• The Simple Path to Wealth

  • Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life
  • By: JL Collins
  • Narrated by: JL Collins, Peter Adeney
  • Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (8,096 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This book grew out of a series of letters to my daughter concerning various things - mostly about money and investing - she was not yet quite ready to hear. 

Since money is the single most powerful tool we have for navigating this complex world we've created, understanding it is critical. 

"But Dad," she once said, "I know money is important. I just don't want to spend my life thinking about it." This was eye-opening. I love this stuff. But most people have better things to do with their precious time. Bridges to build, diseases to cure, treaties to negotiate, mountains to climb, technologies to create, children to teach, businesses to run. 

Unfortunately, benign neglect of things financial leaves you open to the charlatans of the financial world. The people who make investing endlessly complex, because if it can be made complex it becomes more profitable for them, more expensive for us, and we are forced into their waiting arms. 

Here's an important truth: Complex investments exist only to profit those who create and sell them. Not only are they more costly to the investor, they are less effective. 

The simple approach I created for her and present now to you is not only easy to understand and implement, it is more powerful than any other. 

Together we'll explore: 

  • Debt: why you must avoid it and what to do if you have it 
  • The importance of having f-you money 
  • How to think about money, and the unique way understanding this is key to building your wealth 
  • Where traditional investing advice goes wrong and what actually works 
  • What the stock market really is and how it really works 
  • Why the stock market always goes up and why most people still lose money investing in it 
  • How to invest in a raging bull or bear market 
  • Specific investments to implement these strategies 
  • The Wealth Building and Wealth Preservation phases of your investing life and why they are not always tied to your age 
  • How your asset allocation is tied to those phases and how to choose it 
  • How to simplify the sometimes confusing world of 401(k), 403(b), TSP, IRA, and Roth accounts 
  • TRFs (target retirement funds), HSAs (health savings accounts), and RMDs (required minimum distributions) 
  • What investment firm to use and why the one I recommend is so far superior to the competition 
  • Why you should be very cautious when engaging an investment advisor and whether you need to at all 
  • Why and how you can be conned, and how to avoid becoming prey 
  • Why I don't recommend dollar cost averaging 
  • What financial independence looks like and how to have your money support you 
  • What the Four Percent Rule is and how to use it to safely spend your wealth 
  • The truth behind Social Security 
  • A case study on how this all can be implemented in real life 
©2016 JL Collins (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In the dark, bewildering, trap-infested jungle of misinformation and opaque riddles that is the world of investment, JL Collins is the fatherly wizard on the side of the path, offering a simple map, warm words of encouragement and the tools to forge your way through with confidence. You'll never find a wiser advisor with a bigger heart." (Malachi Rempen, filmmaker, cartoonist, author, and self-described ruffian)

Featured Article: 20 Best Finance Audiobooks for Amateurs and Masters Alike


Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned investor, there’s sure to be a finance audiobook that will provide you not only with helpful, interesting information, but also with a listening experience sure to keep you engaged and focused. We’ve cultivated everything you need to get started, from long-term investing principles to increasing your overall net worth in big ways, with this list of the 20 best finance audiobooks from our catalog.

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What listeners say about The Simple Path to Wealth

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Great Book!! Get a physical copy though.

I loved almost all of the financial advice given in this book. I will now go and buy a physical copy of it to reference for years to come. I wasn’t a big fan of the audio version though, for a few reasons.

1. The information needs to be readily available for reference. I need to highlight things and be able to go back and forth in the book. 2. There are a LOT of numbers be cited. Percentages and dollar amounts that don’t register as well when being read to you. You need to see them to be able to process them better. 3. Most audio books are listened to while doing other tasks - driving, exercising, etc. I feel like this book needs your full attention. Your finances and future wealth should warrant more than just background noise with a good story. You need to take notes, look up things, etc. Overall, fantastic book!!! But get a physical copy, you will get more from it.

240 people found this helpful

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Misleading, heavily biased

This is a really long advertisement for the Vanguard index fund. According to the author, the simple investment plan is to put your money in one, and that’s it.

There. I just saved you 6 hours.

This book is not about wealth accumulation. It's an advocacy piece preaching for only for one single investment vehicle. If it was a book intended for education, it would present you pros and cons, options to consider, and decision frameworks. This book does not do any of those things. Though the author says he's not affiliated with the fund, it does sound like a 6-hour sales presentation.

He doesn’t mention real estate nor how you can start your business. He doesn’t go into means of cash flow, life insurance plans, commodities. He doesn't explain how velocity and leverage works. You’re not supposed to work with any advisors. Don’t bother trading your own stocks because you won’t be good at it. No one is good at it. He repeatedly bashes other investment opportunities. No matter who you are, what your lifestyle is, what your career goals, what life circumstance you’re in, the Vanguard index fund is guaranteed to make anyone rich. It’s the ultimate panacea. You don’t need anything else ever.

As a reader, you need to know there’s never been a one-size-fits-all investment strategy for everyone ever. You should be very cautious of anyone saying there's only one way to become wealthy. That is an absolute lie.

That said, you'll be well-versed in the Vanguard index fund, but potentially ignorant about everything else.

If you listen to this book, the bias is blatantly clear. It would be more accurate to rename the book “Why the Vanguard Index Fund is the Best (and Why Everything Else is Not.)”

195 people found this helpful

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6 hours of repeating the same 5 minutes

SIMPLE equals start saving in a index fund, Namely, a Vanguard brand such as VTSAX or VTSAX or VTSAX or VTSAX or some other Vanguard index fund, But VTSAX also invests in them as well. Oh and by the way, start saving 40 years before you want to retire. Now, If you are already able to establish a family budget; spend less than you earn; invest in the rest without watching it too closely AND leave it to ride for 30 to 40 years you will average 8 to 11% increase per year as the market constantly marches upward over the long run. The path is that Simple. He does state at the beginning that the name of the book is NOT the EASY path to wealth. Unfortunately, it is not easy unless you had extra cash in the 80's. With that being said, I have saved you 6 hours and 35 minutes that should be spent looking for a helpful book on actually creating a budget to spend less than you earn and invest for the long run.

147 people found this helpful

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  • AC
  • 07-09-17

Lives up to its title . . . and then some

Any additional comments?

Oh how I wish: (a) this book had existed back when I was just graduating from college, (b) somebody had given this book to me, and (c) I had listened to every word in it.

This is one of those "If I knew then what I know now" books. The lessons in here are priceless. Everybody should read this book and heed the advice in it.

The best part is you don't have to be all that interested in finance or 401(k)'s or any of that stuff. In fact, if you really dislike such things, this is probably the perfect book for you. JL Collins takes these complicated and boring financial matters and does two nice things for you: (1) throws out all the crap you don't need to know, and (2) explains what you do need to know in layman's terms that anybody can understand. So not only is the wisdom in this book chockfull of solid gold nuggets on a need-to-know basis, but the delivery is crystal clear and simple to follow in practice.

Speaking of the delivery, OMGoodness does JL Collins have a superb voice for the audiobook format. He reminds me of David McCullough. He has the kind of deep grandfatherly "gather 'round the campfire for a story" voice. It's fabulous.

In summary, this book is worth every penny. Along with a handful of other "quake books" that changed my life for the better, this one is getting added to that list (right alongside John C. Bogle's "The Little Book of Common Sense Investing"). I can't recommend this book enough. Get it for yourself. Listen to it. Make your kids listen to it. Your siblings. Your friends. Your parents. The lessons in it are too valuable not to share with everybody you know.

107 people found this helpful

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I have listened to a lot of audio books but this

This one is different. I have listened to this book over and over again. First step before you do any financial decisions is to read this book. The hours you spend listioning this book is your MOST PAID HOURS IN YOUR LIFE. Thank you JLC for your contribution.

55 people found this helpful

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Buy and Hold VTSAX

Book about how to invest simply, but does not touch much on the other aspects of personal finance. Collins loves Vanguard, specifically VTSAX, which has a low expense ratio and tracks the market well. His logic is that capitalism works, so investing in this basket of roughly 1,500 stocks will manage itself.
Key takeaways: Don’t worry about timing the market, spend a lot less than you make if you want to retire early, pay off debt that is more than 5% interest, don’t spend too much on a house, and take advantage of tax-incentive retirement plans.
Collins makes the claim that almost all personal finance workers (ie. Investment Advisors and Broker Dealers) are crooks and if you must work with someone in the profession, work with a fee-only advisor to save your money. Given that each person’s situation can be uniquely different, do not care for this argument much because most people cannot stomach strong down turns without someone talking them off the cliff of selling. If you can stick to the buy-and-hold strategy on your own, this book is for you.

38 people found this helpful

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Simplest and Best Book on Personal Finance

Any additional comments?

Personal Finance is often so over complicated. This is the first book I've encountered that simplifies the subject. It is easily digestible and makes a ton of sense. I wish I would have followed the principles in my twenties. Now in my early thirties, I am going to start implementing it. If you want to get out of debt and start living the life you've always wanted then pick up this book. This is the only book on personal finance I can recommend. Save 50% of your income, live below your means, invest in low cost index funds, and avoid debt. Sounds pretty easy right?

35 people found this helpful

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Fantastic!

I've read six or seven early financial independence books recently and this one is the best. I like the author's down-to-earth style and overall presentation. A great listen!

27 people found this helpful

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Best book I have read so far on investing.

Stop reading reviews. Just get it. your future self will thank you. So simple and effective.

25 people found this helpful

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Overall pretty good, with a few shortfalls

This is a great beginners guide to learning about, managing and investing money. It provides a good high level strategic view, and also gives tactical and operational advice, especially about the types of index funds to hold in tax advantaged versus taxable buckets. However it is very heavily focused solely on Vanguard when not everyone will have access to, or want to use that firm. It is fine if the author wants to use Vanguard, but he should provide more details on comparable index funds at other firms since most discount brokers pretty much have them now-a-days. Also, he doesn't give ETFs fair consideration. Case in point: Vanguard has ETFs (VTI) with fees comparable to its equivalent Admiral shares (and no minimum investment unlike Admiral shares). Why isn't this discussed?

I like that the subject of charitable giving was treated towards the end of the book, although again I am puzzled by why he is pushing Vanguard Charitable. This account has a $25,000 minimum while Schwab and Fidelity have a $5,000 minimum each, both of which can also invest in comparable passive index funds/ETFs. Yet again this is not mentioned.

Personally I don't care for the author's use of the term "FU money". I'm sure there is a better way to make this point without bordering on classless vulgarity.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Van Dieu
  • 09-10-19

Approach with caution

JL Collins is a hero to the FIRE community, and his book is responsible for instilling in the community some unviolable axioms:

- Stocks are the best place for your money
- Index investing beats everything else
- Dump it all in Vanguard
- Simplify (it's in the title, duh)
- Don't time the market, don't cost-average
- Forget about it, the market always goes back up

Unfortunately these lines of thinking have become the orthodoxy in the community to the point where anything else is scorned and considered sub-optimal. I personally hate the book for this reason. As a more sophisticated investor who is fascinated by economics and finance I recognise this book is not primarily aimed at me, but I take issues with basically all of the steadfast principles of this book. His idea of risk management is a 10% sliver to bonds. It's breathtakingly negligent, but of course this is how bull markets develop and subsequently die.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-22-18

A good guide for investing and good tips.

I found this book interesting and it offers good tips and guides for investing and becoming financially independent - It is, however, very American-centric as this is the culture that the author is writing from. I found this difficult to translate into a European model, particularly being a complete beginner. I did, however, find that there was some really good tips and advice on finances in general and is definitely a good guide for a beginner but I did find it very American based so difficult to follow from a European perspective.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-21

US focus

good book, however too much focus on the US. would be better to collaborate with people across the world to get better insight in tax schemes and retirement plans

6 people found this helpful

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  • fizzler
  • 08-27-21

Really enjoyed this!

I have read quite a few books on the general topic of wealth and investment and really enjoyed this one. Well structured, easy to listen to and simple actionables.

The reason I felt compelled to write this review was because of the comments and reviews saying the this was only applicable to the US. I nearly didn't buy it for the reason! Yes, there are a lot of US focused discussions, but the simple principles are universally applicable. I am from the UK.

3 people found this helpful

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  • E. McLaughlan
  • 05-03-21

over simplistic

there's not really much in this. how it was spun out to book length is a question. learn to live on less than you earn and invest in an index tracker. there's really not much more than that here.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr J Chagger
  • 01-24-20

Essential reading for a beginner investor

Great book, anyone looking to start investing should read this first then make the next step!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 06-06-19

Very simple, yet powerful!

I love this book. Very simple, yet powerful! It really has the potential to change lives!

3 people found this helpful

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  • H
  • 12-11-21

US oriented

Interesting and practical approach to personal finances, but very US oriented, meaning much of it doesn't apply to other countries

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mads Jensen
  • 04-04-19

Lots of information but surprisingly easily "read"

This is a one stop book on how to plan for maximum freedom in your future. It's very detailed and yet very accessible. Collins reads the book formidably and comes across very trustworthy.
Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jtoye
  • 04-16-22

Well written and easy to understand.

I enjoyed listening to this book. It made investing simple and suggested ways to access. Debt was discussed in a short, simple and to the point. I did not get bored with book. I will read it again in hard copy which I have now ordered.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carla
  • 01-22-19

Just OK

A lot of the book was lost on me as I’m not in the US. I ended up skipping quite a few chapters because of that.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Starbuck
  • 11-14-18

Love the book and love the narration

This book has so much relevance, even for Australia. There are chapters relating to 401K but I even managed to get useful info out of those chapters. Every Mum and Dad investor or young person starting out in life should read this.
I am close to retirement and learnt so much but wish I had read something like this 30 years ago.
I could seriously listen to this guy all day. I believe he has retired now but he could get a job on the side narrating.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-07-22

A great read

An excellent easy to listen to investment book- cementing the benefits of simplicity and indexing and managing our behaviour to achieve long term results

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-09-21

Ageless Advice in securing one's future.

Aside for Mr Collins brilliant book I also would like to thank Andrei Jikh for putting me onto a great book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-28-21

Wish I had read/ listened to this book earlier

I would recommend this book to everyone looking for advice on financial independence. I only just stumbled onto this book and wish I had read it earlier. The author is great to listen to and I devoured this book in two days.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-21

Best book for anyone seeking financial independence

Great book, 100% recommend. Anyone seeking early retirement or simple wanting to build wealth will appreciate this book and the narration is perfect

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-21

Strategised wealth accumulation book - Great for young adults or any age really..

It is a great book for young adults for wealth accumulation, I am from Australia and not young adults lol! Yes, it is true that the stock and funds he mentioned are not available in Australia, but more importantly, it gives you the basic principal and step by step of wealth accumulation for anyone who doesn’t have the concept of it—- which is almost everyone(or just my teenager kids…) because of the current world’s education system. I think it is a great book for youngsters (or any age really, but youngsters are the best) who started work and got a bit lost in between as in what to do(what career path…). Well written and so grateful to be stumbling upon it in a FB group~

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-31-21

Easy to follow for a novice

Helpful book that offered clear ways to understanding investing and ideas about financial independence. As I am in Australia and not the U.S. there was a chuck that I tuned out of but most of the chapters were useful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-16-20

Good, but unrealistic

simple rules to follow, however have no debt and invest 50 percent is for people with rich parents, not the average human.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-10-20

Simply powerful

A very simple and powerful way to build and keep your wealth. As easy as 1, 2 & 3

.