The best personal finance book / FIRE you have never heard of

If you made a million

You probably know that I'm not a fan of clickbait titles. That's why I did not use a clickbait title.

Let's make a deal. If you have heard of this book on personal finance, stay as a reader. Otherwise, I'm fine if you click on an angry button and you never come back.

Have you ever heard of If you make a million David M. Schwartz? It is illustrated by Steven Kellogg who wrote and illustrated one of my wife's favorite books, The Mysterious Tadpole. My wife read it when she was little girl. Our own children know Alphonse very well.

You may have already figured out that if you made a million, it's not about helping adults understand money. It's about helping children. But please do not click right now. If it's something I've learned in the past two years, it's because adults can learn a lot from children's books.

Let's see what makes If you made a million so special. (By the way, I have not been paid to write this review, I only saw it in the library, but I will make a small commission if you buy the book from the link above.)

If you made a million

Before starting the exam, let's see the Very important number: 1989. That's when you made a million was written. Yes, the book is as old as Taylor Swift. It's also three years old older that your money or your life, which is often considered the first FIRE book. It was also written 6 years before Suze Orman who was writing his first book.

Being old does not do things well. (This blog is living proof of that.) Let's move on to real content.

Overall, the book takes a child on a trip to earn money and spend it. It starts by giving a fish a dime, which will allow you to buy one of the pebbles from a shyster. He continues to educate children about coins with increasingly difficult tasks and ways to spend money. These first pages are quite boring, but they go fast because there is only one sentence or two on each page. It is important to build this foundation.

Once you start earning a dollar, the book tells the story of compound interest. Here is the first one:

Compound interest

At ten dollars, the history of compound interest becomes a little more exciting:

Compound interest

A thousand dollars, the idea of ​​checks and their operation is introduced. It's just a lot easier than carrying a wheelbarrow of coins or even a bunch of bills.

At fifty thousand dollars, we learn how mortgages work:


There are a few more mortgages. More specifically, it shows how you continue to give money to the bank year after year for 40 years. The illustrations show the old man who always brings his check to the bank for the payment of his castle. This also explains that this time you are the one who pays interest to the bank.

We finally arrive at the FIRE part of the book. It only takes six sentences. The first four are:

"If you have very expensive projects, you may have to do a difficult job that pays off.
If you think that ogre ownership would be an exciting challenge, you can also have fun and earn a lot of money.
Of course, you can not love taming the stubborn ogres, building bulky bridges or painting purple pots.
Taking advantage of your job is more important than money, so you should look for another job or make less expensive projects. "

Do you remember what I wrote before about adults learning children's books? This last sentence is "piece A" of that.

I promised you six sentences. Here are two others:


Did you understand the message of financial independence? Having this kind of passive income gives you the option of not working at all, but you may have to choose the job you are interested in because doing nothing can seem boring.

A last page of conclusion then allows children to reflect on what they would do if they earned a million dollars.

Final Thoughts on If You Make a Million

I found it amazing how much the 1989 calculations hold up today. Obviously, banks do not pay interest of 5.25% as in the examples. However, we often work with similar (or even higher) interest rates assuming more risk and different asset allocations.

In addition, the number of one million in the end might not seem sufficient today. However, this is $ 2,034,157.94 in 2018 dollars. The target number of FIRE is often set at $ 2 million. The figure of 1 million in 1989 is therefore solid.

Once the story is over, you will find an important section of "A Note from the Author". Here you will find about 1500 words on each of the topics covered in the book: Why Money ?, How Banks Work, Interest and Compound Interest, Checks and Current Accounts, Loans and Income Taxes.

Finally, he explains in detail how he calculated some of the amazing numbers used in the book. These are things like if a million dollars in cents would pile up 95 miles high and a million dollars a quarter would be much more than a whale. If you like geek math, it's fun, but you can choose to ignore it and get all the financial lessons.

Now that you understand well If you made a million, I have two questions:

1. Will you respect the conditions and stay as a reader?
2. Did you think my title was clickbait or just a punctual analysis?

Let me know the answers in the comments.