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My Library is ON FIRE!

Don't call the emergency department, it's the good kind of FIRE.
Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash
**Sorry about the awkward formatting, below, Blogger is a piece of shit**

One of Canadian FIRE's readers (Lauren) recently reached out to me on the ChooseFI Canada complimenting my blog post concerning the Vortex of FIRE Information. This is a post where I curated a list of Canadian and American blog and podcasts suitable for the FIREwalkers in Canada. Blogging has become such a popular medium in the FIRE space because it doubles as a diary and a potential side-gig with income to be made. While I respect other bloggers attempting to monetize at the get-go, I've chosen the path to serve my readers with as little clutter as possible. This means a simple user interface with no ads. As the site grows I will inevitably begin adding features and perhaps a ads to help cover the cost of operating the blog.

So while the blog space is as crowded as an Ikea on Boxing Day, the book department is actually quite simple, especially for Canadians. It's more like a Boston Pizza.. but at 3pm when the lunch crowd have all left and the dinner parties are hours away. You practically have the whole place to yourself with a calm atmosphere and timely food.

Okay, no more fluff: here is my curated list of Canadian FIRE approved books:

The Wealthy Barber (1989) by David Chilton
  • David Chilton's classic is definitely one of the first books people use to dive into personal finance. It is however a product of its time - there's no mention of FIRE and we have to ignore some of the actionable advice Chilton lays out in the book. For example, choosing an actively managed mutual fund was popular at the time but enough research has been published to disprove the actual usefulness of fund managers. 
  • The other issue is the 10% savings rate. This is pitiful to anybody pursuing FIRE, you'll need at least 50% to make substantial progress and retire in 17 years (according to Mr Money Mustache's fantastic chart). Feel free to pick up the sequel, The Wealthy Barber Returns where Chilton provides commentary on financial matters of the day (published 2011).

Your Money or Your Life (1990, 2018 updated) by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
  • Okay this is my dark secret: I have never read this book. I can recommend it because it is widely hailed as the 'Bible of FI' and have heard so much praise from every member of the FIRE community. While I haven't been able to confirm this with my own eyes, it appears to be the book that can transform a Crazy Consumer into the Strategic Spender without laying on the thick overtone that FIRE sometimes has (admittedly I'm guilty of this!). I should definitely check this out of the library. 
  • This was recently updated in 2018, so pick up that version!

Early Retirement Extreme (2010) by Jacob Fisker
  • I haven't read this book in the traditional sense - I've read his blog instead. He admits
    that not everyone is going to scroll through and click the links of a blog when a book format is much more preferable. I would agree, I would have rathered read the book but that's a price I'm simply not willing to pay. I don't find the blog format cumbersome enough to justify the expense (it's $26 new!!). 
  • A good friend of the blog has told me his writing is weak but the concepts are strong. This sounds about right, if you've ever stumbled upon ERE before you'll know that Fisker's writing is blunt and to the point. If you want to see what true efficiency looks like, this book is for you. 
  • It will warp your perception of reality and to give credit where credit is due, Fisker heavily influenced Mr Money Mustache's blog, another blunt and unapologetic blog. Early Retirement Extreme is easily one of the top 5 best FIRE blogs/books out there.

The Millionaire Next Door (2010) by Dr Thomas Stanley and Dr William Danko

  • Another book I should've read already, Dr Stanley and Dr Danko provide a startling
    discovery - most of the people you and I see playing golf and eating at fancy restaurants are actually broke or have very little networth. This book makes a complete case for lifestyle inflation and how the medium and high income earner with a modest living are the actual richest members of society. 
  • I think we can all picture the typical Canadian family with 2 new SUV's, kids with brand new hockey equipment and a new-build 4 bedroom house in an expensive area. This book indicates that this family and most like them are actually financing their entire lifestyle and should they have any type of financial hardship due to job loss or what have you, they are only months away from bankruptcy. They are not actually rich, they are some of the poorest members of society.
  • There is a sequel called The Next Millionaire Next Door by Dr Thomas Stanley and Dr Sarah Stanley.
  • UPDATE 2020: I've read this book - fantastic! An absolute must-read!

The Simple Path to Wealth (2016) by JL Collins

  • If Vicki Robin is the FIRE Grandma then JL Collins is the father figure. Much like ERE,
    JL Collins admits this book is pretty much available for free on his blog. The blog version is slightly different and lacks a sophisticated tough that a professional editor provides but it truly is a wonder read and if you want to go all out, buy the audiobook because he reads it himself. I could listen to my FIRE father read a phonebook. Want a sample? Check this meditation out.
  • One thing I will say is this book focuses on the American FIREwalker. Canadians will have to skip entire chapters because they focus on Roth IRA's and 401k's.
  • The main stock investment Collins outlines in his book is VTSAX, a mutual fund with 0.04 MER available to Vanguard account holders. Canadians can't open a vanguard account but we can buy VTI, the ETF equivalent. The issue is we need to buy this in USD or simply find another vehicle to pour money into but with higher MER's. I've translated VTSAX here for you!

Beat the Bank (2018) by Larry Bates
  • This one I've had recommended to me by the Money Mechanic
    and by Sean, a local member of ChooseFI Toronto. I admit I was skeptical to hear this - the title sounds like clickbait. They assure me it has everything to do with convincing Canadians who pay some of the highest MERs in the world to go the DIY investing route and choose from a multitude of low-cost passive indexing. I'll have to give this one a read through.
  • UPDATE 2020: I've read this book too! Another must read because it's so Canadian. You can hear me talk about this pick on my podcast here:

The Value of Simple (2018) by John Robertson

  • I've heard Robertson speak before on the Canadian Couch
    Potato Podcast
    and it seems like he does everything in his
    power to persuade Canadians that investing is quite easy and uncomplicated. I can get behind that kind of simplistic approach so I'll give the book a plug on my list and I would like to get around to reading it. 
  • I'm noticing a trend in my library, I've only read half the books and have some catching up to do..!

Playing With FIRE (2019) by Scott Rieckens
  • Rieckens is a film producer and has been privately showing
    Playing With FIRE the documentary for a while now. I'm looking forward watching the movie instead of reading his book because I don't often get a video experience of the FIRE movement. I've heard his story before on the ChooseFI podcast linked here so I have a feeling reading the book won't bring me any value. I'll wait for the documentary's main release and see all the cameos that appear!
  • If I was trying to get somebody into FIRE I'm certain this book could do the trick but because its American so there's always the possibility it might go too far into their tax sheltered accounts. I might still read this one anyways!
  • UPDATE 2020: I absolutely LOVED this book. Easily one of my favourite books ever written about FIRE. Scott is so candid and Taylor gets to have her say in the book as well which I love. I'd recommend this to anybody who doesn't know a thing about FIRE.

ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to FI (2019) by Chris Mamula, Brad Barrett and Jonathon Mendonsa
  • Like ERE, I'll also be skipping this book because I'm certain
    that I could already recite it word for word. This isn't a criticism, I think it'll be a wonderful book but because I have listened to every podcast episode twice over, I'm certain I've heard all their advice by now. 
  • I'm almost certain that they focus on the American tax sheltered accounts rendering a portion of their advice useless to Canadians. Nonetheless, I support their vision for Second Generation FIRE and would recommend the book to anybody learning about our philosophy.

Quit Like A Millionaire (2019) by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung
  • Unlike Fisker and Collins, Kristy and Bryce didn't recycle their
    blog into this book (not a criticism, just an observation). For $17 new, this is another expensive book and since it's Canadian you might have a good shot of having your local library ordering it. I had the pleasure of listening to Shen narrate her own book through Audible (I used a free signup credit!).
  • This book has superb storytelling and a outlines the FIRE philosophy in such a sophisticated manner that I'd recommend it to anybody pursuing early retirement. However, one major flaw is it focuses on Canadian and American actionable tax manoeuvres at the same time. For whatever reason, they lump the two nationalities together instead of publishing two different books in each country so you'll be stuck listening to American stuff when it doesn't and can't remotely apply to you. I don't know anything about books so perhaps this wasn't possible but it's the same story on their blog, they often lump the two groups together when the tax system is completely different.

Did I miss a popular book? Let me know in the comments below so I can add it to the shelf. 

Ryan Myricks

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