Roughly one year ago I wrote a review about a book written by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung. The book is called “Quit like a millionaire” and describes their effort and path to early retirement. They were able to retire at the young age of 31 and then decided to travel the world. I had heard about the book from the ChooseFi podcast and had high expectations.
If you have read my book review, you know that I was not really impressed by the book. While the overall story was very interesting, the book by itself is an average book. I felt the FIRE community really hyped the book up way too much. The author’s style to write is “unique” in a way and a lot of questionable language terms are used.
Book Review Update
As mentioned, it is now about one year later and I decided to follow-up on my review and find out what other people thought about the book. What better place to do so than to visit the book’s page on Amazon and take a look. So far, the book has gotten 405 reviews which is pretty impressive. The book has gotten a 4.7 out of 5 stars rating – clearly a sign that the majority of the readers like the book.
As a next step, I decided to read those reviews that were not rating the book “Quit like a millionaire” with 4 or 5 stars to see what those comments mentioned.
One reader left a comment on July 23rd, 2019, and said the following:
What is her secret? She and Bryce are DINKs (Dual-Income, No Kids) who went to prestigious schools (and graduated w/o college debt?!) and landed good-paying jobs as computer engineers.
That is a valid point and something that is not necessarily apparent from the book description. It is actually and often brought-up question within the FIRE community. Do you have to give up on having kids just to retire early? Maybe you do not want to have kids actually and that plan then is actually perfect. The comment above is really the main reason why the reader discredited the book and only gave it a 3-star rating.
Another comment from July 16th of 2019 reads like this:
This was a good read overall. The reason I gave it 3 stars was because of the constant use of crass language and swearing peppered throughout the book. Just never stops. I found this to be very annoying and completely unnecessary.
I very much agree with this statement above. The language used by the author diminishes the value of the story a lot and people take notice. It did not add value to the story and felt rather distracting. The comment above came from another 3-star rating.
Let’s move on to some of the one-star ratings for the “Quit like a millionaire book”. (Affiliate link – I will earn a small commission if you decide to buy through link. There is no cost or obligation for you.) The book attracted a total of 4 one-star ratings which is not bad considering that the book has over 400 comments and ratings at this point.
Besides the fact that the author is completely unlikable, she adds no new information at all. If you have ever read any book on personal finance or retirement you know every point made here. It is disgusting that people can just rewrite other people’s ideas and sell it off as something new. If I could give it 0 stars I would.
This is a key point, but not necessarily the author’s fault. There are only so many ways to describe certain steps within the FIRE movement.
Live frugally, start saving money early, ideally graduate from college with little or no debt, find a good-paying job, be patient.
This recipe for early retirement has been put into production by many people and just repeating what others have done before is not unique or that interesting. The author “Kristy Shen” fell into the trap (if you want to call it that way” and described her way to FIRE accordingly. And maybe that is why I think the book and the story is nothing special. Kristy Shen failed to give her story a more personal touch and look for uniqueness. Yes, she grew up in China being very poor and I admire people who find ways out of poverty and become super successful. That is what is missing here – the “super successful”. Kristy Shen had some success (really good actually), but in the end, she used the default FIRE recipe to reach her finish line of $1,000,000. That is impressive, but that is about it. It does not stick out anymore after so many people reaching the same goal before her and talking about it. The FIRE community is full of these stories and if you really want to stick out, what is your value proposition? What makes your story so unique? How does it apply to readers of the book?
“No Gimmicks, Luck, or Trust Fund required”
Judging the book by its title and sub-title, the content provides very little value for aspiring fans of the “Financially independent, retire early” (FIRE) movement. Is it an interesting story? Yes, certainly, but the book is hyped as if it would be a manual to find financial independence and retire early. And that is not what it is.
A September 7th of 2019 review of the book has this comment:
2) I just can’t get on board with her mantra of “money is the most important thing in life.” She obviously has a lot of baggage from her past in poverty, but instead of dealing with it in a healthy way, she has made money her source of hope. It’s sad really.
I did not look at the book in that way, but this is an interesting comment for sure and the author of this review mentions a few similar worded sentences. I feel there is definitely something here that makes sense and partially explains why the book author writes certain things the way she wrote it.
I don’t want to go further down into criticizing this book. I think it is an interesting story, but the book is clearly marketed to an audience raising a certain expectation and at that, it is failing to deliver.
How could the book be improved?
I think there are a few things that could easily make this book significantly better. Restructuring the book and then expanding the “financial advice and strategy” section would turn this book into something better. So, how would I restructure it?
- Her story and how she grew up and how she ended up in Canada.
- Her education, how she met her husband, and how her mindset changed towards money.
- The journey of how to become financially independent
- The exit from work and how they decided to travel and how this worked out from a financial perspective – including details of how her accounts still grew after they left the workforce by using the concepts of travel hacking, geo-arbitrage, etc.
I want to say, the last point is really where the book could make a difference and achieve value. Having the $1,000,000 Canadian Dollars is great, but it is not sustainable long-term to live of that money for 50+ years unless they would maintain their geo-arbitrage life – which they might, but the book makes a different impression.
What specific steps were taken to further increase their savings and to beef-up their finances. By shifting away from using certain language and rather go a little deeper on the financial side and by separating story (upbringing, saving money, retiring) from financial advice the book would really become more interesting. Design and show the detailed plan that would take them from $1,000,000 CAD to $1,500,000 CAD and so on.
Anyway, I have admiration for Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung. They were disciplined enough to save a lot of money and brave enough to leave the rat race behind and travel the world. I am not familiar with how they have faired during COVID-19 times and hope they are doing fine and continue to be successful. Hopefully this follow-up to my original book review was helpful and I would love to hear from you in the comments below.