A principal virtue of this encyclopedic personal-finance manual is the author's emphasis on keeping an open mind--not necessarily assuming, for instance, that cost-of-living pay raises will persist during a disinflationary period. Weinstein, a Good Housekeeping columnist, also delivers on the title's promise to provide cradle-to-grave guidance to the extent, sometimes, of going into overmuch detail on such elementary subjects as check endorsement. She begins conventionally, recommending that individuals in all age brackets prepare written budgets defining their positions and prospects. The average American, she reports, has $6 worth of assets for every $1 in debt: upwardly mobile young adults, however, can afford more risk than, say, the elderly nearing retirement. Stressing the need to shop and weigh temptingly high returns against funds' accessibility, Weinstein offers a first-rate survey of the chaotic, newly competitive savings scene. Credit, housing, and insurance of all kinds are also covered in exemplary fashion along with estate, retirement, and tax planning. The rundown on tradeoffs in emergent home-financing alternatives--adjustable mortgage loans, shared-appreciation mortgages, etc.--could stand on its own. Also valuable: critiques of so-called creative financing techniques; an account of the Federal National Mortgage Association's resale/refinancing program; the pros and cons of home ownership (versus renting) in a variety of contexts. In addition, Weinstein offers good counsel on various workaday matters from the evaluation of universal life insurance policies through dealing with the Social Security Adminstration. (One tip: file form SSA 7004 every few years to ensure that the agency's record of your earnings is in accord with the facts.) The sketchy section on investment opportunities is distinctly less helpful. Though without the investment and economic perspectives of Rosefsky's wide-angle Money Talks (1982): an assemblage of straightforward, up-to-date advisories for every stage of life.