Book review: "Quit Like A Millionaire" by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung - Financial Independence Campaign (2024)

Quit Like A Millionaire is Kristy Shen’s story of being a Chinese immigrant in Canada, raising a million dollars and then declaring financial independence. A wholesome story for any FI campaigner.

Although this is meant to be by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung, it seems to have been written by Kristy Shen with the odd story from her partner. Whatever. It was a good read.

Book review: "Quit Like A Millionaire" by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung - Financial Independence Campaign (1)

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The loose premise

Importantly, Kristy targeted CAD $1million as their FI number. Using a variation of the 60:40 classic split of equities:bonds, she survived 2008 and immediately upon hitting $1m disappeared travelling in east Asia with her partner.

The story is interwoven with her personal reflections and anecdotes from her upbringing, which made this quite a fun read.

Why $1m?

Kristy and Bryce stuck with the good ol’ 4% rule, which was based off a 60:40 portfolio when it was created.

Without ruining too much of the book, I can tell you that $1m was their number.

Unique parts of the book

Quit Like A Millionaire repeats a lot of the same Financial Independence mantras you see thrown around by bloggers and authors alike. I’m not complaining: important stuff is worth repeating. Think things like “invest in low-cost funds” and “save money to invest heavily”.

However, there are two parts that really stuck out to me.

Are you making the best career choice?

Kristy and Bryce decided to use the classic route of using their employment as their main vehicle to financial independence.

Elaborating on this, Kristy talks about how she chose the best degree course – and later career field – to give her the most money for her time. The method is a key part of the book, so I won’t ruin it here. In principle, it should be easy to select which jobs are high-paying, but she goes further and allows you to model an “average” career salary expectation.

Deliberately choosing a career field with financial independence in mind doesn’t get as much attention as you might expect, and I thought the mathematical approach tat Kristy uses was pretty cool.

Geoarbitrage by travelling

Kristy and Bryce hit their $1m and disappeared for two years into Asia… whereupon they returned wealthier than they left.

No, not just “wealth of experiences” wealthier – their pot grew by more than they spent.

In hindsight, this seems obvious. If you have $40k per year to live in Canada, and $12k a year goes a long way in Thailand, the maths is on your side. However, it’s pretty cool to have the experience of someone who has actually done it, rather than just seeing the numbers modelled out.

Confessions of a materialist

Quit Like A Millionaire endeared itself to me with the confessional storytelling style. Kristy writes about her childhood in China and the impact that the various communist party economic measures had on her family’s cultural memory. This gave her one perspective on money and how resources should be treated.

She then talks about her reactionary response to this and how – as soon as she had money in Canada – she would spend it obsessively buying nice things. Handbags, in her case.

This resonated for me as it parallels my own journey, although my circ*mstances are less extreme. Growing up, my parents had children from a very young age, when their career earnings were still tiny. While I’m proud to say my parents’ fortunes have changed through hard effort, having four children in your twenties is a recipe for tight financial constraints.

This meant that when I got my own career and started earning serious money, I basically squandered it on beer and parties, a spree of terrible second-hand cars, expensive shirts that I then didn’t enjoy wearing and a whole host of toys and hobbies.

Hmm. Not sure if beer and parties is squandering, but I definitely could have saved some of it.

It wasn’t until I got into the habit of saving – for my wedding – that my approach to money started to change and paying myself first became a habit. One that would later start to pay off as I really discovered investing.

Overall thoughts – who is this good for?

Unlike some of the other books I have reviewed, I treated this one as more of a personal story to reassure financial independence campaigners rather than a technical manual.

Yes, there is detailed strategic information in there, but it’s mostly for an US-Canadian audience. The principles of how Kristy approached her own financial independence campaign are worth a read, but there is significantly less preaching about the merits of one strategy over another than some books I have read.

In many ways, it’s a bit like a first-hand storytelling of The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housell.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it for anyone who would like some reassurance and inspiration that their financial independence campaign will work out.

If you enjoyed this brief review and want to read the book, why not buy through our affiliate link on the right? The site gets a few pennies from the Jeff B Spaceship Fuel Fund.

Book review: "Quit Like A Millionaire" by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung - Financial Independence Campaign (2)

Book review: "Quit Like A Millionaire" by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung - Financial Independence Campaign (2024)
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