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Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties

Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties PDF

Author: Beth Kobliner

Publisher: Simon & Schuster


Publish Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN-10: 1476782385

Pages: 352

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

IF YOU’RE LIKE most people in their twenties and thirties, you worry about money.

And who can blame you?

The job market is rough. Salaries are flatlining. Student debt loads are at an all-time high. And housing costs—whether you rent or buy—are eating up a bigger chunk of paychecks than ever before. So while the idea of reading a book about money may not be high on your bucket list, it should be.

The good news? Getting your financial life in order is very doable if you start now. All you need is a modest amount of knowledge—much less than you’d think—plus a little effort. This book is your guide.

What makes me so sure? That one’s easy: I’ve seen it happen, again and again. Since Get a Financial Life was first published twenty years ago, more than half a million readers have used this book to help them get out of debt, start to save, and begin to invest. This edition has been entirely updated and completely revised for the financial challenges you face today. I’ve re-reported, reexamined, and rewritten it from cover to cover. I’ve updated facts and links. I’ve also rethought every table, worksheet, and bullet point to help you take control of your finances—whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or doing your own thing as an entrepreneur, whether you earn $20,000 or $200,000, whether you’re single or married, whether you’re financially inclined or fiscally challenged. Though many of the details have changed, the guiding principle of Get a Financial Life is the same: It focuses exclusively on what you need to know, and leaves out everything else.

You’ll come away with strategies to help you save, even if you are barely scraping by. You’ll get clear advice on paying down your debts—whether you have student loans, credit cards, or both—and learn how to shop for everything from auto loans to mortgages. You’ll discover the best reasons (and the best ways) to save in 401(k)s and IRAs. You’ll find clear guidelines on how to choose the right investments for you, and figure out what kind of bank you need. You’ll get the scoop on whether you should borrow for grad school—and if so, how. You’ll uncover tips based on the latest research on reining in spending, and learn how to avoid fees that eat into your savings. You’ll pick up tax strategies that can easily save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. You’ll read unbiased advice about what insurance you need—and what insurance you should avoid.

You’ll also get answers to specific questions, including: How can I fix my credit score? When is it smart to rent a place rather than buy? Should I invest in the stock market—and if so, how? Is there a safe place to put my money and earn a decent return? Plus, if you or someone you know is in the military or is a veteran, you’ll get the rundown on available benefits.

Of course, the thought of reading an entire book on personal finance may still feel like pure drudgery. But don’t despair. Start with Chapter 1, which is the “Crib Notes” version of what you need to know. Then peruse the end of each chapter, where you’ll find “Financial Cramming” review sections that spell out the key concepts and online resources for you. And, I promise you, if you do decide to take the plunge and read the full book, you will discover that the details of getting a financial life are actually easier than you think. Especially since you have one major advantage on your side: time.



Chapter 1: Crib Notes

A Cheat Sheet for Time-Pressed Readers Who Need Help Now

Chapter 2: Taking Stock of Your Financial Life

Figuring Out Where You Are and Where You Want to Go

Putting a Price Tag on Your Goals

Learning How to Reach Your Goals

Where Does Your Money Go?

Three Financial Rules of Thumb

Getting Your Financial Life in Order

Keeping Track of Money Coming In and Going Out

Chapter 3: Dealing with Debt

Finding the Cheapest Loans and Getting Yourself Out of Hock

Four Pointers for Anyone with Debt of Any Kind

Credit Cards

Student Loans

Car Loans

Credit Scores and Credit Reports

Identity Theft

If You’re in Serious Debt

When to Consider Bankruptcy

Chapter 4: Basic Banking

How to Keep Your Costs Low and Your Money Safe

A Bank by Any Other Name

What to Look for in a Bank

Managing Your Checking Account

Using the ATM Wisely

Internet-Only Banks

What to Do with Your Savings

Joint Versus Separate Accounts

A Warning About Bank-Sold Investments

Chapter 5: All You Really Need to Know About Investing

It’s Time to Have Some Fun(ds)

Two Pointers for New Investors

Fund Fundamentals

Money Market Funds

A Word About Inflation

Stock Funds

Bond Funds

The Right Mix of Investments

Investment Fees Really Matter

My Favorite Low-Cost Funds

Socially Responsible Investing

Do I Need a Financial Advisor?

Chapter 6: Living the Good Life in 2070

Think It’s Crazy to Start Saving Now for Retirement? It’s Crazy Not To

What Are Retirement Savings Plans, Anyway?

How Your Retirement Savings Grow

Contributing to Your 401(k)

Contributing to an IRA

Getting at the Money in Your 401(k) or IRA If You Really Need It

Inflation and Taxation

Retirement Plan FAQs

If You’re Self-Employed

Chapter 7: Oh, Give Me a Home

Advice on Affording a Place of Your Own

What Every Renter Needs to Know

Should You Rent or Buy?

What Lenders Look For

The Real Costs of Owning a Home

Special Programs for Home Buyers

If You Don’t Qualify for a Mortgage

Shopping for a Mortgage

Making the Process Go Smoothly

Chapter 8: Insurance: What You Need and What You Don’t

Finding the Right Policies and Skipping Coverage You Can Do Without

Getting the Best Deal

Checking Out Credentials

Making the Most of Your Employer’s Plans

Health Insurance

Car Insurance

Disability Insurance

Home Insurance

Life Insurance

Insurance You Probably Don’t Need

Chapter 9: How to Make Your Life Less Taxing

Put More Money in Your Pocket and Less in Uncle Sam’s

Why Is Your Paycheck So Small?

The Taxes You Pay

Figuring Out Your Tax Rate

Filing Your Tax Return

Maximizing Your Tax Breaks

Deductions for the Self-Employed

Getting Your Tax Life in Order

Do You Need a Tax Preparer?

Chapter 10: Making the Most of Military Benefits

Know What You Deserve If You Serve

Education Perks

Financial Assistance with Your Home

Protecting Your Health and Your Assets

Help Paying Off Your Debt

Support for Your Family

Guidance on Legal, Tax, and Personal Finance Matters

Securing Your Savings

Further Reading

Special Acknowledgments


About the Author


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