Chris Childs

Books Don’t Give You Answers. In fact – they should give you the questions.

I am a huge advocate for reading books. For the past two years I have set a goal to read 52 books a year. Even when I don’t hit the goal it still means I have read a huge number of books. Reading excites and motivates me to ask more questions and seek more answers.

The important thing to understand when reading books is – you don’t get the whole answer.

That is quite obvious.

If you did, there would be no need for schools, universities, TAFE Colleges or Apprenticeships. Why? Simply because a book doesn’t answer questions, a book can’t point out the 1000s of variables that affect every solution.

The perfect way to educate yourself is to read several books on a topic to get different views and aspects, then find a teacher, specialist, mentor or coach to help you find the answers to the variables. That’s how education works.

It wouldn’t be possible to become a nurse, doctor or surgeon from books alone. Mechanics, scientists, doctors and farmers all need practical experience and guidance. I don’t know of an Olympic athlete who has ever won gold from reading about their sport either. They rely on a coach, asking questions, seeking answers, training and practice.

Trying to learn about creating wealth, investing in shares, money management, debt reduction and property investment from a book might give you some hints and tips and ideas, however, the problem is there are too many variables to have this as your main ‘education’. You can’t ask specific questions about YOUR money journey.

Over the years I have read many books on the subject and I have learned so many gems!

From the thirty years’ experience I have had with money, investment and property I can also pick problems and pitfalls and plain errors in some of the advice I read. However, when I read about a subject I don’t specialise in, I don’t notice the misinformation or the gaps in information. I don’t know enough about the topic to pick the potholes and problems of the advice.

I am always drawn to read the sage advice in new titles of some of the powerhouses in the business, motivation and investment world such as Anthony Robbins ‘Unshakeable’ and the classics such as Robert K’s ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’. They give us a lot of the motivation and their general points are amazing (these are two of my favourite authors). Other authors such as Warren Buffett, Donald Trump (prior to presidency) are also full of financial advice.

The downside is the investment information in these books is American based and mostly not relevant to how things work tax-wise, property wise and investment wise in Australia.

Unfortunately, because you can’t ask a book any questions, these things won’t be obvious unless you have the knowledge or experience to pick the things that will and won’t work for you.

The four main things in American based books that could shoot the novice investor in the foot are:

  1. In America the interest on your personal home loan is tax deductible, and residential investment property loans are often not.
  2. American Superannuation (401k’s) is totally different to our Super, Australia has a different internal structure and investment rules.
  3. Their banking system is also totally different. Which means how to get a loan, how the banks lend money, and how they treat self employed is also different.
  4. The type of property investment that works in America is almost the opposite to what works in Australia. The differences in lending for both residential and commercial are just the start.

Even books written by Australians can still send you off track depending on your actual goals. For example, (and this is my personal opinion only) Scott Pape (author of Barefoot Investor) is a bestseller, his book on getting started with money and life has been flying off the shelves and every second person has read it, as have I.

There are some great tips and hints in this book, in fact, if you are young and getting started, trying to save for your first home I would say this would be a fairly good pattern to follow. I would agree with 80-90% of what he advises for a beginner without a mortgage.

However, again in my opinion, once someone has a mortgage, and if their goal is to pay their home off and build a comfortable retirement I believe 80-90% of his advice is wrong. Big call I know, and let’s face it – he has sold literally tens of thousands of books, so who am I to comment?

My experience with money over the past thirty years has shown what works and what doesn’t, and it’s my opinion, that’s all.

As a coach and mentor, I specialise in teaching people about money management, debt reduction, saving money without reducing lifestyle and how to set themselves up for the future to ensure a comfortable retirement without having to compromise on lifestyle today.

Also I teach people about the different ‘recipes’ for financial success, including looking at what is written about the subject. I read the books, analyse them, I find what will work here in Australia and what doesn’t. I pick out the good points and also find the potholes and problems and discuss and explain them.

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So, my advice is, read books. It is motivational, it gives you new ideas and information. Just understand that books aren’t the answers, they are the questions.

Happy reading!