Long before J.K.Rowling and Steig Larsson became publishing phenoms, Dave Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber sold an astonishing 2 million copies in Canada alone. To put that in perspective, a book that sells a mere 5,000 copies is considered a best seller. The Wealthy Barber offered down-to-earth, simple financial advice: live within your means, pay yourself first and invest your savings wisely. Unfortunately, Dave’s message may not have sunk in fully because our debt levels are sky-high, our savings rate is very low and our investment returns are far from satisfactory.

In the two decades since its publication, Dave has met thousands of people and has taken a close look into their financial plans (If Dave is anywhere near, you’d be wise to “misplace” your financial and brokerage statements) to try to figure out where his original message went off script. He has distilled his findings into a 200-page or so book titled The Wealthy Barber Returns: Significantly Older and Marginally Wiser, Dave Chilton Offers His Unique Perspectives on the World of Money that will be hitting the store shelves this fall.

The new book is structured as a series of essays (unlike the first book’s “novel” format) allowing the reader to work their way through the book in a non-linear fashion. Dave is a gifted writer to begin with but he also revises his material numerous times after testing it out on readers. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience (I had a chance to take a sneak peek at the manuscript). More importantly, Dave offers some neat ideas that should “nudge” us to save more, spend wisely, borrow responsibly and invest better. All of this is delivered with sparking wit and peppered with numerous personal anecdotes.

The contents of the new book are under wraps but you can find the first chapter on The Wealthy Barber website. The Toronto Star published an excerpt from the book last fall on how spending begets more spending.

This article has 16 comments

  1. I was sad that I missed Dave Chilton on his stop in Lethbridge a few months ago. Can’t wait to read the new book, I’m guessing he probably doesn’t recommend the Smith Maneouvre as a new wealth building strategy?

  2. Wow. 2 million? I must be the only Canadian not to have ever read his first book. But the advice sounds pretty basic. I followed that advice from my early days, without having to have a book to tell me to do that – it seems to be common sense to me.

    As far as the commentary on today’s society is concerned, I think it’s the direct result of record low interest rates. If your bank account is only paying out 1.35% interest and you can borrow money at 3%, money is cheap and it doesn’t really “pay” to save. If the BoC didn’t drive interest rates so low, then we wouldn’t be in this situation. For one, I know that I’m really disappointed when I see how much interest I’ve earned each month on my daily interest savings accounts.

    As far as books are concerned, I found tax planning books to be much more useful, financially speaking. I always liked the KPMG guides and I also have Tim Cestnick’s book, all found at your local Chapters.

  3. I am looking forward to this read for sure! This was the one book my Mom gave me about PF (but I sure did learn a lot watching a single mom as I noted in Mom Knows Best article).

    I plan to get this book out to some friends and family.

  4. @Echo: I didn’t get a chance to read the entire book and in the parts I read there is no discussion of the Smith Maneuver.

    @Phil S: The sales numbers of The Wealthy Barber are just astounding. I think Dave is on to a winner with the new book as well. Yes, the message is just common sense but many of us need to hear it again. I agree that tax planning books are really useful. I picked up a few (at your behest actually) to read a while back. Unfortunately, with tax books you always need to keep yourself up-to-date because the damn Government keeps changing the rules all the time.

    @Sustainable PF: I think this will be a very successful follow-up. The writing is excellent and you can tell that Dave genuinely wants to help people with their finances.

  5. I read The Wealthy Barber a couple of years ago and I loved it. It’s one of the five personal finance books I recommend on my blog.

    One thing I have always been curious about is why Chilton put the setting of the story in Port Huron, Michigan, instead of in Canada. I’m not sure if he was trying to reach a larger audience or if the publisher forced his hand. But, it seemed odd to me.

    If anyone hasn’t read this book, it’s pretty basic, but definitely worth the time and money.

  6. I’m still waiting for my one millionth book sale. 😉

    I had a phone chat a while back with David – super nice guy. Looking forward to reading the new book.

  7. His first book was great. I received it as a gift from my mom…oh…about 10 years ago and its pretty much the core of my financial strategy – passive investing that is simple.

    That said, that book could use a healthy updating. Obviously the RRSP piece could use an update since the government changed the foreign ownership content. Also the RESP note could probably use an update as well. From the sounds of things, RESPs are different now than they were back then (I don’t know since I’m not in a stage to worry about it yet), and the book seems to be anti-RESP based on the hurdles that were present at the time of the original publication.

    Also, what would be different is the real estate market. Judging from the book, it seemed like finding a house that fit within a person/family’s means was more accessible back then. Given the market now, I’d say people have to pay more of their income than they use too.

    Also, while index funds were around then, looking back, I’m surprised he didn’t recommend that as a strategy. If I recall correctly, the advice was to seek out low cost international mutual funds, but not index specifically. Plus with the advent of ETFs, I’d wonder if the recommendations would be different now.

  8. Thanks for the reminder about this CC. I look forward to reading Chilton’s new book. I predict another best-seller. It will be interesting to see what he has chosen to include (or not) with this version and why.

  9. The original book made a huge impression on me (even though it was more or less just a chapter-by-chapter rewrite/updating of the old American classic “The Richest Man in Babylon” by Clason). Looking forward to the sequel.

  10. @Brett: I wonder if you read an American version of the book. I read the first book more than 10 years back and I don’t remember everything but I recall the book being set in Ontario. Time to check it out of the library again.

    @Mike: I agree that Dave is a very nice guy. He is very funny too and tells the most amazing stories. I think you’ll like the new book. It’s excellent.

    @EZ: Dave covers all these topics in the new book. I agree that quite a bit has changed since the book first came out. We have better investment products, new-and-improved RESPs, RRSP rule changes and now the Tax-Free Savings Account. And yes, Dave highly recommends indexing now.

    @My Own Advisor: I think this will be a best-seller as well. And deservedly so, in my opinion.

    @Viscount: Yes, the original was a thorough update of The Richest Man in Babylon. I liked the new book better partly because I’m not a huge fan of the “novel” format.

  11. This is great news! His first book was the very first book about finances that I ever read and I loved it. I liked the way he explained things, and if the “novel” format helped even one person who wasn’t interested in a dry-facts bare-bones finance book, then it’s worth it.

    Looking forward to seeing the essay-style of the new one.

  12. @CC,

    Yes, it is an American version. Dave Chilton emailed me yesterday to let me know there are two versions of the book, one set in Canada and the other set in the U.S. I had no idea, but it makes a lot of sense. The laws and retirement accounts are different between the two countries. And, The Wealthy Barber contains a lot of specific action steps.

    I am really looking forward to reading the new book.


  13. I can’t wait to read Dave’s new book. The wealthy barber is probably the most well know and easiest personal finance book on the market to read. Hopefully the new book is just as good.

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