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Review: Quit Like A Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung

Book Review: Quit Like A Millionaire

As a personal finance education enthusiast, I love finding new PF literature that gives me new ideas. In the more than 15 years of consuming personal finance books and blogs, I’ve come to notice that many inevitably explore more or less the same ideas, with the best ones giving you a new a take on old wisdom and the bad ones being just basically bad rewording of personal finance classics.

So it’s always such a surprise when I encounter works that combine existing knowledge with a different perspective while giving new and original ideas that make you think.

That’s why I was so happy to find Kristy and Bryce’s book, Quit Like A Millionaire – No Gimmicks, Luck, or Trust Fund Required, which I love for these reasons:

  1. Kristy and Bryce are Canadians, so we’re finally seeing a successful FIRE experience from outside of the US, even if it’s just across the border in Canada.
  2. Kristy is an immigrant from rural China, so I can empathize with her up to a certain extent.
  3. Both are of Asian descent and one of them is female, so we get a new point of view other than the white male perspective that dominates current writings on FIRE and personal finance.
  4. They used the Oxford comma in the title, which thrilled my nerdy little heart.

Immediately, I was captivated. This is exactly what I need – a guide that has no gimmicks and requires no luck or trust fund. I’ve learned since I was a wee little lass that I’m not a lucky person. In all raffles or draws that I joined since childhood, I won exactly zero prizes. I only get a prize when everybody receives one, and even then I will get the prize with the smallest value. So now when I buy raffle tickets for charity I don’t even bother returning the drawing stubs because I know I won’t win anyway. So that’s the kind of non-luck (not really unlucky) that I’m dealing with here.

Quit Like A Millionaire Kindle cover

I related so hard with Kristy. Her story about looking for toys in a medical waste dump in rural China reminded me of that time when I was 4 or thereabouts looking for scraps of soap and half-burned bottles of shampoo in the waste heap in the slums of Pitong Gatang (a notorious slum area in Mandaluyong, Philippines. It even had a song and movie dedicated to it), delivered from the remains of a nearby mall that burned to the ground. The waste heap was so hot there was still smoke coming from the trash and the firemen in charge of disposal were wearing special gear. This didn’t stop the neighborhood kids, including me, from running after the dump truck and ransacking the still smoldering, incinerated trash for what could possibly be the remains of free groceries. Good times.

So I really feel I have a lot in common with Kristy and was excited to read how she processed the current personal finance and FIRE wisdom through that female, born in poverty, Asian immigrant, lens.

With other personal finance books, I feel pissed off when the writers tell their life stories. I know that this portion is important for exposition but I can’t empathize with most of them. Boohoo you grew up middle class in a rich country and you’re forced to go to a community college. Big deal. I had to be a maid when I was 8 years old so I can attend second grade (my family would describe this as being “farmed off” to extended family but really, my cousin and I had to do a lot of unpaid housework).

What I usually do is skip the personal story parts. But not with Quit Like A Millionaire. I read every word of that book.

If a compelling personal life story is not important to you, Part 3: Becoming Wealthy, will still make the money you paid for the book worth it. Like me, Kristy and Bryce struggled with the 4% safe withdrawal rate rule. For me, because the Trinity Study was based on the US capital markets so it’s not applicable in developing countries. For them, because they are not comfortable with the sequence of return risks. As a result, they developed a system they call Cash Cushion and Yield Shield.

The Cash Cushion and Yield Shield systems are carefully and extensively explained in the book, including calculations if you’re dubious whether or not these work. As a life-long skeptic (and we should all be skeptics), I like revisiting this part of Quit Like A Millionaire.

This review is merely a hint of the many great ideas and new perspectives shared by Kristy and Bryce. I’m so glad to find it. Even if the writers are Canadians and invest in the Canadian and US capital markets, there are a lot of new ideas that can be explored and applied by us in developing countries.

I think that so far, this is the best personal finance work I’ve read this year.

Verdict: Buy it now!

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