Customer Reviews: Personal Finance For Dummies
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on June 3, 2000
When I bought the first edition of this book, I was a poor post-graduate loaded with bad debt. At the time, I knew nothing about CD's, funds, stocks, bonds, insurance, 401(k)'s, home-buying, budgeting, saving, debt-reduction, taxes, or any other basic issues of personal finance. All I knew is that I never could seem to "get ahead" financially. Tyson's book led me from this sorry state through four years of self-education and growing self-confidence about controlling my own financial future. Even now, debt-free and market-positioned, I still reference this book when I encounter a new facet of my financial life.
No "get-rich-quick" scheme, Tyson lays out a solid framework for anyone interested in getting and maintaining control of their own financial situation throughout a lifetime. The ideas he lays out help a person not only educate him/herself concerning money, but also instill confidence that a financial situation can be corrected or controlled personally.
Although this book would serve as a valuable reference to ANYONE interested in their own financial future, it would especially be useful to a young person just "starting out" or to any person who feels overwhelmed by their own financial situation.
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on February 24, 2001
This book is the financial equivalent of a weight loss book that rejects fad diets and instead advises you to stick to the fundamentals, such as getting regular exercise and eating more lean foods like fruits and vegetables. In this book, Tyson lays out the basics of personal finance, namely, eliminate "bad" debt, reduce frivolous spending, invest wisely, and start saving for future expenses such as retirement, home ownership, and children's education. He has no agenda to push, so he is free to warn his readers of the risks of taking investment advice from those who do. And it is written in a clear style that is easily understood by even the least financially savvy reader.
Of course, some of his advice will meet with resistance in consumer happy America. For instance, he recommends never buying consumer items such as cars on credit, because the car itself (unlike a house) has no investment potential, and the interest you are paying on the loan is not going to further your own long term financial health. In theory, this makes perfect sense, but in practice, most people simply cannot afford to buy their first car with cash (not if they want a new one) and a used car can be a maintenance nightmare if the previous owner didn't take care of it properly. Other advice is questionable, such as buying your groceries only at "club" stores like Sam's Club. Well, that's nice if you're feeding an army, but most young, single people don't want to buy their peanut butter by the barrel and lug these huge packages up several flights of stairs to their apartments, and will gladly pay a bit more for the convenience of getting goods in quantities they can actually use.
But these minor nitpicks aside, this is a fine introductory work. There are so many books out there on investing and personal finance, and it is a relief to find one that sticks to basic, common sense fundamentals instead of trying to entice you into the latest investment fad. In short, this is a terrific place to start for a person who wants to get started on the path to smart long term money management.
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on September 23, 2002
When I entered the real world fresh out of graduate school, my financial situation was not too healthy, which most new graduates can empathize with. After overcoming the horror of my overwhelming debt, I started reading books on personal finance (a great hobby that is not expensive if you use libraries and friends). Personal Finance for Dummies was a very refreshing, practical book on personal finances. Unlike most books, it gave a lot of necessary PRACTICAL DETAILS in an EASY TO READ fashion. And it was not full of bogus get-rich-quick schemes or attempts to sell a plethora of expensive get-rich-quick products that you "need." If you want down to earth advice, read this book.
The money it took to buy this book and the time it took to read this book were the two best investments I ever made! Two years later, I have investments, and I am almost debt-free. It took a lot of work and a lot more discipline. But without this book, I probably would not have come as far as fast.
Good luck! Jason
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VINE VOICEon February 28, 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm coming at this book from a somewhat unique perspective. I recently read the same author's Personal Finance in Your 20s For Dummies. In fact, Mr. Tyson has written a range of finance-related "For Dummies" books.

I'm not saying this book is bad; far from it. It contains a plethora of pertinent, practical information. However, after finishing a read-through, it felt like I had already read about 75% of the information before.

If you are looking into a book to make personal finance easier to grasp, this is it. However, if you have already read one of Tyson's other books, be forewarned that you will be treading over much of the same ground.
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on April 22, 2001
Personal finance is a subject rarely taught in schools, and so it's understandable that many may be uncomfortable when they have to face their financial situations. This book is for those people who feel as though they don't have control over their money and financial goals, and don't know where to turn to in order to get that control. There are many other books out there, mainly motivational, that prey on such readers, but they hardly give any practical or useful advice. Rather, they tell you what you already know intuitively, and make you think that you're hearing it for the first time. You don't gain any more understanding, and you don't change your bad habits.
Eric Tyson helps you to learn about ways to save, invest, and buy insurance. He doesn't fluff up the book with lame, tangential stories. He doesn't try to sound profound when speaking simple truths. He sounds more like a teacher who is just trying to explain the basics of sound financial behavior. If you know a lot about personal finance, there may not be much that is new here; it's a "dummies" book after all. But all the advice is well grounded and he explains it well. Of course, some people will disagree with some things. Perhaps you don't want to invest in mutual funds (which he enthusiastically recommends) and would rather play the market by researching individual companies on their own or day trading according to message board tips. But to advise that would be ridiculous. For all the time and hassle involved, the average person may not realize any returns doing that. For the average person, mutual funds are a very good way of earning healthy returns in the long run, without much effort.
I found his chapters on retirement accounts and insurance to be most helpful, but only because I didn't know much about the topics. He doesn't get too in-depth, understandably, but he covers the topics with enough detail to enlighten a financial dummy into acting wisely. I highly recommend this book to those who want to learn safe and conservative ways to handle their money and want to gain a clear understanding of how to evaluate their own financial health. It's a good place to start, but don't stop your financial education here. Keep reading! And even if you do think you know everything, skimming through this at the library might still be useful.
I'm reviewing the 2nd edition, by the way. The 3rd edition appears to have about 70 more pages, and I'm looking forward to reading it soon.
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on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Personal Finance for Dummies seemingly begins well and like all other books in the Dummies series, it reads easily. The book consists of twenty-two (22) chapters organized into six (6) parts, with a glossary of key terms and an index. Also, like other Dummies books, it has an abbreviated and an extended table of contents, allowing the reader to partake in the book's contents out-of-sequence and to focus solely on the topics of interest.

The book contained just enough good points to leave intrepid readers that finish it with the impression, beyond the impressive heft of the text (it has some 460 pages), that they got something for their precious time and valuable money. Readers new to the topic of personal finance, the target audience of the book, will benefit to a limited extent from its contents. Old hands to the topic, however, will find the book's length daunting, its execution frustrating and the content problematic.

Still, the book did possess a few notable merits, particularly its wholehearted encouragement to the reader to 1) investigate all financial products and information before making a decision and 2) develop a healthy skepticism towards financial information. For this the book deserves high praise.

However, these two merits failed to overcome the book's principal demerits, which include, among other things, too much self-promotion, a preachy tone, too many ill-conceived biases and poorly considered advice based on flawed assumptions. The book generally fails as a personal financial guide because of a number of dubious assumptions- some explicit, but many implicit- that the author makes throughout the text. The book also fails because the author chose to use it more as a promotional platform for his website and his previous books in the Dummies series (he's written several on various sub-topics of personal finance), and less as an informative guide to all things having to do with personal finance.

This latter point warrants more elaboration, as there were many instances when reading the book that a particular topic, such as protecting oneself from identity theft (chapter 22), piqued my interest; yet, the author either fails to provide specifics beyond a few general comments, or he simply inserts a direct reference to his website or a book (more often than not, one that he wrote) for more information. I became very interested in obtaining a `credit freeze' after reading his description of the product, but Tyson failed to reveal specifics- in particular, which states offer it (either to fraud victims or to those careful consumers seeking to restrict access to their credit file), what to do and where to go to get it.

This also raises another bone of contention with the book. Although the book did provide a fair share of good, solid general advice, it also lacked specifics on practical implementation. A few examples will suffice to demonstrate this principal demerit. The author exhorts readers to live below their means and to be frugal. However, he shares no practical steps, beyond getting warehouse club memberships, as to how to go about doing it. I found this a glaring omission, given all of the interest in and proliferation of coupon websites, books on frugal living and price comparison websites- just three of several ways to save money. Nor does he offer any useful references on this. He also tells readers to seek out ways to become more of a valued employee at work. Apart from the potentially erroneous assumption that employers value the individual contributions of all workers (this recession seems to strongly indicate otherwise!), he does not share any practical specifics on how to do this, either. This is yet another omission, given that there is now a plethora of online learning and training venues where one can learn valuable information and pick up useful (and potentially transferable) skills, such as edX and Coursera, among others. Tyson also tells the reader to explore turning a hobby into a side business venture, or even a full-time, paid pursuit in place of a day-job. Yet again, he offers no specific advice on just how to go about doing this. Tyson also talks about dividend reinvestment plans for stocks, again in very general terms, but then does not offer any sources for further information, no lists of stocks that have such plans, and no list of books (and there are several, such as All About DRIPs and DSPs,All About Dividend Investing, Second Edition (All About Series), and The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Direct Stock Investing ) or websites that tell you which stocks offer these plans, provide plan details and how to enroll. These examples clearly indicate that the book would have benefitted from a detailed, comprehensive resources section at the end, either as a standalone chapter, or as a series of appendices.

Overall, the book makes for an unsatisfactory introduction to the topic of personal finance. It also came across as a bit behind the times, or rather more to the point, not fully in step and completely cognizant of the troubling and desperate times that many of us now face. For a book aiming to be topical and relevant, making no mention of those things that seemingly dovetail with the author's stated biases, such as couponing, bartering for goods and services, renting assets on a time-use basis as opposed to owning them and buying used, seems to me like Tyson fell off the economic radar for the last five years, given the global recession and US housing debacle and whatnot (it also occurred to me that he recycled material from the other six editions of this tome without bothering to update it much). This book could have benefited from the inclusion of one or more appendices that provided useful resources, from books to websites, as well as contact information for things like the credit bureaus mentioned in Part One, the various consumer protection agencies at the state and federal level, useful forms and form letters to use when dealing with creditors or settling disputes with creditors, among other things. This alone would have done much to elevate the book's value to something close to its exorbitant asking price. I suggest that readers interested on the topic of personal finance take a pass on this book and instead pick up either The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness or The Total Money Makeover Workbook or the most recent (and age-relevant) edition of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Personal Finace.
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on July 22, 2003
I recommend this book very highly to just about everyone. This is a down to earth guide to getting your personal finances into tip-top shape. No hype here. Just honest to goodness advice that took me from a hand-to-mouth existence and debt up to my eyeballs, to nearly no debt (just mortgage), money in the bank, and investments, plus nearly a paid-off home, all within about 5 years. Anyone willing to hold down a job and follow the common-sense advice in this book, should have no problems achieving similar goals. I should point out that this book is NOT about any "get-rich-quick" schemes, but about down to earth long-term investing, and money/finance management.
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on June 21, 2011
The Kindle edition is basically an advertisement for the real book. You won't be buying anything more than a glorified sampler. The actual paperback edition looks more comprehensive, while the Kindle edition is over almost as soon as you start reading it and the information contained within is mostly common sense. Pay the extra few dollars for the physical copy.
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on December 26, 2012
The advice was overall good, but I was expecting more detail. For instance, in the saving in retirement accounts section, the advice is so basic that it is even less useful than a Wikipedia definition. It quickly summarizes only some of the rules and leaves the reader confused. In discussing ETFs and mutual funds, it would be helpful if the author highlighted certain funds. Yes, that would entail some risk for the author, but the book was purchased to gain some insight and value out of it. The advice rarely ventures beyond the generic.

It's almost like the book was written to tempt us to go and purchase a subscription to the author's website which is mentioned repeatedly. Ironically, the author criticizes various for cost subscriptions, but does not hesitate in promoting his own subscription based website.
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on October 3, 2000
This is one of those book that people ought to read if they want to get a better understanding of their financial situation and consequently taking control of their lives.. rather than giving control to credit card companies.
This book is written in a clear style and does a lot of explaining about all the financial concepts and terminology a lay person need to know. There aren't any get rich quick schemes in this book.
If you are serious about getting control of your finances, you probably know by now that it all starts with getting rid of high interest paying credit card debts. This book tells you how to save and plan so that you can pay off that debt and only then invest in a true sense.
It covers all of you investment options such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement funds and DRIP/DSP etc. A must read along with the Motley Fool books on this subject matter.
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