Top Financial Reads of Summer 2011

When I was assigned the task of coming up with and reviewing this summer’s top financial reads, you could say I was pretty excited. Not only do I love books, but I also love writing about financial matters. Let’s just say that I took this article pretty seriously. Why? Because almost no one enjoys reading about finances, but I would argue that it is the one topic that we should all understand. Money rules our lives – we work hard for it, we’re unhappy without it, and we never think we have enough of it. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to manage it better?

I would like to take a moment to say that these books were very carefully selected with the reader in mind. Each book was carefully evaluated before being reviewed. I have come up with three books, which I will divide into three categories: one for the men, one for the ladies, and one that’s just for fun! That’s not to say that the one for women couldn’t be read by men – I simply chose titles that I thought would appeal to specific target audiences. All right, enough with the disclaimers and on with the show. Here are your top financial reads of summer 2011.

For the Men

Canadian Dollars & Sense: Managing Your Money by Wiley

This book is seriously short and sweet. No fluff. No extras. Just straight to the point. It begins by telling you why you need this book, teaches you how to set realistic financial goals and helps you formulate a strategy for success. Managing Your Money also touches on the following topics:

  • Distinguishing between needs and wants in terms of housing, food, transportation and clothing
  • How to put together a budget
  • The difference between net and gross income
  • Taking your monthly expenses into account
  • Dealing with debt – car loans, weddings, educational expenses, mortgages and home equity loans
  • Getting out of debt
  • Getting credit
  • Creating a savings plan
  • Creating an investment strategy
  • Making your bank work for you
  • Planning for taxes
  • Avoiding tax trouble
  • Financial recordkeeping

Why I like this book? It’s easy to read and to the point. It is short enough to be a quick read, helping you stay on top of the latest in personal finance.

Managing Your Money (122 pages) sells in most Canadian bookstores for $9.95.

For the Ladies


Chatelaine’s Earn, Spend, Save: The Savvy Guide to a Richer, Smarter, Debt-Free life by Kira Vermond

Statistically speaking, more men handle the household finances than women. Why is this so? If you’re a woman and you’re unfamiliar with your personal finances, it’s time to get up and do something about it. Ladies, I’ve got just the book for you. Earn, Spend, Save starts off with a bit of a pep talk, preparing you for the daunting topic of money, and then dives right in. Here are some of the topics that Earn, Spend, Save covers:

Work with your money – The first 41 pages of this book talk about something we almost never address: our jobs. It talks about self-worth, burnout, flex-time, pay rates, going it alone and how to interview like a pro.

Spend like a pro – This section discusses budgeting, paying the bills and when and how to pinch pennies.

Debt: know what you owe – Perhaps, the most useful section of the book, this chapter talks about your debt – a topic we all try to avoid. It makes you face your financial fears and helps you get a handle on just how bad (or good) the situation really is.

Invest in yourself – Another wonderful chapter that discusses investments (apparently, women make very good investors), money clubs and financial goals.

Get your tax act together – If you’ve ever lived in fear of the taxman and never handled your own taxes, this is the chapter for you. It tells you how to file your taxes, informs you about tax write-offs, and lets you know what to do if you ever get audited.

Mortgage sweet mortgage – Everything you ever wanted to know about buying your first home and managing a mortgage.

Money meets marriage – A fascinating section on combining finances, proposing a pre-nup, the wedding, divorce and common-law relationships.

Perhaps, the best part about this book is the 6-month plan at the end. Not only does Earn, Spend, Save give you fantastically helpful tips, but it also shows you how to put them into action. Ladies, I highly recommend this book if you need even a little brushing up on your financial know-how.

Earn, Spend, Save (280 pages) sells in most Canadian bookstores for $21.95

For the Survivalist


Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance – How to Slay Your Bills, Decapitate Debt and Fight the Apocalypse of Financial Doom by Lisa Desjardins and Rick Emerson


You might think I’m joking, but some people’s finances mirror a nightmarish apocalypse – probably because they’ve been too afraid to deal with them all along. There is hope. Zombie Economics will teach you how to rise up and survive your own economic apocalypse. If you find that financial matters bore you to tears, but understand that knowledge is power, this is definitely the book for you. It’s far from boring and totally informative.

This survival guide will teach you:

  • How to recognize the zombie on the back porch (the pile of unopened bills)
  • Where to find weapons and how to avoid further disaster
  • How not to become a zombie yourself (stay financially healthy)
  • How to end relationships with the financially infected
  • How to avoid zombies (scams, hucksters and other financial predators)
  • How to set fire to the house (declare bankruptcy and get out alive)
  • How to protect yourself from future threats once the apocalypse is over

Seriously, this book contains some fantastic advice. If you fear the financial apocalypse is upon you, and you have a good sense of humour, this is definitely the book for you.

Zombie Economics (285 pages) sells in most Canadian bookstores for $21.00.

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