Money management, consumer finance, personal financial planning, these terms are often used interchangeably. Personal finance is all about grasping the “big picture” as it pertains to our money. Our wants are seemingly infinite but unfortunately, our money is not. Personal financial planning can teach us how to effectively allocate our money (as well as our time) among competing needs and objectives, and ultimately, enhance the quality of our lives. It encompasses and influences almost every aspect of our life; borrowing, credit, budgeting and recordkeeping, debt management, education, estate planning, housing, insurance, investing, saving, spending and taxes, not to mention consumer and legal protection and wealth-building.
Finding a thoughtful, well-researched book on personal finance is not any easy task. A quick stroll into any retail bookstore reveals the multitude of books on money management. Some of these books are highly specialized, primarily written to appeal to a popular niche audience. A great number of books in the personal finance category, however, are just plain “fluff.” Flimsy, offering simplistic solutions to complex problems, overly trendy and anecdotal in nature, they make for enjoyable “weekend-end” reading but provide little or nothing in the way of any meaningful knowledge. Other types of books that crowd the shelves in the personal finance section are devoted towards wealth-building, specifically “how to get rich quick.” These types of books with provocative, attention-grabbing titles are overwhelmingly written by self-styled “experts” who are thrilled to share their unique financial insight and money-making strategies with the public. Most of these millionaire-making strategies involve “investing in commodities, buying and selling options, risky stock trading or leveraging real estate. It’s always interesting to peruse these sorts of books but, as a general guideline, your money can be put to far more productive use.
Here is a brief list of “core” books that can be an integral part of your personal finance library. A core book can serve as a comprehensive, stand-alone reference resource. It should provide a clear and accurate description or explanation of a personal finance topic. Ideally, it can serve as a starting point from which to seek out additional resources for specialized study on a given topic. One or two core books are more than sufficient. In putting together this brief list, more recent publications were selected. Older editions may be available. Although most of these books take an academic approach, they present the concepts, formulas, principles and terminology of personal finance in a thoughtful, cordial manner which can be easily understood. The material presented is far from dry and boring. Readers will find the use of “realistic” case examples to explain personal financial planning concepts helpful. These books are excellent for beginners and even fairly seasoned students of personal finance will gain fresh perspective from the thorough presentation of the subject matter and will likely pick up new concepts, formulas and terminology along the way.
Personal Finance/Financial Planning
1. Personal Finance: Planning And Implementing Your Financial Goals, Vickie L. Bajtelsmit; John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2005. A workbook edition is also available separately. Personal Finance: Skills For Life, Vickie L. Bajtelsmit; John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2005.
2. Personal Finance, E. Thomas Garman and Raymond E. Forgue; Cengage Learning, 2007.
3. Personal Finance: An Integrated Planning Approach, Ralph R. Frasca; Prentice Hall, 2008.
4. Personal Financial Literacy, Joan Ryan; Cengage Learning, 2007.
1. The Mathematics Of Personal Finance: A Complete Reference, Donald E. Lutz; iUniverse, 1999. Mathematical formulas can help us greatly to solve everyday financial planning problems and concerns.
2. Standard & Poor’s Dictionary Of Financial Terms, Virginia B. Morris and Kenneth M. Morris; Lightbulb Press Inc., (McGraw Hill) 2007.
For informational purposes only and not intended as recommendation. The writer is not affiliated with any of the authors and publishing companies.