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Be wiser in four months

With tips on issues ranging from career to buying a house, Pond covers every possible aspect of personal finance in a simple and engrossing style. But experienced investors may find the book of selective use, says Namrata Dadwal.

Namrata Dadwal        Print Edition: September 4, 2008

  
  

Grow your money

Price: Rs 850

Pages: 352

By: Jonathan D. Pond

Published by: Collins

Target audience: Lay investors

Quick Read Tip: Check out the age-specific checklist in the introduction for topics relevant to you.

Language: Easy

Style: Illustrative

Visuals: Tables

Abook on financial planning usually conjures up images of a soporific tome replete with obscure calculations and unwieldy jargon. And then there are books like Grow Your Money…101 Easy Tips to Plan, Save and Invest, which are fun even for readers with scant knowledge of stock markets or mutual funds.

Jonathan D. Pond scores high on readability because he covers every topic involving money that a lay reader can easily associate with. So there are issues ranging from career decisions and buying a house to whether a second paycheque is really helping the family budget. The book also holds an appeal for newcomers to personal finance because it guides one through situations and financial upheavals that most of us are likely to face at some point or another in our lives. And if you don’t pay attention to the book, you are sure to kick yourself for the lapse when you are caught in a crisis.

Pond has illustratively explained all the 101 tips, which have been divided into chapters depending on the topic they expound on. Though you can read the book from cover to cover, you might find it beneficial to go through the agespecific checklist in the introduction, especially if you are pressed for time. The checklist highlights tips that could be relevant to you depending on your financial stage.

Also, the title for each tip is self-explanatory, so you don’t have to read half-way through an idea before realising it’s not meant for you. Each idea has detailed examples, while some also have “Money Tips”, which are steps you can take to implement the idea in a better way. Pond has also covered atypical topics such as career and maintaining a home as important aspects of a financial plan. Your career, according to Pond, is so important that if you have to decide how to spend one hour in a day, studying the stock market or becoming a more skilled employee, you should choose the latter as it would be a more lucrative investment.

Another interesting chapter is on buying and maintaining a home. Though there are other ideas that mention investing in real estate, this one deals with the dilemma of saving for a house or retirement, and whether your plans for remodelling the house make sense. As Pond says, the acid test is not how good the improvement makes you feel; it’s how good the improvement will make the future buyer of your home feel.

The other chapters deal with more mainstream financial advice like how to allocate assets, which mutual funds to invest in, insurance policies you can do without, how you can plan an early retirement, and so on.

For a first-time investor, this is useful information. Pond has explained the tips so well that even if your idea of finance was signing a cheque or swiping your credit card, you will be able to understand and spout terms like mutual fund returns, investment income and exchangetraded funds in no time.

Checklist: Review your financial status annually

• Evaluate your overall asset allocation and decide whether you need to re-balance it

• Check the adequacy of your insurance coverage and estate-planning documents

• Plan your tax-saving investments

• Evaluate the performance of individual investments and replace any weaklings (do this at least twice a year)

• Think up ways to reduce your debts and avoid adding more debt

• Prepare a projection of your expected retirement income and expenses

• Figure out how you'fre going to pay for future big-ticket items such as a home

• Review your progress in achieving your financial goals and decide which areas need more attention

However, the experienced investors who are bound to feel they have “been there, read that” or even “done that”, are likely to skim through most tips. It would be wiser for them to go through the contents list to see what interests them. They might come across ideas worth a scrutiny, such as how to invest profitably in sector funds, how to be a contrarian investor, when to sell stocks and how to ride through volatile markets. Besides, they will find it fun to go through the various checklists and worksheets.

But Pond’s tips are not limited to those looking for advice on investments. Some of the ideas are relevant to any individual who handles money. So you have tips on budgeting, buying a used or a new car, choosing financial advisers and ways to avoid financial scams. Considering how most people are conned into losing their hard-earned money, this is one idea you should not miss.

Some of Pond’s suggestions may seem limited to those residing in the US, but do not skip them. This, because the author suggests basic plans which can be easily implemented in India as well. Take the chapter on taxation. It offers lastminute tax-saving options and the optimum period for which you should maintain your tax return records.

Towards the end there is the appendix that carries a to-do calendar outlining a few things you need to do every month. It would be best to store these measures as reminders in your mobile phone or on your desktop so that financial planning is no more an endof-the-year headache for you.

Pond’s writing is light, easy and fun, and is liberally sprinkled with profound sayings, witty remarks by renowned people and personal anecdotes. So even if you spend just 15 minutes in a day to go through one tip, you’re bound to be financially wiser within four months.

Read our review of the book 'The Basics of Investing':First lessons in financial education

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