Private Equity Guide Books A Selection of Books that Can Make you a Professional in the Private Equity Field).
Erlend Peterson is a financial planner with thirty-two years of experience managing money. He is the author of three books including “Money Changes Everything” and “The Challenge of Wealth.” “Rich by Choice” is specifically geared toward helping the middle-class become affluent.
Tyler: Welcome, Erlend. I know the topic of your book is one every reader wants to know about: “How can I make or save more money”? I understand personal experiences made you decide to become a financial planner and write these books. Would you tell us a little about why you decided to go down that career path?
Erlend: I retired at 40! Wow! Great! Beautiful wife, 6 kids, 3-1/2 acre estate with tennis court and swimming pool. Three years later, I was broke, so I decided to learn how to handle my money and invest.
Tyler: The first chapter of your book, “Rich by Choice” is titled “Rich or Poor, It’s Your Choice.” I am curious if you would agree that many people have a negative attitude toward money and feel they cannot improve their economic situations. The idea that they choose their own financial situation may seem overwhelming to them. What would you say to such people?
Erlend: Yes, it is possible to become rich. Anybody can.
a. Know that it is possible. All you need is a steady income
b. Decide to do it, you want to do it, you need to do it, and you know it can be done.
c. You start. Work out a plan and begin.
d. Follow your plan and watch your results month by month, year after year.
Tyler: Why do you think so many people find themselves with financial difficulties?
Erlend: People find themselves in financial difficulties for three reasons: (1) Personal finance, investing, and money management are not taught in our schools, not in high schools or college. That’s why I wrote my books. (2) In this country anyone can become rich, there are no restrictions, so I think a lot of people just assume that they will somehow become rich and they start spending as if they already were. (3) The banks and credit cards give credit to everybody. A lot of people take advantage of that and spend money they don’t have.
Tyler: Do you feel parents and schools need to take more responsibility toward teaching children about money? What kinds of suggestions would you have for teaching children about money?
Erlend: Yes, both parents and schools should start teaching children about money. Schools should start teaching classes about personal finance. When parents give their kids an allowance, they should start talking about money. An allowance is income. You can only spend money based on what you earn, your income. When the parents file their taxes, they should discuss that with their kids. Discuss cars and auto insurance, and that can lead to discussing other kinds of insurance: Homeowners, life, etc. Discuss their monthly bills occasionally: Water, gas, electric, cable and their charge accounts and credit cards. Take the kids into their bank and discuss the bank and what it does and what it doesn’t do.
Tyler: That’s great advice, Erlend. What do you feel sets “Rich by Choice” apart from the many other books about money out there, especially those by such well-known personalities as Suze Orman?
Erlend: Money is a number: 14 cents, $1.50, $2,000, $1,000,000.
a. My book has numbers, charts and tables, all the numbers you need to make your situation work.
b. Suze Orman has no numbers; neither do most of the other books that are available.
c. My books have true stories and practical illustrations that show how money works and how it will work for you.
Tyler: I understand your book has a seven-step plan to wealth. Would you tell us what those seven steps are?
The Seven Steps are:
1. Cash reserve
3. Fixed income savings
4. Growth investments
5. Tax planning
6. Retirement planning
7. Estate planning
Tyler: In “Rich by Choice” you talk about how much insurance a person needs and which ones are essential. Would you give us a summary of your opinions on insurance?
Erlend: If you own a car in California and other states, you must have auto insurance. If you own a home, get homeowners insurance. Your home is a huge asset and it deserves protection. If you have financial dependents, parents, kids, others, you need life insurance to protect their income stream.
Tyler: Are there certain kinds of life insurance you wouldn’t recommend? Can a person have too much insurance? How much is enough?
Erlend: Not everybody needs life insurance. If no one is dependent on you for their income and financial needs, you don’t need life insurance.
In a typical family situation, the working parent or parents should have enough life insurance to provide total income for the family for two to five years if they die prematurely. This should be whole life or universal life. Plan to keep these policies for your lifetime. You pay the premium monthly or annually as long as you have the policy, or you can arrange to have the policy paid up at age 65 or some other age. These policies build cash value inside the policy as long as you make the payments, and this cash value build-up after 20 or 30 or 40 years can provide extra income for you in your retirement.
Other common types of life insurance are term life and variable universal life. Variable universal life invests some of your premium payments into various types of mutual funds, instead of the guaranteed fixed investment in the regular universal life and whole life policies. These mutual fund investments in the variable life policies can go up or down so there is considerable risk to the cash value portion of these policies. The monthly or annual premium or cost of variable life is much more than universal or whole life.
Term life insurance is issued for a specific term of years, usually 5-10 or 20 years. At the end of the term, the policy lapses, ends, or you can renew it based on your age then, at a much higher cost. Term life has no cash value build-up and is therefore much cheaper than the other policies.
Because of the great differences in these policies, it would be good to discuss your need for life insurance and get quotes from agents at three different companies.
Tyler: Thanks, Erlend. You certainly know about life insurance. How about real estate? We hear so much today about the importance of investing in it. How important do you think real estate is to gaining wealth and financial independence, and what would you say is the next best thing to do for people who are not interested in buying and selling properties?
Erlend: Real estate works, but it takes some cash and steady effort on your part. You must rent out the property, collect the rent, pay the property taxes, make repairs, etc. Real estate prices also run in cycles; the prices go up and down. They are high now. If you have the cash, the time and the skill, real estate works.
Mutual funds are much simpler:
a. Pick good funds, with 10-12% annual growth over the last 3 – 5 -10 years.
b. Make steady investments every paycheck.
c. Watch the results grow.
Tyler: What about U.S. Savings Bonds? Lots of people buy U.S. Savings Bonds regularly through their paychecks or they give them as gifts or save them to use for their children’s education. Do you feel U.S. Savings Bonds are a good investment?
Erlend: U.S. Savings Bonds are the safest investment in the world. They are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury. In the Seven Step process, they fit on Step 3, fixed income savings. The problem with them is they are (1) long term, 20 or 30 years, so you could lose money if you had to cash them in early, and (2) they only pay 4-5-6%. Good long-term investments should pay 8-10-12% or more. You can now buy most investments regularly through your bank or payroll.
Tyler: Which do you feel is more important, buying a home and then using your extra money to pay off the mortgage as quickly as possible, or to take that extra money and invest it?
Erlend: Let the mortgage run. It has tax benefits. Put all available income into tax qualified retirement plans: IRA, 401-K, 403-B, 457, etc. When you are investing the max in them, then make extra mortgage payments.
Tyler: What is the first thing you would suggest a person do to start the journey toward being rich?
Erlend: The first thing each person must do when they realize or decide that they want to be RICH is to stop and examine their present financial situation and think about their future situation and what they want it to be. This does not have to be done in detail down to the last dollar, but just enough to get a sense of where they are going. They need to know that it is absolutely possible to get there.
Knowing what you want to do and knowing that it is possible are the first step. Then you do it.
Tyler: Erlend, if people only learned one thing from your book, what do you hope it would be?
Erlend: That they can become rich, because anybody can, and therefore, that they will start NOW.
Tyler: Thanks so much, Erlend. I could easily think of a hundred more questions to ask you about money, but we’ll leave it up to the readers to get more information by purchasing a copy of your book “Rich by Choice.” Will you tell readers where they can get more information about your book and where to purchase it?
Erlend: And thank you, Tyler. I’ll be glad to answer your next hundred questions, ten at a time. I really want to help everybody who wants help, to become financially secure … that is, rich.
My books can be found on the Internet at:
And at: Barnes & Noble book stores and Amazon.com
Tyler: Thank you, Erlend. I wish you and all our readers well on the road to prosperity.
Interview with Erlend Peterson
author of Rich by Choice: A Complete Guide to Your Financial Success
Seven Locks Press (2007)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (5/07)