The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape is an Australian investor classic. The Barefoot Investor was first published in 2016 which was then revised and updated as of 2022.
This Investor classic talks you through the day-to-day management of your money and paying down your debts. Scott Pape or Barefoot as he refers to himself throughout the book, shares his three-bucket approach to achieving financial independence.
In this review, I will provide my own opinion of the Barefoot Investor and the philosophies within it. An important point to mention is that while I possess the 2016 original edition, my review will be based on the most up-to-date version which I listened to on Audible.
The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need… Kind of.
The Barefoot Investor at its heart is a guide to saving money through paying off bad debts and automating your finances.
In the initial chapters of The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape shares a personal experience of losing everything in a devastating bushfire.
He candidly discusses the challenges he faced during that difficult time and takes readers through his thoughts and decision-making process as he worked to rebuild his life from scratch.
This chapter lays the foundation for most of the book which is about starting fresh and looking at life in a new way after losing everything.
Scott’s approach throughout the book is down to earth, easy to understand, and most of the time to the point.
Scott discusses his money management plan which consists of a tap and ‘3 barefoot investor buckets- ‘Blow‘, ‘Mojo‘ and ‘Grow‘. The tap refers to the person’s income and the 3 barefoot investor buckets represent:
- Blow (Expenses and some splurge money)
- Mojo (Safety Money)
- Grow (Long-Term Wealth)
These buckets are consistently referenced throughout the book and form the cornerstones of his money guide.
Domino Your Debts
Throughout the book, Scott emphasizes the importance of debt reduction and delves into various types of debts, providing insights and guidance on managing them effectively.
His approach is very similar to that of other debt reduction strategies which is to pay down debt whilst simultaneously avoiding taking on further debt.
Scott’s methods differ from the more conventional approach to paying down debt, which typically involves prioritizing larger and higher-interest debts. Instead, Scott works off a more psychological model of getting ‘wins on the board’ by paying down smaller debts first.
Thus, building on people’s enthusiasm and sense of achievement in paying off debts. It can be said that Barefoot’s approach is just as much about the money, as it is about the psychological of debt and general money management.
Barefoot’s strategy revolves around initiating negotiations to secure reduced interest rates on multiple debts. This entails contacting lenders and banks to request lower rates.
Consequently, it is presumed that, within this approach, the significance of paying off higher-interest debts diminishes, as they will all have lower rates.
From my personal perspective, I would still prioritize settling higher interest amounts regardless of their size. Scott’s method, once again, places emphasis on the psychological aspect of managing debt.
Scott continuously, emphasizes the importance of automating your finances and having money placed into different accounts. This is a very pragmatic approach, especially for individuals who may otherwise be tempted to spend that money on non-essential things.
Scott also repeatedly brings in the stories of Barefoot Investor followers who have successfully implemented his strategies over time.
The common themes of these individuals are that they have paid down their bad debts and have practiced better money management techniques. This in turn has empowered them to live a more financially free life.
A lot of these individuals either had a single income, high levels of debt, or did not have great money management skills initially.
The Barefoot Investor’s Target Audience
The Audience for The Barefoot Investor is every individual such is the breadth and span of the book. Every individual would be able to take something from this book as a learning or an affirmation of their own good financial habits.
However, the real target audience in my opinion is those with minimal, poor, or bad money management skills. The core principles would assist someone who lived and spent beyond their means or had built up large amounts of debt.
Additionally, it would benefit anyone who was looking at a different way to manage their situation if other methods had failed them previously.
Debt is a critical focus point of this book to the point where the home mortgage also becomes a target.
The book takes you step by step of setting up various bank accounts, ‘googling’ the best products for high interest savings account, and getting a better interest rate from your bank.
Getting a good deal from your bank is very important and I have discussed this previously in my article How To Get A Lower Interest Rate On Your Mortgage.
However, I don’t believe that ‘the big 4’ are inherently more expensive than other smaller financial lenders. This is a point Scott raises on multiple occasions throughout the book.
Given the book’s significant emphasis on paying down debt, my personal opinions and life goals differed quite a bit at this point.
Despite my personal philosophy differing from the book’s emphasis on prioritizing debt dominoing and accelerating mortgage payments, I still found valuable insights in the book, especially in examining the psychology of money and spending habits from a different perspective.
At present, my primary focus is on leveraging the debt I have to make investments and capitalize on the tax offsets that are accessible to investors. I actively engage in negative gearing, employing this strategy for both property and stock market investments.
In discussing his personal situation, Scott openly acknowledges his investments in commercial, agricultural, and residential settings.
Despite this, he briefly mentions the downsides of owning investment properties, such as holding costs that could surpass $100,000 over the years and therefore running at a significant financial loss.
Scott doesn’t provide a full explanation of two other crucial aspects: the rental income that would have been received during this period and any potential negative gearing benefits.
Considering these factors, along with the possibility of investment price growth, the investor may indeed end up benefiting overall. Though this part was glossed over somewhat.
At one point I did nearly give up on the book. The constant Barefoot Date nights and the ‘Aussie Larrikin’ approach did take some getting used to.
However, being it was an audiobook, Scott’s voice-over was engaging and not monotone like some audiobooks you listen to.
Pros and Cons of The Barefoot Investor
- Tips are fairly straightforward to follow and would be a good starting point for someone with either no money management or high debt levels.
- Builds good money habits through automation of finances.
- The approach to money and debt management is person-centered and has a strong focus on the psychology of debt and forwards thinking, not focusing on past mistakes.
- The approach can in reality be practiced by anyone who ultimately wants to pay off their debts, including their home loan but does not want to invest significant amounts in the interim.
- Barefoot discusses the importance of super and how this will reduce the reliance on the Aged Pension later in life. The Barefoot Investor retirement strategy involves sacrificing your superannuation up to 15% of your annual income.
- Strategies are very basic at heart and do not delve into wealth creation.
- For many, having so many different bank accounts and money going everywhere maybe be challenging.
- Emphasis is on paying off debts no matter what they are (except for HECS Debt)
- With a strong emphasis on the goal of “getting the banker off your back,” which entails paying off your home loan sooner, there might not be much time left for most people to invest elsewhere.
Scott extensively discusses investing through the use of superannuation, but he only touches on share and index investments superficially.
In my opinion, investing is a long-term game, regardless of the investment choice. Long-term investors benefit from the power of compound interest, which takes effect over several years, even 20-30 years, creating real magic in returns.
By focusing on paying off debts and starting this process in your 50s, you might miss out on part of that magic.
Final Say: The Barefoot Investor
Overall, I would rate The Logical Investor 3.5 / 5. It was engaging, and I persisted until the very end, which I’m glad I did.
The book prompted me to reflect on my own money management style and approach to shared finances. Scott emphasized the significance of partners having equal buy-in to the financial processes and sharing knowledge.
This is crucial in today’s society, as both partners should remain equal in their decision-making capacity. Although one partner may typically take the lead (often the more interested one), both should be on the journey together.
At its core, I found the barefoot investor book to be great. For someone in financial distress or lacking knowledge about managing their financial future, it is undoubtedly an excellent resource for them.
However, for me personally, it may be a bit too risk-averse, and the investment strategies don’t align with my own. Nonetheless, I have a sneaking suspicion that Scott’s current, albeit briefly discussed, investments may align more closely with my own preferences.
After all, he did mention his property and share investments, which have likely benefited from the success of this immensely popular barefoot investor book!