Money For Life: Build the Wealth You Need to Live Your Dream

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9780066620435: Money For Life: Build the Wealth You Need to Live Your Dream

Sheard redefines the concept of "retirement" as an issue of financial independence that can be achieved at any age. He spells out clearly, as no book has before, exactly how to set up and reach personal financial and lifestyle goals through savvy investing. Designed for boomers now in their peak earning years, the book cuts through the complicated formulas and actuarial tables to show readers how to figure out exactly how to plan for and achieve financial independence.

Eschewing the traditional approach to retirement at 65, the book acknowledges that boomers are in a hurry. They want to get on with their lives, change careers, take sabbaticals -- in short, to pursue their dreams. By abandoning the age criteria and formulating a new approach to retirement, Sheard makes this possible. Using the techniques he made famous while with the Motley Fools, Sheard develops a framework that treats individuals as self-sustaining "foundations," living off a well-invested nest egg. He clearly shows the reader what steps to take in order to make financial independence possible.

Mr. Sheard gained a broad following at The Motley Fool. His audience will undoubtedly be interested in Money For Life. He is now an investor columnist with the Microsoft Network.

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Review:

Most workers get it wrong: instead of saving for retirement, they should focus on investing for financial independence. Retirement, Robert Sheard argues, is an outmoded concept left over from the days when you worked for a company from your 20s to your mid-60s, retired with a gold watch and a pension, and then died a few years later. Today, the average worker will switch careers three times (something Sheard, now an investment adviser, notes he accomplished before the age of 40). And, of course, that worker will probably live far longer than pensioners of past generations. What that worker wants is the ability to do something he or she loves, no matter if it brings in revenue. In other words, an investment plan that will support his or her living expenses indefinitely.

Money for Life offers a way to do just that. The cornerstone of Sheard's plan is what he calls his "20 Factor Formula." You figure out your projected living expenses if you retired today (he offers tips to help you include everything), multiply by 20, and that's what you need in your portfolio to achieve financial independence. To amass that portfolio, Sheard offers an equally simple solution: forget diversification. He argues convincingly that investing in an array of stock and bond funds is a loser's game; your returns will always trail those of the S&P 500. You could just put all your money in an S&P 500 index fund, but Sheard shows a scenario in which a hypothetical investor did just that in 1960, and by 1983 his portfolio was busted, a victim of inflation and a couple of devastating bear markets. Instead, Sheard recommends the Dogs of the Dow approach, in which the lowliest of the Dow's 30 stocks are bought each year. As he showed in his previous book, The Unemotional Investor, this strategy has gained 2.5 percent more per year than simple index investing. Index investing is a complete no-brainer, but the Dogs of the Dow isn't much more difficult. Sheard says it takes about 30 minutes a year to pull it off. He balances the book with lots of other financial advice--of particular interest are his contrarian opinions on 401(k) investing--and maintains a nice levity throughout. It's genuinely fun to read, and by the book's end, you feel as if you've gained a lifetime's worth of investment advice with just a few leisurely afternoons of reading. --Lou Schuler

About the Author:

Robert Sheard is an internationally known investment writer. His first book, The Unemotional Investor, was a New York Times and Business Week bestseller and was named one of the Best Business Books of 1998 by the editors at Amazon.com. His work has appeared on the Motley Fool and Microsoft Investor and in numerous magazines, including Modern Maturity. He is a founding partner in the private money management firm Sheard & Davey Advisors, LLC (www.sheard-davey.com).

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