The Art Of War

The Art Of War by Sun Tzu

Black chess piece surrounded by fallen white pieces

The Modern Piggy Bank’s Rating: 8.9/10

Proclaimed as one of the best books ever written on military strategy, The Art Of War is so much more than a book about combat. Taught in MBA classes across the nation, the teachings of the legendary Sun Tzu can be applied to any business struggling against a competitor, any startup looking to find it’s place in the market, and most importantly, to dealing with your own personal finances.

Consisting of 13 chapters, The Art Of War covers the entirety of warfare as it was understood during Sun Tzu’s time..

Written in prose so prevalent to early Chinese writings, this book doesn’t make the greatest translation to English. But no matter the choppy language or weird paragraphs, the message is universal. You must conquer yourself before you hope to conquer your enemies.

One of the biggest take aways from this book is the idea that the outcome is already decided before you take the battlefield, all that’s left to do it to fight. The same can be applied to personal finance. How you prepare is how your money is going to turn out.

While some passages of this book are irrelevant to modern society such as how much it costs to fund an army of chariots and infantrymen, the rest of the book can directly be applied to every day life.

From asking yourself a series of questions before you decide to act to waiting until they right moment to strike, almost every single paragraph can impart a lesson you will take and use in your own life.

It may take a little to fully understand this book, but when it clicks, it makes it all worth it. The only reason that we didn’t rate this a 10/10 is because it’s not exactly a book on investing and saving per say. But we will be sure to break down the book in more depth and how to apply it to minimize your expenses and optimize your savings in a later article.

While we are going to do the work of breaking down The Art of War for investing and saving purposes. We highly recommend this book to the aspiring entrepreneur or any business person in general. It will teach you how to go about your dealings and interactions with others and come out on top.

One of the best part about this book is the short time it takes to read. You can finish the entire original text in an afternoon. If you want to dive deeper and want to read annotated notes on the text, we recommend the Barnes & Noble Classics Series, (this is what we read) which includes commentary from the Chinese Masters.

We hope you pick up a copy and open your mind to a shift in your thinking about going up against obstacles in your own life using the teachings in this book. Always remember:

“The Art of War is of vital importance to the State” -Sun Tzu

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Everytime. 7/10

Our Rating: 7/10

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

A classic and essential reading for those seeking to further educate themselves on the financial markets. This book reads like an informal textbook that will teach concepts, provide real world examples with accompanying charts, and keep readers entertained with stories and anecdotes.

The author is a Princeton economist who is a champion of the efficient market theory. He begins with a brief history of financial bubbles that most people will think too crazy to be true. But we here at The Modern Piggy Bank looked more into these and were shocked at how irrational crowds can be and how strong mob mentality is.

Next, he shows how the biggest money managers on the street invest. Lastly, the information is wrapped up with practical ways for the average person to invest their money for the long run.

“Forecasts are difficult to make- particularly those about the future”

Malkiel argues that most money managers charge high fees for strategies that 1) not guaranteed to beat the market and 2) are strategies most investors can employ for a significantly lower cost. Malkiel’s main theory is that individual returns are random at best so no one can consistently beat the market.

We enjoyed this book as it shows, with real data, that money managers might not be the geniuses the media portrays them to be. However, our thoughts diverge in that to truly believe in Random Walk you must also believe that investors like Warren Buffet and Ray Dalio, who have consistently beat the market over the long term, don’t actually have an edge.

A paperback copy can cost around $13 on amazon and is a must read for anyone interested in the market. Just click on the link to be redirected to amazon: A Random Walk down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Hotly Debated. Ultimate Rating: 5/10

Our Rating: 5/10

This relatively short read on the importance of personal finance and investing has us in a huge debate here at The Modern Piggy Bank. One of us loves it and thinks it is a great start to learning personal finance and investing while another one personally hates it and think there is no practical advice. Regardless, here is our unbiased review.

The book reads as a series of short stories littered with financial advice. It follows the authors life from childhood to adulthood and sheds some light on how he was able to build his fortune through the years. Kiyosaki will routinely talk about how he consolidated expenses while seeking investment opportunities and follow it with practical knowledge of finance and accounting that can be applied to daily life.

This book can be an amazing starting point as to how to get in the mindset of wealthy money minded individuals. The ability to look at someone’s experiences and learn how they came up with an original investment idea while minimizing personal expenses can really cause one to re-evaluate what they are doing with their own finances. Kiyosaki was born into a middle class family that was us savvy with their finances, but his mentor was a prominent businessman, so the book allows you to see what separates a money minded person from the average.

What the book lacks is sound financial advice, especially when it comes to investments. Kiyosaki built his wealth during much of the 80’s and 90’s when the regulatory landscape was a bit more lax than it is today. The book itself was published in 2001. He will talk freely about securing loans with ease and purchasing low risk financial instruments with dubiously high returns. At The Modern Piggy Bank, we both agree we would not invest in most of the strategies he talks about in the book if they were even still possible.

Overall, the book has sold more than 32 million copies, has been a New York Times bestseller, and has been endorsed by many celebrities and news outlets. On the flip side, critics will say it provides no sound financial advice and reads as a cookie cutter self help book.

We personally believe there is no such thing as a bad book. You can purchase the paperback for less than $10 on Amazon or get the book for free if you google “Rich Dad Poor Dad PDF”. Pick up a copy and let us know what you think.