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Your Money Milestones: A Guide to Making the 9 Most Important Financial Decisions of Your Life Paperback – January 17, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Admitting that he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the latest economic downturn by doing everything exactly right, Milevsky (Are You a Stock or a Bond?) revises personal finance planning now that all the received wisdom is out the window. He introduces readers to a simpler model employing basic arithmetic: assessing the value of assets (addition), allotting funds for future liabilities (subtraction), planning for even spending over time (division), and preparing for unanticipated occurrences (multiplication). He examines the nine major money milestones including paying off student loans, having children, purchasing a home, and retiring—with a decidedly contrarian twist: he insists that most people should not purchase a home until they are in their 50s or 60s, when they have unlocked most of their labor or human capital and converted it into financial capital. With helpful chapter summaries and designed for readers to pick and choose which chapters are most germane to their current stage of life, this is a comprehensive and readable introduction to wealth management. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


800 CEO Read Bestseller, March 2010.


Recommended in "5 Money Books Worth Every Penny," by Liz Pulliam Weston, MSN Money .


"Your Money Milestones refutes mainstream financial rules." USA Today , March 12, 2010.




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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (January 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137029101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137029105
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,000,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The premise of this book is that understanding the larger context of a decision will help you make better decisions.

It considers each financial decision within the broader context of a person's life journey ... a journey that it characterizes as being all about converting potential human capital (your ability to earn) into actual financial capital (the fruits of your revenue generating efforts).

At the start of your journey, you are rich in potential, with all your finances tied up in your abilities (the analogy used is of an oil well). In a very shallow way, your progress through life can then be viewed as the process of converting your potential human capital into actual dollars and cents.

To make its case, it relies on two key principles - that of a 'holistic' balance sheet and that of 'income smoothing'.

The idea of a holistic balance sheet is one that considers not just your measurable assets and liabilities, but also a measure of your earning potential (your "human capital"). The idea behind "smoothing" assumes that you could use a combination of debt and earnings to even out your income as well as your expenditures for each year that you live.

What worked for me:

The book provides a very clear reasoning as to why education is key, and how different career choices can have very different impacts on your earning potential. Needless to say, this was a chapter that I read together with my son. Obviously, while financial payoff is not the only criterion in the selection of a career, its still important for kids to learn how this choice has long term implications.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unlike many authors who write self help books, Milevsky is a university professor, not an advisor. As a result, this book, heavily influenced by the behaviorist school of economic thought, takes a very different tact when it comes to approaching important financial issues (milestones) in your life. Milevsky's most important contribution is to insist that one add "human" capital to any balance sheet of assets and liabilities. Such balance sheets are a common tool among advisors, but people often fail to include their most valuable asset: themselves. Doing so radically changes one's approach to financial issues.

Consider for example the issue of debt. Americans are heavily in debt, though less so in the wake of the recent financial crisis (savings rate are actually up from negative numbers to around 6%). Is this debt healthy? Most people who offer financial advice, including myself, would say no. Mortgages are a conspicuous exception. But Milevsky modifies these assumptions with two important points. The first is, when you assume the debt is at least as important as how you assume it, and second, the sources of the debt are equally important. Even consumer debt, the big no no of financial advisors is Ok, provided you take it in moderation and early in life. What you are effectively doing, the author suggests, is moderating your consumption over your life. Your future earnings are likely to be higher and you are trading some of those earnings for a slightly higher standard of living today.
On the other hand, debt when you are older is quite dangerous.

A number of interesting points follow from this analysis. First, student loans, which represent a large burden, should be viewed as an investment in human capital. (Invest wisely.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I usually enjoy reading books on finances and financial decisions and thought this particular entry into that niche looked very interesting. To cut straight to the bottom line - I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. It wasn't a waste of time for me, but I didn't get out of it nearly as much as I had hoped. The subtitle is "A guide to making the 9 most important financial decision of your life" and the blubs on the back talk about this being a "practical roadmap to a financially sound future". That's what I was expecting, but that's not what I got.

On the plus side, this is a more holistic view of financial decisions than many other published books provide. Really thinking about your income stream over the course of your lifetime and thinking about smoothing things out rather than looking at your earning years separate from your retirement years was very helpful. I also thought the author did take on the sacred cow of homeownership (sort of) as not necessarily being the absolute right answer. I have actually done the math and by the time you pay property taxes, maintenance, and repairs, plus and remodeling or update necessary prior to sale, homeownership isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. He talks about renting may be a better solution for many people, but doesn't do very well at explaining much about the costs of ownership including is mowing the grass or repairing the toilet how you want to spend your weekends (and your life energy).
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