Money at 30: “Financial Freedom” Book Review
When my wife and I decided to move from Los Angeles to Springfield, Missouri, we did so in a bid to have more financial freedom. Sure enough, the savings associated with that relocation have helped get us on track for building an emergency fund and getting started with investing. Yet, as I’ve learned in recent years, there’s a sizeable difference between “financial freedom” and “financial independence.” Ironically then, the book Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need by Millennial Money founder Grant Sabatier actually focuses more on the latter. Such technicalities aside, the book itself proves to be an engaging and encouraging look at how you can best put your money to work in order to live the life you want.
In early chapters, Sabatier lays out one of the best explanations of financial independence that I’ve come across. This includes explaining what most mainstream retirement calculators you encounter get wrong and how you can actually retire younger with less money than you’d need if you waited until the traditional 65. Even as someone who’s heard some of these things before, reading all this was still mindblowing and motivating.
While it’s clear that Sabatier’s intention in Financial Freedom is to help you set a course toward financial independence, like other FIRE-centric books I’ve reviewed, you don’t need to be pursuing FI to learn from these lessons. For example, if you’re wondering whether it’s better to max out your retirement accounts before opening a taxable brokerage account, you’ll find the answer here. Meanwhile, if you’ve ever considered a side hustle but don’t know what to do or where to find the time, Sabatier has plenty of tips for you as well. Heck, there’s even a Travel Hacking 101 section all about unlocking free travel with points and miles as well as tips for becoming a professional housesitter (yes, that’s a thing!). Needless to say, I really appreciated how wide-ranging and diverse the money topics discussed in the book turned out to be.
Perhaps my favorite section of the books is one in which Sabatier walks you through calculating how much you really make per hour. Hint: once you consider things like your commute, the time you spend checking e-mails from home, etc., it’s not nearly as much as your paycheck breakdown would suggest. In turn, he goes on to explain how knowing this actual hourly wage can help you make wiser financial decisions as you can compare the price of a purchase to how many hours of your life you’d need to spend on it. This isn’t a radical concept, to be sure, but it’s interesting nonetheless. It’s also intriguing to see how these small savings can grow over time if you invested the funds — although reading this point repeatedly throughout can grow a bit tedious.
On that note, given all of the math and technical talk a book such as this one needs to cover, you might expect Finance Freedom to be a tough slog at times. Thankfully, on the whole, I felt that Sabatier did a commendable job of explaining things through not only text but frequent tables and charts. However I will note that there were a couple of places where I thought he’d overexplain relatively simple concepts — such as bonds being considered less risky than stocks — while leaving readers to sort out more complex topics on their own. This is to say that, even with my familiarity of some of the material, I did need to reread certain paragraphs and sections a second time to fully grasp what he was saying. Somewhat similarly, some of the tables included didn’t seem to offer a ton of value. Of course these instances were few and far between and so they didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment.
Speaking of tables and such, while there are some “fill in the blank” activities within the book’s pages, there’s much more interactivity to be found on the book’s site. Most notably this page hosts a number (pardon the pun) of calculators you can use to find your savings rate, your FI number, and the aforementioned actual hourly wage. Admittedly I have yet to really mess around with many of these for myself but they do look pretty helpful from the cursory glance I gave them coupled with the explanations given for them in the book.
I should mention that I first became aware of the Financial Freedom book not only because I attended a presentation by Sabatier at this year’s FinCon but also because there’s actually going to be a Financial Freedom Summit in May of 2020. As luck would have it, the event will be in St. Louis, Missouri — a mere three hour drive from my home in Springfield. Thus, I took advantage of the add-on while purchasing my FinCon 2020 ticket and look forward to attending the Summit myself.
After reading Financial Freedom, I had two main takeaways: 1) “that was really fascinating” and 2) “I’m so not ready to pursue FI.” I doubt that latter point is one that Sabatier would really want me to come away with but it’s true. Despite that realization, I came away from the book really motivated to continue my financial journey. In my mind, that’s a huge compliment to Sabatier’s work and an endorsement that anyone interested in achieving greater financial freedom should give this one a read.
Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need is now available in hardcover, with a paperback edition arriving April 7th, 2020.