Updated on 05.06.07

The Automatic Millionaire: Overview

Trent Hamm

This week, The Simple Dollar takes a look at David Bach’s The Automatic Millionaire. I enjoyed Bach’s earlier book, Smart Couples Finish Rich, but will I like this one, too? Let’s find out.

The sensational title of this book is a big eye-cather when you see it on the shelf. In fact, this book was one of the first books I read when I was in financial armageddon and I was stumbling about looking for answers – I couldn’t help but be attracted to the title of the book. I have great memories of staying up late and devouring this entire book in a single sitting, wondering to myself how this could all be so simple, yet I missed out on so much.

Basically, Bach focuses on two major concepts throughout the book. First, one should pay themselves first by automating contributions to retirement accounts and other investments before even thinking about living expenses. Once this is done, Bach uses the power of compound interest to show how even a small amount of paying yourself first can grow into, well, millions of dollars over the years.

In short, the sensational title isn’t a lie at all: this book really is a plan to become an automatic millionaire, which excited me greatly the first time I read the book. Since then, I’ve read mountains of personal finance books, and now that I’ve returned to this one, the big question I ask myself is whether it holds up in comparison to other personal finance books. Does the message contained in The Automatic Millionaire really stand up, or is it a book best left to people just starting their financial journey?

Over the next three days, I’m going to walk through the lessons of the book and then at the end of the week, I’ll deliver a “buy or don’t buy” recommendation for this one.

The Automatic Millionaire is the thirteenth of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.

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  1. dimes says:

    You find that Bach makes a lot of possibly unrealistic assumptions about one’s household income and investment horizon. For example, for those of us who aren’t especially high income, a 401(k) shouldn’t be the primary investment vehicle, and it’s also a stretch to expect a 10% average return over the long run. Most people who project only estimate a 7 or 8% return. I think he uses big numbers to up the sexiness value of his Latte Factor.
    Fundamentally he’s ok, and I really like the values section (which was either in this book or the couples book), but he seems to have a little bit of tunnel vision in thinking that a 401k is the best retirement strategy for everyone.

  2. gp says:

    i think most of what bach tells us in common sense, but it can get people to really open their eyes on the money that they don’t realize they are spending. about 6 years ago i realized my ‘latte factor’. i dipped tobacco at the time. each morning i would stop at a place and buy 1 can of dip, 1 large soda, and a doughnut or pastry. each day i was in for over $5 before the day even started. since then i’m off the tobacco and soda and wondering how i afforded $35-40 a week on nothing.

  3. Rachel says:

    Thanks so much for this review. It is really helpful and informative.

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