Antonio M. Thewissen creatively imparts financial knowledge in Bill Wants a Boat: A Modern Family Journey through the Perils of Personal Finance, a personal finance guide that’s refreshingly anecdote- and character-driven.
Thewissen doesn’t have the certifications and designations that many personal finance writers trumpet, but he has no shortage of accurate information and solid advice to share. He steers clear of overloading readers on numbers and textbook definitions, instead exploring subjects in short chapters starring his main characters, Bill, Penny, and Florin Shillington. Bill is an electrician, not very financially savvy and prone to rash decisions; Penny is an accountant, more measured in her approach to finances; Florin, their son, is a high school student who often gives a different perspective on a given topic.
With this trio in place, Thewissen addresses decisions most readers will face in their lifetimes: how to buy a car; when to buy insurance; the importance of saving money; the basics of interest rates; and, as the book’s title indicates, the pros and cons of big-ticket luxury purchases, like a boat. It all flows smoothly, and although these characters were clearly created as teaching tools, readers will identify with their questions and opinions.
While perhaps not as comprehensive as other personal finance guides—there’s no mention of wills or estate planning, for example—Bill Wants a Boat covers most of the important subjects, including a remarkably succinct analysis of choosing a college, as well as topics most finance books ignore, such as a life of minimalism and the reduced expenses that go with it.
A glossary, index, and further reading list would have been welcome. But overall, Bill Wants a Boat is an extremely readable, common sense guide to personal finance, presented in a unique and appealing way. It contains enough helpful hints to be useful to anyone, but it’s perhaps most suited to readers who would never seek out traditional personal finance books.
Also available as an ebook.