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Book Review

This is my first stab at doing a video blog post so don’t hate on me to bad. I tried using a webcam but the audio sucked and the video quality was sub par, this final version of the video was shot using my iPhone and I actually think it turned out surprisingly well. If response is good I may invest in some real equipment but for now the iPhone seems to be working. I chose to do a video review because I think it will give you a better idea of how I really feel about a book, check it out and let me know what you think.

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Readers: What do you think of Gary and his book? Have you read it?

p.s. I sound a little more country than I thought I did.. damn south is corrupting me.

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your-money-ratios-198x300I was given a copy of Your Money Ratios by Charles Farrell and asked to provide my thoughts on the book. I would like to first state that I was not asked to provide positive feedback on the book, just my honest opinion of the material and how it was presented. I am also going to be giving this book away to one lucky reader so be sure to read on to figure out how to enter the give away.

General Overview

Your Money Ratios seeks to provide the reader with a method for determining:

  1. How much they should be saving,
  2. How much they should already have saved,
  3. How much debt they can carry,
  4. How you should invest your savings, and
  5. What type of insurance you need.

The determination is made using ratios defined by the author such as the savings ratio which states you should be saving 12% of your annual income from ages 25-45 and 15% of your annual income from 45-65. Based on the book I should be saving at least 12% of my income every year (Which I am). Similar type ratios are set for each of the 5 areas listed above. Some of the areas, such as insurance, include multiple ratios.

What I liked

It is an interesting take on how to calculate the “necessary” goals in obtaining financial security. It clearly outlines what the author feels are the pertinent ratios and presents them in ways people can easily understand. Each section is targeted at a specific goal and doesn’t wander as much as some other books do. This makes the entire learning experience easier and moderately less confusing.

What I didn’t like

There is a heavy reliance on Social Security as a retirement income stream. While I don’t disagree with the facts he states regarding social security, it isn’t a guaranteed benefit and can be given at taken away at the whim of congress. I don’t really feel like I learned a lot from reading the book, it takes a lot of the regular principles of personal finance and packages them in a gimmicky box, the contents are still the same. To the authors credit he did a good job of explaining his ratios and someone just starting out could certainly learn a lot from a reference like this.

About the Author

Charles J. Farrell, J.D., LL.M. works for Northstar Investment advisers and writes a column for the CBS Moneywatch site. Prior to being an investment advisor he was a Tax Attorney which is how he picked up those fancy letters after his name. J.D. = Juris Doctor or Doctorate of Law and LL.M. is a Masters in Law.

Overall Conclusion

Overall the book wasn’t bad, it took concepts that are prevalent in most personal finance books and tried to apply some form of  “logic” to how they should be applied. If you are a numbers kind of persons it can certainly help you out to have these ratios to base your decisions on. One word of caution I like to give is to not rely solely on one resource to make all of you decisions. Just like noone should come here as their one stop shop for all things personal finance you shouldn’t rely on just one book. This may be a good compliment to your collection, especially if you collection is still in its infancy.

Win The BOOK!

We are giving away our copy of the book to one luck reader.

There are two ways to enter to win a free copy of the book “Your Money Ratios”

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me how you plan to improve this year on one of the Five Main elements listed in the overview.
  2. Tweet the following notice about this giveaway on Twitter:  I Just entered to win the book “Your Money Ratios” via @suburbandollar #sdymrbk

The Fine Print

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only sorry to my international readers but the book is kind of heavy. You get one entry and one entry only for each of the methods allowed. This makes for a maximum of two entries if you both leave a comment and tweet about the giveaway. If you tweet about it 6 times, I will appreciate it but you only get one entry. You must follow me on twitter so I can DM you if you win or use a valid email address when posting a comment. If I can’t get a hold of you, you  don’t win. The winner will be selected on Sunday January 10, 2010 via random number generation on


UPDATED 01/10/2010 – The winner has been chosen @liverealnow won by random selection and will be contacted shortly to receive their book.


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About the Book

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is essentially extreme tips for saving money and losing any semblance you may have of dignity. Phil Villareal provides 100 tips to help you learn how to do things like:

  • Get free meals at restaurants
  • Finagle your way into a cheaper hotel room
  • Save money at the club and,
  • avoid contributing to company gifts

What I Liked

This was an honestly entertaining tome. The tips were wildly outrageous and in some instances down right dirty. If you are willing to take the advice with a grain of salt then you will be entertained. Added to all of that there are actually some good tips you can actually use mixed in with the tips that will get you shunned socially. A few of the decent tips include:

  • Troll around campus when the semester is over looking for left behinds from snotty college kids.
  • When hitting the clubs pack a flask so you aren’t paying out the rear for drinks
  • Walk the extra distance to get to your own ATM and avoid paying costly out of network charges.

What I Didn’t Like

Some of these tips are down right evil, and borderline illegal. I am not certain of the laws associated with credit card fraud. I am pretty sure that running up a $300 tab and then calling the card company later and claiming it should have been $30 is shady. Other things are shady, take the recommendation that you purchase a cubic zirconium engagement ring and claim it is a family heirloom. The author even suggests you SHOULD theater hop at the movies, and pick up stray unattended tips sitting on the bar.

About the Author

Phil Villarreal is a film critic for the Arizona Daily Star, contributer to OK! Magazine, runs two blogs, and is the author of Stormin’ Mormon. He has worked as the movie critic at the Daily Star since 2001.

Overall Conclusion

The book was entertaining and it is certainly worth the read, just please don’t go through and actually do all 100 of these tips. I thought I was going to have to write a scathing review of a book about cheating the world. Instead I found the book to be written well enough that people would find the gems in the mess of humor.


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Review – An American Hedge Fund

May 29, 2009

This is the story of how a young man turned his bar mitzvah money into a Million dollars and then started a hedge fund. Frustrated with how hard it is to get a new hedge fund off the ground and find investors due to SEC regulations Mr. Sykes wrote a book about his story. The […]

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Review – 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget

May 13, 2009

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget” by the Writers of Wisebread. I had hoped to get a review written before now but I had to pry the book out of my wife’s hands. That in itself means the book must be pretty […]

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