Book Review – The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s Book


There are more than a few books out there that attempt to explain complex (or seemingly complex, at least) issues in a way that is easily understandable. From the ‘For Dummies‘ series to the ‘Complete Idiots’ Guide‘ series, there are quite a few books out there that attempt to break everything from computer programming to organic chemistry down into simple to understand points. (While implying that all their readers are not the most intelligent around, it seems.)

Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s and 30s Book is in much the same vein, attempting to simplify the often complex issue of how to manage your money. From creating a budget to managing your investments, this book attempts to cover all of your financial issues. Does it give you useful, highly helpful hints, or nothing worthwhile? Let’s read on to find out!

Summary

The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s Book opens with several chapters covering the basics of personal finance. The first chapter covers how to get your financial goals in order, from checking on your current assets and liabilities to making your financial goals for the future. Chapter two looks at how to create, and stick with, a budget to get your finances under control. In case you need further help getting your money plan in order, the third chapter covers how to get started saving, looking at how inflation and compound interest will affect your savings over time. Chapter four rounds out the process of initially getting your finances under control, introducing banking and the issues that arise when banking, including how to balance your checkbook.

The next section looks at credit cards, and how to handle the issues that arise with credit cards. Chapter five covers the basics of credit card usage and how to choose the right card for you. The sixth chapter tells how to get out of credit card debt for anyone already in debt (quite likely for those in their twenties or thirties). For all the other issues involved in good credit card usage, there is chapter seven, which focuses heavily on bankruptcy, and how to handle it if you face it.

The next two chapters cover two issues also likely to face people just getting their start in the world, handling student loans and handling a job. Chapter eight looks closer at student loans, covering the numerous types of students loans that you might have and how to prevent default. The ninth chapter looks at working, from how to choose a job to how to ask for a raise to handling a job loss.

On the subject of issues affecting those in their twenties and thirties, the next several chapters cover getting a home and a car. Chapter ten looks at how to find a new place to live right out out of college, mainly looking at how to find an apartment and pay your rent each month. The eleventh chapter covers how to buy a house, looking at some of the issues involved in initially getting a mortgage and otherwise getting your finances under control. Continuing in that same vein, chapter twelve covers how to handle having a mortgage, including handling a foreclosure. Chapter thirteen is where cars are covered, with every method of getting a car from buying used to leasing a new car discussed.

The next part of the book discusses how to handle your finances with your significant other. Chapter fourteen discusses dealing with marriage and children, from how to have one parent stay at home to how to handle divorce (if, knock on wood, you have to face that). On the subject of non-married life, chapter fifteen looks at how to handle similar issues as an unmarried couple, from mingling your assets to getting a nonmarital agreement.

The next chapters in the book cover how to manage your taxes and investments, to maximize your net worth as you get older. It starts in chapter sixteen by providing information on keeping your taxes to a minimum, explaining how to take advantage of deductions and saving on your tax preparation services. The seventeenth chapter introduces the basics of investing, covering stocks, bonds, and several alternative investments, and showing how to build a portfolio out of them. Chapter eighteen starts to cover retirement planning, showing how keeping many of your investments in tax-advantaged plans can help ensure that you wind up with a sizable amount of money upon retirement.

The last two chapters cover a few of those financial issues that most twenty- or thirty-somethings would rather not think of, mainly dealing with problems in life. Chapter nineteen looks at insurance, covering some of the most vital types (health, life, homeowners’, renters’, disability, and car insurance) and some of the finer details of each. Chapter twenty discusses how to start planning your estate, a task most young people have given little thought, mainly covering some of the details of writing out a will. The book finishes off with a glossary that explains some of the terms used throughout, and a rather long listing of internet resources covering every topic discussed.

Pros

The Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s Book provides plenty of basic information in a variety of personal finance related areas. Most topics are broken down into easy-to-understand segments, without much complexity to handle as you read through. The books covers a range of topics, many of which the target audience might not have even considered before reading, all of which are important for good personal finance planning.

Cons

In attempting to cover ‘everything’ a young person could need to know about money management, there’s not a lot of depth on any particular subject. Most of the subjects included need much more material to be truly covered. Some of the advice is also questionable, including the possibility of leasing a car (never a good idea; buying (preferably used) is a much better option) and some of the investment suggestions (the ‘conservative’ portfolio given has nearly 80% of the invested money in bonds and cash equivalents, far too low an amount in stocks for even someone near forty to hold), for a few examples.

Overall

Everything Personal Finance in Your 20s and 30s Book could be a decent book from someone absolutely new to managing his or her finances on their own (at least with the proper warnings about some of the advice contained within). For most other people, though, the advice contained within is probably old news. Most of the other material can be found in as much (if not more) depth online or most other sources of information, so you really don’t need to purchase this book.

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