A plainspoken primer on the basics of personal finance.
This slim book from Alexander (Mozart and Great Music, 2015, etc.), a manager for a semiconductor company, asks some simple questions—What is the difference between money and wealth? What is the nature of debt? Why are con artists so common and so successful?—and provides some equally simple clarifications. Money, he maintains, is a sign of wealth, but only one of many; true wealth is the goods and services that money buys, which “frees people from drudgery. Wealth grants time to do other work, or time to play. Wealth is essentially good.” The book moves quickly via concise, clear chapters that address such concepts as paper money, banking, investment, inflation, and the Federal Reserve. Alexander has authored a series of similar instructional manuals, and that expertise is evident here on every page; he effectively breaks complex ideas into their essential elements and untangles complicated connections. For example, the author explains nuances of the United States government’s decision to move its currency away from the gold standard, the nature of credit and debt, and the darker nature of credit cards, which, he contends, “are designed to enslave you.” This final point, that debt must be avoided at all costs, is a recurring theme, and the author strikes an equally cautionary note when discussing the difference between speculating and investing. Alexander’s writing is remarkably free of the financial jargon that tends to creep into similar books on money basics, and his warnings—against con artists, pyramid schemes, and government overreach—are stark and straightforward. Newcomers and experts alike will be well-served by these basic reminders.
A clear, invigorating point-by-point breakdown of how money works.