Lots of books are penned that purport to tell you the secret to financial independence or getting rich. Some are written by authors whose objective is to get rich themselves from the poor schmucks who buy their books looking for the keys to the kingdom of wealth, while others come from writers who actually provide a few helpful, practical hints that can be useful in your efforts to gain financial security and independence. Duane Harden’s 5 Easy Steps to Financial Freedom: Do What You Love & Get Rich Doing It, which I received a free copy of in return for an unbiased review, is fortunately one of the latter. It offers a few very helpful hints for anyone seeking to establish a financial status that enables him to do the things he wants to do.
Harden starts by enjoining the reader to rewrite his or her history and create a future. He outlines the five steps he took to gain his own financial independence, with helpful advice such as ‘be careful who you listen to,’ ‘avoid negative people,’ ‘don’t be afraid to take risks,’ and ‘spend less than you make.’ While this might seem like no-brainer advice, it’s amazing the number of people who ignore it.
I found the book helpful, to a degree, and quite easy to read, but I took issue with the author early on. He maintains, for instance, that it’s easier to say ‘yes’ than to say ‘no.’ My fifty years in the bureaucracy taught me the exact opposite – it’s easier to say ‘no,’ but the consequences are often more severe than if you say ‘yes.’ While I don’t disagree that passive income is a good wealth generator, I’m not of the belief that this is the only route as the author seems to be. Most troubling to me in this book, though, is the statement, both implied and explicit in more than one place that business ownership, real estate and investment are the best ways to become wealthy.
The author describes the steps that he took in these areas, and seems to imply that anyone who follows them will experience the same results. If you read the entire book, though, including the front matter, you will notice that the publisher includes a disclaimer,
“Limits of Liability & Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and author have made every attempt in preparing this book for educational purposes only, however, they make no representations or warranties with respect to its accuracy or the completeness of the contents of this book. The advice and strategies contained in this book may not be suitable for your situation and results may vary. Any statements about profits or income, expressed or implied, does not represent a guarantee. You accept full responsibility for your actions, profit or loss, and agree to hold the publisher and author and any authorized distributor harmless in any and all ways. The use of this book constitutes your acceptance.”
And, rightly so, because what works for one does not necessarily work for all, and not all of us are cut out to be business owners or real estate magnates. Even investment is different for different people.
Now, while I disagree with the author’s premise on ‘what’ fields to follow to ensure financial independence, I don’t disagree with most of the ‘methods’ he describes. Knowing where you come from, where you wish to go, and what you’re willing to do to get there, is valuable regardless of the path you take. There are nuggets of wisdom here, and if the author had been just a bit more forthcoming, this would rank in my top tier of books on ‘how to become independent.’ Unfortunately, it misses the four-star category, but the clear writing and practical manner gives it a three (two and a half actually, but there are no provisions for partial stars, so I’ll go ahead and give that other half).