Book Review: A Million Bucks by 30 by Alan Corey

I recently borrowed A Million Bucks by 30: How to Overcome a Crap Job, Stingy Parents, and a Useless Degree to Become a Millionare Before (or after) Turning Thrity by Alan Corey from the library as part of my finance book reading kick.  I should have realized from the flashy title that it was going to be a lot of sensationalism and there wouldn’t be much substance to the book. Good news for Mr. Corey: his title worked and I picked up the book. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t buy it.

The write-up at the back of the book should have also given away what kind of read it was going to be. See here:

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At twenty-two, Alan Corey left his mom’s basement in Atlanta and moved to New York City with one goal in mind: to become a millionaire by the time he was thirty. His parents and friends laughed, but six years later they were all celebrating his prosperous accomplishment–at a bar Corey owned in one of Brooklyn’s hippest neighborhoods.

No, Corey didn’t climb the corporate ladder to build his fortune. In fact, he worked the same entry-level 9-to-5 job for six years straight. But by pinching his pennies and making sound investments, he watched a pittance blossom into a seven-digit bank account. In A Million Bucks by 30, Corey recounts his rags-to-riches journey and shares his secrets to success.

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I won’t deny that his is an interesting and quasi-well told story, but I maintain that beyond the story telling there is no substance to this book. Beyond having a stated goal in mind (become a millionare by 30) and proving that determination trumps all, Corey has nothing to offer in this book beyond faint hope.

His tips in the book are generic ones – and he himself admits that living on ramen noodles for three months isn’t the best solution for everyone. Seriously, that’s how he saved money: he lived on ramen noodles for all his meals. I will admit that some of the tips are OK – but only OK. He bought a playstation so that he could avoid going out once or twice a week. Big investment up front for saving money (though honestly, I would probably go for something used and older because otherwise the money he saved from going out every week would probably equal what he spent on the playstation).

In general I feel that the book is more of an autobiography than a helpful finance book. Particularly because most of the reasons for his success rely on pure luck: a big real estate agent liked the property that he and his partners renovated. He got himself on TV a bunch of times (the subsequent appearances weren’t luck so much as a result of the first few times). He lucked into finding a bar with a sour owner looking to sell. He lucked into a book deal.

I find that he also glossed over several things – he didn’t take the time to explain all of his methods. I grant that would make the book a little drier to read, but I think it is a bit silly for him to suggest that other people can make millions if he can – except that he doesn’t want you to know exactly how he did it.

Like I said, I won’t doubt that his determination definitely help drive his finances into the million mark; but his lifestyle is not for everyone and his methods aren’t for everyone. How comfortable are you about flipping real estate? I know I’m not. He has good ideas for things that worked for HIM, but maybe not for everyone else.

I would avoid this as a helpful guide to your finances. If you enjoy reading success stories, it’s not bad though.

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