The Bogleheads’ Guide To Investing, by Mel Lindauer, Taylor Larimore, and Michael LeBoeuf
Reading this book, which took months to arrive through all of the previous readers who put it on hold in the library, prompted me to ask a question of identity: Am I Boglehead? On the one hand, I have long been fond of indexing as a strategy and have approvingly read six books by John Bogle after having discovered him through an audiobook found at my local library, but on the other hand I have never gone to any of the Boglehead websites yet nor have I known about him for a long time. To be sure, I read this book and liked what it had to say, and not only thought that I would find it interesting, but I also found that those who like the financial strategy of Dave Ramsey when it comes to getting out of debt would probably appreciate the focus of the Bogleheads on living a conservative lifestyle and adopting conservative investment strategies. And the author’s focus on saving 10-20 percent of one’s income clearly is in line with thoughts about tithing that the authors appear entirely ignorant of, only adding to the book’s relevance and interest.
This book of about 300 pages is divided into 23 short chapters in various parts. The first part of the book discusses some essentials of successful investing (I) with chapters on living a sound financial lifestyle (1), starting early and investing regularly (2), knowing what you’re buying (3,4), investing some in inflation-protected bonds (5), saving money (6), keeping things simple (7), allocating assets wisely (8), keeping costs low (9), dealing with taxes (10,11), diversifying one’s assets (12), avoiding performance chasing and market timing (13), investing for college for kids in a savvy fashion (14), managing windfalls successfully (15), and questioning the need for an adviser (16). The second part of the book then focuses on follow-through strategies to keep one on target (II) with chapters on tracking progress and re-balancing (17), tuning out the noise of financial pornography in the financial press (18), mastering one’s emotions (19), making one’s money last longer than ourselves (20), protecting assets through being well-insured (21), passing on a legacy (22), and some closing encouragement (23). The book then concludes with four appendices that contain a glossary of financial terms (i), recommending further reading (ii), recommended websites (iii), and Vanguard asset allocation (iv), and some information about the authors. To be sure, most of this information is not particularly complicated, but that which is easy to understand is not always easy to do.
And that is really at the heart at what it means to be a Boglehead. Don’t be seduced by the quick buck or a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption, but life simply and reasonably and with an eye towards serving others and leaving something for future generations. It seems rather striking that people who believe in such ordinary and even obvious truths would feel it necessary to coalesce as a group and give honor to a man who spoke about such things openly and publicly as the head of Vanguard for many years and as a thoughtful writer and thinker himself. It is not necessary to be an original thinker to be a worthwhile one, for sometimes the most worthwhile thinkers in a particular age are those who point us to that which has always been true and that which remains true no matter what siren songs one hears all around. And the Bogleheads here do not even pretend to originality, but they are writing to remind and encourage people about truths that the reader likely already knows, with perhaps some information to as to accomplish the task of investing wisely better, but with old principles that have always been the best way to live. And I find nothing whatsoever bad with that.