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on October 19, 2008
This review is about the updated and expanded 2008 edition of Investing 101 by Kathy Kristof, nationally syndicated Personal Finance Columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

I approached this book from two perspectives, first, as a teacher (retired) of technical subject matter and, second, as a self-reliant investor (active) who is living out of his retirement funds.

View One

As a teacher, I had three objectives for students who took my courses. I expected students who completed my courses to come away with: (1) an appreciation for the discipline, (2) an understanding of the subject matter, and (3) a proficiency for putting the discipline into practice. If I were teaching Investing 101, could I realistically expect my students to achieve these same objectives with Kristof's composition as their textbook? The answer is Yes, Yes, and Yes. (And, yes, I know that Investing 101 was not written as a textbook, but please bear with me for the sake of this review.)

First, I believe my Investing 101 students will come away with a positive attitude toward the discipline of do-it-yourself investing. The FUD factor (fear, uncertainty, and doubt about private investing) is more than adequately addressed by Kristof in the first chapter of her book. I am convinced that an attitude check at the beginning of my make-believe course compared with the same attitude check at the end of the course would show that anxieties toward individual investing will be allayed because of Kristof's practical advice.

Second, I believe my students will come away with a clear comprehension of what investing is about, not only the buying and selling of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate investment trusts, but understanding these matters in relation to retirement planning and tax strategies. I believe that students who study Kristof's book and complete the paper-and-pencil assignments (worksheets spaced throughout the book) will finish this introductory investing course with enough fiscal savvy to be able to explain their financial goals, buy and sell strategies, and preferred portfolio allocations to their spouse, friends, financial adviser, and tax man.

Third, I believe my students will come away with a proficiency for setting up and maintaining investment portfolios on their own. I believe these portfolios will be wisely allocated between cash, stocks, and bonds so that principal will be protected and grow, income will be provided, and inflation will be hedged. I believe these portfolios, different for each student, will thrive in good markets and survive bad markets.

Overall, I believe my pretend students will benefit by the way Kristof's book is laid out. Each chapter is prefaced with a pedagogically sound "Quick Take" page. Kristof briefly tells the reader "What You'll Learn," "What You'll Do," and "How You'll Use This." If this were a theology book instead of a secular book, I would rename these headings as "Facts to be Believed," "Commands to be Obeyed," and "Promises to be Enjoyed."

View Two

As a self-reliant, active investor who is living out of his retirement funds, I looked for but could not find any ill-advised, slipshod action plans in this book. Kristof writes unambiguously about real financial problems and genuine investment solutions. Her explanations and illustrations are clear and to the point.

On the one hand, I found no investment topics so simple or elementary that they had no place in this book. On the other hand, I found no esoteric discussions of financial topics that were beyond a novice investor's level of appreciation, understanding, and ability.

My Favorite Chapter: I especially liked Chapter 14, "The Lazy Investor's Portfolio Planner." ("Lazy Portfolio" is a hot topic on the Internet. I got 366,000 hits with a Google search.) In this chapter, Kristof tells the reader how to take everything they've learned in Chapters 1-13 and apply it to a "hands-off" portfolio. [...]
My Favorite Kristof Quote: "Do the math."

Bottom Line: I recommend Investing 101, the 2008 updated and expanded edition, both as a tutorial for the newbie investor and as a review guide and reference manual for the intermediate investor.
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on October 22, 2008
I have just finished reviewing Investing 101. As the title implies, this book takes a detailed look at finances (personal) but more to the point it takes a look at what is a financial market and how to invest, as an individual, without, hopefully losing your shirt.

There is a handy quiz to find out just how high (or low) your tolerance to risk is and based on this, the book continues to explain all the fundamentals about investing wisely.

This book is written for a novice and the terms used are everyday and easy to understand. This book also describes the various financial terms that are used in the market and this feature was quite helpful.

While I enjoyed this book, it focused more on families and less on singles - which is something that I was interested in. Also, this book's audience definitely is novice as there is very little in the way of intermediate financial information.

This is a great book for somebody who is starting out or who needs to polish their knowledge.
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on August 31, 2010
I am a newbie when it comes to investing. Prior to reading this book, I had read The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing (great book!). I was under the impression that stocks were the main investment vehicle for those trying to maximize returns. Gee was I wrong! Investing 101 gives you a much broader view of the investing game. For those who want to know the many investment vehicles out there, this is the book to read. It covers stocks, bonds, and various types of funds (social funds, REITs, international funds, and tax-favored).

It also offers goal-oriented investing strategies. The author does a great job of explaining how to allocate assets based on your goals and the time you have to achieve them. She seperates types of goals into short, medium, and long term. She also explains types of investments to consider based on those goals: cash, income, and growth.

The book lacks in-depth discussion of each investment vehicle, but I don't think it was the author's intention to do so. Use it as an eye-opener to the several options you can put your money into. Give it a go!
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on September 10, 2012
Definitely not boring. I was expecting a rather dry, but informative read that would take quite a while to finish because of the topic. Yet, the author's style of writing actually engages you, and would engage just about anyone, young, old, poor, rich, or someone in the middle. I accidentally ended up with 2 copies and I actually did not return one, instead I have it to my boyfriend to read and he is also surprised that she was able to make a topic that to some can be painstakingly dry pretty interesting and really reach anyone who wants to know their financial options when it comes to investing. I would recommend to everyone, even those who think they don't make enough to invest.

PS- This was written by the daughter of the account holder (Steven Ross daughter, NOT Steven Ross).
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VINE VOICEon August 27, 2010
I found this book like I always find the better books on investment- by browsing the shelves at my local library. When I found this book, I recalled the author from my many days reading the LA Times business section, in which she writes a very useful column, and on that basis, even though I am well beyond the basics, decided to give her book a quick read.

Well, as luck would have it, a 'quick read' turned into three days of note-taking, with heavy emphasis on the first few chapters. Although I am far from a beginning investor, and still consider myself to be an amateur at The Grand Game, I found that this book, while pitched at the novice, actually assisted me tremendously in re-considering the investment conundrum. Kristof is right when she says that one's investments should match one's stated goals for the future. Everything begins and ends with the goals that you have for yourself, and these goals should in turn determine what sort of investments that you should consider pursuing.

Kristof is also on the money when she says that emotional spending more often than not leads to indebtedness. I believe that her best advice in the book is non-financial in that she advocates the beginner taking control over his or her future, and by extension, actively investing is one of the means by which he or she can obtain this.

That said, I did not agree with everything that she said in the book. For example, I regard her advice on diversification to be useful only to those that have a lot of money and truly do not know what they are doing. I don't think that you have to have a hand in every little thing that's out there, from stocks to bonds to real estate to commodities (like gold). Granted, I have come to this realization after having tried, as a beginning investor, to have a hand in just about everything that's out there. (Personally, I believe that most investors would do just fine with a bank account or two for liquidity and perhaps no more than a couple of dozen carefully selected stocks or in a pinch for those that are both lazy and bored by investing, a few low-cost stock and bond index funds). Still, there's much of value for the beginning investor in this book.
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on February 20, 2012
This is a great book about the emotions involved with investing. Emotions that cause people to make mistakes. By identifying these emotions, and training yourself to ignore your emotions and just follow the logics of each situation, you make good financial decisions. An excellent and entertaining read!
- Aimee Elizabeth, Author of Poverty Sucks! How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire.
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on February 2, 2009
It is a book for starters. And the objective has been reached completely. The book explains in a very "down to earth" style the different investing instruments and the risk associated with them. Obviusly it will be up to you if you invest or not, but even if you don't go with the stock market at least you will end up knowing what was the meaning of all those "strange" terms that you read in the papers and TV. I would recommend it hands down.If you are starting, or thinking about doing it, this is a "must read", it will be a good start for your "financial education".
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on May 15, 2012
Ms Kristof has written a book which provides an excellent review to begin investing. It also will give the reader a blueprint to organize your financial situation before deciding the most effective manner to invest for your needs. I have read several investing books and I would highly recommend reading this book first.
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on October 30, 2008
An excellent starting point for anyone with questions about the basics of investing. Kristof starts off with a chapter on finding the money to invest and how to change attitudes toward saving and investing. She includes tips for addressing universal problems as well as guidance on gender specific money problems ("emotional spending" for women and "competing with strangers" for men). One of the most informative parts of the book was the section in chapter 8 about "How to Read a Financial Statement." Even after years of reading those closely printed statements they can be overwhelming. Kristof tells you which sections to look at and what to look for to determine if the company is worth investing in. Chapter 14 - "The Lazy Investor's Portfolio Planner" shows you how to put all the lessons together to determine your goals and how to reach them. Simply a well written and accessable guide to taking those first steps into investing and what to do once you get there.
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on September 6, 2011
I'm an engineer who just graduated and wanted to know a little bit more about investing, so I bought this book. I'm very glad that I did. Kathy Kristof does an excellent job walking you through all your options and what you should do as a novice investor. She has chapters for stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate investment trusts. She also has chapters about taxes, diversification, and when to sell. My favorite chapter was the chapter for the lazy investor. It explains how you should invest your money with minimal effort at various stages of your life. This chapter is perfect for someone like me who is not a stock broker and does not want to spend hours pouring over financial statements trying to pick out a stock or mutual fund. The best part of Kristof's book is her writing style. She does not get overly technical, and any industry jargon is fully explained. She also gives plenty of examples in plain English that any layman investor (like me) can understand easily.

If you are an experienced investor, this book is much too introductory for you. However, if you are a beginner like me, I highly recommend it.
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