Any personal finance book that starts with a Homer Simpson quote and has an opening sentence that reads, “I have been told by people whose opinion I respect very much that no serious financial planning book would ever include sex, zombies, or a reference to Captain Picard,” is probably going to hold my attention longer than most. Wealthing Like Rabbits by Robert Brown a hilarious look at the world of Canadian personal finance. It’s written for beginners and does an excellent job of using accessible allegories and metaphors to illustrate examples (my personal favorite being the example of two hypothetical plumbers named Mario and Luigi who buy houses).
Unfortunately for Wealthing Like Rabbits, I have reviewed an unusual number of really cool Canadian PF books lately, and as such I fear sounding like a bit of a broken record. “Great stuff… blah blah… unique content… etc.” Therefore I think that in order to uphold my obviously lofty credentials as a book reviewer I need to include some petty nitpicking before I start fawning all over a fellow Canadian self-published author.
To be brutally honest, I don’t agree with everything in Wealthing Like Rabbits, here’s a brief look on where we differ:
- Brown gives sort a blanket nod to RRSPs over TFSAs as savings vehicles. While he makes some solid points and I understand the goal is to explain the concept to an audience that maybe isn’t that familiar with the alphabet soup of Canada’s banking industry, I’m still not a fan of this approach. Just picking one of the accounts/plans and starting is a fine strategy for a beginner to take, but it’s important people understand the benefits of an account that will not be taxed at the likely-to-have-increased tax rates going forward, and won’t affect other income streams such as OAS and CPP. This is especially true with all the noise about TFSAs going up to $10,000 in contribution room every year.
- WLR isn’t a big fan of focusing on credit card rewards points and admittedly shows some pretty solid math-related truth to back up the idea that most people misuse credit cards; however, I tend to subscribe to the theory that if people are reading a personal finance book and/or this blog they can handle the concept of paying off their balance in full every month. Personally, my fiancée and I make $800-$1,000 per year off of our reward card joint account – but note that I’m not advocating anyone EVER carry a balance on their card!
- WLR doesn’t give the best introduction to investing and discussing index funds that I’ve ever read. Andrew Hallam in The Millionaire Teacher, and John Robertson’s The Value of Simple (in addition to our free eBook) do a better job of explaining just what indexing is, why you should do it, and how to execute it. All of this being said, anyone who is trying to spread the word on the benefits of passive investing is cool with me!
- Finally, if you’re a stickler for traditional writing styles you might find that WLR wanders and digresses a bit. (Something I too am often guilty of… as shown by this set of parenthesis… and all of these ellipses… and pretty much everything I write on this site.)
Ok so now that I got the mandatory amount of dick-ish-ness in that the union of book critics and reviewers regulates I’ll let you all in on why WLR is a great read.
First and foremost the book is very conversational and not the usual dry paint-by-numbers book about money. The examples used are very accessible and usually pretty funny. The title itself is used as one of these examples. Brown points out that the term “saving” is kind of boring term and doesn’t really encourage anyone to pursue it. By comparison, “Wealthing” is more adept description of what the end goal really is – to build wealth! “Wealthing Like Rabbits” is an analogy comparing the noteworthy reproduction rate of rabbits to the power of compound investment returns.
The best part of the book for me, as a guy that reads way too much of this stuff, is the substantial look at how money can be saved simply by purchasing a smaller house. As I mentioned at the top, Brown does this through the eyes of the hypothetical plumber brothers Mario and Luigi. This extended chapter is a really great look at just how expensive it is to own and renovate larger homes. I find home-related advice is an often overlooked part of personal finance and one that leaves lots of reasonable people looking penny wise and pound foolish. Cool quotes include:
- “Asking your bank how much you’re allowed to spend is a bit like asking Ronald McDonald if you are allowed to supersize your Big Mac and fries.”
- “Doesn’t coffee taste better when it’s made in a shiny machine on a granite countertop?”
- “Why does several hundred thousand dollars not matter when we’re discussing houses but we’ll coupon cut for 50 cents?”
WLR includes a lot of other cool stuff, including much that can admittedly be found in other personal finance books. Topics such as making more than you spend, how to save the rest, and some uniquely Canadian personal finance concepts are all good stuff. The thing that sets WLR apart is the commitment to not taking itself too seriously. Items such Forrest Gump quotes and Maple Leaf analogies that end with such pearls of wisdom such as, “Don’t be a Toronto Maple Leaf,” will allow people that usually can’t get through the first chapter of a personal finance book to chuckle their way through this one. The shout out near the end to the predatory credit card offers on post-secondary campuses, and the no-holds-barred smackdown of payday loans were much appreciated and the witty criticism of the wedding industry was perfectly timed for me at this point in my life. I’m also a big fan of Brown’s support for simple investing solutions like robo advisors.
Overall Wealthing Like Rabbits is a hilarious introduction into the world of personal finance and is most likely to appeal to a young adult in your life that appreciates humour your grandfather might describe as “smartass”. If you want a quick read and several moments where you will literally laugh out loud, buy the book here. If you want a shot at a free copy let us know in the comments and share the review on your usual social media feeds.