Book Review: The 10 Commandments of Money

Book Review: The 10 Commandments of Money
  • Opening Intro -

    Top Internet money adviser presents contemporary financial advice.

    Liz Pulliam Weston, author of Your Credit Score and MSN columnist, has released a new book titled, “The 10 Commandments of Money.”

    This time around Weston speaks to the consumer who was pummeled by the most recent recession who would, in this case, be nearly every single one of us.

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Subtitled, “Survive and Thrive in the New Economy,” Weston’s latest book attempts to paint a positive, though profoundly realistic picture of the world we live in today. Gone are the days of rapidly increasing home values, no document mortgages, company backed pension plans and job security, replaced by record foreclosures, hard to get home loans, poorly self-funded 401(k) funds and extended periods of unemployment.

Debt Problems

Debt is a huge problem for our country, with the federal government and consumers ensnared alike. In “10 Commandments,” Weston leaves the former to policy makers, addressing the latter frequently throughout her 304-page book.

Weston starts each chapter comparing three types of rules: old school rules, bubble economy rules and new rules.

The first set of rules are what many of us grew up with and were taught to us by parents and grandparents who were the product of the Great Depression, World War II and the economic boom following both. Those were the days when consumers were prudent, paying cash for mostly everything or doing without.

The second set of rules offered a near polar opposite approach to financing, rearing its head in the 1980s, taking hold in the 1990s, before collapsing in 2008. Consumers were urged to buy more home than they could afford, tap their retirement funds, take out home equity loans and cast off most financial constraints. The carnage began to take shape around 2006 when the first trickle of foreclosures came in, spiking two years later during the mortgage crisis meltdown.

The third set of rules, or new rules, is what Weston wants the reader to consider today. Not quite the middle ground between the first two rules, but offering a realistic perspective to help consumers navigate through the economy today while retaining some semblance of normality. Flexible rules at that, but with more visible demarcations than what we’ve seen over much of the past quarter century.

Insurance Advice

For instance, in her 8th command Weston advises consumers to reserve insurance to cover their really big losses. Old school rules urged people to buy insurance for everything and anything…just in case. The bubble economy rules took that one step further by urging us to make claims wherever and whenever possible. After all, what good is insurance if you never use it? Weston advises something different: have adequate insurance coverage, but reserve its use for catastrophic events. Above all, make a claim only when necessary.

Other commandments tackled by Weston includes preserving home equity — she isn’t keen on borrowing money from the home and asks the reader to reconsider of owning a home in the first place. Fight your property taxes, dispense with the idea of trading up and if your home is a money pit, then consider selling it.

Welcome Advice

Not every commandment will, of course, be followed by readers precisely. Indeed, Weston doesn’t expect her advice to fit everyone in the same way, but she does leave the reader with some hope that by acting rationally and wisely, wealth can be accumulated and our lives can still be enjoyable. Implementing changes may take some time, but after experiencing the worst economic correction in our lifetimes, many Americans will likely welcome Weston’s commandments.

Book Information: The 10 Commandments of Money; Liz Weston; Hudson Street Press; 2011; $25.95)

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Categories: Book Reviews