[Front Cover of The Little Book of Main Street Money]

Jonathan Clements’ personal finance column Getting Going for The Wall Street Journal used to be a weekly must-read for many years until he left the Journal to work in financial services. His column ran for 14 years and touched on a wide variety of topics — everything from coping with bear markets to divorcing the right way. So when I ran across this Little Book at our local library, I was curious to find out more about the “21 Simple Truths that Help Real People Make Real Money”.

Mr. Clements did not disappoint. In this short book, running a modest 194 pages, Mr. Clements has distilled the wisdom gathered over decades observing and writing about Wall Street and watching Main Street readers grapple with financial decisions. This book is not just about the mechanics of saving, investing and constructing portfolios but like his columns for the Journal, Mr. Clements talks about subjects such as human capital, money and happiness and longevity risk. For example, Mr. Clements has six suggestions for getting off the hedonic treadmill and squeezing more happiness out of a limited supply of dollars:

  1. Buy experiences, rather than things.
  2. Count your blessings.
  3. Strive for a sense of control.
  4. Find a purpose.
  5. Give a little.
  6. Make time for friends and family.

A minor quibble: Canadian readers might find the US terminology a bit distracting. Fortunately, the offending terms are limited to a couple of chapters. You can find the table of contents listing the 21 simple truths here. A sample chapter is available on the Wiley website. The book is published by John Wiley and has a cover price of $23.95.

This article has 6 comments

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  2. I like his writing style. It is very approachable.

  3. Canadian Capitalist

    @Aolis: I agree. Clements is a very talented writer. I still miss his WSJ columns. Reading this book felt a bit like synopsis of the over 1,000 columns he wrote over the years.

  4. That’s a succinct review of what sounds like an eye-opening book. The sample chapter has a good feeling of focusing on the big picture. I sometimes think of a mortgage as leverage, but day to day, I lose that perspective.

    I envy you for having Ottawa’s library system. I live in a small city with limited financial books.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @gene: Yes, Ottawa’s Library system is outstanding. The collection is extensive and they carry so many excellent financial books.

      Mortgage may be good debt but it is definitely leverage. In fact, a mortgage is akin to a huge short position in bonds. It may be better off to pay off that mortgage instead of investing in bonds for a portion of the portfolio.

  5. One of the best of the ‘Little Book’ serie (only my personal favourite Peter Schiff was better); Mr. Clements doesn’t pretend being the biggest finance expert in the history of mankind (such a common feature of similar authors…), but still provides a solid piece of information.