Book Review: Eight Steps to Seven Figures

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When I was in my senior year of college, a friend let me borrow The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich.  The book really introduced me into the world of personal finance.  One I understood some of the basic concepts (such as the power of starting to invest when young and the impact of compound interest) I started looking for other books that would show me strategies that I could implement.  Thus I came across Eight Steps to Seven Figures: The Investment Strategies of Everyday Millionaires and How You Can Become Wealthy Too.  To me, this provided me a solid understanding of investing concepts (focused on stocks and 401k as some of the primary vehicles) to build upon.

One of the favorite things that I liked about the book is the multiple real life examples of people and their stories of mistakes and how they achieved their current level of wealth.  For each case study that the author uses, he lists such information as age, marital status, children, education, occupation, current income, five year average income, highest income, how many different jobs since 25, do you follow a budget, have you declared bankruptcy, are your parents frugal, when did you start investing, what is the breakdown of your assets, do you own gold, etc.  After reading multiple profiles, some trends started to emerge between the investors, such as generally starting young, even if they could not invest a lot of money, not living beyond your means and delaying gratification.

So one of the key questions that you may have is… what are the eight steps to seven figures?

Step 1 – Start investing NOW.
Step 2 – Establish a goal – any goal – it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it matters to you.
Step 3 – Buy only stocks and stock mutual funds.  Forget about asset allocation.
Step 4 – Swing for singles.  You’ll strike out fewer times and hit some home runs in the process.
Step 5 – Invest every month, no matter how small the investment.
Step 6 – Buy and hold … and hold … and hold … and hold … and hold.
Step 7 – Take what Uncle Sam gives you.
Step 8 – Limit shocks to your finance.

With that said, I would like to provide some caution and how I used this book.

Caution:

  • There are many ways to become millionaires.  Just because the people interviewed in this book did it a certain way does not mean that is the only/best way.
  • I believe in the past the mentality was to work hard, save and you will be set for life.  I believe this paradigm has changed over time.  This book came out in 2000, before the stock market crashed.  Even though much of the advice in this book is good advice, I wonder how many people in the book would be as wealthy after the stock market crashed.  I am wary of having all of my investments be in the stock market.
  • This book is largely focused on stocks.  While stocks have their place, I decided that for me personally, I would focus my investments in other areas.

My Current Investments:

  • Company 401k – 7% of my income
  • Company Roth 401k – 1% of my income
  • Real Estate: Renting multiple 1-4 unit buildings  (Sylvester Enterprises)
  • Business: Wine/Liquor Store (Warsaw Wine & Spirits)

I tried investing in the stock market right out of school, but felt like much of it was gambling.  I wanted more control over my investments and like the additional benefits of real estate and owning a business.  I do still contribute to my 401k, though not as much as I would like to.

Summary: This is a good book and will definitely provide a lot of information.  The case studies are great, but do not blindly follow the advice in this book.  It has sound principles, but understand your goals and look at the current landscape to determine how you can get to seven figures.  In particular, be wary of step 3, which recommends buying only stocks and bonds.  That may work for some, but not all.

Tom Sylvester is an Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor and Lean/Agile Coach.  He has started multiple businesses and is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, both personally and professionally.  He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife and daughter.  Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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