A straightforward guide to the fundamentals of personal finance.
In this debut work, Harper presents sound guidance to readers looking for basic information about establishing credit, working with a budget, compounding interest, and balancing a checking account. Drawing on decades of experience in business and finance, she clearly presents advice on other topics as well, such as car loans, insurance, retirement savings options, and common financial scams. The book never assumes that readers already have extensive financial knowledge, so it thoroughly explains the mechanics of banking, lending, investing, and taxation at the most fundamental level (“An overdraft occurs when you don’t have enough money in your account to cover transactions you have made”). It escorts readers through various standards and procedures by using fictional case studies as well as stories that draw on Harper’s own experiences or those of her family members. She’s consistently strong when presenting complex topics, but she does especially well when detailing the many factors that shape one’s credit history and credit score; specifically, she shows how readers can make standard practices work to their advantage (“Late payments hurt a good credit score more than they do a bad credit score”). Because of the book’s focus on practical aspects of personal finance, it largely stays away from questions of consumer protection and reform. Instead, it acknowledges the power imbalance between consumers and banks, credit agencies, and insurance companies by using cautionary tales and strategic advice. With its emphasis on personal responsibility and sound decision-making, the book specifically addresses itself to the concerns of consumers who are looking to survive the current financial system.
A solid, informative, and practical advice manual, appropriate for readers who want to know the basics.