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Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School

When I first looked at the Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam [3], I thought I was seeing yet another investment guru book that was going to collect dust on the shelf. When you throw around words like millionaire and wealth, it might catch the eye but I’ve seen enough of these to immediately think that the book was going to try to convince me to invest in something I didn’t fully understand. I was completely wrong.

Andrew Hallam isn’t an investment guru, he’s a teacher in Singapore who has amassed a net worth over a million dollars doing everything you’re supposed to. Spending less than you earn, investing in a smart way (keeping costs low), and all the various tenets we learn over our lifetimes that, honestly, should’ve been taught in high school. How your neighbor driving the Porsche is probably still paying off that car note and you shouldn’t be that envious of an asset that, in reality, is a liability that constantly loses value.

Best of all, the book is entertaining and easy to read. It’s not dry, it’s not boring, and it has plenty of anecdotes to keep you interested.

One anecdote jumped out at me and it was a in the very first chapter, the first rule of wealth. He begins the chapter by talking about how we should spend within our means and how his definition of wealth was in two parts – you have enough money so you never have to work, should you choose so, and your investments generate two times the median income. I’d never heard of someone quantifying the term “wealthy” but his definition made perfect sense. He goes on to share stories about cars and how foolish it is for people to spend so much on a depreciating item.

Up until this point, with the exception of the definition of wealth, it’s pretty standard personal finance advice. Then you get the gem. He shares an opinion from “one of the savviest guys” he’s ever met, named Russ, and his opinion of cars mirrored that of mine (maybe that’s why I think it’s a gem!). First, buying an expensive car is foolish because it’s a depreciating asset, you simply lose so much money on a car in the first two years. But that’s OK, if you are already wealthy, there’s nothing wrong with losing money on a luxury item. The problem is if you’re trying to become wealthy. Excellent point.

He then goes on to say that if you’re trying to build wealth, you want to find a car that has low mileage, is a few years old, and is in great condition so you could, in theory, resell it after a few years for roughly the same price. I did that with my first car, a 2 year old Acura Integra that, when someone totaled it, I got a check for my purchase price (and I drove it for three years). Hallam did this very same thing and actually profited from each of his cars.

None of the nine rules are mind-blowing, but that’s because the basic tenets of responsible personal finance are not mind-blowing. What Hallam has done is package it in a way that a high school student could understand and, over time, implement it. The language is easy to understand, there aren’t esoteric passages or pages of charts, it’s something that will be useful for a young (or not so young) person with an interest in personal finance.