plan..” instead!

  • Get a mortgage for a place.   And pay it off quick.

He says that renting is for losers.  But what? Buy a place and get a 15 year amortization period???  Pay it off weekly?  I guess there WILL be less interest paid.  There goes my “fun fund”.  Maybe this only works in places where the price of a closet(450 sq) isn't $400,000.  Maybe it doesn't work in Vancouver.  I think I need to work on the “downpayment” part first, let alone paying something off weekly and within 15 years!

  • Be cheap

He emphasizes the fact that if you save a looney it's really a tooney! (because it's after tax dollars that we are saving).  So it really does pay to save that extra $10 if you price match your new Mp3 player at Best Buy.  The Wealthy Barber does say that it's okay to not be that cheap, because if you save the 10% and max your RRSP's, you should still come out ahead of the game.

  • Minimizes the taxes you pay

David says that it's better to pay off your mortgage before you start the 10% savings (if you don't have enough for both, that is) because you are using your AFTER tax dollars to pay off your mortgage.  I'm not sure if I agree with this 100%. Then again, I don't have a mortgage yet!

  • RESP's

The book says that you should also put some money away for your kids (if you have any) because the RESP is a good tool from the government to encourage us to save.

youngandthrifty's take:

In summary, I rate this book 10/10.  Easy and entertaining read. Good common sense. Practical.  One of the first financial books I have read and it gives a good simple yet comprehensive summary of what you need to do to have a good financial plan to be financially secure in the future.

Have you read The Wealthy Barber?  What do you think?  They probably need to do a new edition with the new TFSA option out.


  1. Jessie on January 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    wow… i didn’t know the wealthy barber was like a story – instead of a how to book like so many other finanicial folks write. I may just have to give this one a try.

  2. young on January 20, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Jessie,

    Yeah, it does, it doesn’t have the feeling of the author nagging at you when you read a lot of other financial books like: you should do this, you should do that, why haven’t you done this yet? etc etc
    I really liked it. My favourite so far. Hope you enjoy it too!

  3. The Wealthy Canadian on October 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Nice review Y&T!

    I’m in the middle of reviewing Chilton’s new book. He’s ditched the story-telling approach to a large extent. So far, so good!


  4. young on October 3, 2011 at 8:59 am

    @The Wealthy Canadian- I have it too and I’m excited to read it. I do like his story telling approach though! I’m looking forward to seeing your review 🙂

  5. B on October 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Just for clarification, Chilton never says “renting [real estate] is for losers”. In fact, in his first book, he dedicates a small piece on how renting can, in fact, be a better option for those with small living requirements (i.e. single guy who can live in an apartment vs. buying a house with more room than he needs). As long as the renter invests the income saved by minimizing his living costs, he will do well.

    Also, in the “Potpourri” section of his new book, Chilton makes a point that those in red-hot real estate markets (e.g. Toronto and Vancouver) are definitely getting squeezed by high housing prices. He certainly does not insinuate that “renting is for losers” in this case.

  6. young on October 18, 2011 at 11:28 am

    @B- Oh wow, I was surprised I even wrote that!! Sometimes I tend to exaggerate in my writing! Sorry. It’s nice to have a blog and see what I’ve written in the past- I sounded like a total aS@ haahah. Yes the main point is that renters need to invest the money they save from buying into investments. However there aren’t that many people who do that, but if they do, I’m sure they will come out ahead.

  7. Is Universal Life Insurance a Good Idea? on May 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    […] even though I remember it was one of the pillars of personal finance in David Chilton’s book, the Wealthy Barber.

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