Money Master the Game

Money Master the Game is a monster and is packed with a ton of information.  It’s kind of overwhelming as so much of it is actionable.  I found myself spending a lot of time on each section of the book re-evaluating my existing financial layout and approach.  It’s almost seven separate books.

The book is broken down into 7 ‘simple’ steps, although each one is a pretty robust examination of how you treat a financial area of your life.  Each one is important, so I’ll do seven mini reviews.

1) Change your mindset to that of an investor.
Invest first, spend second.  Learn the techniques and habits required to make sure you invest.  This chapter is all about discipline.  If you can’t create the systems and habits necessary to invest and manage your money then there really isn’t much point in going any further.  This is where most of us fail in our money management, so it really is the best one to come first.

2) Know the rules of the game.
The information here on how mutual funds are structured and their fees is eye opening.  You will learn a lot of the tricks of the financial services trade in this section which shows how they make money and how much you are giving up for management services.  Not all advisers are equal, and those apparent low costs aren’t low at all.  This chapter will help you learn how to interview a financial adviser.

3) How to win the game.
This is all about the mindset of what it means to be wealthy enough.  This isn’t just about the money but your definition of success.  There are plenty of unhappy wealthy people.  Chances are if you are an American, you are one of them.  Wealth is relative and there will always be someone with more.  As long as you are trapped in the mindset of needing more, you will always need more and never ‘win.’  So define what winning looks like, and make it something achievable.  It’s very likely that you are already there or a lot closer than you think.

4) Asset Allocation.
This is more than just how much to put in stocks, bonds and real estate.  Much of this section is about managing your risk and keeping some for yourself.  Risk can be difficult to quantify and using the bond dial doesn’t really do it.  Chasing yield can be very dangerous because there are always going to be wild downside swings and events that you can’t control.  This section demonstrates how to protect your wealth, and be ok not beating or even matching the S&P every year.  Keeping your money every year growing slowly is better than exposing yourself to the possibility of a large downswing that hurt so many retirees in 2008.  This is all about managing your emotions, sticking to a plan, and not letting fear of missing out push you into a risky position.

5) Lifetime income.
This chapter explores many investment vehicles that would be considered boring or unsexy like insurance, annuities, and trusts.  Good investing is actually pretty boring.  The exciting stuff is generally risky.  So if you want to fire and forget it, you own it to yourself to check out these often overlooked instruments that can protect your downside which is more important than getting the maximum upside.

6) Best in the Biz.
Tony interviews the top financial investors that have beat the market in the long run.  These unicorns have some great words of wisdom and the small peak into their approach to life and investing is telling.  There are some interesting exchanges from the giants of the industry like John Templeton, Jack Bogle, Carl Ichan, David Swensen, Mary Callahan Erdoes, Charles Schwab, and Ray Dalio.  These are all heavy hitters that shared some one-on-one time for you to learn from.  Tony asks them all the same questions, and in each answer you are sure to find wisdom to guide your own investing career.

7) Life is what you give.
Tony always sneaks in his Trojan horse in all of his content which is life is not about the money but about what you give and how you grow.  We all think that we want the money, and we do.  However the money is not what makes us happy.  It can be a vehicle for growth and steroids for who you are as a person.  The question remains after you have learned these lessons and applied them over the years, you are going to become very wealthy.  Now what are you going to do with it?  How are you going to give back, to grow, and impact lives around you.  That is where fulfillment and true happiness lies.  The best part is you can do those things now without having to wait for your personal definition of ‘made it.’

The first six chapters will teach you the tools, techniques, habits, and discipline to generate more wealth than you need to live.  Time freedom is the first holy grail but quickly gives way to dissatisfaction.  The last chapter will hopefully inspire you to give back the extra in a way that is meaningful to you.  Money buys emotion, so managing your money is mostly an exercise in managing your emotions.

I gave this book 5 stars because it opened my eyes to ways the financial industry works that I was not previously aware of.  If you are in the financial industry, these are probably self evident.  If you’re not and you have a retirement account, this book will serve you well.