Monday, November 17, 2014

Three Books on Personal Finance

Emily Chantiri. The Savvy Girl's Guide to Money: Take Charge and Get the Life You Want. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2007. 227 pages. ISBN 9781592237449.

Suze Orman. Suze Orman's Financial Guidebook: Put the 9 Steps to Work, 2nd ed. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006. 177 pages. ISBN 9780307347305.

Suze Orman. Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2007. 253 pages. ISBN 9780385519311.

Like the three books on Feng Shui that I reviewed recently, I found these three books on personal finance at the annual AAUW used book sale held in State College, PA this past May. I found all three books to offer useful advice for anyone trying to get their financial affairs in order.

The first book, Emily Chantiri's The Savvy Girl's Guide to Money: Take Charge and Get the Life You Want is clearly aimed at younger women in their 20s and early 30s. It offers good advice for figuring out where your money is going right now, and getting on track to spending wisely, saving, and planning for retirement. It's very readable and illustrates each chapter with numerous anecdotes about real women facing the same challenges as the readers might. For younger women, the most useful parts of the book are the chapters on budgeting and the use of credit cards. Least useful is the chapter on your personal money characteristics based on your horoscope.

Suze Orman's Financial Guidebook: Put the 9 Steps to Work is intended to be a companion to her The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, which I did not buy at the AAUW book sale and which I haven't read. However, she states in the preface that it is "a crash course" to that book, and can be read independently (p. v). It's really a workbook, and readers are supposed to complete all exercises before advancing to the next section. Of course, I didn't do that myself; I just wanted to plow through the book the first time, but I found it to have a lot of good advice, so I do plan to go back and work my way through the exercises. Like similar books, Ms. Orman discusses how you spend your money, how to get out of debt, and how to begin thinking about investing and retirement. She also discusses how you would start making a will or a revocable living trust, if you don't have one already, and how to think about life insurance. One of the chapters that I found most interesting had to do with being respectful of yourself and your money. Throughout the book she states a number of "laws." For example, the "Second Law of Financial Freedom" is "Power and Respect Attract Money, Powerlessness and Disrespect Repel Money" (p. 83). In this chapter she discusses spending, debt, and the shame associated with it. I believe that anyone who worked their way through this book would find themselves in much better financial shape than before.

In Women & Money, Ms. Orman covers much of the same ground as in the Financial Guidebook, but with a focus on women's issues. It's organized a little differently, with five chapters representing what's intended to be a five month-long exercise in getting your affairs in order. Again, I found this book very useful. Ms. Orman discusses budgeting, debt, investing, life insurance, retirement planning, wills, and more. Although the content is very similar to her other books, what makes this interesting is the perspective in women and their roles in the workforce and family.

All three of these books offer useful advice for anyone trying to get their finances in better shape. Even if readers just adopted a few of the suggestions in any of these books they would be better off than before. Of the three, I liked the approach taken in Suze Orman's Financial Guidebook: Put the 9 Steps to Work the best. The simple assignments that Ms. Orman prescribes would help the reader move forward to a better financial position.

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