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Morningstar's 30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances Hardcover – January 7, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“This book isn't one that requires you to read it all the way through, as the author freely admits. But if you have a question about retirement plans, emergency funds, 529 plans or the right stock/bond mix, among many other subjects, it's a fine financial road map. Benz's conversational, straightforward make this a pleasant and very useful read.”
—Associated Press, January 2010

From the Inside Flap

Today's investor faces money challenges that were unimaginable just a few short years ago. How can you meet the demands of housing, college savings, retirement, and other financial goals without spending all of your spare time focused on them?

Christine Benz, Director of Personal Finance for Morningstar, gives you the tools for tackling your money challenges with this practical guide. Morningstar's 30-Minute Money Solutions provides investors at all life stages with an effective road map to getting their financial affairs in order by breaking the process down into short, manageable 30-Minute steps. To keep your finances on track, you'll also receive access to an exclusive Web site where you can download worksheets, use financial calculators, find additional money-related articles, and view up-to-date lists of the best investments for your portfolio.

Written in a straightforward and easy-to-follow style, this reliable resource:

  • Lays out the tools to get organized, including setting up a system for tracking your money and important financial documents, setting financial goals, and developing a budget and financial plan

  • Shows you how to match the right investments to your goals—whether you're making your first investment or have an established portfolio of securities—using time-tested investment strategies and Morningstar insights

  • Coaches you on how to tend to other important financial tasks, such as estate planning and managing taxes

Read Morningstar's 30-Minute Money Solutions in its entirety for a comprehensive money plan, or read select chapters to meet specific challenges, such as saving for college or reviving an ailing retirement plan. It's the ideal money guide for both new and experienced investors from the most trusted name in investment research, Morningstar.


Three Ways to Simplify Your Investing Life
Author Christine Benz shares guidelines for setting up a minimalist portfolio that you can really count on [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470481579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470481578
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Christine is Morningstar's Director of Personal Finance, a position she has held since early 2008. In that capacity, she writes and edits a monthly newsletter, Practical Finance, which advises do-it-yourself investors on every aspect of the financial-planning process. She also writes a weekly column, "Improving Your Finances," on, and was the creator of Morningstar's "The Short Answer" column, which is geared toward investors just starting out. She is widely quoted in the media, including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and MarketWatch, and has been a frequent guest on CNBC, PBS' Nightly Business Report, and Fox Business News.

Since joining Morningstar in 1993, Christine has been a central part of Morningstar's effort to deliver quality financial investment information to Morningstar's 6 million-plus clients. As an analyst and editor, she has served as Morningstar's director of mutual fund analysis. Prior to assuming that position, she was editor of Morningstar Mutual Funds and Morningstar FundInvestor. Christine co-authored the company's first book, "The Morningstar® Guide to Mutual Funds: 5-Star Strategies for Success," a national bestseller published by John Wiley & Sons in 2003, and was the lead author of the book's second edition, which was published in 2005. Christine's newest book, "Morningstar's 30-Minute Money Solutions," which provides readers with the necessary guidance in tackling money challenges and building a comprehensive financial plan in easy-to-manage increments, is set to be released by John Wiley & Sons in January 2010.

Christine holds a bachelor's degree in political science and Russian/East European studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg. She is an avid cook, a political junkie, and a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
A great read to learn about personal financial planning skills.
Matt Michaels
I bought a copy of this book for both my kids while they were in college.
M. Brown
In short, this will be a very helpful book for many individuals.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 67 people found the following review helpful By AdamSmythe on December 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well-written and practical book, as I hope to describe. Morningstar is a reasonably well-known and well-regarded investment research firm, and the author, Christine Benz, is Morningstar's Director of Personal Finance. Benz rose rather quickly through Morningstar's analyst ranks--she eventually became the director of all Morningstar's mutual fund analysts--and she would have had a crack at a top corporate job, had she not decided to work in the area she loves best, financial planning.

The "30-minute" part of the title does not mean that you can read this book in 30 minutes or that you can build a personal financial plan in that short a time, either. The book is divided into 11 parts, and each part has several chapters that are oriented to help you accomplish specific goals in 30 minutes. So, the book's title might have been "36 Chapters of 30-Minute Discussions about Financial Planning." But that doesn't grab me very well.

If you have a particularly complex financial situation, this book isn't going to solve all your problems. Indeed, it won't tell you everything you could possibly know about a number of financial topics. (If it claimed to cover everything completely, I'd be very suspicious.) However, it will help a large majority of the public. A key attribute of the book is that it breaks down the financial planning process into manageable, doable steps. You can make a list of the steps relevant to your situation, check them off one at a time, and move on. Here is how the book is organized:

Part One: Find Your Baseline. (1) Calculate your net worth, (2) See where your money goes, (3) Set your financial goals, and (4) Create a budget.

Part Two: Get Organized.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Akamai22 on March 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a retired banker and I get asked financial management questions a lot, and I was looking for the perfect book for someone who is starting to manage their financial affairs. Not just young people, but people who have no financial training, such as new widows or divorcees or those worried about retirement planning...... or engineers or liberal arts majors.

Woody Allen famously said "80 percent of success is just showing up" and there's a lot of wisdom in that thought. This book is basic, but learning/doing the basics of financial planning will put you ahead of 80% of the population. And it will point out the things that are really critical that you need to focus on. You can polish your skills to a higher level later.... just make a commitment to cover the basics as she shows you and you'll be well ahead of your peers... and you'll probably sleep better.

The pluses with this book start with the fact that it assumes NOTHING, and the breadth of subjects covered is impressive. She has also done a good job of breaking a possibly daunting project into 25 tasks of 30 minutes each. It is also reasonable to skip over things you know and just go to the things you want to learn as chapters more or less stand alone. Christine is one of my favorite columnists and she writes in a VERY approachable style unlike many financial gurus.

Why 4 stars and not 5? First, the "30 minutes" in the title starts AFTER you have assembled the necessary records and paperwork for each task. In my experience very few people have the necessary paperwork readily available - or even available at all - so you may have to do a lot of background work before the 30-minute task is possible.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. D. white on April 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Based on the reviews I was expecting advice which I hadn't seen before in my financial education. The advice in this book was ok, but very basic and I didn't learn anything striking....there were no "moments of illumination". This is a good book for someone with no financial knowledge who is just starting out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Potter on February 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book 5 stars because it is the best book I have found that covers financial planning from a strategic point of view. Still, it is far from perfect. On the plus side: Everything else I have found only cover one or two narrow topics in finance. Most books are focused on investing only. And most books are written primarily to acquire clients not to advise. Most books have strong biases toward specific strategies. This book is much broader. It covers a broad range of financial topics that affect everyone of us. And it most cases, it explains alternative strategies and philosophies that are commonly taken by different advisors.

On the other hand: The title promise that it takes 30 minutes to do each step is hogwash. The some of the important steps will take hours. (Examples include expense tracking and budget development) The again, many steps only apply to a few people. Most people can skip many of those steps. The websites referenced in the book no longer work. I managed to find .pdf copies of some of the forms and found alternative calculators elsewhere. This is a shame since the forms help a lot and other calculators often make very different assumptions. A few important ideas are only mentioned (example the bucket strategy) and not explained. It is easy to miss key points in many cases. Sometimes I didn't realize how important an idea was until it was referenced in a different section of the book. To get the most out of this book, I suggest it be read like a text book. Every idea not fully understood should be researched separately.

Yet it is still the most complete book I have found. It has helped me to develop a complete financial plan. I have given copies to my kids who are in their 20s. I wish I had it when I was their age. I believe it can make their futures far more secure (if they read it).
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