The Simple Path to Wealth

Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life
Narrated by: JL Collins, Peter Adeney
Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
5 out of 5 stars (4,491 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This book grew out of a series of letters to my daughter concerning various things - mostly about money and investing - she was not yet quite ready to hear. 

Since money is the single most powerful tool we have for navigating this complex world we've created, understanding it is critical. 

"But Dad," she once said, "I know money is important. I just don't want to spend my life thinking about it." This was eye-opening. I love this stuff. But most people have better things to do with their precious time. Bridges to build, diseases to cure, treaties to negotiate, mountains to climb, technologies to create, children to teach, businesses to run. 

Unfortunately, benign neglect of things financial leaves you open to the charlatans of the financial world. The people who make investing endlessly complex, because if it can be made complex it becomes more profitable for them, more expensive for us, and we are forced into their waiting arms. 

Here's an important truth: Complex investments exist only to profit those who create and sell them. Not only are they more costly to the investor, they are less effective. 

The simple approach I created for her and present now to you is not only easy to understand and implement, it is more powerful than any other. 

Together we'll explore: 

  • Debt: why you must avoid it and what to do if you have it 
  • The importance of having f-you money 
  • How to think about money, and the unique way understanding this is key to building your wealth 
  • Where traditional investing advice goes wrong and what actually works 
  • What the stock market really is and how it really works 
  • Why the stock market always goes up and why most people still lose money investing in it 
  • How to invest in a raging bull or bear market 
  • Specific investments to implement these strategies 
  • The Wealth Building and Wealth Preservation phases of your investing life and why they are not always tied to your age 
  • How your asset allocation is tied to those phases and how to choose it 
  • How to simplify the sometimes confusing world of 401(k), 403(b), TSP, IRA, and Roth accounts 
  • TRFs (target retirement funds), HSAs (health savings accounts), and RMDs (required minimum distributions) 
  • What investment firm to use and why the one I recommend is so far superior to the competition 
  • Why you should be very cautious when engaging an investment advisor and whether you need to at all 
  • Why and how you can be conned, and how to avoid becoming prey 
  • Why I don't recommend dollar cost averaging 
  • What financial independence looks like and how to have your money support you 
  • What the Four Percent Rule is and how to use it to safely spend your wealth 
  • The truth behind Social Security 
  • A case study on how this all can be implemented in real life 
©2016 JL Collins (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In the dark, bewildering, trap-infested jungle of misinformation and opaque riddles that is the world of investment, JL Collins is the fatherly wizard on the side of the path, offering a simple map, warm words of encouragement and the tools to forge your way through with confidence. You'll never find a wiser advisor with a bigger heart." (Malachi Rempen, filmmaker, cartoonist, author, and self-described ruffian)

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Great Book!! Get a physical copy though.

I loved almost all of the financial advice given in this book. I will now go and buy a physical copy of it to reference for years to come. I wasn’t a big fan of the audio version though, for a few reasons.

1. The information needs to be readily available for reference. I need to highlight things and be able to go back and forth in the book. 2. There are a LOT of numbers be cited. Percentages and dollar amounts that don’t register as well when being read to you. You need to see them to be able to process them better. 3. Most audio books are listened to while doing other tasks - driving, exercising, etc. I feel like this book needs your full attention. Your finances and future wealth should warrant more than just background noise with a good story. You need to take notes, look up things, etc. Overall, fantastic book!!! But get a physical copy, you will get more from it.

174 people found this helpful

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  • AC
  • 07-09-17

Lives up to its title . . . and then some

Any additional comments?

Oh how I wish: (a) this book had existed back when I was just graduating from college, (b) somebody had given this book to me, and (c) I had listened to every word in it.

This is one of those "If I knew then what I know now" books. The lessons in here are priceless. Everybody should read this book and heed the advice in it.

The best part is you don't have to be all that interested in finance or 401(k)'s or any of that stuff. In fact, if you really dislike such things, this is probably the perfect book for you. JL Collins takes these complicated and boring financial matters and does two nice things for you: (1) throws out all the crap you don't need to know, and (2) explains what you do need to know in layman's terms that anybody can understand. So not only is the wisdom in this book chockfull of solid gold nuggets on a need-to-know basis, but the delivery is crystal clear and simple to follow in practice.

Speaking of the delivery, OMGoodness does JL Collins have a superb voice for the audiobook format. He reminds me of David McCullough. He has the kind of deep grandfatherly "gather 'round the campfire for a story" voice. It's fabulous.

In summary, this book is worth every penny. Along with a handful of other "quake books" that changed my life for the better, this one is getting added to that list (right alongside John C. Bogle's "The Little Book of Common Sense Investing"). I can't recommend this book enough. Get it for yourself. Listen to it. Make your kids listen to it. Your siblings. Your friends. Your parents. The lessons in it are too valuable not to share with everybody you know.

78 people found this helpful

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I have listened to a lot of audio books but this

This one is different. I have listened to this book over and over again. First step before you do any financial decisions is to read this book. The hours you spend listioning this book is your MOST PAID HOURS IN YOUR LIFE. Thank you JLC for your contribution.

17 people found this helpful

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Simplest and Best Book on Personal Finance

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Personal Finance is often so over complicated. This is the first book I've encountered that simplifies the subject. It is easily digestible and makes a ton of sense. I wish I would have followed the principles in my twenties. Now in my early thirties, I am going to start implementing it. If you want to get out of debt and start living the life you've always wanted then pick up this book. This is the only book on personal finance I can recommend. Save 50% of your income, live below your means, invest in low cost index funds, and avoid debt. Sounds pretty easy right?

14 people found this helpful

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Best book I have read so far on investing.

Stop reading reviews. Just get it. your future self will thank you. So simple and effective.

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Buy and Hold VTSAX

Book about how to invest simply, but does not touch much on the other aspects of personal finance. Collins loves Vanguard, specifically VTSAX, which has a low expense ratio and tracks the market well. His logic is that capitalism works, so investing in this basket of roughly 1,500 stocks will manage itself.
Key takeaways: Don’t worry about timing the market, spend a lot less than you make if you want to retire early, pay off debt that is more than 5% interest, don’t spend too much on a house, and take advantage of tax-incentive retirement plans.
Collins makes the claim that almost all personal finance workers (ie. Investment Advisors and Broker Dealers) are crooks and if you must work with someone in the profession, work with a fee-only advisor to save your money. Given that each person’s situation can be uniquely different, do not care for this argument much because most people cannot stomach strong down turns without someone talking them off the cliff of selling. If you can stick to the buy-and-hold strategy on your own, this book is for you.

18 people found this helpful

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Fantastic!

I've read six or seven early financial independence books recently and this one is the best. I like the author's down-to-earth style and overall presentation. A great listen!

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6 hours of repeating the same 5 minutes

SIMPLE equals start saving in a index fund, Namely, a Vanguard brand such as VTSAX or VTSAX or VTSAX or VTSAX or some other Vanguard index fund, But VTSAX also invests in them as well. Oh and by the way, start saving 40 years before you want to retire. Now, If you are already able to establish a family budget; spend less than you earn; invest in the rest without watching it too closely AND leave it to ride for 30 to 40 years you will average 8 to 11% increase per year as the market constantly marches upward over the long run. The path is that Simple. He does state at the beginning that the name of the book is NOT the EASY path to wealth. Unfortunately, it is not easy unless you had extra cash in the 80's. With that being said, I have saved you 6 hours and 35 minutes that should be spent looking for a helpful book on actually creating a budget to spend less than you earn and invest for the long run.

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Overall pretty good, with a few shortfalls

This is a great beginners guide to learning about, managing and investing money. It provides a good high level strategic view, and also gives tactical and operational advice, especially about the types of index funds to hold in tax advantaged versus taxable buckets. However it is very heavily focused solely on Vanguard when not everyone will have access to, or want to use that firm. It is fine if the author wants to use Vanguard, but he should provide more details on comparable index funds at other firms since most discount brokers pretty much have them now-a-days. Also, he doesn't give ETFs fair consideration. Case in point: Vanguard has ETFs (VTI) with fees comparable to its equivalent Admiral shares (and no minimum investment unlike Admiral shares). Why isn't this discussed?

I like that the subject of charitable giving was treated towards the end of the book, although again I am puzzled by why he is pushing Vanguard Charitable. This account has a $25,000 minimum while Schwab and Fidelity have a $5,000 minimum each, both of which can also invest in comparable passive index funds/ETFs. Yet again this is not mentioned.

Personally I don't care for the author's use of the term "FU money". I'm sure there is a better way to make this point without bordering on classless vulgarity.

20 people found this helpful

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Well done, geared toward younger investors

This was a good read about working towards financial independence and striving towards that goal in a very simple way. It focuses a lot of doing this through Vanguard Index funds. However, I also really liked some of the chapters that go through how other savings plans work (IRAs, 401Ks, HSAs).

This book is narrated by the author and he does a good job reading it, I have no complaints about the narration.

My only complaint is that I feel like this book is really geared towards someone who is just starting on their financial journey. There's a lot of info in here I would love to make sure my son knows when he gets into his 20's (his 12 right now and we talk about investing and saving some already).

I felt like there was less info on how to deal with getting to the point of financial independence when you've already made some blunders and are in your 40's (like I am). Unfortunately, some of the ideas presented here seem a bit like pipe dream when you are already as invested in your life style and savings scheme as I am.

Still, even with the above being said I learned some good things from this book. It's definitely urging me to take a closer look at the financial fees and structure of all of the investments I already have and to reconsider some of the ways my portfolio is invested. I really loved the part on HSAs, we've been talking about starting to max out our HSA each year and now I am convinced that's a good idea.

Overall this is a great read for everyone. I would recommend for those who are interested in becoming financially independent or to those who are just interested in investing strategies for becoming more financially independent.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-22-18

A good guide for investing and good tips. <br />

I found this book interesting and it offers good tips and guides for investing and becoming financially independent - It is, however, very American-centric as this is the culture that the author is writing from. I found this difficult to translate into a European model, particularly being a complete beginner. I did, however, find that there was some really good tips and advice on finances in general and is definitely a good guide for a beginner but I did find it very American based so difficult to follow from a European perspective.

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  • Van Dieu
  • 09-10-19

Approach with caution

JL Collins is a hero to the FIRE community, and his book is responsible for instilling in the community some unviolable axioms:

- Stocks are the best place for your money
- Index investing beats everything else
- Dump it all in Vanguard
- Simplify (it's in the title, duh)
- Don't time the market, don't cost-average
- Forget about it, the market always goes back up

Unfortunately these lines of thinking have become the orthodoxy in the community to the point where anything else is scorned and considered sub-optimal. I personally hate the book for this reason. As a more sophisticated investor who is fascinated by economics and finance I recognise this book is not primarily aimed at me, but I take issues with basically all of the steadfast principles of this book. His idea of risk management is a 10% sliver to bonds. It's breathtakingly negligent, but of course this is how bull markets develop and subsequently die.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-19

Very simple, yet powerful!

I love this book. Very simple, yet powerful! It really has the potential to change lives!

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  • Matt Piercy
  • 06-04-19

My Eureka moment!

I’ve listened to so much advice about how to invest for an income stream - most of it time consuming, complicated and guaranteed to make others money before me.

This book changed it for me - I’ve followed it to the letter. It works. Thank you.

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  • MR A J B H GORDON
  • 05-15-19

New to the investment scene...this is a brilliant!

I am very new to the investment scene and this book is brilliant and reassuring. Investing can seem scary at first but Mr Collins makes it a very simple concept to understand and provides real-world examples to make it even easier to get your head around.

I would highly recommend new investors and even current investors who feel that they may be over complicating it.

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  • Mads Jensen
  • 04-04-19

Lots of information but surprisingly easily "read"

This is a one stop book on how to plan for maximum freedom in your future. It's very detailed and yet very accessible. Collins reads the book formidably and comes across very trustworthy.
Highly recommended.

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  • Alexander Pettit
  • 07-28-20

A map through the financial chaos.

JL Collins guide to financial independence is simple to follow and actionable for most people. It will require sacrifice, but the results are worth it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-07-20

Inspiring and educational.

Exactly as the title says. A simple path to wealth. Concise and very well explained. Almost like a guided meditation for personal finance.

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  • Ornella J.
  • 06-06-20

Amazing book

Even though I've been investing for around 8 years, it was super valuable. Recommend!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-18-20

Brilliant !!!

Loved it !!! Straight to the point. Really simple path to wealth...init
Easy to understand.
Simple concept based on years of experience.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-10-20

Simply powerful

A very simple and powerful way to build and keep your wealth. As easy as 1, 2 & 3

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-06-19

Keeping it simple

Great listen, good voice. Reinforcing of keeping your investment approach simple, no need to tinker less you do better the results

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  • Troy
  • 05-14-19

EXACTLY what i was looking for

Great book for investors New to Intermediate.
Focuses on Index funds and the real power of becoming wealthy with them.This is the only way normal people should be playing with the share market, you cant loose.

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  • Starbuck
  • 11-14-18

Love the book and love the narration

This book has so much relevance, even for Australia. There are chapters relating to 401K but I even managed to get useful info out of those chapters. Every Mum and Dad investor or young person starting out in life should read this.
I am close to retirement and learnt so much but wish I had read something like this 30 years ago.
I could seriously listen to this guy all day. I believe he has retired now but he could get a job on the side narrating.

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  • Aquaj
  • 09-13-18

great book

simple and inspiring. the only book you need in investing on stock. keep it simple people!

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  • Elizah
  • 06-18-18

Great First Financial Book

Loved it! So helpful, informative, pleasant and easy to read - have already recommended to many friends 😊

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  • Jamface10
  • 01-02-18

Great book

Loved the concepts, and the down to earth approach. Not everything applicable to NZ, but will take everything I can on my path to FI

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  • Carla
  • 01-22-19

Just OK

A lot of the book was lost on me as I’m not in the US. I ended up skipping quite a few chapters because of that.