Category Archives: Reviews

It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!

This post, “It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees,” is a review of author Cara MacMillan’s book by the same title. This review is not sponsored by the author or Halcyon Consulting Publication, and all opinions contained in this review are mine. However, Finance Superhero did receive a complimentary copy of the book. To purchase your copy of the book, visit Amazon.


The odds are good that you heard the phrase often as a kid:

Money doesn’t grow on trees!

 

Cara MacMillan challenges this notion and countless other money assumptions throughout It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees! Inspired by interactions with two of her college students, MacMillan crafted the book in the form of a narrative which takes place in a college classroom. A fictional guest professor, Catherine, leads students through a multi-day discussion surrounding money and its wide-ranging impact upon life.

"It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees" provides a close look at common money assumptions and challenges readers to think critically about building wealth.Chapter One illustrates an important idea which rings just as true in the real world – we all have our own unique views and definitions of money, which tend to come from our parents and other cultural influences. MacMillan clarifies a strong basis for the remainder of the book: money is simply a resource that we all use for exchange purposes. Though this idea is simple at its core, money remains a complicated subject.

As classroom discussion unfolds in each chapter, a wide variety of financial worldviews are explored and challenged by the students. Each step of the way, the characters in the story connect their beliefs on money to their personal values. The conversations flow naturally even as characters explain foundational financial concepts such as bond grades, mutual funds, and dividends. MacMillan carefully navigates discussions of faith and finances and presents characters’ beliefs with care. The students and professor discuss universal concepts and find common ground.

Throughout my reading of It’s Only Money and It Grows on Trees, I found myself asking many of the questions MacMillan intended for readers to consider:

*Why am I not rich?

*What do I need to learn?

*Do I need to change my thoughts and actions?

*Can I do it?

*Where can I go for answers?

*Can I balance my money and climate change?

"It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees" provides a close look at common money assumptions and challenges readers to think critically about building wealth. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about managing money the right way.As Catherine and her students explore financial topics such as needs vs. wants, frugality vs. cheapness, budgeting, and starting home based businesses, most readers will naturally identify with some characters and disagree with others. At the same time, the discussions consider various viewpoints and will challenge readers to question their own assumptions and deeply rooted financial beliefs.

Readers who spend considerable time reading and think about their finances may find It Is Only Money to be basic at times, but this appears to be by design; MacMillan strives to illustrate that personal finance need not be complicated whenever the story allows. As a result, her work is likely to appear to anyone who is interested in building a better financial future and open to changing patterns of behavior.

Overall, It Is Only Money is an entertaining look at financial beliefs and paths toward building sustainable wealth. Most readers will find new inspiration to seek better management of their finances. As Joshua, a student in the class, says, “Financial management is a gift we give ourselves, and when we get to wealth, we can give back even more. We can give back our time and our skills to really make a difference.”

For more information, please visit CaraMacmillan.com. When you buy your copy of It Is Only Money, 10% of the proceeds will go to support refugees of Climate Change.


Have you read It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees? Share your impressions or any questions you may have in the comments below.

Dollarlogic: A Six-Day Plan to Achieve Higher Investment Returns By Conquering Risk

In today’s post, I will be reviewing the book Dollarlogic: A Six-Day Plan to Achieve Higher Investment Returns by Conquering Risk by Andy Martin.

Disclosure: This book review is not sponsored by Career Press, Inc., the publisher of Dollarlogic, nor by the author. As a result, the thoughts expressed in this review are unfiltered and unbiased. However, FinanceSuperhero was fortunate to receive a signed and dedicated copy of the book from the author.

Dollarlogic is available for purchase now via a variety of outlets; all links to the book contained within this review are Amazon affiliate links.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy MartinAs an active investment advisor and mutual fund manager, Andy Martin boasts a unique combination of hands-on advisor/investor experience and a deep research base of novel investment ideas. He began his investment career with Merrill Lynch and is cofounder and president of 7Twelve Advisors, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor, and registered representative, general securities principal with FINRA member firm, Girard Securities, Inc. Martin has worked in virtually every part of the securities industry, including operations, sales, management, product development, research, and compliance. His research has been published or reviewed in a wide variety of journals and publications. He is Series 7, 24, 53, and 65 licensed, is a graduate of Belmont University (BBA in economics), and Vanderbilt University (MLAS), and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

For more information about Martin and 7Twelve Advisors, LLC, visit the 7Twelve website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

THE REVIEW

If the stock market was up 12% in a given year, what would you expect the return on your portfolio to be? If the stock market was down 12% in a given year, what would you expect the loss on your portfolio to be?

 

The above questions are just two shining examples of the critical questions Andy Martin poses in his quest to redefine the popular notion of investment risk while guiding the average investor toward greater introspection, wiser investing habits, and greater wealth.

As the title suggests, Martin, a 30 year industry veteran, lays out a six-day plan to achieving higher investment returns. This plan hinges upon one key fundamental: the minimization of risk, or what Martin calls dollarlogic. Explains Martin

You have heard it your entire life, and it is wrong. Risk does not equal reward. If it did, why would you wear a seat belt?

Many readers may initially be shaken by such a sudden challenge to their investment paradigm, but Martin’s evidence is compelling.

On Day 1, he leads readers to THINK about the fundamentals of risk and develop a healthy aversion to risk. By presenting a variety of statistics, financial and otherwise, Martin demonstrates several surprising truths about risk:

  • Acting in supposed “less-risky” ways can actually put you at more risk
  • A majority of successful entrepreneurs, while they may appear to be risk-takers, are actually risk-averse
  • The media perpetuates countless risk myths by misrepresenting statistics through sensationalist language (i.e. “The DOW plunged 45 points today”)

On Day 2, Martin makes a compelling argument, backed by decades of market statistics, that stocks are actually less risky than bonds. How could that be possible? As the chapter subheading states, “Your objectives, not the investment, determine the investment’s risk.”

What is an investor to do? On Day 3, Martin recommends surprising advice:

Seek lower returns.

While this sounds like nonsense at first, Martin makes a compelling argument that minimizing losses is far more valuable than maximizing returns. He provides an example of just how devastating losses can be based upon one year losses of 25% and 50% on a $10,000 investment:

  • If you lose 25%, or $2,500, you have to make 33.5% on your remaining $7,500 in the following year in order to break even.
  • If you lose 50%, or $5,000, you have to make 100% on your remaining $5,000 in the following year in order to break even.

Martin also proves that higher average returns, while a worthwhile statistic, are not always indicative of greater portfolio value due to the principles of geometric average and compound returns.

Average returns can be misleading (Graph credit to Andy Martin (@dollarlogic) and Career Press, Inc.)
Average returns can be misleading (Graph credit to Andy Martin (@dollarlogic) and Career Press, Inc.)

On Day 4, Martin exhorts readers to predict themselves, not the market. He reasons that an understanding of your goals and desired outcomes is much more valuable than an attempt to predict the market based upon past results. With poignant simplicity, he advises readers to consider where they are going instead of dwelling on where the market is going.

Days 5 and 6 are focused on the nuts and bolts of a wealth management plan. To the dismay of do-it-yourself investors, Martin recommends hiring a trustworthy, well-credentialed financial advisor who is a good fit with your personal temperament and objectives to manage a diversified portfolio which aligns with your objectives; his reasons are compelling, to say the least.

In my opinion, the one flaw contained in Dollarlogic may be information overload; for a book written for the average investor, many of the graphs and figures require a great deal of mental gymnastics for the non-investment professional to decipher.

In the end, it is ultimately the witty humor, Martin’s personal anecdotes, and the countless memorable and decisively true statements that drive Dollarlogic. As Martin states in his Introduction, Dollarlogic is not a book, per se, but a six-day investment management plan. While that kind of description might serve to turn away many readers, Martin expertly interweaves stories and investment principles in entertaining fashion. He concludes the Epilogue by quoting philosopher William James, who said

The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

In one blogger’s opinion, Andy Martin has written an investment management plan designed to help the average investor do exactly that.

If you haven’t yet read Dollarlogic, order your copy from Amazon today. Don’t forget to follow Andy Martin on Twitter (@dollarlogic).


Readers, do you think the statement “Risk ≠ Reward” is accurate? Do you structure your investments to maximize returns or minimize losses? Do you have an accurate view of your own future?