Personal Finance For Dummies

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Personal Finance for Dummies offers sound and practical advice for those who want to get control over their personal financial lives. Author Eric Tyson points out the most common mistakes that we all make in our approach to money and prescribes ways to save and invest for a secure future. Using worksheets, the book helps you to measure your own financial health by looking at factors such as how much debt you carry, your savings rate, as well as investment and insurance checkups. The book looks at how you should invest your retirement account, approach taxes, and provides a good overview on how to buy real estate.

Too many personal finance consultants offer financial advice that ignores the big picture and instead focuses on investing. You need much more than that to plan your future. You need a broader understanding of personal finance that includes all areas of your financial life in order to become financially sound.

Personal Finance for Dummies, 5th Edition is full of detailed, action-oriented financial advice that will show you how to lower expenses and tame debts as well as invest wisely to achieve your financial goals! Now in its 5th edition, this up-to-date guide covers all the latest trends to ensure your financial stability. Just some of the updates and revisions include:

  • Reviews of the new and revised tax laws and how to take advantage of them
  • The latest scoop on Medicare and Social Security and what it means for you
  • Updated investment advice on mutual funds and other managed investments
  • Enhanced smart spending tips
  • Coverage of new bankruptcy laws and how to eliminate consumer debt
  • Smart ways to use credit and improve credit scores
  • Expanded coverage on educational savings options

This hands-on, straightforward guide features ways to survive life changes such as starting your first job, getting married, having children, and retiring, as well as helpful tactics for preventing identity theft and fraud. With Personal Finance for Dummies, 5th Edition, you-ll be able to achieve financial strength and start concentrating on the more important things in life!

Customer Reviews:

  • Clearly written
    Although very simply and accessibly written, this manual just was not what I was looking for. I had been expecting a volume on understanding IRAs, Bonds, Stocks, 401ks and the like, and got a book on budgeting and saving Great for people who need help in that area, but not quite what I wanted....more info
  • Great book for the nuts and bolts of personal finance!
    Early in my investing "career", I used a financial planner or two. I realized that they don't always have YOUR best interest in mind. I decided to do all of my own personal financing and bought 2nd edition of this book a few years ago. One of the best purchases I have made. I have suggested it to many friends and relatives and go back to it often to get objective information. I can't say enough good things about it! If you are starting to get into personal financing - buy it!...more info
  • From a foreigner point of view...
    Well written, Objective & Complete handbook about the way you manage money!!! I would definitely recommend this book even it cannot be applied completely to non-US countries. There are quite a lot of information related to US-Tax but all general advices are quite useful. The content is easy-to-understand. Note: If you buy the different books from Eric Tyson, some chapters dealing about the same subject might be the same.
    Also, it tells you that the financial world is full of sharks and explains why... huuh? don't forget about conflicts of interests!!!!...more info
  • Very good book...
    As a foreigner in US it helped me a lot to understand how to keep my money in my pocket. Lots of good tips....more info
  • Definitely worth a read if you're struggling financially
    I got this book right after purchasing my first house, because I knew I needed help with several things: 1) staying on top of my money so I could pay the mortgage on time every month, 2) understanding all my options regarding things like refinancing my home and so on, 3) starting a savings account, and 4) some sort of retirement account sometime in the future. This book has helped me with all of those. The author seems somewhat conservative at certain points, and advises a few things I wouldn't do (or advises against things I don't think are as big of a risk as he does)--but hey, he's a finance guy, of course he's conservative! Overall, this book is very clearly and simply written, and exhaustive in what it covers. I feel like I'm well on my way toward much better financial health as a result of reading it....more info
  • Was really disappointed with this book
    Bought it because I loved Eric Tyson's Dummies Guide to Investing. But his Personal Finance book really provided no useful information (at least for me.) The points he makes regarding credit cards, budgeting, etc. are valid - but they're mostly common sense...and not worth the purchase of the book. Do yourself a favor, and buy his other book, Investing for Dummies. Now, that bang is worth the buck....more info
  • Bernie Madoff is the key to a better financial future
    More left wing liberal nuts and their anarchist ways! All you need is a great republican candidate in 2012.. such as Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or Gary Coleman!

    And the economic depression started because Ron Paul made it!

    For info on bettering your finances contact Bernie Madoff people. I Invested $50 billion with madoff and he said in 2025 I should be expecting a triple on my return!...more info
  • Very helpful book
    This text could should be required reading at all American high schools, if not colleges.

    It gives a solid introduction to every aspect of personal finance: handling debt, hiring financial help, taxes, retirement accounts, investing, mortgage, real estate, insurance for everything (you, others, and collateral).

    It gives practical and useful tips throughout each section on how to save for what is important and recognize what is not so critical to buy for maximum savings, savings which you'll use for your retirement account, so that you'll live within your financial means throughout your entire life....more info
  • Vary basics tips
    Most of the tips are obvious.
    I would get a different book if I had the chance....more info
  • Personal Finance 101. In plain English.
    Great book. Helps you prioritize what is really important in your life and how your spending/savings habits should reflect that. Explains everythging in really simple terms. Is a fun and interesting read. Helps get your financial life on track....more info
  • comprehensive and concise
    No matter how old you are or how much money you make, you can use the advice in this book. This book is not sensationalist in any way; the author does not try to apply one formula to everyone's financial situation. Instead, this book helps you realize on paper what your current financial picture looks like, and then helps you to form and plan sensible goals.

    It comprehensively yet succinctly addresses banking, saving, investing, spending, debt management, taxes, real estate, and insurance....more info
  • Excellent book!
    It exceeds my expectation very much.
    Very comprehensive coverage about financial choices.
    Also touch important things other than money, like relationships, educations etc....more info
  • The most informative book on the subject I have ever read!
    I work as a financial professional, counseling individuals regarding the options in their employer-sponsored retirement plans. Although the counsel I can give is limited to their retirement plan, several have asked me for advice in other areas of their financial lives. I do not hesitate to recommend this book. Whether you are starting from square one in getting your financial house in order, or your checkbook is balanced to the penny every week, there is information in this book that will benefit you. The "For Dummies" format is perfect for this subject, and Eric Tyson does an excellent job of breaking into layman's terms the most complex of finance and investing concepts. Also, an excellent section on selecting a financial planner is provided. I have often seen the devastating effects that the wrong financial advice has wrought in people's lives. The list of criteria to apply when seeking a financial advisor is one of the most valuable tools I have seen on the subject. This book is one of the most valuable resources I have ever seen in helping the average person get control of their financial lives. Applying its principles will pay immediate as well as long-lasting rewards....more info
  • Conflict of interest?
    I disagree with the author of this book on the fundamental conflict of interest issue. Mr. Tyson claims repeatedly throughout this book that insurance salesmen cannot be trusted for their advice because their commission is based on the size of the policy premium they sell you. Salesmen are really compensated in multiple ways. For starters, they do earn a large commission on the initial sale of insurance (or investment products). However, the commission typically continues to pay out over the following 10 years. If you as a buyer decide you were misled, can't afford to pay the premiums, or just decide you don't want the insurance, the salesmen looses a significant portion of this commission. Also, most salesmen that refer to themselves as `financial ________' make a living by servicing a client base. This client base grows through referrals. If a salesmen is pressuring clients into buying junk they don't need, it's going to be awfully difficult to develop relationships that lead to high quality referrals. Referring your `financial ______' is equivalent to tipping your waiter, and it is a significant part of their compensation. Any salesmen who doesn't quickly realize this will be out of the business rather quickly. The deferred commission and referral process are two safeguards designed to protect the consumer.

    But while were on the topic of conflict of interest, where does Mr. Tyson's interest lie (pun intended). Well, he is an author of a book. Books generate revenue through sales, and books that sell well are typically entertaining to read. How can we make a book about the value of safe investments, insuring against your own death, and other otherwise boring topics exciting? Well we can always try to scare the reader! I expected this book to say things like "what will happen when its time to retire and you have no money?!?!' or `who will take care of your family when you get eaten by piranhas?!?!'. But instead, Tyson tried to make us scared of financial professionals. A genius move by an author of a book likely to be read by die-hard do-it-yourselfers. Now it's us against them! It's obvious he's trying to use the good ole' fear=entertainment shtick when the pages are littered with `BEWARE' shark-fins and `WARNING' time bombs. Not only can this conflict of interest be to the readers financial detriment, but Tyson even has the panache to finish off about one paragraph per chapter with an endorsement for another book he authored/co-authored.

    And one other thing I just remembered. Tyson seems to believe that even if you were to find a reputable financial advisor, who makes his salary off of commission, you should not do business with him. Two points of interest:
    1. Many financial advisors can offer you different ways of paying them. If you choose the fee for service method, you should be in a situation where your account will require frequent attention. Otherwise, the commission basis will often be cheaper.
    2. To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence that the cost ratio of insurance policies sold through highly commissioned salesmen is intrinsically greater. The only study I have found on the subject was published in 1979, and it came to the conclusion that "No evidence suggests that insurers without agents operate more efficiently than do those with agents." This can be found in the Journal of Risk and Insurance, Vol. 46, No. 1 page 61-74. ...more info
  • Pretty Good Book
    I've been working on ways to manage my finances better, so I checked out Personal Finance for Dummies. It was a pretty good book. I liked when the author pointed out common mistakes you can make, but the investing stuff wasn't really for me.

    I would have almost liked to see the investing part in another book and a deeper look on handling debt....more info
  • If you make money, you need this book
    They don't teach personal finance in schools. In this book, author Tyson teaches what every high school in the nation should teach anyone who plans to earn money.
    This book provides excellent advice on how to save your money and how to set your savings and spending priorities. In particular, Tyson takes into account the tax advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and he gives an easy to implement way to maximize the tax benefits that the government provides to encourage wise financial decisions.

    It is true that the author likes Vanguard's mutual funds and his book clearly recommends them (along with some others). He's in good company: Consumer Reports also recommends some of Vanguard's mutual funds, and Vanguard consistently has the lowest costs in the mutual fund industry.

    Finally, a word of advice: Avoid, avoid, avoid any book that recommends dubious tax evasion schemes like starting your own fictitious business for the purpose of taking tax deductions on personal expenses. Instead, buy this book and follow Tyson's recommendations on taking advantage of legitimate tax benefits associated with wise saving and spending....more info
  • Good for beginners
    Some of the stuff is known info for people who have done some reading on the web but it's definitely a good guide for the beginners. I didn't really read other beginner personal finance books so it's hard for me to compare....more info
  • Very good for a dummy like me
    I have an MBA (at least a diploma) and I my personal finances are a mess. Sad but true. This book made me realize that simple rules apply to every money management. From households to giant companies. ...more info
  • Great Introductory to the Financial World
    I, an 18-year-old student, wanted to better my financial life and get familiar with different aspects of personal finance (i.e. taxes, investing, real estate). Eric Tyson explains everything a novice would like to hear. I highly recommend this text to younger readers. Thanks Eric!...more info
  • Finance 101
    This book teaches the fundamental basics which is what I was expecting from a book like this....more info
  • A Must-Buy For Every Adult
    I remember when the Dummies series first came out, and I thought it was a rather insulting title for a book for people to pick up and read. Now, many years later, the series is firmly entrenched in our culture. The books do an extremely good job of laying out the basics in very easy to understand terms on a number of topics. The Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson really does do a great job of explaining the basics of personal finance.

    Now, some might say "oh it's common sense. Don't overuse credit cards. Shop around for the best loan." However, most high school and college students have NO idea how to do these things. Just look at the huge number of people in personal debt. Look at the vast numers who declare bankruptcy, who have no idea what a CD is, who are befuddled by the whole real estate market. This book makes it easy for them. If you have debt, this is a book that can help take you step by step through what your options are and how to work your way towards a financially solvent position.

    Yes, the information here isn't million-dollar investment material. That's not what the book says it offers. It gives you a starting-from-the-ground layout of how to get started on your debt reduction, how to start choosing wise ways to save money, how to figure out the savings accounts you need, and hopefully as you go along you'll actually have some free spending money to invest. I remember when I got started out of college, that I was literally living hand to mouth. Each paycheck barely covered the bills I had. Savings? Hah - I needed the security deposit back from one apartment before I could afford to put that money down for my next apartment! I didn't even have a single month's rent saved up.

    Now, there is a particular issue that seemed to stand out for me. Oddly, that was that Eric seems to be hammering the idea of vegetarianism. I'm all for people eating the way they want to eat, and I didn't mind that at one point he says something like "avoiding all meat can help you save money, because meat is expensive." Sure, and don't watch movies in a theater either - just watch them at home when they come around to network TV. He doesn't mention that movie tip. But he does go on to repeat the "avoid meat" tip NUMEROUS times throughout the book. After a while it didn't seem a casual point any more. I don't mind - but I don't want my book on finances to be pressing agendas. What's next - numerous examples about "don't vote for the XXXX party because ..." ?

    I also have to comment that a book is only as good as the person who reads and follows it. I have a humorous story here. A relative of mine was about to head out to a time share talk - and it so happened that the night before, we met up for dinner and I brought along the book to share. Right in the book it says, very clearly, that a time share is the WORST possible real estate investment you could possibly make. It was in a section all its own and the book described how completely awful the time share investments are. The huge profit the company makes is why they can afford to "give" you free vacations and such when you sign up for one. They make a TON of money by luring you into a time share sale. And yet, the very next day, my relative had bought a time share. So unless you actually follow the information the book gives, it's not going to help you much. You need to read it - think about it - and USE the information.

    Highly, highly recommended. I think this book should be read and owned by every graduate of high school and college out there. With all the education we give our kids, we never teach them about the critical financial skills that they will need to keep afloat in life. Heck, many adults I know need a copy too. It could save a marriage - or a career....more info
  • Great high level overview/kick in the pants
    My spouse and I have been making our way through this book systematically. We have found the organization extremely helpful. You won't need to read cover to cover, just the chapters which apply to you. The level of detail is sometimes not as deep as I would have hoped, but the book covers a wide breadth of information and consistently points you in the right direction when your particular cirumstance merits further research. Moreover, you can use this book as a workbook to: 1. get a snapshot of your current financial health, 2. create financial goals, and 3. make a plan of action. The book has given us some accountability. We have weekly "PF4D" meetings where we discuss our 'assigned' readings and discuss what we need to do as individuals (me: reduce spending, him: increase rate of savings) and what we need to do as a couple (get life insurance and increase 401k contributions.) The next week we report on our progress. The language is broadly accessible. The suggestions are sound. Whether you are 20 or 60 this book will have information helpful for you. I actually have an MBA, so I already had a good idea of the state of my personal finances and knew what I should be doing. I just needed a book and a system to help me actually do something about it, and this book has worked for me and my spouse. Though I did learn quite a bit new in the section on how to choose a personal financial advisor, should I need one. (So there are some not so obvious things for you other smarty-pants out there.)...more info
  • good overviw of personal finance
    I found this book very helpful. It gave me a good overview of personal finance options that were beyond the basics (savings accounts, mutual funds) that I knew about previously. If you're looking for something very advanced, this isn't the book you want, but it was certainly more advanced than I would have expected....more info
  • Wonderful Book!
    This book deserves its reputation. Very useful information. A very fine, general guide to your financial future. Just follow Mr. Tyson and you are well on your way to a secure and disciplined financial future. His mutual fund picks alone made me enough money (within a day of buying) to pay for this book!...more info
  • The best book on investing !
    This book is excellent.It covers all you need to know and why in an easy to understand and often humerous way.After reading this I went to a financial planner and it was as if they were reading an outline from this book to me.There are hundreds of books that promise you this and that; but this is the truth as if delivered from Mount Sinai.I only wish I read this book as a younger man.I now give it as a graduation gift....more info
  • what I love about it
    Eric Tyson always makes the hard things seem so easy
    thats what I love about his (Dummies) series
    I many times start researching a subject knowing the dummies books
    will spring board me in the right direction like this book has
    then if I need to move on from there so be it.
    Many times ,like this one Personal Finance covered this subject very
    nicely.Well Done...more info
  • Great Book for Beginners
    By the time I bought this book, I had already read several other books on the subject of personal finance. However, I found PF for Dummies to be the best of the lot. Eric Tyson lays out basic prinicples of finance in easy to follow, well ordered chapters. He has an attitude of encouraging the reader to go out ...more info
  • Excellent book
    This book provides a holistic view of personal finance. Very well-written and thoughtful. Everyone should have access to a copy and review this book at various stages of life....more info
  • 10 years and the book is still useful
    I bought this book in 1999 after my husband and I graduated and got jobs. We still use this book extensively. From getting the right type of insurance coverage to help planning our portfolio, this book has been invaluable.

    The book is very practical - my husband and I have strong theoretical training in finance but needed this book to translate that knowledge into action.

    This book will pay for itself in no time. Buy it!...more info
  • Should Be Required Reading for All College Grads
    My only regret is that I did not read a book of this caliber in my early twenties. If only it had been required reading in on of my college business classes, I would have found myself in far better shape financially today. This book is chalk full of common sense. For even more details, see the author's other book on mutual fund investing... a real eye opener....more info
  • Good place to start!
    This is a wonderful finance guide for anybody! It deals with the basics mostly (credit card debt is bad- don't spend more than you have...) This book is ideal for anyone who hasn't paid much attention to their finances, maybe a learning tool for teens and 20-somethings?...more info
  • Good overview, would like a FEW more details...
    Like most of the reviewers here, I was a novice when it came to personal finance--therefore, this purchase made sense. I appreciate all of his advice, and recommend it to anyone stepping out into the "real world" for the first time.

    But I do have one complaint--I wish he would've given a little more detail in the section about buying a car--some of the important and obscure factors to consider. I took his advice, and bought a used car, thinking that I should be conservative and that I didn't really NEED a new car and would therefore save money. But I was wrong.

    Factoring in the higher interest rate that used cars have versus new ones, and the 3-year warranty I bought with my car that comes automatically with new ones, it would not have been much more expensive to just get a new one. I bought a used Honda Civic with 40000 miles on it, and now a new Toyota Yaris would have cost the same amount. And I cringe everytime I see a commercial that says "0% financing!!!"

    I should have done more research.

    The other aspects of the book: investing, reducing debt, etc, were all helpful to me.

    ...more info
  • Saved our marriage......
    My wife and I were headed for disaster in college when we picked up our first copy of this book (2nd ed. I think). At the time we were in serious debt and had very different money management strategies (ie, we both spent more than we made in our own unique way). Now, 6 yrs later, my spouse is able to stay at home, we have no debt, 3 kids and we have 1/2 million put away. This book is very insightful and speaks to the core of what it takes to enjoy financial freedom. It also preaches to the fact that it isn't all about 'the money' but also about living and enjoying what you have. The fifth edition continues with updates and timely new topics. I give a copy of this book whenever I am asked about finances and money. Thank you Eric....more info
  • Great Starting Point
    Another great Dummies book. This book is full of useful information, and you certainly can't beat the price. Excellent overview and great tips....more info
  • I really like it
    I have been clueless and careless about financial responsibilities. I have always had my parents to provide for me. After starting a family of my own, buying a house, and realizing I can't rely on my parent to provide for my retirement, I needed to learn about money. This book has been so informative and so on target. We have met with a financial advisor that has set up things for us before I even bought the book. So while reading, I'm realizing I could have done this on my own with the help of this book. It is very simple to read and understand (I'm not a genius or corporate world savy...just a suburban mom) and I enjoyed reading this and learning all sorts of ways to save and invest and pay off our many debts. I wish they supplied this book during high school before everyone starts racking up their debt. ...more info
  • this book has changed my life!
    I recommend this book very highly to just about everyone. This is a down to earth guide to getting your personal finances into tip-top shape. No hype here. Just honest to goodness advice that took me from a hand-to-mouth existence and debt up to my eyeballs, to nearly no debt (just mortgage), money in the bank, and investments, plus nearly a paid-off home, all within about 5 years. Anyone willing to hold down a job and follow the common-sense advice in this book, should have no problems achieving similar goals. I should point out that this book is NOT about any "get-rich-quick" schemes, but about down to earth long-term investing, and money/finance management....more info
  • Audio book (abridged) is not worth it
    This book on tape consists of only one tape and the info was crammed into it in a very poorly organized way. I'm presuming the book version is better!...more info
  • If you make money, you need this book
    They don't teach personal finance in schools. In this book, author Tyson teaches what every high school in the nation should teach anyone who plans to earn money.

    This book provides excellent advice on how to save your money and how to set your savings and spending priorities. In particular, Tyson takes into account the tax advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and he gives an easy to implement way to maximize the tax benefits that the government provides to encourage wise financial decisions.

    It is true that the author likes Vanguard's mutual funds and his book clearly recommends them (along with some others). He's in good company: Consumer Reports also recommends some of Vanguard's mutual funds, and Vanguard consistently has the lowest costs in the mutual fund industry.

    Finally, a word of advice: Avoid, avoid, avoid any book that recommends dubious tax evasion schemes like starting your own fictitious business for the purpose of taking tax deductions on personal expenses. Instead, buy this book and follow Tyson's recommendations on taking advantage of legitimate tax benefits associated with wise saving and spending....more info

  • Personal Finance for Dummies
    I was a big fan of Mr. Tyson's Home Buying for Dummies, so it was little surprise to me that this volume was also quite good. Tyson provides all the information you need to get your personal finances in order without an excessive expenditure of time. From containing costs to retirement investing to insuring your stake, Tyson explains the necessities and points out the drawbacks and wastes. I am quite confident that with this book and a couple weeks of focused activity, nearly anyone can get their finances at least pointed in the right direction. Some who wish to get into the fine details of their finances, however, may be disappointing that more in-depth information isn't provided - this book is clearly for those who want to spend a minimum of time with their financial affairs....more info
  • Great starting point
    I read this while preparing to get married. I've never worried very much about money, but I felt the pressure to learn fast, and this book was actually a great springboard. I got the basics down for a lot of financial terms and investment models that get thrown around without much explanation, and I feel much better equipped to manage my money in the future.

    I think the only idiom/term that got tossed in this book with no explanation was "pork-belly." Sorry, I've heard the term before, but I honestly still don't know what it means!...more info
  • Very good book to help you understand personal finance
    I purchased this book for my business library and was not disappointed. It covers many topics in personal finance. Although topical in nature, it is an excellent book if you want to get a grasp of personal finance in a hurry....more info
  • very helpful
    I know almost nothing about finances, so this book helped me a lot. It makes things simple to understand. Learn how to budget your money, avoid debt (or get out of it), invest in stocks, bunds, and mutual funds, and handle your retirement. I am so glad that I bought this book. It has really helped my finances!...more info
  • Good if youre finances are OK.
    Sadly I bought this book too late, if I had it 5 years back I would be in a better financial position. To be honest I got depressed while reading it and I had to stop reading. On the other hand if your finances are OK this book will help you maintain you finances healthy....more info
  • Basic (at times TOO basic) Advice
    Well, for starters, this book lives up to its title. This really is very basic stuff. I mean, there is even a section on eating your vegetables, and other extremely basic life lessons.

    Unfortunately, while there is a lot of information in the book, it doesn't go to into detail about the different financial plans and services you should get into. More time is spent on nutrition than on, say, the Roth IRA. And, the main problem with finance books is once the book is published, it becomes outdated. Things change every day. Finance magazines are more up to date

    But one part of the book REALLY bothered me.

    At one point, the author argues that it isn't all that necessary to balance your checkbook. Is he serious? Balancing your checkbook, if anything, gives you first hand knowledge of your basic finances on a monthly basis and a reminder of what you have spent. If only to double-check your spending, this should be the FIRST thing anyone interested in finance should do. To have the author of a personal finance book actually advise against it is highly questionable.

    Still, there is a lot of info here and, if you want a very basic knowledge, it is worth reading.
    ...more info
  • good insight
    Well balanced book! Especially shedding a light on personal financial goals and relating it to plans...more info
  • Excellent
    I highly recommend this book, Eric Tyson is a financial guru! I have read all of his boooks and put the information to use, I can honestly say I am content with my future outlook for retirement and investing in general....more info
  • Best Gift for Children - of all ages
    Ive given away too many of my copies of this book. Now each of my three children have their own copy. It is making them much more responsible for their finances. And that is a parent's best gift- to ourselves. ...more info


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