Book Review – Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On

Do you want to be rich? That’s probably a silly question; most people out there (to say nothing of all the people who read this blog) want to be rich. But do you want to be really rich? Do you want to be the sort of rich where you can pass along massive wealth to your kids, and they’ll have enough to pass along a fortune to your grandchildren, and a few generations from now, your last name will be treated with the same awe as Rockefeller or Ford is treated now? The sort of riches that lead to generations of wealth?

Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On seeks to help you get that level of wealth. The authors Catherine McBreen and George Walper, Jr. are looking not only to give you a good retirement or reasonable riches, as most personal finance books do, but to give you the level and type of wealth that you can pass along through several generations. Will it actually turn you into the founder of the next Vanderbilt family? Let’s read on and find out!

Summary

Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On opens with an Introduction describing the level of wealth the rest of the book hopes to help you achieve. There’s a description of the level of wealth being described (more than $5 million for the mega-millionaires frequently referenced), and the first mention of the two ‘definitive ways to create the kind of wealth that can be bequeathed to multiple generations’: real estate and continually innovative entrepreneurship.

Chapter one starts the book by stressing how real estate and entrepreneurship can help you create the type of wealth that can enable your heirs to remain wealthy for several generations. It also stresses that though you are aiming to make your children wealthy, you’ll still have plenty of money to enjoy during your lifetime. The second chapter gets into more of the level of various investments that the perpetually wealthy hold, stressing the level of real estate and privately held businesses that the wealthy hold, while also mentioning everything from stocks and bonds to annuities and life insurance plans.

The third chapter looks at how you can calculate your current financial holdings. It stresses the need to compare your holdings to the average levels held by the richest individuals and families. Chapter four looks at ways to work more toward those levels yourself, discussing how you need a healthy level of risk tolerance to become perpetually wealthy. (Not too risk tolerant, though; an excess of risk tolerance can put you into the ‘over-the-top investor’ category.)

The next few chapters look closer at these secrets of lasting wealth, starting with real estate in the fifth chapter. Everything from a second home (after owning your first home outright, of course) to REITs are discussed, with an emphasis on physical properties. Chapter six discusses continually innovative enterprises, looking at how to find such businesses and stressing the importance of getting in as soon as possible, before the business goes public. Chapter seven brings these two sections together, providing step-by-step guides (albeit short ones) to investing in real estate and continually innovative enterprises.

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, good news, as chapter eight stresses how the wealthy use advisers. It points out that there are a number of assistants you might need as you manage your money, from full-service brokers to accountants, and discusses how to organize all your planning. There is also stress on the point that not all of the very wealthy use advisers, and of the ones that do, there isn’t the need to use them all the time, or to always take their advice.

The ninth chapter covers some of the factors about how the wealthy and very wealthy behave. From working hard to committing to saving a sizable portion of their income to not living extremely extravagantly, advice on how the wealthy really behave is discussed. Chapter ten looks at how you can pass along the wealth to your offspring, providing some advice on ways to limit both taxes paid by your descendants and the risk that they will spend all the money that you pass onto them.

The eleventh and final chapter provides a brief review of all the topics discussed so far, and emphasizing how it is achievable by anyone. The book rounds out with a discussion of some of the facts of mega-millionaires, sharing numerous facts about their household income, current assets, and how they have built up their money and are working to secure it for their offspring.

Pros

Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On shares plenty of interesting facts about the very rich. It provides some advice on investing like the wealthy, with a focus on real estate and privately owned business investing. It does stress how anyone can achieve these levels of wealth.

Cons

The book does not provide much in the way of solid advice on how to actually achieve the goals provided. Even the real estate and private business sections are light on what you, the would-be mega-millionaire, can do to build your wealth. The focus on these two assets seems a bit over-the-top, particularly when the book itself notes that many mega-millionaires have nearly twice as much invested in marketable assets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds as in either real estate or private business.

Overall

Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On does provide an interesting look at how millionaires and mega-millionaires invest. That said, most of the advice is rather light (and confined to a single, not that expansive chapter), and not of much use to anyone who does not already have a sizable amount of money to invest. If you’re already have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, it MIGHT help you ensure that your children don’t spend their inheritance too quickly, but you can probably find better sources for how to do so.

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