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Ballantine - Grover Whalen and Carl W. Badenhausen with girls putting money in cornerstone, Digital ID 1665007, New York Public LibraryBallantine - Grover Whalen and Carl W. Badenhausen with girls putting money in cornerstone, Digital ID 1665007, New York Public LibraryFor me, the fall has always been a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. The promise of many new school years continues long past graduation as I advance in age and each autumn still feels like an opportunity.

This year I have been getting my finances in order and naturally I used library resources, the most fiscally responsible tools available. Where to start? My Financial Intelligence list of accessible personal finance resources has a few recent titles explaining "the new normal."

Zombie Economics by Lisa Desjardins is a straight up second person zombie apocalypse novel interwoven with serious financial advice. This is perfect for the kind of person who needs to visualize someone eating their brains to become motivated to pay off their credit card debt. It is very in tune with that "New Normal" attitude wherein we all are urged to take it upon ourselves to insure our individual economic survival. Or someone will eat our brains. After plowing through this on the subway and becoming thoroughly terrified, I needed some fatherly advice.

Securing Your Financial Future by Chris Smith provides a gentle and measured approach to financial planning. It is a long, careful book that takes the time to explain each aspect of intelligent planning. Mr. Smith wrote the book for his college age sons and this reader (more than a few years out of college...) found plenty of new information and a coherent plan that made sense. No undead headshots needed, just careful incremental steps that are summarized at the end of each chapter and illustrated with mildly humorous imagined case studies. The author advocates prudence and thrift in a refreshing and understandable format.

Town of Tomorrow small house plan, Digital ID 1683637, New York Public LibraryTown of Tomorrow small house plan, Digital ID 1683637, New York Public LibraryWhew, I was a bit worn down by these two options. Luckily I then found Tammy Strobel's book You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap!). Ms. Strobel has a popular tiny house blog and has chosen a third path. She has quit her job, sold almost all her things and moved into a very fancy and empty trailer. She is now paying the (minimal) bills by writing about her choices, which is a popular method amongst bloggers. Seems like there could be diminishing returns if we all decided to do that, but I guess we may find out. I was also very amused to read the part about how many months food supply she has stored in her 120 square foot dwelling (3 months worth!). Perhaps Ms. Strobel has read Zombie Economics.

The best thing I found? The library offers FREE in person financial counseling through Financial Literacy Central. My counselor helped me decipher some confusing paperwork from my retirement plans and gave me the kind of personalized help you just can't get from a book. Get a fresh financial start this fall for free at the New York Public Library.

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