From almost any standpoint, the rise of Scott Pape (The Barefoot Investor) is extraordinary, but his dominance over the Australian books best-seller charts is particularly astounding. His 2016 book, The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need, is now probably the most successful Australian non-fiction book of all time. Its success, as I’ve written about before, is driven almost entirely by the sublime management of Pape’s authorial voice. He’s down-to-earth, clear, and genuinely funny. His financial concepts are no-nonsense, specific and authentic. The marketability of the book is irresistible. After reading The Barefoot Investor, I was telling everyone I knew to pick it up. I think I’ve sold at least a dozen copies for Pape. (You’re welcome mate. I await my share.)
Pape’s latest release, The Barefoot Investor: For Families, is another touchdown. Released just in time for Christmas, the book is already blitzing the sales charts. This will be the most talked about Aussie book of the next six months at least (or until he releases something else).
Pape is to be congratulated for maintaining quality assurance. It would be easy, as he himself points out, to stray from his path of furiously independent financial advice by partnering with a bank, or creating his own credit card, or making a whizz-bang TV show with watered-down content. Instead, Pape focusses his writing on clear, articulate ‘bibles’ that are useful across wide demographics. The inherent usefulness of both of these books ensures they’ll stay within families as treasured tomes. Even if Pape didn’t publish anything else ever again, I would likely be giving my baby daughter both of these volumes to read in fifteen years time. The principles are simple and profound. It’s not earth-shattering advice (work harder, earn more money; never pick up a credit card; save a little bit from every pay check), but it’s set out with such clarity, humour and authenticity that the books become irresistible.
By the by, my wife and I remain steadfast believers in Pape’s system, having re-arranged our financial affairs from top to bottom now almost two years ago. The result has been nothing short of life-changing. We’re free of debt. We’re not anxious about money. Our super’s gone up. We save faster. The principles work.
So, to the second book. No, you don’t have to have read the first one to approach the second. A better title perhaps would be ‘For Parents’, as this is really the target market - although grandparents and extended family may benefit too. This book is essentially about how to raise your kids with financial know-how. The principles are broad enough that you can approach the book when your child is under five, or on the cusp of leaving home. Pape’s central thesis is his ‘Barefoot Ten’ - ten things your kid should have achieved by the time they leave home.
Again, it’s not earth-shattering, but it is incredibly useful advice. When Pape lays out the astonishing statistics of the crappy financial health of 18 to 25 year-olds in his introduction, he sets the stakes high. An average of several thousands of dollars in debt by the time kids are 24 means they’re starting adulthood behind the ball. It sounds like a miracle cure, but it’s true: a few simple lessons can be the difference between owning a house or paying off three credit cards by the time they’re thirty.
Here’s a few of the Barefoot Ten. Before your child leaves home, they should have:
Opened a zero-fee, high-interest savings account.
Learned to cook at least two low-cost, delicious, nutritious meals from scratch.
Got a part-time job from age 15.
Earned at least one glowing reference from a boss.
Bought and sold something second-hand.
The only criticism is in Pape’s salesmanship. He suffers a little from the American financial book zeal that’s clearly inspired him. He tends to spend a lot of time telling you how brilliant and simple his plan is before actually telling you what it is. This creates the feeling that a decent chunk of the book is filler, or introductory front matter to the actual heart of the matter. He manages it better than most because of his inherent charm. But still, the principles at the heart of this book, much like his first, could easily be summarised and scanned if you were hard-pressed for time. But frankly, the book is quite enjoyable to read.
So, I’m sure you don’t need the nudge from me - but pick up both books if you haven’t already and buy For Families for the parent in your life.