Book Review: The Coffee House Investor’s Ground Rules

The Coffee House Investor’s Ground Rules is the new sequel-of-sorts from Bill Schultheis, following on from his best-selling title The Coffee House Investor: How to Build Wealth, Ignore Wall Street, and Get on with Your Life.

The coffee house investors ground rules book review

His original title was released in 1998, heralding in a new era of simplicity for retail investors. It was ahead of its time on many fronts, notably the enthuasiasm for a new breed of funds known as index trackers. Bill proposed an idea which has gathered momentum since; that investors should no longer pay financial institutions thousands of dollars each year to manage the complexities of their portfolio. Instead, they should opt for a simple portfolio which doesn’t require financial expertise, and thus allows the investor to cut-out a middleman in a carefree fashion.

Considering the traction that passive investing has gained since the publication of The Coffee House Investor, Bill has picked up the pen once again to revisit, update and slim down his guidance.

In some ways the new book gives Bill and opportunity to complete a feedback loop. He devotes quite a large share of the precious pages to the stories he has heard over the last two decades from fellow Coffee House Investors who took up his challenge to keep things simple.

The 3 ground rules at the heart of this book are:

  • Save
  • Invest
  • Plan

It’s simple mantra which is repeated throughout and gives this short title a straight forward structure.

The magic of the Coffee House Investor’s Ground Rules and why this hits the spot for me, is that simplicity isn’t just covenient, it’s the truth. Personal finance books don’t need to be complicated, because saving and investing doesn’t have to be complicated either.

Authors of Books about stocks & shares and money mindset books often fall into a trap of feeling they need to offer something complex enough to justify the reader purchasing the title. Bill has the confidence to know that what he’s selling is no more or less than pathway to financial freedom. In his view, the shorter and simpler the book is, the better he’s done his job. I applaud that confidence, and I’m sure his readership appreciate it too.

This is in contrast to several finance books which seem to follow the opposite principle; cramming the book full of so many charts and diagrams, that many are rehomed in vast appendices to retain a semblance of readbility.

Bill also takes pain to emphasise that the Coffee House Investor mindset is about more than simply getting rich. It’s about enabling you to live the life you deserve and give you the freedom to do those things which will have the greatest impact in the world. This is a very inspiring message which sits comfortably alongside his teachings about becoming independent.

book review of coffee house investors ground rules
The original title which inspired it all

The sheer volume of content referencing the existing Coffee House Investor movement or the previous title makes it difficult to decide whether this is a true induction for the uninitiated or a fresher for those already sold on the Coffee House Investor method. As a first-time reader, you’re reading about success stories and references to financial jargon before the basics are actually set out, which is slightly disorientating. Though running under 130 pages, it is safe to assume that this is aimed squarely at savers who would not normally considering buying an investing book.

Reviewing such a title is always a challenge because we financial journalists can’t discard our assumed knowledge. We don’t get to experience the ‘initiation’ experience to passive investing in the same way the target reader would.

However external reviews suggest that first time readers are enjoying the title, with the book earning a 4.2 / 5.0 rating on Amazon.

Overall, I love the idea and execution of Bills simple title. As a ‘first investing book’, I hope The Coffee House Investor’s Ground Rules will arm the public with the sensibility and confidence to opt for a simple and carefree financial planning path.

The Coffee House Investor’s Ground Rules is currently available in hardback, Kindle or audiobook.