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Book Jacket

160 pages
Sep 2008
Northfield Publishing

The Shortest Investment Book Ever: Wall Street Secrets for Making Every Dollar Count

by James O'Donnell

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


The US economy is in one of its worst financial downslides in decades, so maybe it is just in time that James O'Donnell has come along with The Shortest Investment Book Ever: Wall Street Secrets for Making Every Dollar Count.  In truth, there are no "secrets" in this book, although many of the common sense (and common cents) suggestions he offers may be new to folks who are not savvy about taxes, stocks, bonds, IRAs, and mutual funds, all of which he addresses in great detail despite the limit of 155 pages in this book.

O'Donnell has the proper credentials for writing this text.  A former Wall Street mutual fund manager and stock analyst, he currently is a business professor at Huntington College.  This is his third book, but interestingly enough, his first on financial matters.

If any one theme resonates throughout this book, it is not to count on the government to take care of you.  O'Donnell shows mathematically how Social Security has become so bloated, it can no longer stand on its own.  When it began, there were 13 people working and paying into Social Security for every person drawing out of it.  Today it is only a 2-to-1 margin, and that is going to disappear with a few years. Thus, it will have to be reduced drastically, be discontinued, or else the public will have to pay even more taxes to support it, which is not likely.

O'Donnell points out fallacies that people live by. For example, they think they don't have to save much for retirement because their living expenses will go down drastically once they are not driving to work and having to pack lunches.  In reality, their income will fall, but standard expenses (utilities, insurances, groceries, clothes, cable TV and phone service) will stay the same. Even worse, aging increases doctor visits, prescriptions, desires for more vacations, and hobby costs. So, the cost of "living" does not decrease at all, just the funds to cover expenses. Thus the need for a strong retirement plan.

Being very pragmatic, O'Donnell explains step by step ways to reduce taxes, fund and then carefully withdraw from a retirement plan, set up a mutual fund account, and understand the stock market.  In one special chapter he talks about the differences in how women look at investments (they don't like risk and they are more willing to listen to good advice from experts) and men look at investments (they are able to think longer range and they understand the need for diversity).

As supplements to the main text, the book has a glossary of business terms at the back and an appendix that lists retirement investment vehicles. The chapters are written in lay-person's language and are filled with anecdotes about clients of the author's, bits of financial history, and predictions about the future of the American economy.  While not necessarily “Christian”, this book offers simple but solid advice in comprehendible language. -- Dr. Dennis E. Hensley.

Book Jacket:

Forget about "return characteristics," terminal values," and "discounted future cash flow." This book gives the facts-just the facts-on saving and investing for retirement in words everyone can understand. Our nation is facing a financial crisis of monumental proportions, and we need to invest carefully. A former Wall Street pro, James O'Donnell uses simple, concise terms in a readable style to address the most crucial issues that affect your future financial health-weather you know it now or not! Contains insights on: Social Security and retirement Returns and funds Stock and bond funds Mutual funds IRAs and Annuities Keys to investing. At the end of the day, the decisions you make should not only provide needed resources for retirement, but the margin to invest time-and money-in the causes you hold dear. Engaging and full of insight, O'Donnell leaves you feeling, "I can do this!"