Andrew Allentuck

Monday, March 25, 2002

How I Stopped Worrying About Retirement (without Alcohol, Nicotine, Caffeine or other Artificial Stimulants)
by Bruce McDougall
Prentice Hall Canada, 2001
215 pages
ISBN 0-13-032661-5

Bruce McDougall, a very bright guy, has written How I Stopped Worrying for the middle aged man or woman who might, a decade ago, have been seduced by The Wealthy Barber. Written in the same style of edifying dialogue, it covers the basics of savings, diversification, home ownership, insurance, divorce and estate planning.

So far, so good. The problem with a book of dialogue about a solid subject is that information gets diluted by the details of the story. So the reader gets confected conversations, for example, this bit on home ownership: "'Wow,' he said, 'have you seen those houses? They're amazing., You should see them, Dad.'"

A few charts and tables don't rescue this book from its core weakness - diffusion of information in some half baked stories with no index. Nevertheless, for those who can't handle the relatively few core ideas of financial planning - postponement of consumption, risk management, tax issues and the structure of equity and debt investments - Mr. McDougall may have the right medicine. In the end, the verdict is this: if you like to think your way through investment issues and the complexities of stocks and bonds interest you, skip this book. If you hate to think your way through investment issues and stocks and bonds give you narcolepsy, get the book.