These books cover the ideas presented in my 9-step investment guide in far greater depth:
Charles Schwab,
Charles Schwab's Guide to Financial Independence

Schwab, I think, does everything right in this book, blazing a trail to financial independence through investment in diversified stock mutual funds, backing his argument with clearly presented data, explaining the choices among investments (and their tax implications), and putting it together to make an individualized plan fitting your age, family situation, and risk tolerance. If you're new to investing or want one book that explains it all, this is the book to get.

where I disagree: Schwab implies expense ratios as high as 1.7% are acceptable for any fund. Index funds operate at fee ratios far below 1.7%—most charge less than 0.7%—a fact this book neglects to mention.

In keeping with the spirit of thrift, I point out that the just-as-good 1997 edition of this classic is available on Amazon for less than $1, plus a nominal shipping cost.

Jeremy J. Siegel,
Stocks for the Long Run

The engagingly written yet academically solid research basis behind the argument that stocks outperform all other asset classes over the long term.

where I disagree: At least in the 1998 edition, Siegel occasionally strays from his winning strategy of broad index-based stock fund diversification to air out now-discredited theories like buying the "Dogs of the Dow," selling when an index drops below its 200-day moving average, or holding small-cap stocks in January—none of these techniques have consistently outperformed simply buying and holding a broad-based stock index fund, as the next book thoroughly shows.

Burton G. Malkiel,
A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Now in its 2007 edition, the investment book by the towering American economist and Princeton academic who famously theorized in 1973 that Wall Street's finest analysts could do no better at selecting stocks than "a blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper." Entertaining and convincing, it summarizes a solid body of research showing the market to be as unpredictable as a drunk guy staggering in a field, and the number of actively managed funds outperforming their indices to be no higher than that predicted by the laws of probability. Presenting data showing the interaction of randomness with speculative bubbles (Dutch tulip craze, South Seas land speculation, the Roaring Twenties, the Dot-Com Bomb), he wisely counsels investment in diversified stock index funds, leavened by with scant amounts of bonds and individual stocks.

where I disagree: At least in the 2003 edition of this book, Malkiel recommends putting up to 15% of your investment in real estate investment trusts (REITs).  This is a bad idea, because real estate isn't a diverse investment, it's a sector. If you're a homeowner, you're already invested in real estate, and REIT investing would only further concentrate your assets in a market sector that can bubble as euphorically and collapse as catastrophically as any other market sector. As history has shown all too clearly, during any real estate slowdown, losses in your REITs would tend to coincide with and magnify the pain of seeing your home value stagnate or decline.

David Bach,
The Automatic Millionaire

A simple, workable idea for building wealth: automate your investments, with equally good advice on real estate.

where I disagree: Bach favors portfolios too heavy in bonds, which underperform over the long term. Like Schwab and Siegel, I believe the average investor would be better off in diversified stock funds, and only after age 45 should begin shifting wealth gradually into bonds, at the rate of 2% of the portfolio a year, so you'd be 10% in bonds at age 50, 50% at 70, and 90% in bonds at 90.

Readers interested in learning still more about investment should consult the highly regarded Investopedia "Ten Books Every Investor Should Read" list here.

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