Review – “Killing Sacred Cows”

Killing Sacred Cows (Cover)

This is my first book review so bear with me on this, I would love to get some feedback on this format and length, leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail.

This book stands to fly in the face of all personal finance books you have read in the past, the system focus on what the author calls your “Soul Purpose.” With Soul Purpose all your dreams, financial and otherwise will come true. If you cease to focus on accumulation and start to focus on utilization you won’t have to worry about the amount of money you have accumulated because you will be doing what you love and enjoy and will be producing value for those around you.

The book was written by Garret B. Gunderson who became a millionaire by the age of 26, owns 26 companies, and was the winner of the SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.  He coaches elite business owners in the financial services industry and has created programs to empower people to achieve wealth.  The book was co-authored by Stephen Palmer, a scholar, a teacher, a writer, and an entrepreneur.  The premise of the book is that everything you have learned about finance and wealth is a myth and everything you are doing now may help you build wealth but it won’t help you to enjoy your life. The authors address 9 “Myths” about money and why these “myths” are so destructive to our financial well being:

Myth 1:
Finite Pie – This chapter seeks to debunk the myth that there is only a finite amount of money in society and for every dollar we get someone else loses a dollar. This chapter sets the basis for the book by showing how money is just a representation of value and whatever you purchase with your money you value more than the money itself, addition the person you purchased the item from values your dollars more than the item they sold.

Myth 2: You’re in it for the long haul – In this chapter the author shows how wealth should not be measured by a person’s net worth but by the person’s cash flow. True wealth should not be about the accumulation of dollars and the myth of compound interest but about the utilization of your money to continually produce value in your life.  Another key point is the question as to why do we postpone enjoyment of our money until we retire. The biggest in your face moment of the book is when the authors state 401(k)s are a trap and people shouldn’t fear taking money from their 401(k) for other investments which may allow you to utilize that money now and create an increased cash flow.

Myth 3: It’s all about the numbers – Chapter 3 shows how the financial industry uses numbers to show us how the more money we have the better our retirement and lives will be. The authors, however, state happiness and quality of life are the only true factors that matter. The authors also show, and I agree, how the assumption which retirement planners use when pitching plans, such as tax rates post retirement and returns from the market are borderline criminal. Rounding out the chapter the point is made that all financial decisions should be made based on the happiness, or value, it will bring to your life.

Myth 4: Financial Security – Myth 4 is that financial security, and everything you have been told about it, is a myth. The only true security one can have in life lies within themselves and with what the authors call your “Soul Purpose.” When you find your soul purpose you are capable of providing value to others which will result in security.  The authors discuss how working in a job because you feel it provides “security” is working against you not for you.  They discuss how producers practice stewardship of their resources as opposed to capitalistic ownership. Stewards will temporarily use resources to create value for others, not exploit their available resources.

Myth 5: Money is Power – The fifth chapter seeks to show how the belief that money is power destroys your ability to be productive and become wealthy.  One of the things they discuss is how most people wrongly believe that when they have a good idea, it must have already been done before, or that because they don’t have money they can’t implement or pursue the idea. They stipulate money is just the representation of the value associated with a transaction, so as long as you are capable of producing value money should follow. Additional points made are to show money does not make people evil, only people can make themselves evil.

Myth 6: High Risks=High Returns – In this section of the book Mr. Gunderson and Mr. Palmer postulate that truly successful producers do not take risks, in fact they work to eliminate all risk from their investments. They believe the risks associated with investments can be mitigated by understanding what you are investing in, and ensuring that your investments are in line with your soul purpose. Additionally you lose time and opportunity to produce at your best because you are worried about your “risky” investments, and this worry makes you less productive. The best piece of advice in this book was found in this chapter, the best investment you can make is ALWAYS in yourself. The more you learn the better you will perform.

Myth 7: Self Insurance – Chapter 7 addresses the myth that insurance is a necessary evil that is no longer required once you have money.  The authors state self-insurance is a waste of money and leaves people far worse off in the long run then if they had been paying for insurance all along. If you have $1,000,000, no insurance, and a $750,000 home then you cannot effectively access anything but $250,000 of your money. You cannot maximize your potential with the remaining $750,000 because you have to have that money available for “Insurance”.  Additionally the authors disagree with the premise that Term Life Insurance is better than whole life policies. The whole life policies have additional benefits, such as the ability to make loans out of your cash value, which you don’t have with term

Myth 8: Avoid debt like the plague – The point the authors try to make in chapter 8, is that debt, in the true sense, is bad. Their definition of debt is when your liabilities (what you owe) exceed your assets (what you have).  You can have liabilities, provided they produce value, and they do not exceed your assets.  The authors by no means support what they call consumptive debt. They even manage to call out Dave Ramsey and state there is only so much you can do to reduce expenses but the ability to produce more value/income is unlimited. In general you should seek to only have productive liabilities, one which produce a corresponding asset, and avoid consumptive liabilities.

Myth 9: A Penny saved is a penny earned – Chapter 9 discusses the topic of price versus value. Price, while important, does not signify value. Buying the least expensive item to save a penny doesn’t always result in actual savings. You can’t think of everything as just a Dollar Cost, there are inherent productivity metrics associated.  For instance many people, myself included, wouldn’t dream of paying to have their lawn mowed. The authors postulate that by paying someone to mow the yard they have additional time to be more productive and thus produce more money.

My Final Thoughts: In summary I found the book to be mildly informational. They authors seemed stuck on the single statement that the more you invest in yourself and themore value you are capable of producing in the world the more you will be financially rewarded. While I agree with that statement and I understand that the more knowledge you have the more likely you are to be successful, I don’t think they needed 280+ pages to get that single point across. If you would like to get a different perspective on your financial life, pick this book up at the library, otherwise I don’t know that you would miss out on too much.

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