Looking for an inexpensive ($14) and user friendly personal finance book? If so, 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Personal Finances fits the bill. Organized into nine chapters, the book includes 50 subchapters, which are the descriptions of 50 suggested steps to get your finances in order.
The first chapter, Starting Out, contains six steps including: creating a personal finance space, throwing away unnecessary papers, using computerized record-keeping tools, calculating net worth, and writing specific financial goals. The author, Ilyce Glink (a Chicago financial journalist), also recommends taking a "day of reckoning" by devoting uninterrupted time to organizing financial records.
The second chapter, Budgets and Savings, contains seven financial tips. Glink provides a list of 10 specific ways to reduce expenses and adds up the cost of common daily habits (e.g., smoking and lottery tickets). In a twist on the popular "pay yourself first" phrase, she also urges readers to pay themselves first - and last. In other words, transfer any unspent funds at the end of the month from checking to savings.
Chapter 3, Credit, Credit Reports, and Debt, has five subsections. Glink cautions readers about debit cards (they offer few credit card protections such as a maximum $50 loss and "float" time for new purchases) and high-cost "affinity" credit cards (an airline credit card that has a $75 annual fee and it takes three years ($225) to earn a "free" trip).
In Chapter 4, Investing Yourself in Your Investments, there are six simple things that are explained: open a brokerage account, take enough risk, choose investments you understand ("don't invest in anything you can't explain to a ten-year old"), don't take hot tips from a cold call, don't put all your eggs in one basket, and take responsibility for your investments.
Chapter 5, Big Purchases: Cars, Homes, College Tuition, and Weddings, focuses on high-cost financial goals. Glink discourages auto leasing and notes "if you buy a new car and keep it ten years, studies have shown that you'll be thousands of dollars richer in retirement."
Chapter 6, The Ins and Outs of Insurance, encourages readers to purchase enough term life insurance "to give your loved ones enough cash to continue to live at least as well as they are doing now." The costs of property insurance at different deductible levels should also be explored, according to Glink, and property insurance consolidated with one insurance company.
Taxing Taxes, Chapter 7, suggests that readers do their own taxes at least once, both for the insights that it provides as well as the cost savings. Computer software can be purchased as a resource. Readers are urged to start early to leave enough time to get help, if needed.
In the eighth chapter, Marriage, Partnership, and Children, Glink advises hiring children (or a spouse) "to do a real job for your home-based business." Starting at age 10, savings of just $1,200 per year, averaging a 10% return, would grow to nearly $1.4 million at age 60 from a contribution of $60,000 ($1,200 x 50). Two other suggestions by Glink were: talking about finances with family members and giving "significant gifts." She notes that significant gifts need not be expensive (although many are) but they are always treasured and remembered.
Chapter 9 is titled Planning For Your Retirement. Readers are urged to start a Roth IRA, take full advantage of matched employer savings programs, avoid borrowing from retirement savings accounts, and consider starting a part-time home-based business for extra income and tax deductions.