When I went to the library the other day, I noticed there were two different options for classic best-selling personal finance books that had been newly updated. One was The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, and the other was this book – Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties.
The author is Beth Kobliner, and she has some serious credentials. She’s a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, a former columnist for Money magazine, and has written for notable publications like the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. In addition to this book, she has another bestseller called Make Your Kid A Money Genius, Even If You’re Not.
She also created the site Money As You Grow, targeted at helping parents teach their kids about money, and currently run by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So she knows what she’s talking about when writing this book. The acknowledgments of this book are 16 pages long, filled with the names of well-known, knowledgeable people who provided their expertise to make the book possible.
For those who read the site a few weeks ago, yes, this is the book that inspired my rant about how all personal finance basics books are the same. That rant was not a knock on this book, which is an excellent resource for someone in their 20’s or 30’s who wants (or needs) a comprehensive overview of personal finance and investing. It was more that I’ve been reading too many of these personal finance basics books lately, and the constant repetition got to me.
A Comprehensive Review Of Everything Financial You Need To Know
This book is one of the most comprehensive basic overviews I’ve had the pleasure of reading, right up there with Jane Bryant Quinn’s Making The Most Of Your Money. If there’s a basic personal finance topic that you need to learn about, you’ll find it here.
Who is this book a great option for? If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s and just getting started learning about personal finance, it’s an excellent choice. Or, if you have a friend/co-worker/family member who’s on the young side and looking to learn the basics, I’d highly recommend this as an option.
It’s not a great option for those of us in our 20’s and 30’s who’ve already read a number of personal finance and investing books, or who are well on the path to financial independence. If this describes you, then read on for a brief overview of the chapters. If one of the chapters covers a topic you want to learn more about, pick it up from the library and give it a read.
The chapters (not counting Chapter 1, which is a Cliffs-notes type summary) are:
- Taking Stock of Your Financial Life – Covers goal setting, tracking your spending, and financial organization
- Dealing with Debt – Credit cards, student loans, car loans, credit scores, identity theft, and bankruptcy are covered here
- Basic Banking – How to find a good bank, and whether to do joint or separate accounts
- All You Really Need To Know About Investing – Pointers for new investors, and good explanations of all the basic financial instruments (money market funds, stocks, bonds). Also covers financial advisors
- Living the Good Life in 2070 – Saving for retirement, including overviews of 401ks, IRA’s and options for the self-employed
- Oh, Give Me a Home – Buying vs. renting, qualifying/shopping for a mortgage, and the costs of home ownership
- Insurance: What You Need and What You Don’t – An overview of all the key types of insurance (health, car, disability, home, life, and types you don’t need
- How to Make Your Life Less Taxing – Tax basics, tax rates, tax filing, self-employed tax options
- Making the Most of Military Benefits – Educational benefits, financial assistance with your home, paying off debt, family support, and so on
There are a few interesting stories sprinkled here and there, but not many. Instead, this book is mostly a factual presentation of everything you need to know about money. That’s what makes it an excellent choice for someone who’s really looking to learn everything they can about personal finance, when they don’t have a background in the subject.
Given that it’s 300 plus pages of small type, packed with information, it’s not a good option for everyone. In my opinion, it’s best as a recommendation for someone that enjoys reading non-fiction books to really learn the subject – they don’t need a lot of “fun” and “fluff”. If you know a person who’s looking to learn about personal finance but they learn better by reading a simpler book, or one more full of stories, I’d recommend one of David Bach’s or Dave Ramsey’s instead.
Get A Financial Life – Or Ruin It
For some reason the title of Beth’s book reminded me of a different book that I own (first purchased many years ago) from Ben Stein. Yes, the same Ben Stein from Ferris Buellers Day Off. It was called “How To Ruin Your Financial Life“, and it’s hilarious.
That book is a series of very short chapters that tell you all about how to ruin your financial life, told in an extremely dry sarcastic manner. With chapters like “Don’t Bother To Learn Anything At All About Investing” and “Save Money Only When You Feel Like It, And If You Don’t Feel Like Saving, Then Don’t!” it’s chock full of terrible advice written in a way that will make you laugh.
So if you happen to see that book at the library, I’d recommend reading through it even if you’ve read tons of personal finance books in the past. If you enjoy dry, sarcastic humor poking fun at most peoples attitudes towards money, you’ll love it.
Upon reflection, this book probably came to mind because of one of one of Stein’s other books – Yes, You Can Get a Financial Life, co-written with Phil DeMuth. The titles are very similar, as are the topics covered.
I Want To Hear From You!
Let’s say that you have a friend, co-worker, or family member in their 20’s or 30’s who asks you for recommendations on an excellent book to give them a basic personal finance overview. They don’t know a lot about the subject, having never paid attention to their financial situation before. What book would you recommend to that person as the best place to start?
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