Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Review: A Million Bucks by 30

There need to be more books like this one. Alan Corey did something extraordinary and then wrote a book explaining exactly how he did it. A while back, I talked about how lots of people discuss step 1 and step 3, but few people talk about exactly how to get rich/build up enough money to retire early. Alan Corey talks about the journey in lots of detail and provides an entertaining story besides.

By being extremely cheap, creating side incomes, and making good real estate deals, Alan Corey made a million dollars by (actually, somewhat before) his thirtieth birthday. (Quite a bit of that was equity rather than cash, but hey, the guy was 29!)

I'm pretty sure I'd hate Alan in real life. He spent college partying and his initial goal was to keep his college lifestyle forever. He's forever throwing in references about how he did something to meet women. But his self-deprecating humor when he talks about the stupid and naive things he's done is so endearing that I couldn't help but like him as an author. (Example: His first post-college email address--the one he put on over 500 resumes--was bigal@models.com. That was supposed to be BigAl, not BiGal. Oops!)

But Alan gets smarter, and through a combination of nonconformity, chutzpah, and persistence he bumbles his way to a million dollars. He masters the basics fast--living way below his means (he claims to have once eaten ramen for three months straight), socking away money in a 401(k)--and moves on to trying to figure out how to make big money. He starts by studying every get-rich-quick scheme out there to find out what they have in common. Then he starts looking for ways to increase his income, first with some interesting side gigs, then by investing in real estate. When he sees a good opportunity, he finds a way to take it, even if he has to do some fancy footwork to do so. He takes bold risks, even though he's often ignorant and scared.

It's worth noting that Corey did a few ethically questionable things on his way to a million. These things didn't make him much money and are portrayed more as college pranks than strategies that he recommends.

The book includes nuggets of financial advice, but the real value in this book is in Corey's story. A great read for people with big money goals.