Book Review: ‘Build Wealth & Spend It All’ by Stanley Riggs

BuildWealthAndSpendItAllI have just finished reading “Build Wealth & Spend It All” by Stanley Riggs.  I chose to read this book for several reasons: I have always been interested in financial planning; understanding strategies for enjoying the fruits of my labor; and how best to balance spending and savings. When I read the synopsis, many things hit home for me.  Riggs’s motivation for this book arose when he saw his ninety-six year-old mother in a nursing home. Her hard-earned retirement savings was being depleted merely because she had a savings. Through demographic analysis, he identifies that others in the nursing home were having the same level of care for which they were not paying. He postulates that many of those other people had spent their money enjoying their lives and now they were “getting a free ride.” Riggs discusses how to build wealth, when in one’s life to spend it, and the pitfalls of not doing so. Without going deeply into my own personal history, I understand Riggs’s motivation. I have had to work through some family issues regarding my own parents. I thought that this book could give me some different ideas into my own long-term financial situation.

“Build Wealth & Spend It All” reads like a roadmap. Each chapter builds on the prior. Mostly simple concepts are expanded upon in a linear fashion. Riggs makes some astute observations that may or may not be refutable by those with a stronger economic background than I. I read this book with an open mind as to what I might learn. I did learn about the common-sense differences between spending money on assets versus liabilities. I learned about economic cycles. I also learned a bit about demographics. And I learned a wee bit about global economies and interest rates. Sometimes Riggs does get a bit overly technical but he does a good job of keeping his ideas broadly understandable. Unfortunately, to truly accept Riggs’ approach, one must fully accept his premises. I am not completely in agreement with all his assumptions. I do feel that there are many ways to live a financially sound life. Riggs’s approach may work for some people but not for others.

One of the simple premises of Riggs’s book is to buy assets that generate passive income when young so that the assets will provide a stream of income in later life. Another is to maintain control of the distribution of the assets so that others won’t usurp that right. He discusses what he believes is the impending redistribution of wealth through governmental programs and taxation. He addresses how to avoid this. He discusses gifting as a strategy. On the whole he makes compelling arguments for living a full life while younger through middle age, and, to enjoy the memories of a life well experienced when we are no longer able to do so. I have always thought that a good life strategy is to live life to the fullest and bounce the check to the undertaker. Riggs pretty much says the same with the exception of the bounced check. He does highlight the absurdity of the gold plated cane and the diamond-studded walker.

Overall, “Build Wealth & Spend It All” is a well thought out primer for life financial management.  Concepts can be applied to almost all income levels. Pretty much anyone who wants financial independence and autonomy is in the target audience for this book. Riggs does make some alarmist comments, that may or may not come to fruition, about the US Government’s role in “Robin Hood” type economics which the reader must either choose to accept or reject.

Overall, this is a useful analysis for financial self-determination, especially for those of us living in the US, that can be applied globally with some minor modifications. If the reader is looking for a “quick-fix” financial panacea, then this is not the answer; but if Riggs’s fundamental abstract concepts are applied, then good results could well follow. In summary, I did learn some things that I did not know and, as a result, I may use slightly different financial strategies, but I am not fully accepting of all of Riggs’s assumptions. Three stars.

Build Wealth & Spend It All
Stanley Riggs
Monetary Publishing
ISBN: 9780991521500
Reviewed by Bruce Weitzenhoffer for Rebecca’s Reads (07/14)

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