Thursday, March 20, 2008

Books: "A million bucks by 30"

I'm sure we've all seen the slew of "Get rich, here's how" books that hit the shelves at a frantic pace. For some reason this one caught my eye, and in a moment of weakness, I bought it.

In a nutshell the author, Alan Corey, decided at the age of 22 that he wanted to be a millionaire by the time he hit 30. Well, he did it, without fanfare, complicated systems, or get rich quick schemes. Afterwards, he decided to write about it matter-of-factly -- perhaps he'll make his next million off of the royalties ;)

While I don't expect he'll win a Pulitzer Prize for the effort, the book is an easy read, and follows a logical, easy-to-follow timeline from start to end, with a few key points to remember reinforced along the way.

For the first significant portion of the book I was left wondering "ok, when's his marvelous 'system' going to come into play...inevitably the greatest thing since sliced bread". It never happened, and it's (in my opinion) more modest and far better off for that fact.

He had a reasonable income, $40K, from his day job, and he put it to work to make it happen. At times his pursuits go off on random tangents -- one-off gigs here and there for some extra fame and coin...with this sort of progress, you start to wonder how it's going to play out that he achieves his goal. At the same time, you may wonder along the way if one of these tangents is going to be the key to his achievement ("Oh no, he wants me to strike it rich doing reality TV?!"). In spite of (or perhaps because of) these tangents and his matter-of-fact manner, the book has a very down to earth feel, relating the story of a real person, not some icon you hope to emulate. It comes as a relief to find that these quirky excursions aren't the key to his success, but simply stops along the way.

Simply put, he set out rules for himself. First, he saves as much as he can bear along the way -- including retirement savings plans. Eventually he realizes that "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy", and adjusts accordingly, within reason. He adapts his living arrangements to reduce his costs and boost his income and net worth when possible -- once he'd taken a foothold in real estate by purchasing a modest apartment, he takes on a roommate (someone he knew) to offset his monthly mortgage payment.

We're taken on a casual guided tour of how he got into other properties, and why. You're not left feeling that it was a whirlwind trip, but a slow methodical one such that he was certain to reach the desired destination, even if not by the date he set out.

As you'd expect, he does achieve his goal by the end of the book -- and he's only been involved in a few properties to do so, along with his disciplined plan for saving. [Admittedly, the degree of discipline in his method for saving will be a bit much for most, but adhering to the principles will achieve similar results, just not as quickly]

So: no rocket science here, but if you're up for a quick easy tale of how a real person got there, this could be your ticket.

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