Updated on March 22, 2009
“Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties” Book Review
Written by Beth Kobliner; Published by Simon & Schuster New York
The title just reached out to me, you know? Even if it was a bit more expensive than my usual books, I got it for the simple hope that maybe, just maybe this book would be just right for me. And, yes, Get a Financial Life has been pretty handy, along with Your Money and Your Man by Michelle Singletary.
What I love about this book
- Thereâ€™s a Cheat Sheet! Chapter 1 Crib Notes breezes through the must-doâ€™s which are thoroughly covered in the eight following chapters.
- Beth touches on all important personal finance topics, making it a handy reference in my other readings.
- Beth has in one place, Chapter 2 Taking Stock of Your Financial Life, three financial rules of thumb:
- The Debt Rule: Total debt (excluding mortgage) < 20% of your annual take-home pay
- The Housing Rule: Spend <= 30% of your monthly take-home pay on rent or mortgage payments
- The Savings Rule: Save >= 10% of your take-home pay each month.
- Beth writes in a straightforward instructive way thatâ€™s not condescending. She establishes rapport straight from her words and not just by sharing anecdotes.
I look forward to her sporadic â€œI know of a couple who had to agree to water their landlordâ€™s plantsâ€¦â€ and similar anecdotes. I wish personal finance writers could compile their odd anecdotes in one place â€“ that should be entertaining!
- I like how small grey boxes scattered throughout the book help to drive the point. Some tell a story (like the horror story of Kathy and Michael who charge a Hawaii honeymoon on their credit card), summarize important points (like pros and cons of online bank accounts), or list resources (like state housing agencies). Q&A sections also break the monotony of long texts.
- My favorite chapter? All!! Okay, okay, if I really had to chooseâ€¦ Chapter 5 All You Really Need to Know About Investing and Chapter 8 Insurance: What You Need and What You Donâ€™t were easy to go through. Index funds are a good way to go. Iâ€™d disagree with her view that being single with no dependents means you donâ€™t need life insurance though because you really always have dependents â€“ whether itâ€™s your aging parents or your brothers or sisters. Someone will always need your help. Still, she explains the typical options in health care, auto, life, and disability so easily â€“ youâ€™d wonder why you were ever scared of trying to understand them.
My rants — but not due to the author
This book was written with yuppies in mind, and it did feel oh-so-right… yet… Once again, I couldnâ€™t relate with the US-specific advice, like the IRA or Fannie Mae, so I tend to just skip them. I need to convert the $ amounts to Philippine Pesos but thatâ€™s to be expected.
Overall, Get a Financial Life was a good read for meâ€”and itâ€™s one of my top 3 picks for books to carry with me just because I always have to have a book with me.
You can visit Beth Kobliner’s companion site for helpful calculators and book previews. .