Financial Post columnist Jonathan Chevreau takes an approach that will be familiar to fans of The Wealthy Barber – following the financial lives of a young couple, who are starting out their life as basket cases. In the opening scene of the book, the couple, Jamie and Sheena, are appearing on a popular TV show, the host of which is famous for handing out tough-love message to guests drowning in consumer debt.
The protagonists grapple with two key concepts – financial independence and guerrilla frugality. Financial independence (the book’s title is a contraction of the term) refers to the goal for most of us: the day on which our assets are large enough to cover our living expenses and we don’t have to work for a living anymore. The concept is distinct from retirement because folks who have achieved financial independence may continue to work because they like to, not because they have to.
We live in a consumer society in which the giant sales, marketing and credit machinery work overtime to extract every possible dollar from our pockets. Jamie and Sheena struggle against the consumerist forces arrayed against them and despite occasional setbacks, learn creative methods to save money. Guerrilla frugality is the key means to achieve the end, financial independence.
In a recent blog post, Mr. Chevreau explained that he wrote the book in a classical fiction structure: “Structurally, the classic format features a protagonist, an opponent, a confidant and a romantic interest. Most scenes feature conflicts between two or more of these parties. In classic fiction structure, the Protagonist usually “loses” these struggles until the end, and the Opponent usually “wins” them until the end”. Fans of The Wealthy Barber will love this book – the characters are more complex, we see them deal with real-life situations like twins, layoffs, family squabbles over inheritance, separation etc. and the plot has more depth. Special mention should be made of the common-sense money lessons sprinkled throughout the book, many of which are likely applicable in our own lives.
PS: Thanks to everyone who entered their name in the Four Years and Counting giveaway. I picked 10 random entries and have contacted the winners.