Review: Making Money Made Simple by Noel Whittaker

Review: Making Money Made Simple by Noel Whittaker

Billed as an essential guide for anyone serious about financial or retirement planning, this book smashed sales records while selling over a million copies worldwide. First published in 1987 it is now in its 24th edition highlighting how the wisdom it contains still rings true to this day. Making Money Made Simple contains the essential guide to money investment, borrowing and personal finance planning. Although written for the Australian and originally New Zealand market, the principles it contains are relevant to every person who wants to make more money regardless of where they live.

This book is recommended to anyone serious about learning how to become financially independent, retire early or develop passive income from an investment portfolio. It’s any easy read with investment concepts broken down into simple, practical advice mostly devoid of jargon.

Re-reading and reviewing this book has a very personal aspect to it for me. I read the original and subsequently established a business with the original co-author. The business was founded on the principles in this book and created wealth for many, many clients. For me personally, it was and is the cornerstone of my own investment habits and, as I close in on retirement myself, has provided the foundation for my own retirement – one that will be more comfortable now than if I hadn’t read it.


Product: Making Money Made Simple by Noel Whittaker (28th Ed)Making Money Made Simple

Price (est only): Kindle edition $8   Paperback $36.99

(subject to change without notice)

Best Place to Buy: Amazon 

International Service: Yes

My Rating: 95 / 100

Who Does This Suit?

For me this book was the basis of my education as a financial planner and investment adviser. The principles and guidelines it contains are still a great primer for any budding professional advising on financial or retirement planning. Originally written for the Australian and New Zealand market, some examples are more relevant to those countries but the principles and anecdotes are relevant worldwide. This book is recommended to anyone serious about learning how to become financially independent, retire early or develop passive income from an investment portfolio.

Who is Noel Whittaker?Noel Whittaker - author

Noel is a long time student, commentator and author about financial planning and investment matters. Coming from an accounting background he was a director of Whittaker Macnaught (which closed in 2013) and has had numerous articles published in the Sydney Morning Herald and has authored 22 books. In addition to Making Money Made simple and it’s sequel Making More Money he coauthored the very successful “The Way to Wealth in Great Britain in the 1990s” with James Mackay.

What’s in It?

The book is a comprehensive walk through of the consideration you need to think about to become financially free. As well as key concepts like the difference between risk and volatility, asset allocation and general budgeting there are specific chapters providing introductory guidance on share markets, buying your own home and credit ratings and borrowing. Specific types of niche investments are also covered such as gold, options, managed funds, futures and superannuation.

Financial advice for new parentsProbably my favorite sections deal with specific life changing events and their financial implications. These sections are:

  • Letter to a New Parent
  • Letter to a School Leaver
  • Letter to an Engaged Couple
  • Letter to a Recent Sole Parent

All of them provide solid advice and a path to a better financial situation if only they were followed – as Noel points out in another chapter only about 8% of people “Make It Financially”.

What makes this book stand out is the down to earth advice it contains. Noel has the knack of distilling quite complex specialist advice into simple concepts anyone can understand.

A good example is the principle of “paying yourself first”. This discusses the fact that if you and yours only save what is left at the end of your pay cycle then you’ll save nothing because we all pretty much spend everything we have per pay. If however you’ve set an investment goal of say $100 per pay then if you take it out first – pay yourself first – then you’ll manage the family budget with what’s left but you will have paid that regular investment and be on the way to your investment portfolio.

I also like the “Rule of 72”. This is a simple measure of how long it will take to double your money based on the expected rate of return. So if your investment is returning 10% then divide 10 into 72 and you get 7.2. The rule says it will take 7.2 years to double your money for a 10% return. A simple, somewhat rough and ready measure but a great way of looking at potential investments relative to each other for their relative risk.

Best Advice

In the chapter “Earning Is Not Saving” an American survey is quoted which asked “How much do you need to live comfortably?” Nearly all respondent said about 10%. Just think about that for a bit. We all have different incomes but everyone is looking for about 10% more – from the relatively poor to the very well off. So nearly everyone has trouble living on what they earn.

“It is in our nature to spend right up to our earnings, irrespective of what those earnings are.”

And Noel’s insight:

“Becoming financially well off in NOT a matter of earning more. …. The secret is very simple.

It’s a matter of managing your money better.”

A classic example of the way this book addresses a seemingly complex problem affecting, it would seem, most people into a pithy, simple and quite blinding statement of the obvious. Just so you know, this was in Chapter Two and the rest of the book deals with a number of ways that you can actually manage your money better.


As I said at the start, I bought and applied the principles in the first edition of this book. When I saw that over 20 years later it was published as 24th Anniversary Edition I was a bit skeptical as to whether it had stood the rest of time. But for four bucks I thought what have I got to lose? My faith was justified and I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone wanting to learn a bit more about how to earn more income and once you have, what to do with it.

I hope you like this review and I’d be interested in your thoughts. If you have a comment or a question please leave it below. If you know somebody who might benefit from reading this book then please share this review with them using the social media buttons on this page.



12 thoughts on “Review: Making Money Made Simple by Noel Whittaker”

  1. Hey Mike.

    Thanks for the review.  I’m very familiar with Noel Wittaker’s book.  I read it a few years back when I was doing financial services.  I found the insights he offered for many people when it comes to the “pay yourself first” principle very important.  Everyone should be made aware of this principle.  I actually find it rather unfortunate that financial importance isn’t taught in school.  Like I have ever used the “pythagorus theorum” outside of school… but I have used the rule of 72 many times; especially when considering my retirement.

    I will pass this review on as well as recommending the book.  Thanks for the work you do.


    • Yes teaching financial literacy would be great at school but I guess there’s only so much you can fit in.  I’ve actually given the book to my kids as they left school – not sure that they were that impressed but they all came to it eventually especially when the bank of mum and dad was closed !!

  2. Thanks for this excellent review of the book “Making Money Made Simple” by Noel Whittaker. I had not heard of him until coming across this article, and I must say the advice and tips he has included based on the excerpts you mentioned really make a lot of sense.

    People in all walks of life can use such a guidebook, as it seems today many people are saving less than ever, and they do not know the meaning of delaying gratification or paying yourself first. Budgeting, saving, spending habits, and even hobbies are all rich (no pun intended) areas to analyze.

    There are times when bad things happen to good people, and these can negatively affect the status of how much you can save and invest, but virtually everyone can make small changes in their finances that can have a huge impact in later years. 

    This book seems to lay out the path very clearly to have that happen, and it is no wonder that it is popular. I am glad I came across your review today, I will be checking out the book, and likely some of his many other books he has published. A good find for you, and thanks for sharing it with us all!

  3. Managing my money has been something I’ve been wanting to do my entire adult life! But my wanting stupid stuff always overtook that desire! Grrr. But I’m slowly, finally beating the want monster. I tell it “No, you have to wait, if you still want it later, I’ll get it for you” lol. It seems to work too! I have more money then I’ve ever had. And I don’t live paycheck to paycheck anymore. All because I tell my little inner brat no! This book sounds good for me, just to get myself even more financially stable. But is it updated, since it was published so long ago?

    • Yes it has been regularly updated for both regulatory / tax  changes and things like a much smaller rate of inflation. Thanks for your comment and question.

  4. It sounds like the author was a brilliant man. It’s books like these that I wish I had come across when they were first published. For instance, had I read the Wealthy Barber when it came out in 1984, I would have approached my financial matters far differently. At 70-years-old now, it’s a bit late. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Wealthy Barber(I’m sure you must be), but it sure seems to be similar to this book you reviewed. Yet, I was unlucky enough to not have either of them cross my path when I was 35 or so.

    You have an excellent presentation for your website. It’s well constructed. Something I can aspire to. I sincerely hope there are 20 or 30 somethings out there who take the book you reviewed to heart. It will surely provide them with a stable financial future.

    This post gets a five***** rating from me.

    • Glad you liked the review and the site.  Yes the Wealthy Barber is also an excellent book and also available on Amazon.  Not sure you’re too old at 70 – sounds to me like there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet lol.

  5. Looking at the way you reviewed this book, it sounds like it contains so much wisdom, and I am glad I stumbled upon this post today

    Managing my finances have been someworth a thing of struggle, I fall into the class of people that tries to make ends meet before thinking of saving what’s left, but like you rightfully mentioned, using this process never helps as nothing is ever left to be saved or invested.

    I really love this idea of paying myself first, it makes a lot of sense. And though I feel it will be very challenging for me, I believe it’s the best way that I can eventually get to put something away for the future 

    I will definitely check this book out and see how much I can benefit from it.

    And oh yes! I have a lot of people I can recommend it to as well.


    • We all struggle at times with managing our finances.  Keep at it and I hope some of the advice in the review and indeed the book help out.

  6. Mike, where were you with this review a few years ago?  I have always been absolutely terrible managing my money, and now that I”m retired, living on a fixed income, I rely on my online business for my spending money.  I simply didn’t plan properly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help my kids to do a better job than I did.  It seems from this article that you have used the theories and teachings of this book, and you are not re-visiting it for this review.  That speaks volumes to the integrity of the book and its teachings, and I thank you for this.  I would really like my children to do a better job at managing money than I did.

    • Thanks Babsie. Like you one of my big motivations is to try and stop my children repeating my mistakes which is I guess a parents responsibility.  Thanks for your comment and don’t be too hard on yourself lol.

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