What's this? Two book reviews in two weeks? Are you really reading Lazy Man and Money? Have I gone mad?!?!
For years I've shunned book reviews. Why? Reading a book in addition to all the blogs and other things I read daily is a lot. It takes me 6 to read a book on a good day (I'm not a fast reader), and then writing up the review can take a couple more. It's a commitment and not one that fits well with my cat-like attention span.
So why am I reviewing another book this week? There are two reasons. One is that it's from Jean Chatzky. Despite the fact that I've been waiting three years for an email interview that her publicist promised, I think she's got some of the best advice of any personal finance guru. The other reason I'm reviewing it? It is 109 pages and just about every page consists of just a few sentences. Some are simply pictures. I didn't time myself, but I'm guessing that almost anyone can get through it in about 40 minutes.
Today's book is Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security by Jean Chatzky. The book itself consists of 94 rules. I'm surprised at the number. You'd think they'd stretch it to 100 or 101 for marketing purposes. It seems like it wouldn't have been that hard to come up with a few more. Since the book is so short, this review will be as well. The 94 tips in general are pretty good ones, but ones that many would expect to know. For example, there was one about smoking, essentially pointing out the monetary costs to it. I'm on the fence about criticizing it because if it weren't there, the book might seem incomplete, but by including it, it went a little bit into the common sense territory. I think the best tips were the ones that pointed out the psychology behind spending or saving.
I didn't find myself agreeing with all the tips though. Tip #19 suggested that you carry $100 bills rather than $20 bills because psychologically it is more difficult to spend that big bill. If you combine that with rule #18, which says that you'll spend less if you pay in cash rather than credit, you may find yourself not being able to purchase things like lunch. Not every place takes $100 bills and some places limit the change that they have on hand. Another of the rules, #39 was so vague that I don't understand it all, "Always get three bids. Never take the high one." It's in the spend wisely section, so I guess this would mean that I should get three bids for landscaping and never take the most expensive one. That seems to be over simplistic. I'm sure there's a case where the most expensive of three landscapers does offer a better level of service.
Oh and I like do with all the books I review, just to prove that I did read the book I'll point out the page with the error. Page 101, which has tip #88 should be "leaving $20,000 to your kids", not "leaving $20,000 to you kids." The irony that I'm a great proofreader of other people's writing and a terrible one of my own is not lost on me.
The Bottom Line: I'm of two minds on this book. On one hand, there's great value in having something concise and to the point. On the other hand, it's not a lot of information for $13. I could see it as a gift for someone graduating college. It's got enough of the beginner tips, and it doesn't require a commitment to read. It also says, "I spent nearly $15 on you and I care about your financial future", so that's a good thing.
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