Updated on 02.20.07

The Wealthy Barber: Buy or Don’t Buy?

Trent Hamm

This week, The Simple Dollar takes a look at David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber, a uniquely-written personal finance guide that has found its way onto people’s shelves for decades. Should it find its way onto your bookshelf? Let’s find out.

I elected to include The Wealthy Barber in this series simply because it was recommended by so many people. When I first read it, I actually didn’t like it at all; the plot seemed incredibly flimsy and the visualizations in my head were a lot like some of the educational films made in the 1940s and 1950s in which people “discuss” an issue with incredibly stilted dialogue.

That being said, I really recommend this book to anyone who feels lost with personal finance issues. This book takes the very basics of personal finance and crafts them within a simply, highly readable, and easy to follow story. Anyone can read this book and come away with some basic ideas of how to improve their financial situation without being overly bored or lost in the details. If you know someone who could use a financial nudging, this book could make a tremendous gift.

However, I don’t recommend this book to people who are already financially savvy – or to people who are avid readers. In the first case, the advice in this book will seem almost frustratingly simple. I re-read this book to write this review and there were portions of the advice that I felt were almost overly simplified, but I also feel that the advice in the book won’t guide you wrong, either.

Another challenge for me was that this book is clearly written for a very wide audience. The language and characters are both very simple, and given that my tastes in reading are voracious and rather literate, I almost cringed at the dialogue and characters in various places. I realize that the book is merely a way to sugarcoat basic financial issues, but it was nearly painful to read. This is not a book I would feel comfortable giving to someone with a high degree of literacy, even if they were having financial issues; I would choose a different title for them.

In short, this is a great, simply written introduction to personal finance issues, but for rich writing and for deep advice, you might want to look elsewhere.

You can jump to other parts of this review of The Wealthy Barber by following these links:
The Ten Percent Solution
Planning For The Future
Financially Savvy Living
Buy or Don’t Buy?

The Wealthy Barber is the eleventh of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.

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  1. fin_indie says:

    Good to know. Someone recently recommended this book in a comment on my blog and I have it on the list to check out. I consider myself fairly savvy, so I guess I won’t be picking this one up. That said, I have used books like these as gifts for younger folks and with great success. So far, I’ve probably given away The Millionaire Next Door 7 times and people love it.

    Anyway, great blog you have here. I’ll be adding it to my daily reading list.


  2. Debbie says:

    Thanks for this review. I found this guy to have a lot more common sense (in other words, able to recognize that different strategies are better for different people) than most finance books.

    He does go a little wacko with the magic of compound interest thing. He never quite explains how to get the very high interest he uses in his examples.

  3. JHP2 says:

    Thought this was an awesome book. Clear and entertaining, especially the audio version. I will say that the weakness is that it has not been updated in years so some of the advice in it around retirement accounts and taxes is out of date.

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