The Little Book of Main Street Money: 21 Simple Truths that Help Real People Make Real Money
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Jonathan Clements is Director of Financial Guidance for myFi (, a new financial service from banking giant Citicorp. Before joining myFi, he spent eighteen years at the Wall Street Journal, where he was the newspaper's award-winning personal finance columnist. He has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC's Today show, and Consuelo Mack WealthTrack, and is an occasional guest on public radio.


Foreword xv


Let the Rebuilding Begin xxi

Chapter One Our Finances Are Bigger than a Brokerage Account 1

Chapter Two We Can’t Have It All 11

Chapter Three Money Can Buy Happiness—If We Spend It Carefully 17

Chapter Four Even the Best Investors Need to Be Great Savers 25

Chapter Five Time Is as Valuable as Money 33

Chapter Six No Investment Is Risk-Free 41

Chapter Seven Portfolio Performance: It’s All in the Mix 51

Chapter Eight Stocks Are Worth Something 59

Chapter Nine To Add Wealth, We Need to Overcome the Subtractions 67

Chapter Ten Aiming for Average Is the Only Sure Way to Win 75

Chapter Eleven Wild Investments Can Tame Our Portfolios 93

Chapter Twelve Short-Term Results Matter to Long-Term Investors 105

Chapter Thirteen A Long Life Is a Big Risk 113

Chapter Fourteen Markets May Be Rational, but We Aren’t 121

Chapter Fifteen Our Homes Are a Fine Investment that Won’t Appreciate Much 135

Chapter Sixteen Paying off Debts Could Be Our Best Bond Investment 143

Chapter Seventeen Saving Taxes Can Cost Us Dearly 151

Chapter Eighteen A Tax Deferred Is Extra Money Made 159

Chapter Nineteen Insurance Won’t Make Us Any Money—If We’re Lucky 167

Chapter Twenty Even If We Have a Will, We May Not Get Our Way 175

Chapter Twenty-One Financial Success: It’s About More than Money 181


Wall Street? That Isn’t So Far from Main Street 189

Acknowledgments 193


"Any consumer concerned about money issues, from managing college to retirement, will find The Little Book of Main Street Money an excellent reference. Wall Street is demystified, with common strategies for money management geared to general readers and based on the wisdom of Wall Street successes. Taxes, inflation concerns, and investing are all covered within a series of 21 'truths' about success, perfect for general lending libraries."
(Midwest Book Review)

"’The Little Book of Main Street Money’ is aptly named. . . it's unintimidating to all but the most hopeless finance-phobics. The book is also written in spare and concise language. . . Clements's sure-footed advice on fundamentals is comforting after last year's meltdown. When he strays toward more opinionated views, he's even better: Investing in your house will historically offer you a lackluster 4.7% annual return. Or, to those buying insurance as an investment. . . Best of all, Clements isn't only a sound financial planner, but something of an armchair shrink. Beating the market isn't what it's all about. It's more about meeting your personal goals and achieving peace of mind: ‘We should strive to ensure money is enhancing our lives, rather than getting in the way.’" (

“The Little Book of Main Street Money . . does a brilliant job of navigating us through the post financial crash landscape. . . offers investors some tried-and-true, timeless advice, such as keeping investing simple and uncluttered by emotion. . . but what I love best about this book is the exploration of the relationship between money and happiness. Clements notes, in spite of the U.S. standard of living skyrocketing over the past few decades, that quantitative research indicates Americans are no happier than when we were less economically well off. . . Clements goes beyond the accumulation of money and essentially tells us how to convert the stored energy from our portfolio into happiness.” (CBS

"This small book . . . packs a good dose of practical financial advice to help you weather this brutal economy and work toward building wealth. Clements . . . advice goes beyond simple money management and offers tips for living a more fulfilled life. The book's nuggets of valuable information include 'We can't have it all,' 'Our Finances Are Bigger than a Brokerage Account,' 'Time Is as Valuable as Money' and 'Markets May Be Rational, but We Aren't' . . . The take-away from this book is that money is tied up in all aspects of our lives, and we should give appropriate attention to managing it wisely." (WalletPop)

"Because it is a "Little Book," each chapter is short. The entire book can almost be read in one sitting (unless you’re a slow reader like I am). The concepts in the book aren’t new but have clearly been ignored by lots of people as you can tell by watching the news or reading the newspaper. It’s time to get back to the basics and that is what Jonathan’s book is all about." (AllFinancialMatters)

"The Little Book of Main Street Money is far and away the best of the "Little Books" series. The advice is truly approachable and actually useful, particularly for people who are in reasonably good financial shape and have a lot of years left ahead of them. . . it just provides - in Clements' approachable writing tone - excellent basic advice and principles to follow. This advice is timeless and forms the foundation of whatever personal finance strategy you might choose to follow - this book is a great starter." (The Simple Dollar)

"From how to save more to how to invest better, this book delivers the goods on how to lead a rich life (in every sense) and does so in less than 200 pages."
MoneySense magazine

“This useful guide is unintimidating but chock full of excellent advice, presented in spare and concise language. Clements … offers sure-footed advice on fundamentals.”’s list of “Best Finance Books of the Year”

"A gem from one of the most brilliant minds in personal finance."
Ben Stein, author, actor, TV personality and New York Times columnist

"Investing, as it is said, is simple but it is not easy. Jonathan Clements' fine new Little Book underscores the priceless (and price-less) value of simplicity. And his sage advice on living the good life and on spending well and saving wisely will surely make it, if not easy, at least easier for us to achieve financial peace of mind."
John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard and author of Enough

"Nobody, and I mean nobody, can make the world of investing as easy to understand as Jonathan Clements can. In this wonderful book, he teaches Main Street how to beat Wall Street at its own game-and how to have fun along the way. This book does not stop at merely making you richer and smarter; it will even help you lead a better life."
Jason Zweig, author, Your Money and Your Brain, and Editor of Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor

"Jonathan Clements is one of our wisest and finest writers in the field of personal finance. This Little Book contains gems of wisdom not only about investing, but also about living a full and satisfying life."
Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street

"Easy to read, easy to understand - and easy to put to work - this little book is a winner. I'm getting copies for our children - and their children too."
Charles D. Ellis, author, Winning the Loser's Game

"Jonathan Clements is one of those rare financial writers who is thought-provoking, sensible, informed, and insightful. This new book is his best yet!"
Eric Tyson, author of Personal Finance For Dummies

"Personal finance books are a dime a dozen, but this one is a gold mine. Jonathan Clements has taken his must-read Wall Street Journal columns and distilled them into the simple truths that help real people make real money."
Consuelo Mack, anchor, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack

"Jonathan Clements is one of the best personal finance writers of our time. He has crafted a pithy primer to help us navigate stormy seas. Those who care about their happiness, ignore it at their own peril."
Terry Burnham, Ph.D., author of Mean Markets and Lizard Brains

"There are very few journalists who actually have investor’s interests at heart. Those that do write about what might be called the science of investing, or evidence-based investing. The rest write about the noise . . . Clements was not only one of the few that truly had investor interests at heart, but he was one of the best of the group (if not the best). I considered his weekly column a must read. The same could be said of this little book. It’s only little in size. It’s giant in terms of the number of pearls of wisdom that it contains; pearls not limited to investing, but finance in general and life as well. I highly recommend this book especially for those just beginning their financial journey — it’s a journey you shouldn’t take without this book as a guide.""
Larry Swedroe,