“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.

Get a Financial Life Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner

What I love about this book

  • There’s a Cheat Sheet! Chapter 1 Crib Notes breezes through the must-do’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:
    1. The Debt Rule: Total debt (excluding mortgage) < 20% of your annual take-home pay
    2. The Housing Rule: Spend <= 30% of your monthly take-home pay on rent or mortgage payments
    3. The Savings Rule: Save >= 10% of your take-home pay each month.
  • Beth writes in a straightforward instructive way that’s not condescending. She establishes rapport straight from her words and not just by sharing anecdotes.
    I look forward to her sporadic “I know of a couple who had to agree to water their landlord’s plants…” and similar anecdotes. I wish personal finance writers could compile their odd anecdotes in one place – 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 choose… Chapter 5 All You Really Need to Know About Investing and Chapter 8 Insurance: What You Need and What You Don’t were easy to go through. Index funds are a good way to go. I’d disagree with her view that being single with no dependents means you don’t need life insurance though because you really always have dependents – whether it’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 – you’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 couldn’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 that’s to be expected.

Overall, Get a Financial Life was a good read for me—and it’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. .

4 Comments on ““Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties” Book Review

  1. Looks like a great read – being slap bang in the middle of the demographic for this book, I know I should be paying more attention to this, but never quite get around to it…

  2. It's good to read these kind of article, it is very important to watch your money or finance when you are young. There are so much that we do not know so that we lost almost 5 years of savings in this financial crisis.

  3. very interesting…Looks like a great read – being slap bang in the middle of the demographic for this book, I know I should be paying more attention to this, but never quite get around to it…

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