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The Elements of Investing

ISBN: 978-0-470-58550-4
176 pages
December 2009
The Elements of Investing (0470585501) cover image


A timeless, easy-to-read guide on life-long investment principles that can help any investor succeed

The Elements of Investing has a single-minded goal: to teach the principles of investing in the same pared-to-bone manner that Professor William Strunk Jr. once taught composition to students at Harvard, using his classic little book, The Elements of Style. With great daring, Ellis and Malkiel imagined their own Little Red Schoolhouse course in investing for every investor around the world-and then penned this book.

The Elements of Investing hacks away at all the overtrading and over thinking so predominant in the hyperactive thought patterns of the average investor. Malkiel and Ellis offer investors a set of simple but powerful thoughts on how to challenge Mr. Market at his own game, and win by not losing. All the need-to-know rules and investment principles can be found here.

  • Contains sound investment advice and simple principles of investing from two of the most respected individuals in the investment world
  • Burton G. Malkiel is the bestselling author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street and Charles D. Ellis is the bestselling author of Winning the Loser's Game
  • Shows how to deal with an investor's own worst enemies: fear and greed

A disciplined approach to investing, complemented by conviction, is all you need to succeed. This timely guide will help you develop these skills and make the most of your time in today's market.

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Table of Contents



It All Starts with Saving.

I. Save.

First Do No Harm.

Start Saving Early: Time Is Money.

The Amazing Rule of 72.

Savvy Savings.

Small Savings Tips.

Big Ways to Save.

Let the Government Help You Save.

Own Your Home.

How Do I Catch Up?

II. Index.

Nobody Knows More Than the Market.

The Index Fund Solution.

Don't Some Beat the Market?

Index Bonds.

Index Internationally.

Index Funds Have Big Advantages.

One Warning.


III. Diversify.

Diversify Across Asset Classes.

Diversify Across Markets.

Diversify Over Time.


IV. Avoid Blunders.


Beware of Mr. Market.

The Penalty of Timing.

More Mistakes.

Minimize Costs.

V. Keep It Simple.

Review of Basic Rules.

Asset Allocation.

Asset Allocation Ranges.

Investing in Retirement.

KISS Investing

A Super Simple Summary.

Appendix: Save on Taxes Legally.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Roth IRAs.

Pension Plans.

Tax-Advantaged Saving for Education.

Recommended Reading.


About the Authors.


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Author Information

Burton G. Malkiel is the Chemical Bank Chairman's Professor of Economics at Princeton University and the author of the bestselling A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Malkiel has served on the President's Council of Economic Advisers, as Dean of the Yale School of Management, as Chair of Princeton's Economics Department, and as a director of major corporations.

Charles D. Ellis is a consultant to large public and private institutional investors. He was for three decades managing partner of Greenwich Associates, the international business strategy consulting firm. He serves as Chair of Whitehead Institute and as a director of Vanguard and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He has taught investing at both Harvard and Yale and is the author of 15 books, including the bestselling Winning the Loser's Game.

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