Jason Leow has written an article for the Wall Street Journal about how to find worthwhile personal finance books (registration required — the article is on page B1 of the 24 June 2006 issue). This weblog is featured in the story. Leow writes:

The universe of personal-finance books is exploding. Many of them offer dated advice in plodding prose, so now a mini-industry has evolved to help sort through which are worth reading, which merit only a skim and which should be skipped.

The personal-finance publishing industry has been in business for centuries, all the way back to Benjamin Franklin, whose aphorisms in “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” started in 1733, admonished readers in areas like thrift, saving and debt. “If you are now a drinker of punch, wine, or tea twice a day, for the ensuing year drink them but once a day,” the Founding Father advised his readers before the Revolutionary War.

The value of these books depends heavily on the interests of their readers.

You hear me say this often: Do what works for you. There are many personal finance books, and a lot of theories. Some have survived the test of time, but not all of them work for every person. Try what the experts recommend, but if the advice doesn’t help you reach your goals, look for a variation. (For example, I had trouble paying down my debts until I followed Dave Ramsey’s advice to use a Debt Snowball, paying off my smallest debts first instead of those sporting the largest interest rates.)

Do what works for you.

Here’s a part of the article that mentions this blog:


[Get Rich Slowly] includes advice about choosing books like this: “Many books — especially the good ones — give similar advice: pay yourself first, establish an emergency fund, don’t spend more than you earn, diversify, etc. Sound personal finance is basic stuff.”

It is an opinion seconded by academics even more grounded in the field. “Any book that suggests it has a new way to riches should probably be a little suspect,” says Prof. Kenneth Froewiss, a finance professor at New York University Stern School of Business. A good book about personal finance, he says, always elaborates on three simple themes: Save early, know your risk tolerance and diversify.

While investment pros like Jim Rogers go for classics like The Intelligent Investor, Mr. Roth recommends Jonni McCoy’s Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy, targeted at stay-at-home moms who need to be frugal. His Web site links to “Miserly Mom” cooking recipes for dishes like pot roast and meatless chili, for families living on low-budget meals. Another favorite is Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. A friend shipped it to him when he was broke and asked for help in dealing with his finances. “I was a typical American spending more than I was earning,” he says.

With the help of these books, I’ve been able to turn my financial life around. I have one remaining non-mortgage debt (though it’s a big one — a home equity loan). For the first time in my life, my spending is under control. I’m saving money. I’m investing. But I continue to read more, to learn more, and I look forward to sharing new-found knowledge with you.

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