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



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 Also available online from Kinokuniya Bookstore, Singapore

 

 

 
Acknowledgments
Foreword 
Introduction
 
RULE 1 Spend Like You Want to Grow Rich
The Hippocratic Rule of Wealth
Can You See the Road When You’re Driving?
One of the Savviest Guys I Ever Met—And His View on Buying Cars
Careful Home Purchases
Millionaire Handouts
How Did I Become a Millionaire?
Looking to the Future
 
RULE 2 Use the Greatest Investment Ally You Have
Compound Interest—The World’s Most Powerful Financial Concept
The Bohemian Millionaire—The Best of Historical-Based Fiction
Gifting Money to Yourself
When You Definitely Shouldn’t Invest
How and Why Stocks Rise in Value
 
RULE 3 Small Percentages Pack Big Punches
With Training, the Average Fifth Grader Can Take on Wall Street
Financial Experts Backing the Irrefutable
What Causes Experts to Shake Their Heads
When the Best Funds Turn Malignant
Reality Check
Who’s Arguing against Indexes?
 
RULE 4 Conquer the Enemy in the Mirror
When a 10 Percent Gain Isn’t a 10 Percent Gain
It’s Not Timing the Market that Matters; It’s Time in the Market
On Stocks … What You Really Should Have Learned in School
Internet Madness and the Damage It Caused
Taking Advantage of Fear and Greed
Opportunities after Chaos
 
RULE 5 Build Mountains of Money with a  Responsible Portfolio
What Are Bonds?
Profiting from Panic—Stock Market Crash 2008-2009
Having a Foreign Affair
Introducing the Couch Potato Portfolio
Combinations of Stocks and Bonds Can Have Powerful Returns
 
RULE 6 Sample a “Round-the-World” Ticket to Indexing
Indexing in the United States—An American Father of Triplets
Indexing In Canada—A Landscaper Wins by Pruning Costs
Indexing in Singapore—A Couple Builds a Tiger’s Portfolio in the Lion City
Indexing in Australia—Winning with an American Weapon
The Next Step
 
RULE 7 Peek Inside A Pilferer’s Playbook
How Will Most Financial Advisers Fight You?
The Totem Pole View
Is Government Action Required?
 
RULE 8 Avoid Seduction
Confession Time
Investment Newsletters and Their Track Records
High-Yielding Bonds Called “Junk”
Fast-Growing Markets Can Make Bad
Investments
Gold Isn’t an Investment
What You Need to Know about Investment Magazines
Hedge Funds—The Rich Stealing from the Rich
 
RULE 9 The 10% Stock-Picking Solution … If You Really Can’t Help Yourself
Using Warren Buffett
Commit to the Stocks You Buy
Stocks with Staying Power
Selling Stocks
The Nine Rules of Wealth Checklist
Index


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andrew hallam

andrew hallam

I'm a freelance finance writer, lucky enough to have been nominated as a finalist for two Canadian National Publishing Awards. I'm also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School, a book explaining how I became a millionaire on a teacher's salary, while still in my 30s. Working to empower people financially, I'm available to motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and index investing. I'm happy to comment on your questions, first, please read the Terms of Use.

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107 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    Yippee! This is great news. I hope it will be available in Kindle format. As expats we try to limit the number of books we need to physically carry around the planet.

  2. @Susan
    Thanks Susan,

    It will be on Kindle! This weekend's task for me is to bold everything (within the book) that I want online links to. It should bring it to life!

  3. pgreensoup says:

    Andrew,

    I'm glad to know your book is about to be published and even happier to know that it will be available in digital format. Congrats on publishing, my friend. I can't wait to read the book! Any chance you'd come to Prague to do a little promotion?

    • Thanks Patrick,

      I know that I'll be going to Canada and the U.S., but I didn't make plans for Europe. That said, I believe the book is going to be available in Europe. I've seen the price in pounds sterling and in Euros, which is cool to see.

  4. Hey Andrew, out of curiosity, what age group is it written for? Highschool? University?

    I can't wait to put my hands on it.

    • Hey Passive,

      I have a tough time answering the age-target question, after speaking to (and questioning) hundreds of adults, at investment seminars. Here's why:

      The average adult knows barely more about investing than the average 10th grade student. And you can't blame them. Few people receive a decent financial education at school. You and your friends are likely very knowledgable, but when you stand in front of 100 adults and ask them who can tell you what a bond is, you'd be amazed to find that the vast majority don't know. The average adult wants something easy to read, that doesn't take their knowledge gaps for granted. I think a 15 year old could read Millionaire Teacher and understand it. But I also think that this quality is what makes it accessible and interesting for the average 25,35, or 45 year old reader as well. That's the part that I'm really proud of. I had adult readers (dozens of them) read my chapters, and when they weren't sure about something, I wanted them to let me know, so that I could correct it. And of course, I wanted the book to have an entertaining flair as well! Thanks for being such a loyal supporter of my project Passive. We're really both trying to do the same thing (educate people about money) which feels great. Thanks!

  5. Think Dividends says:

    Are you going to autograph it for your all your blog readers?

    Looking forward to reading it.

  6. I can't wait to read this puppy Andrew!

    I've read a bunch of personal finance and investing books since I took over my own financial affairs and became vested in my financial journey; and this one is going on my shelf with pride for sure. It should be a great read.

    BTW – I got my own site up and running:

    myownadivsor.ca

    Amongst everything else you have going on (teaching, books, running, etc.) I hope you continue to stop by as often as you can.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  7. Andrew,

    This is fabuous :) Much congratulations on getting your book published! I know its going to be packed with very insightful, indepth, and well reasearched information. And yes I most certainly am expecting an autographed copy – I'll preorder on Amazon now.

    Cheers

    The Dividend Ninja

  8. Paula @ AffordAnythi says:

    Congratulations on publishing your book — I'll be looking for it on Kindle!

    • Thank you Paula,

      It will be available on Kindle in September, and I look forward to hearing what you think about it. I think you'll like it!

      Thanks for the support!

      Andrew

  9. Gareth Barlow says:

    Andrew,

    Great news on the advance reviews.

    As a keen follower of your blog and your general investing philosophy, I have a question regarding the possibilities that are open to me regarding the reading of your new book.

    Should I:

    a) buy it when it is released?

    b) borrow it from someone else once they've read it?

    c) wait for it to appear in a local library?

    d) obtain a photocopied version of it while travelling in Asia?

    When answering, please consider what you would have done in your early days of investing!

    • There's no doubt Gareth:

      Humbly, I'll admit that there are pearls of wisdom throughout that little masterpiece, so you'd definitely want your own copy.

      But would I have bought my own copy, back in the day, when I was tighter than bark to a tree? Nah….. I would have convinced a friend to buy it, and then I would have offered to buy it off him, after he read it.

      Keep in mind: I would have selected that friend carefully—knowing that he or she would likely give me the book for a cup of coffee, rather than make me pay.

      Then I'd have my own copy for eternity, while investing the savings in a diversified, low cost index fund.

      You are an excellent study, grasshopper! I sense that you'll like that advice!

  10. Cool stuff, Andrew! I will definitely be pre-ordering when I get the chance. Congrats on your success; you have shown all of us what anyone can accomplish with hard work and determination.

  11. Hello Andrew.

    First off, I don't think I've had the chance to say congratulations on the book! I'm looking forward to it.

    I just went to pre-order, but had a thought. The Amazon site lists September as the release date, but you mentioned that the Asian release date is August. Do you know where I should order to get a copy delivered to Japan in August?

  12. Jonathan says:

    Hi Andrew,

    May I know if the book is already available in Singapore now? I'm very interested in buying it.

  13. Thanks for the interest in the book Jonathan,

    It should be available in Singpapore's public bookstores in about 3 weeks. When I know that it's in Singaporean stores, I'll get it out there on the blog!

    Thanks for your interest! I currently have a single, galley copy of the book, which was delivered last week, and even I chuckle at some of it. I tried to make it informative, and funny…and yeah, I guess I laugh at my own jokes!

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  14. Monia says:

    Hi Andrew, What's the difference between a listed and unlisted index fund? I've been reading this article: http://finance.ninemsn.com.au/pfsharemarketinvest
    But would like to know what your opinion is.

    PS Is this the right place to post questions? If not, please direct me.

    Thanks :-)

    • Hi Monia,

      Listed index funds are also known as exchange traded funds. They're categorized as "listed" because they trade on the stock market, and you could buy and sell them multiple times within a single day, if you wanted to. Of course, that would be silly, but the ability to trade them is one main difference. An unlisted index fund doesn't trade directly on the stock market. In the U.S., unlisted indexes (through Vanguard) and listed exchange traded funds have competitive internal costs associated with them. But you linked to an Australian article, and in Australia (as the article correctly suggests) there is a big price difference between ETFs and Vanguard Australia's unlisted indexes. This isn't something you would see getting skimmed off your account. It's an internal cost that gets skimmed off the value of your index, but it isn't itemized on a statement.

      If you were contributing a few thousand dollars a quarter (or more) then I would recommend buying unlisted ETFs through a broker. You would pay a small purchase commission, but it would be worth it, because it would be cheaper in the long run than going with Vanguard Australia.

      If, on the other hand, you wanted to automatically invest small monthly sums, then Vanguard Australia makes it more convenient for you. Just keep in mind that with the unlisted ETFs, you will earn about 0.5% more each year, because they're cheaper.

      Further questions are welcome.

  15. Monica says:

    Another confusing article! Help! Just read:
    http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/money/
    Main question is: Am I better off in an EFT or an index fund in Australia?

    Do you recommend just purchasing a fund and adding to it only once a year or adding whenever you can such as monthly payments?

  16. LCF says:

    Hi Mr Hallam, I just stumbled upon your interview on Today. It is an inspiring story for the employed middle class, but most importantly, your experience is truly something many of us can relate too.

    Many of us begin to worry about our personal financial management, at a stage in our lives when our financial responsibilities get heavier. I agree with you that even in Malaysia, our education systems do not provide much guidance in financial literacy. It also does not help that the mass media constantly encourages people to spend for instant gratification.

    I have not read your book, but you bet I will be looking for it at Borders this coming weekend!

  17. Chris The Truck Driv says:

    Wow Andrew, all this is very exciting! What a great video…I wish I had been on there..so I can talk about all the wasted years I spent in this life….OK …I got my copy of Millionaire Teacher. Maby your agent can book you at Barnes and Noble here in Sacramento…I will come out and see you speak! Thanks Andrew

  18. H says:

    Hey Andrew, read your book and it really opened up my mind to investing!

    Do you have any advice for a 22 year old? what should my start-up capital and diversification ratio be like?

    Also, do you have any idea where i can purchase a commodity tracking index in Singapore?

    • Hi H,

      If you are going to be buying ETFs in Singapore, save on the commissions and buy just one at a time. You could put one fifth of the money in the Singapore bond index while splitting the remainder of your money between the world stock index and the Singapore index.

      But just buy one index at a time, and make sure you have about $2000 minimum to keep the transaction costs lower. If you are just starting out, perhaps you just just buy one index per quarter. You shouldn't have to concern yourself with the allocation until the account gets to about $30k or so.

      There are commodity ETFs that trade on the NYSE and they can be purchased here in Singapore. If commodities had experienced awful returns over the past five years, I would consider them. Don't get lured into chasing past winners though.

  19. TK Park says:

    Andrew,

    I got the book today and finished it in one seating. I found it extremely interesting and you opened my eyes on index funds. I will be giving the book to my sister and will recommend the book to all my friends 😉

    Thank you!!!

  20. FFN says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Awesome book for beginners and intermediates alike! I just finished reading it yesterday! I would like to ask two questions:

    1) How long did you take to be a millionaire from the day you started?

    2) Did you do other investments to get your million (eg. properties, etc) or only through index investing?

    Thank you for your taking time to answer those questions!

    • Hi FF,

      It took me 18 years to build a net worth of a million dollars. But I was very fortunate that I found relatively high paying jobs over that time, which helped a lot. During university, I worked at B.C. transit. Back in 1992, as a student, I was making roughly $18 an hour–and I worked odd jobs during the weekends (even while working at Transit) to add to my investments. I'm an outlier. There's no doubt about it. And my level of frugality was extreme. Moving to Singapore also helped me. I chose a school that paid well, and they pay for my housing. A lot of money can be saved when you aren't paying your own rent. Most of my gains were made in the stock and bond markets, but I also made roughly $300,000 in real estate. I bought an acre of ocean front land for about $150K, and sold it for roughly $480,000. That didn't hurt.

  21. FFN says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your reply. After reading your book and this comment, it has given me added confidence to become like you. I have got more questions to bombard you with.

    What age were you when u started off? What were your average returns for the 18 years with both index investing and stock picking? Why don't u do stock picking anymore even though u were doing well picking individual stocks as seen from your book and articles? Most returns from picking stocks comes from dividends and index investing gives lesser dividends imo. In your book, you have said that people can't go on beating the market all the time by picking stocks so to minimize the allocation to 10%. But if you were to pick fundamentally strong companies with no debt, good free cash flow, with a wide moat and huge margin of safety especially during a crash, then there is minimal risk like index investing but with higher returns to boot. Dividend yield is also higher with these companies. Looking forward to your answers and views. Thanks!

    • Hey FF,

      To be honest, I don't think I'll ever personally know anyone who is able to beat a diversified balanced portfolio of indexes by buying individual stocks. So I choose to go where the odds are highest. Too many people try to make it look easy. But it isn't. And ten year track records are nothing…just blips in time. Over a lifetime, indexing gives far better odds of success

  22. Mike says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Just finished the book. Great read, thank you for it. With respect to the Canadian index funds, do they pay dividends? I'm hopeful they do and that it may be possible to setup a reinvest dividends with no additional charges from the management company. Thanks again!

    Mike

  23. Great book!!! It has inspired me to get to work and try to open a TFSA eseries fund. Or just put more money in my couch potato ETFs.

    Thanks for writing it- it was a great read.

    PS I didn't know you worked for BC Transit! That's cool :)

  24. Nick says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Is it possible to even begin investments with indexes with a few hundred dollars? I'm Singaporean and I am really new to this.

    Thanks in advance for your help. I have read the good, good read, but I'm afraid there is little to really guide the beginner in this world of investments. As you said, we're not taught in school about this.

    Warm Regards,

    Nick

    • Hi Nick,

      To save on commissions, you may want to look into the purchase fees associated with Standard Chartered. DBS Vickers has a flat fee commission for purchases below roughly $40,000. That fee is $30 U.S. per purchase.

      If you were buying an ETF with just $200, you could do it, but you would be giving away $30 U.S. as a commission to do so.

      SC, I believe, has a commission rate that's far kinder to small purchases.

      • Nick says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for the reply. Yes I had just opened an SC e-savers account in order to facilitate the opening of the Online Trading Account. It charges 0.20% for trading in SGD and 0.25% for USD.

        The only stumbling block now is the questionaire regarding transaction experience, history and knowledge of the mechanics of the market. As I have said, I am taking my first step into investment, hence I wonder if there are other firms that are more willing to open an account for a complete newbie like myself.

        Also, because I am a Singaporean living in Singapore would you still recommend Vanguard?

        I had just read your book, excellent read! It inspired me to take this first step to grow my future.

        Warm Regards,

        Nick

        • Thanks for the kind words about the book Nick. I'd be thrilled, of course, if you would write a review for the book on Amazon, if you have an account with them.

          Your question about the account opening, as it pertains to your experience is definitely timely. It appears that the Singaporean brokerages are closing doors to new investors. In fact, a friend of mine who has used DBS Vickers for years, recently had to fill out a form to continue using the brokerage. It seemed (from what I could see) that she needed to be an accredited investor (someone very rich or experienced) to be able to continue using the account. This is an account with more than $400,000 in it, but she felt compelled to fudge the form today, suggesting that she had a net worth (assuming assets somewhere) exceeding $2 million.

          Only Americans can use Vanguard, so unless you're from the U.S., this won't be an option. It sounds like your brokerage is closing doors to newbies as well, or at least making life difficult. Perhaps some of my other readers can help shed some light on this. I'll soon be doing a thorough bit of researc on the matter, but perhaps somebody else has the info I'm looking for.

          Anyone?

          Thanks again for the kinds words about the book Nick!

          Andrew

          • FFN says:

            Hi Andrew,

            DBS Vickers is not really closing doors to newbies. It's just that if they want to buy ETFs and a few others, they need to fill up a form. SGX came up with this ruling to protect the new investors and it came into effect from Jan 1, 2012. It applies to all brokers in Singapore. I googled "SGX SIP" and I found a site at http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2011/12/sgx-online-ed…. Hope this helps.

  25. AMG says:

    Hi Andrew – purchased the book and read it this weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed and appreciate the links (kindle version). I feel empowered, and wrote my MLynch financial advisor and gave him a summary. Here's his response below – think you and others will find of interest.

    "Interesting, however, the timing of this now I believe is terrible with interest rates at the level they are at with bonds.The big question is would you stay with a strategy if it was down 10-20% when the market might be up 20%? Most would not."

    • AMG,

      I'm glad you liked the book.

      Your advisor's word choice reveals plenty. He used the word "timing".

      Research "market timing" and see what you can find.

      Then find a reputable investment book that suggests people shouldn't have bonds as part of a responsible portfolio. I don't think you'll find one.

      There are good advisors who are compelled (for whatever reason) to sell expensive products. But there are uneducated advisors selling their ability to time markets and ignore the diversification of assets. Your advisor, unfortunately, sounds like he falls under the latter category.

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