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You are probably already familiar with Jean Chatzky if you pay attention to the world of personal finance, but for a little background she is the financial editor of NBC’s Today Show and the personal finance contributor for Prevention and Newsweek magazines. And while you’ll see her advice a lot on TV and in magazine columns, she’s also a bestselling author of five books. Her latest, which I took a look at today, is called Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security.
So, raise your hand if you’ve ever been bored to tears while reading a personal finance book. You’re not alone. There are countless financial advice books out there, and if you’ve taken the time to read any of them you can probably identify a pretty common theme. They are a few hundred pages long and try to cover every tiny detail regarding personal finance which means it almost feels like you’re reading a textbook. While these books often contain a wealth of information and really can help you improve your financial situation, a lot of it gets lost when you simply try to digest so much. That’s where Money Rules is completely different. I read a lot of personal finance books and I’ll be honest, it gets a bit tiresome reading the same information over and over again, only worded a bit differently. You certainly don’t need to worry about that with this book.
The book is small and short in length, and for good reason as it covers 94 simple to understand money rules that each fit on a single page. You don’t need an entire chapter to explain Rule 64 that states: If you can’t figure out what an investment (or financial advisor) is costing you, you’re overpaying. How short and sweet is that? Sure, you could fill dozens of pages explaining the different ways financial professionals are paid, how to compute expense ratios and management fees, mutual fund classes, and all of that, but in one simple sentence she drives the point home.
These short and sweet rules are how the entire book is laid out. Some rules are as simple as a statement, while others provide a short paragraph or two with a little background or additional information. Every page is a concise thought that will stick with you, and I think that can have more value than an entire chapter trying to cover every little detail regarding a basic concept.
Who This Book is For
There are a number of people who will enjoy this book, but I think the greatest impact will be on young people and those who are struggling to get their financial house in order. When it comes to young adults, maybe those heading off to college or just graduating college, there’s already a lot going on in their lives and trying to learn about personal finance the old way usually doesn’t work. But because this book is so easy to read with a money rule on each page it’s incredibly easy to digest the information. Many of the rules will jump out at readers and they will stick with them forever. That is powerful. I could see this book being a great gift for your teenage kids or anyone you might know in the 18-25 age range.
In addition to young adults, I think those who have, or are currently struggling financially, could really benefit from this book. For one, it’s inexpensive so there’s no excuse for not picking it up. Aside from that, this book will help those readers because many of the rules are poignant. Every single person who reads the book will come across a money rule that highlights a mistake they have made in the past, and it will resonate. Even if you don’t realize it, this can create a light bulb moment where a sense of understanding and clarity about a particular issue comes about. I think this is far more valuable to someone who is struggling than trying to wade through a long and complicated explanation. Sure, the book won’t teach you how to create a bulletproof investment portfolio, but the rules on investing will help you understand what questions to ask and point you in the right direction to get the answer.
As with any book dishing out advice, you probably won’t agree with everything, and that’s fine. Personal finance is personal for a reason and not every situation or lifestyle can be perfectly crafted into a handful of rules. But what this book does do is establish a pretty solid financial foundation of money rules to live by, and if you can follow them you’ll clearly be in a far better financial situation compared to most. Because the material is presented in such a succinct manner compared to most of the books out there today I’d have to say it’s certainly worth picking up. Even if you’re a seasoned financial pro. There are a lot of good reminders for everyone, regardless of your financial situation. I know there are a few people I plan on giving copies to this year. Pick up your copy on Amazon today.
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Filed Under: Book Reviews
About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.