Book Review: The Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance

The Snowman's Guide to Personal Finance Book Review

I was approached by Steven Arnott to review a book that he authored.  Steven Arnott got the inspiration to write this book (about 10 years in the making) from a conversation with his brother who was a student at the time.  The goal of his book, The Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance is to distill personal finance into basic concepts and very easy analogies.  Specifically, how personal finance is similar to making a snowman.

As Canadians, we can all understand what snowfall is like and we have probably all built a snowman once in our lifetime (unless you arrived in Canada as an older adult and couldn’t go outside to make a snowman).

To be honest, I thought the book had a cheesy name and was planning to skim it quickly.  However, I actually was pleasantly surprised and really liked this book, it felt like I was reading The Wealthy Barber by Dave Chilton but mixed with The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards.  It was comprehensive (maybe even more comprehensive covering Canadian personal finance compared to The Wealthy Barber) and had some nice pictures and illustrations (unique might I add) to drive the point home.  Plus, it’s a great analogy, and brings back great memories of the wonder and excitement of making a snowman as a kid.

It is a great book for beginners and for Canadian youth, or if you are just started getting interested in personal finance.  I think this would be a great book to read for a teenager or someone in college, who is just about to earn their own money once they graduate.

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Who is Steven Arnott?

Steven Arnott has an MBA from Western University and worked as an investment specialist and as a manager of business analytics for BMO InvestorLine and RBC InvestEase, respectively.  He also is a designated CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and has also completed the Canadian Securities Course.  He has a Canadian personal finance blog over at Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance.

What I Liked About the Snowman’s Guide

I really liked that The Snowman’s Guide did not give any specific recommendations on financial tools or companies to use and actually had a chapter about bias, highlighting that some blogs where you find financial information may have their own incentive to get you to sign up for financial tools, and to always check with individual reviews of the product from users.  Even information on forums, like if someone says this stock is a sure-win may have some personal incentive for the poster, because they might be sharing that information in hopes the stock might go up.

He also talks about the importance of building up your credit score, and what makes up a credit score.  When you would want to get insurance and when and why you would need a will.  In addition, he brushes up on the subconscious mind and the steps you can take to prevent our natural tendencies to want things now and our natural tendencies to not want to move.

Did I mention that I really liked the analogies and simplicity?

Analogies in Snowman's Guide to Personal Finance
Analogies in Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance

Steven Arnott mentions robo advisors but doesn’t recommend any specific robo advisor, he mentions using ETFs but doesn’t mention specific ETFs.  I like that this allows the information to be more timeless (minus the part about 2019 TFSA contribution room since that will probably change year to year).

I also really liked how he went through step by step and chronologically how one might get involved in the personal finance aspects touched upon in the book, beginning from age 10 all the way up to age 71 when you need to switch out your RRSP to an RRIF.

What I Didn’t Like About the Snowman’s Guide

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about The Snowman’s Guide.  I think that some of the charts and graphs could have been a bit more specific.  In addition, some of the calculations could have been elaborated a bit more.  The section on investing could be elaborated a bit more.  He touched upon how Whole Life Insurance can be expensive but the paragraph could also have been elaborated some more.  Nonetheless, it is a great primer and gives enough detail for the reader to research themselves if they are wanting to find out more.’s Verdict

To be honest, I think this is a great complement to The Wealthy Barber as a gift to a new graduate or a young adult who is starting to get interested in personal finance but doesn’t know where to start.  It’s more detailed and comprehensive than The Wealthy Barber and just as easy to read.  I think both are great.

It is comprehensive yet simple and easy to understand.

The SnowMan’s Guide Giveaway

As part of this Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance Book review…Steven Arnott of The Snowman’s Guide has generously offered to give away five copies (physical copies) of his book to readers.

To win a copy of The Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance, all you have to do is be a subscriber, live in Canada, and comment below with your favourite snowman related memory as a kid (or as adult).

  • Subscribe
  • Be living in Canada
  • Comment below with your favourite snowman related memory

Winners will be selected via and contest ends on January 20, 2020 11:59 PM PST.

Winners will be announced on January 24, 2020 and books will be mailed to you.

Good luck!  Hope you enjoyed this Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance book review!

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27 thoughts on “Book Review: The Snowman’s Guide to Personal Finance”

  1. What a great sounding book! My favourite memory as a kid was building snowmen in funny places around the yard and near windows so it looked like someone was looking in. 🙂 I may have some Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes snowmen mischief in me, lol.

    I’m also a subscriber living in Canada!

  2. Nice to see someone taking the concept of letting you investment income “snowball” and use that as a premise to write a book, neat!

    When I think of those phrases like packing snow, rainfall, fresh snow, etc, it makes is easy to visualize this concept of investing

  3. I always loved when we got a fresh snowfall that was sticky enough to make snowmen. This wasn’t always the case but when it was we always made snowmen in our yard.

    Going to add this book to my reading list for this year. Always love reading Canadian specific content.

  4. This book sounds really great! On a semi-related note, Is it crazy that I, a 30 year old woman who is interested in personal finance, has yet to read the Wealthy Barber? It’s been on my list for ages but…it just has not happened. Some day!

    I am already subscribed and you know I’m living that Canadian life haha.

    My favourite snowman-related memory…ok, so like, if we’re talking personal memory, like based on something I’ve experienced, it’s probably just…making them as a kid. That’s really broad and maybe a bit vague but I get so much nostalgia for being a kid during the winter months. Snow isn’t as fun when you’re an adult (likely because you know you have to like, shovel it or drive in it). But when I was a kid, we would spent HOURS outside building huge snowmen and elaborate forts and all that. It was awesome.

    That said, if we are talking about a not personal snowman related memory…hard to top the time this story made news in my home province haha:

    • @Tara- The Wealthy Barber is soo good! Elaborate forts! I’ve never done that. Haha, that is a HUGE snowman! It kind of looks like a Buddhist stupa!

      • I look at it every single time I go to Chapters — maybe 2020 will actually be my year to read it. I was hoping my library had it on OverDrive but alas.

        We were big into forts…likely because we had SO much snow all the freaking time (welcome to the east coast). That said, nothing we built was as impressive as that snowman. The fact that it was big enough to become a news story cracked me right up. It all felt peak New Brunswick haha.

  5. It sounds like a great for Canadians that are just learning about personal finance!! Should be a great guide for them and maybe the modern version of the Wealthy Barber!! Great review GYM!!

  6. The book sounds like a great read! I would say I’ve probably built more ⛄️ with my kids now than I did when I was a kid. I hope those memories are something they remember!

  7. Love to win this book. Both to read ourselves and then pass along to someone who would benefit from it as well. My fav snow man memory is as an adult. My husband and I had just moved into our newly built home, 21 years ago. An early snowfall that year allowed us to build a snowman and ‘dress’ him up as a x-country skier. Simple pleasures, great entertainment and exercise. And inexpensive but fun entertainment. Thank you, love your column/blog.

  8. I have a teenager headed to university soon and am always looking for ways to help give her financial knowledge. Thanks for sharing this.

    My favorite snowman memory as a child was dressing it up in my dads old winter clothing.

  9. This is would be great! My fav memory is not so long ago a few Christmas’s ago when we had the perfect snow and the entire family, young and old, got out and built the biggest snowman! Pure bliss!!!

  10. On those perfect Canadian winter days when the snow is just right, it’s fun to watch the little kids learn to roll the sticky snow into balls. Usually, bigger the kid, bigger the ball. At some point, the only way for them to make the snowman is to seek out an even bigger kid (or adult) to help place the balls on top of each other. Team work is the lesson. Learning from the wisdom of those older is crucial; similar to learning about financial planning. Congrats on your websites and Steven Arnott’s book. I have a son at Carleton University who has been slugging it out, learning and realizing the complications of what lies ahead, and starting to grasp the knowledge/skills needed to navigate his future. I think your book will help lay this foundation to develop a well-reasoned financial outlook. We all need guidance and help building our foundational knowledge – just like creating the perfect snowman’s base!

  11. Favorite snowman memory? We used to build them at the bottom of the toboggan run and smash into them…until one day we tried on a snowman that went through a melt/freeze overnight. Parents weren’t pleased about the broken toboggan and I had a full length face plant scrape to heal. Good times!

    • @Arden- Oh mannnn hahaha.. That sounds painful- a broken toboggan that’s a lot of force against an iceman (not a snowman, lol). Good thing you guys were okay!

  12. One winter we wanted to build a snowman so bad our snow collecting activities left the grass exposed and the snowman looking kinda grassy. But we got it done! 🙂


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