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Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security Paperback – March 13, 2012
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About the Author
Jean Chatzky is the financial editor for NBC's Today and a columnist for Prevention. She is the author of five books, including the bestsellers Pay It Down and Make Money, Not Excuses. She lives in Westchester, NY.
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"Money Rules" was not written for us oldsters, but it was an interesting read, nonetheless. I went through Chatzky's 94 rules for life-long financial security, and was able to check off almost all of them, except for those relating to financial advisors, loaning money to relatives, and co-signing. From my perspective, Part 3 of this book, "Avoid (Most) Debt" is the section that my husband and I took most seriously while we were still working and saving up for retirement (and for a nine-month trip through Europe--saving doesn't always have to be for boring things.)
Like all of the Rodale Press books that I've read, "Money Rules" is practical and easy to read. You might be surprised at some of the rules, e.g. "#32 Your retirement trumps their tuition" but the author offers up sensible explanations for most of her rules (some of them are so obvious that they don't require explanation).
This book would make a useful graduation or wedding gift. The only rule that I would add is for married couples: both of you need to take responsibility for your finances. Otherwise, one spouse is saddled with the thankless job of restricting his or her partner's spending habits--this leads to a parent-whiny child relationship, not a marriage between equals. Both of you need to know where the money goes each month, and why a new Porsche is not in the cards.
***review copy supplied by publisher
With a 7"x5" format, the 114 page book features 94 of Chatzky's "money rules", with one page typically devoted to each rule, with an occasional second page featuring an illustration. Chatzky keeps things concise, as each tip is usually not more than a few sentences. As the number of words decreases, the height of the text typically increases. The oversized text results in a look that is in some ways similar to a book intended for young children.
Although most anyone can find something of value among the tips, it might be fair to say that those in their prime earning years, and not currently well prepared financially, might benefit the most from the fundamental advice presented. If you are already retired or nearing retirement, then much less in the book may be helpful.
Both for retirement and for addressing emergencies, Chatzky puts major emphasis on saving money, and beginning as soon as possible. In these troubling financial times, many retirees are finding their retirement savings inadequate. If one runs the numbers, being diligent about savings, can pay off significantly in the long run, so getting an early start makes a lot of sense.
While many of the "rules" are often easier said than done, the point is to understand the principles behind them, and attempt to incorporate them when possible and appropriate. Chatzky's Rule #10, "Live Below Your Means. Period." stresses another key point, staying out a debt. She also believes in paying with cash rather than credit cards, and devotes attention to your psychological state of mind, and how it can factor into your decision making process.
While the book has some good tips and prudent ideas, when you look at the actual content, the word count is extremely low. Statements are made, and in some cases, besides common sense, there is not too much to back them up, as often the discussion is a bit too general and unspecific. There's nothing wrong with Chatzky's approach, as there can certainly be beauty in simplicity, however there is a limit on how far you can go relying on just these basic principles, and she does not really get into how one obtains more specific information.
A famous saying not mentioned in this book is "It takes money, to make money". It's simple, and often quite true. If you are broke, unemployed, drowning in debt, or perhaps doing time in prison, you may have trouble applying these rules, no matter how well you may understand them.
Part 6, entitled Cover Your Assets, is described by the author as perhaps the most important of her sets of rules. And there are some serious subjects here, such as health insurance, life insurance, estate planning, and taking care of your health. While still a rather superficial treatment, it's mostly good sound advice.
Chatzky has written several other books which include some of these same points, and probably wanted to take a very streamlined approach for this one. Teens just entering the work force, or anyone who may be totally lost regarding personal finance, might find Money Rules quite helpful, as it is a quick and easy read. The book probably rates four stars for that type of person, but those seeking any specificity regarding investing, will be disappointed. The limited audience, lack of depth, along with what seems to be a rather high retail price, drop the book's rating down to three stars.