Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book Review: Surviving Financial Meltdown

I requested this book hoping it would give me some ideas about how to increase the value of my decimated 401(k). Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately since chances are if it had the "answer" it would be huckster trying to sell me something that would do more for his 401(k) than mine) it did not. It was a very basic book on financial planning. They give four principals of financial planning: Think long-term with goals and investing, spend less than you earn, maintain liquidity or emergency savings and minimize the use of debt. While they talk about them and give scripture quotes that support the ideas behind them, they really don't get into much nitty-gritty. Their basic thesis is what my parents taught us years ago--you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, but if you save your money you'll be in a lot better position to deal with it than if you don't.

To me the book was very simplistic and basically asked me to do what my husbank and I did years ago. As a result, we are set to be debt-free (mortgage and all) by the end of the year on an income that while adequate, by no means puts us in the high-income bracket. I was at the mall today and bought a skirt, a pair of pants and a shirt for me, and two sweatshirts and a collection of toys for my little one and spent less than half the money that a purse I saw cost. I have some of my co-workers with that brand of purse. Those same co-workers talk of car payments, credit card debt and never having any money. To me it is so simple--and the book admits that understanding the principals is simple--it is following them that is hard. One piece of good advice they gave was that both partners in a marriage need to agree on investments. If the one who wants to make the investment can't explain it to the other in such a manner that she (because usually it is the husband who wants to make the investment)agrees that it is a good idea, then they are better off not making that investment. Single people, the authors state, should have someone with whom they discuss finances in the same way.

At the end of the book is a collection of money-saving ideas that I'd classify as tried and trues.

If you are someone who just can't ever get ahead, despite making good money, and you are motivated to make the necessary changes, this may be the book for you. I guess it's like weight loss--when it comes right down to it, those of us who are overweight don't really need another book on how to lose weight, we need to do what all the sensible ones tell us to do.

First Wildcard will tour this book February 20. Check back then to read the first chapter.

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