For one of my 2022 personal finance resolutions, I initially sought out to read another book (an older book by William Green) but I couldn’t find it in the library and it would have cost something like $100 otherwise. So I pivoted and decided to pick Balance: How to Invest and Spend for Happiness, Health, and Wealth by Andrew Hallam. Here’s my Balance by Andrew Hallam book review.
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Balance by Andrew Hallam Book Review
I had thought that Balance would be a regurgitation or rehash of Millionaire Teacher, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is an easy read and the way Andrew Hallam tells stories is very intriguing, you are instantly drawn in!
In this Balance by Andrew Hallam book review I’ll go over the topics of each chapter.
In Chapter 1, Andrew Hallam asks you to re-evaluate what you like more, your stuff or your life. Most millionaires don’t drive flash cars, and even Jack Ma who is worth $38.8 billion drives a $15,000 SUV. Talk about frugal habits of the super rich.
I like his “Desert Island Litmus Test” where you should challenge yourself regarding your purchase- if you were on a desert island and no one saw you with your purchase (e.g. your BMW) would you still want it?
Chapter 2 is about income and high paying jobs and the trade off for health and happiness. Most of the time, the added stress isn’t worth the extra money.
Chapter 3 is about the real secret to longevity and a happy life: positive and rewarding social relationships and how people in their 30’s and 40’s (hello millennials right now) are on a hedonic treadmill, trying to increase their happiness with a higher paying job, a better car, or an upgraded home thinking it will improve their lives.
Chapter 4 is about the Joneses. Are you going to follow the Joneses? People who have high incomes but are addicted to consumerism and buying material things are not necessarily wealthy.
Chapter 5 is about how you can afford ANYTHING but not everything. Andrew Hallam shares his massage spending and the opportunity cost this can entail.
In Chapter 6 of Balance, the author starts to talk about investing and how you can enjoy financial security using dollar cost averaging.
Chapter 7 is about the dangers of high fees over the long term and financial advisors. It was funny I was having a conversation with my coworker about the dangers of 2.32% annual fees on a $1,000,000 portfolio (which is $23,200 by the way per YEAR) and they did not understand why I thought $23,200 was not chump change. Hence this is why I share more easily my thoughts on the Internet and not to my friends and acquaintances.
Chapter 8 is about how a simple investment strategy is the way to go and the way you invest really depends on your personality and temperament.
Chapter 9 is about how well you know yourself. When it actually happens, you might react differently. Your lizard brain is more influential on your actual behaviour than you think.
Chapter 10 is about ESG investing and consuming less. I was reminded of the “flight to nowhere” by Qantas (the best selling flight in the airline’s history) with an 8 hour flight going nowhere with the pandemic restrictions. Shocking…
Chapter 11 is about teaching your children and how you can get them to be successful themselves, and one of them is to encourage them to begin household chores when they are young.
Chapter 12 talks about rethinking traditional retirement and that it might be over-rated. A part-time job can increase your longevity because of the socialization aspect and because of Ikigai. Mini-retirements might also be the key to happiness too.
Who is Andrew Hallam?
Andrew Hallam is best known as the Millionaire Teacher. He is the author of one of the personal finance books I think every young Canadian should read.
He was inspired to invest at a young age, 19 years old, when he was introduced to the concept of investing by a mechanic friend when he was working at the bus depot in British Columbia. He went to school to become a teacher and his first salary was under $30,000 a year.
Andrew Hallam was crazy frugal while he was teaching on Vancouver Island and subsisted on potatoes, pasta, and clams he found on the beach.
He became a millionaire at age 36 and financially independent at 40, on a teacher’s salary. He retired as an expat teacher in Singapore to travel the world with his wife, and now is a finance writer, author, and gives talks around the world about personal finance.
What I Liked About Balance
My Balance by Andrew Hallam book review is positive. This book was very good, I think better than the Millionaire Teacher. I liked the stories about his travels and experience as an expat teacher sprinkled in.
I liked the chapter summaries on “a few tips for living well” and it’s a great TLDR summary though I recommend you read the chapters, they are that good.
In addition, in Chapter 9, I spooked myself out reading about his ghost story. Yes, Andrew Hallam somehow incorporated a ghost story on a remote Indonesian island in a personal finance book!
I liked how he is asking you to redefine success. Success isn’t about getting a ‘good job’ and a degree from an Ivy league school. Success isn’t about driving a fancy car.
Success is about having control of your time and spending your time learning new things, improving yourself, and getting better day by day.
What I DIdn’t Like About Balance
There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about Balance, it’s really a great book.
The ESG and Socially Responsible investing chapter initially started a bit monotonous (we all know that Socially Responsible Investing funds don’t perform as well) but I was later intrigued about how electric car batteries, and paper coffee cups can be so damaging to the environment, and about how people would pay $500 for a First Class Singaporean Airlines ticket to sit on the tarmac and have airplane food.
I hope you found this Balance by Andrew Hallam book review useful, I really enjoyed reading the book and I think this is a great book for young and older investors alike, because we what we truly want in life is the same thing. We are all in search of a happy, successful life.
This book is MORE than just personal finance, it is about life and what you want out of it.
We only have one shot at life and we don’t know when our story ends.
What do you think about Andrew Hallam’s statement on how money doesn’t make us happier, but how you spend your time matters?
Here’s Andrew Hallam’s website if you’re interested.
What is your Balance by Andrew Hallam book review?
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GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.
2 thoughts on “Balance by Andrew Hallam Book Review”
You do book reviews! Sweet! May I suggest checking out Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom? I spent two years writing it after also reading about 20 personal finance books to figure out how to make it a great book.
I decided to go deep into all the topics I discussed to help readers on the how and why. BTNT also made The Wall Street Journal Bestseller list! It was the only new entrant out of a sea of incumbents.
I think you’ll enjoy it! It’s fun to provide a finance perspective after working in finance and studying finance.
By the way, after writing a book, now I appreciate all books and all authors. It is such a pain and so difficult to do with so many editors and rewrites. I remember Andrew coming out with his book many many years ago and not really bothering to pay attention. But now I pay attention to her all new finance books!
@FS- It’s definitely seems like a lot of work to write a book, especially a good book. Thanks I’ll have a look at Joe’s review of your book first 🙂