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.
The Wealthy Barber has an almost unique premise among the top personal finance books: it is written in the style of a novel in which a group of siblings visits the barber in their hometown because they’ve heard that he has somehow become quite wealthy and they want to know how he did it on a barber’s salary. The story itself is a bit on the thin side, but it provides a readable overlay to the personal finance advice that the barber lays out.
Almost all of the story takes place in, unsurprisingly, a barbershop, where on a series of Saturday mornings, Roy (the proprietor) lays down the basics of personal finance to three siblings: Tom (the “loudmouth” character who questions everything), Cathy (the “successful” one, who already has a lot of money but isn’t strong on investing), and Dave (the author, who is basically “everyman”). Roy has become a millionaire due to applying basic personal finance management and he lays it out piece by piece to the three, who apply their own perspectives to the advice Roy has to offer.
In parts, this book reads like an educational film, with different characters saying almost predictible things and Roy often talking down to them (and to the reader). In other places, the book sucks you in with strong ideas, mostly because the concepts that Roy presents make a lot of fundamental sense.
In short, this book presents basic financial advice for the average person, written in language that won’t drive readers away with complexity. I would feel comfortable giving this book to anyone in my family, which hasn’t been true for most of the personal finance books I’ve reviewed in this series. Why? The writing really does make this book palatable to a very wide audience.
That’s great, but is the advice inside any good? Over the next three days, I’ll go through some of the advice that the barber provides and, on Friday, give a buy or don’t buy recommendation to this one.
The Wealthy Barber is the eleventh of fifty-two books in The Simple Dollar’s series 52 Personal Finance Books in 52 Weeks.