BOOK REVIEW: GIMME MY MONEY BACK

by Matt B


GIMME MY MONEY BACK: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis by Ali Velshi

Judging by the title alone, I expected this book to be a step by step guide to getting your portfolio back into shape and helping recoup losses caused by the meltdown of the economy. This is not at all the case. GIMME MY MONEY BACK is not much more than detailed definitions and a small section about portfolio management.

The first two chapters (about 1/4 of the book) is devoted entirely to explaining how we got into this mess in the first place and the safeguards that are in place by the government to avoid a complete collapse of our system. Detailing the Sub-Prime mortgage problems, the failure of Lehman Brothers, and the bailout of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG, Mr. Velshi paints a crystal clear picture of how the collapse was set into motion. These main contributors spurned a tremendous downturn in consumer confidence, and the stock market soon followed, creating chaos throughout the entire country.

Chapter three is about individual personal finance. How debt is managed and saving are the main focuses. Compounding interest, saving for retirement and homeownership are also highlighted. Most of this chapter is straight-forward advice on saving and investing. In my opinion, the whole chapter could be omitted from the book, and little would be lost.

Chapter four, titled “The World of Investments” introduces us to the world of stocks. Along with stocks…bonds, cash equivalents, international stocks, and commodities are covered. This chapter is nothing short of introductions and definitions of these investment choices.

Quick Recap:
Ok, you are about halfway through GIMME MY MONEY BACK. So far, the title has given you nothing that is in the book. Mr. Velshi writes as if his readers have no clue about general investment knowledge. If you ask me, someone named this book improperly. If I had wanted an introduction to investments book, I would have bought The Stock Market and Investing For Dummies.

Sorry, back to the review.

Chapter five is where this book starts to get informative. When the subtitle of a book is “Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis”, I expect hard numbers. Graphs, numbers and trends should come automatically. After all, it is an investment book, eh? Chapter five brings real information into the picture. This chapter compares returns on stocks, bonds, funds and inflation over long time periods, showing that risk is necessary in order to obtain profit. Inflation is the enemy, and it shows here. Risk vs. return and how to balance risk are also highlighted. Chapter five ends with a section on the importance of asset allocation and how it plays a role in the risk vs. return game.

Note: If this book had started with chapter five, I may very well be giving a much more glowing review.

Chapter six delves deeply into diversification. Although much of the chapter covers funds and the different types of funds available, there is a bevvy of valuable information. Obviously, when stocks are concerned, funds are the safest investment. Funds give the purchaser a large group of stocks and reduce risk by not placing too many “eggs in one basket”. If you (like me) are not well versed on different types of funds and how they are put together, chapter six alone may be worth the read.

Chapter seven
is the actual “GUIDE” portion of this book. Mr. Velshi constructs an “optimum performance” portfolio depending your age, risk tolerance, time before withdraw, goals and a few other factors. He also touches on how often you should re-balance your portfolio and whether a financial planner is right for you. Chapters six and seven bring much of the information I was looking for from this title. Unfortunately, had I not been intending to review it here, I probably would not have made it to these chapters. If I had, it would have been after a lot of quick page turning.

Chapter eight is a short blurb about retirement. Basically, where to safely put your money when you are trying to enjoy life stress-free. There is not a great deal of detail here, but it is not necessary after the depth from previous chapters.

Finally, Chapter nine is nothing more than a short epilogue. There are a few very short stories that are mildly enjoyable, but absolutely no substance here.

So, does the title do the book justice? Not a chance. Although this book can teach a thing or two, there are countless other titles that are much more effective and informative. I know that Ali Velshi is a respected correspondent on CNN and although I enjoy his work, this book falls short. It is not his style that turns me off, just the lack of information in this book. What I am saying is that I would give another title of his a shot in the future.

•Normally, I would not go through a book chapter by chapter, but in this case, it was the only way I could present it and do the book justice. There are very good sections in this title, and I did not want to mash the good together with the boring. If you actually liked this format, I may try it in the future, but usually my reviews will be formatted like my review of “The Automatic Millionaire”.

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