Investing book abundance: How books can reduce wealth inequality
“The best things in life are free”, or so the saying goes.
This clearly doesn’t apply to wholesome and traditional books.
Of course, through the right channels such as friends and family, old titles can be obtained for free, and for zero pennies you can immerse yourself in a fictional or factual world.
That being said, we can’t escape the fact that writing, editing and printing the best investing books does take a lot of time, and a lot of investment by different organisations. That means that we need to accept that the best investment books will cost us a little.
But for a reasonable price, I have used investing books to open my eyes to an exciting and rich world of stock markets, bond prices and portfolio creation. The capitalism miracle is accessible to most, however without the right insights into how to go about it, investing is effectively walled off from the public.
The wall: formal education
One of the greatest barriers to effective investing is that the starting point of our knowledge is set so low by formal education. Unless you’re lucky enough to be born in one of the few countries which includes financial topics in its formal curriculum, you will probably emerge from high school knowing very little about money.
At the age of 16 – in many countries, the age at which we become legally responsible for our own money – it’s likely that we only know what our parents and network have taught us about investing.
This becomes a huge source of inequality. People in more affluent households are likely to be surrounded by relatives who are more savvy with money and understand how to invest. If this knowledge is only ‘passed down’ to their children, then this will provide those children with a positive boost in their attempts at saving and creating wealth.
This helps to perpetuate a dire cycle, in which the richer become richer and the poor stay poor. Much attention is given to issues such as access to higher education, the affordability of professional qualifications, and the bias in the recruitment process. But I believe that unequal access to financial education is also a key driver of a disparity in wealth over the long term.
The humble book as a solution
If we set our sights low, we can hope for a government response to this issue. We can ask for financial topics to be included in greater capacity in classes throughout secondary education.
However, failing this, we can look for a proactive solution which can help impart the necessary information for us.
This is where I believe the best investing books have a part to play.
If I’m honest, not all personal finance books fit the role perfectly. Many books marketed to beginners include great claims and exaggerates in an attempt to market themselves to as broad an audience as possible.
But the youth don’t want or need an unrealistic hope of ‘making a million by 30’ from an investing book. What they need is the motivation and confidence to begin making small and steady investments into the market. However small this beginning, if this develops into a sustained investment habit then this could have a massive impact over a lifetime.
And all it takes is one book about the stock market.
Books are generally priced at £20 or below, and the bestselling paperbacks are often found for less than £10. This is the definition of affordable.
I doubt it’s the price point that’s keeping people away – it’s more likely the fact that few people are ‘talking’ about investments and saving. People love a bargain, people love coupons and sharing offers. However less are as interested in discussing savings, and I think this stems from a taboo about talking about money and wealth.
However we just need to ensure that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to grow their own by placing a good book in their hands.