Book review: Secret Millionaires Club, by Andy and Amy Heyward
Try to think of a skill that matters more than financial literacy. If you lack it, no matter what you earn, you may waste every cent and sink into debt.
So a book that teaches children the rudiments of financial literacy seems welcome. The fact that this television show-based guide taps the wisdom of the world's most respected investor, Warren Buffett, with his approval boosts its allure.
Authors Andy and Amy Heyward, who run an entertainment firm, cover every fiscal learning angle from planning and the perils of borrowing to work-life balance, the power of mentors and the need to nurture your image.
"The best thing you can do for yourself is to build a reputation for being kind, generous, and thoughtful to others," the authors write in Secret Millionaires Club: Warren Buffett's 26 Secrets to Success in the Business of Life. "Make sure that you act as if everything you say, the things you do, and how you treat others could be posted on the internet for the whole world to see," the Heywards add, nodding to social media sites that can wreck reputations.
The authors jazz up the guide by embedding standalone grey cartoon images featuring their four protagonist teenagers: Radley and his robot, Elena, Jones and Lisa. Buffett plays a cameo role, too.
Financial insight flows through the adventures the characters have, exploring a pet shop, a soccer stadium, a space tourism business, an orangutan sanctuary, and the mythical kingdom of Camelot, among other venues. A highlight is the account of a creepy castle that spooked potential visitors.
"So to solve the hotel's financial problem, and attract a different set of customers, Secret Millionaires Club came up with the idea to advertise the castle as a creepy old place. In other words, they decided to play up the castle's reputation," the authors write. The strategy worked, the authors say, showing the value of lateral thinking.
Their guidance, condensed as numbered secrets heading each chapter, seems prudent. Secret 14 reads: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is" - that cliched but vital advice could save many a young reader from falling prey to a smooth-talker later in life.
Another wise tip, number 25, reads: "Be smarter at the end of the day than you were at the beginning." Underlining their belief that knowledge is power and that the best investment you can make is in yourself, the authors neatly end each chapter saying the more you learn, the more you earn.
Kept to a compact 146 pages, the guide is a worthy read that amplifies the work of financial literacy activist Robert Kiyosaki.
One niggle is the leaden use of the past tense. Plus, the authors' faith in self-determination seems excessive. Good luck with "being your future" and joining the club if you grow up sickly amid grinding poverty.
Even if you are born well-off and you form the approved, studious can-do attitude, again good luck - you will need it to handle swelling competition in the start-up field and a corporate world dogged by chronic wage stagnation.