Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Burn Your Mortgage

Unless your have been living under a rock you likely heard the story of the guy that paid off his mortgage in three years at the age of 30.  His name is Sean Cooper and he then proceeded to write a book on personal finance called Burn Your Mortgage.  So when he contacted me about doing a review of his book of course I agreed to read a copy.

The book is broken up into three main sections the first covers the basics of personal finance, while the second is a detailed look at buying a house and the third is about dealing with home ownership.  I honestly was a bit concerned about having to read the first section.  I’ve read SO MANY personal finance books over the years that I generally don’t learn much reading them anymore.  But Sean did a solid job on this part of the book, he outlines the basics well and even gave me a few ideas on things to look into for cost savings.

The second section is where I think the book really shines.  He does a great job of walking a novice through the process of buying a house.  While of course he can’t cover every detail depending on you live he does a great job of process from dealing with house inspections, making a offer and even some tips on how to deal with a hot housing market when you decision window is a lot smaller.  If you have never bought a house before you really should read this book so you know what to expect.

Then finally the last section is a good summary of what a home owner is now responsible for and things you will need like house insurance.  If you have been a lifelong renter the transition could be a shock so I thought this was an excellent idea to include.  Then the last chapter is some general advice on renting out your home if you wanted to go down that path.

Perhaps the only thing that generally I disagreed with was his advise for when living in an expensive housing market increasing what you are willing to spend to get a house.  I fundamentally don’t agree.  If you can’t afford the house at a reasonable ratio of the house price to your income, I personally don’t think you should buy.  But that is the function of my experience, I don’t live in Toronto where house prices are literally climbing the ceiling.  So I understand the context of his advice even if I won’t follow it myself.

But overall it was a solid book and well done.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Now the fun part.  I was also given a few extra copies of the book to giveaway.  So yes, you can now win your own copy of the book.  To enter leave a comment on this post with a valid email address by May 12, 2017 at midnight CST.  I will randomly pick two entries to win a copy of the book which I will mail to you.  Winners will be contacted by email.  Good luck to everyone.

* * *

Update: Winners are Olivier and Theo…please check your email accounts for an email from me.  It may have gone into your spam filter.

Books, Reviews and Reading Lists

I love books, like A LOT.  Like to the point the librarians at our local library branch know me by first and last name, which isn’t surprising when we go there almost every week of the year.  As some of you may recall I even used to post the odd book review here on relevant titles, but I’ve more or less stopped that as I read too much and couldn’t keep up with what I finished reading. (For reference my reading goal for the year is 100 books, which isn’t really that much of stretch for me. I did say I read A LOT.)

Yet now I found the crack for book lovers website: aka Goodreads.  While I’m rather new to the site I’m slowly building up a listing of books I’ve read and like and will even put in the odd review for those that might be interested in following my reading tastes this is my profile.  Please be patient with me as building up what I’ve read over the years is a work in progress.   I do hope to offer you all an idea of what retirement books I found useful over the years plus a heavy dose of other business books, fantasy and science fiction and even some young adult books (yes I like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson).

So if somehow you are curious about what I’m reading in a given week I now am giving you all collective permission to stalk my reading habits.  Hopefully this will be more effect means for keeping you up to date on books that may help you out on your own journey to early retirement.

Book Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

So after hearing about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo a fair bit in the media I borrowed a copy from my library and started to read.  After all I’ve had passing flirting with minimalism over the years so I figured it couldn’t hurt.  But to be honest, I didn’t expect to learn much from the book. Damn I was wrong.

For for being a fairly short book Marie manages to pack in a lot of insightful comments on people’s behaviour to our stuff.  The first one to struck me as being hugely helpful is the average person is never taught how to purge or organize anything except in a haphazard way from family or perhaps friends.  So what happens is our homes (no matter how large or small) tend to build up WAY to much stuff.  Now how messy you are will determine how obvious the problem is, but volume still often exceeds what we can reasonably store in our homes.

Then people try to deal with this huge backlog of things but often try to do it just a little at a time which is like trying to swim up a river a foot at a time.  You might make some progress but you are going to feel exhausted from it all the time and likely give up.  So Marie’s solution is simple…do one monster size purge in your life and then you are done (it may take months to finish).  This isn’t to say you don’t need to do a little purging once and a while afterward, but organizing your stuff if pointless until you get rid of a huge amount of it.

Marie’s method is interesting because she doesn’t focus on what to purge, but rather what to keep.  Her criteria of it must ‘spark joy’  as you handle each item sounded weird to me until I stumbled on the idea of  that means: do you love the item?  So by default there is no maybe pile…you either love and keep it or it gets purged.  It’s a somewhat brutal method, but given the amount of crap people own it is surprising effective criteria.

Then to hone your decision making skills she points out a method of doing it by category of object for the entire house instead of by room.  That way you get practice on the easier decision items and work down to the hard decisions like sentimental items.  Her suggested list is clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and lastly mementos.   Komono is further broken down into CDs/DVDs, skin care, makeup, accessories, valuables (passports, credit cards…), electronics and cords, household equipment (stationary, pens, sewing kits…), household supplies (expendables like tissue, detergents, medicine…), kitchen goods/food supplies and other.  Your stop point for purge is when you feel comfortable with what is left.

After you do your monster purge then you start to organize things .  At which point most storage solutions are not really required since you actually have like 25 to 80% less stuff.  Then the trick to preventing clutter from all from coming back is to keep everything in its place.  Assign a home for EVERYTHING and put it back when you are done using it.  She cautions not to try and organize as you purge as you will lose focus and then stop.

Overall I’m done clothes, books, DVDs and still working on papers…I got side tracked by having to finish my taxes.  I have to agree with the idea of the monster purge idea as once you get going you hit a sort of momentum that makes the effort of keeping going easier.  My motivation for this is the dream of waking up in  house where I love everything that is there…my neglected items are gone and I can FIND things easily.  She rightly points out without some kind of goal in mind the process really won’t work.

This isn’t to say that some of her ideas are a bit odd like unpacking your purse or bag completely at the end of each day after you get back home from work.   Umm, no thanks. Too much work for no real point. Or that she treats objects like they have personality and you should thank them for their service.  So feel free to ignore the really odd ideas in the book…I am.

In the end, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the book and I am finding it useful so far.  It remains to be seen if I can complete the process, but I’m enjoying the results so far.  So have you read the book yet?  Do you think Marie is nuts or brilliant…or perhaps in between?