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Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirtiesby Beth Kobliner
A lot has happened since 1996, when I wrote the first edition of Get a Financial Life.
The Internet has revolutionized the way many people interact with the world. The economy has experienced the greatest period of prosperity it has ever known. In the last three years of the 1990s alone, stock values doubled, and just about any stock with a "dot com" after its name has seemed like a winning lottery ticket.
Despite these changes, the premise of the original edition of Get a Financial Life still holds: Many people in my generation — those now in their twenties and thirties — do not expect to live as well as their parents. In inflation-adjusted dollars, people 25 to 34 years old today still earn lower incomes on average than our counterparts in the 1970s. And we are carrying more personal debt (like credit cards and student loans) than any other generation has at our age.
The good news is that there has never been a better time to get your financial life in order. If you're drowning in credit card debt, there are dozens of low-rate cards aggressively competing for your business. If you're hoping to buy a home in the next few years, there are more low down-payment loans to choose from than ever before. If you're eager to start investing — even with very little money — new tax-favored savings plans are available to help you make the most of whatever you can afford to set aside. And the Internet has made it exponentially easier to find everything from low-interest-rate auto loans to high-interest-rate savings options.
This book will show you how to make the most of your money, whether you earn $20,000 or $200,000, whether you're single or attached, whether you're financially adept or financially confused. You will learn how to save even if you're barely making ends meet. You'll get straightforward advice on how to select the right stock mutual funds. You'll pick up tax strategies that could save you hundreds of dollars a year. You'll discover how to reduce outrageous bank fees and carefully evaluate your online banking options. You'll find strategies for handling your student loans. You will get unbiased advice on what kinds of life, health, and auto insurance you need, and what kinds you should avoid.
This book will provide answers to specific questions, including: Should I contribute to my company's 401(k) plan? How do I determine whether I should buy or rent a home? Where's the best place to save? When does it make sense to start investing? How can I find out what's in my credit report? Should I buy or lease a car? What tax credits can I claim? How can the Internet help me shop for a home loan? Should I get a Roth IRA? Do I need a stockbroker?
If the thought of reading an entire book on personal finance seems daunting, relax. Chapter 1 offers a summary of some of the most important steps you'll need to take, and "Financial Cramming" review sections at the end of each chapter highlight key concepts so you can be sure that you've nailed them.
By the way, all of the information in this second edition of Get a Financial Life has been meticulously re-researched and updated, but not everything needed to be rewritten; I have decided not to change anything just for change's sake. The bottom line of Get a Financial Lifehasn't changed a bit. Once you get started, you'll see that achieving your financial goals can be a lot easier than you think — that is, if you take advantage of the biggest benefit you still have on your side: time.
Copyright © 1996, 2000 by Beth Kobliner
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