Book Review: Financial Fresh Start

I write a lot about how to grow your career, but as we continue to climb out of this recession growing your career is part and parcel of resetting your financial clock. In this spirit I am reviewing the latest release from Amacom Books Publishing by Shari Olefson. Ms Olefson, a regular contributor to CNN, CNBC, Fox, PBS, MSNBC, and CBS wrote the bestseller, Foreclosure Nation back in 2008. Well, a lot has happened in the five years since and now she is back with a new book, Financial Fresh Start: Your five-Step Plan for Adapting and Prospering in the New Economy

The federal government has enacted sweeping reforms in response to the recession and we now have thousands of new rules to try to understand. The much written about Dodd-Frank Act contains over 400 new rules all by itself. Everything from banking to borrowing, to credit, debt, to savings, to investments, home ownership, earning, spending, and retirement requires new information and new actions to make the most of our money. Few of us have the expertise to navigate this new landscape, and this is where Financial Fresh Start aims to help.

If you are like many of us you are more than a little confused by this new economy we currently find ourselves in. Olefson starts her latest book by giving us a little history, a how-we-got-here primer on our present economic situation. Thankfully, she does this while remaining neutral on the political front. This is a straightforward instruction manual on how to start over financially, not an opinion piece on the successes or failures of any  particular party. She then goes on to give readers vital information on how to fix their credit and debt; protecting savings, investments, and retirement; weighing the pros and cons of home ownership; managing budgets and spending; asking for help when it’s needed; and seeking further education on financial literacy.

You can tell a lot about a book’s usefulness based on how its author chooses to present the information it contains. So, whenever a publisher sends me a new non fiction book to review the first thing I do is inspect how the book is organized. I can happily report that Financial Fresh Start is structured in such a way that it is not only easy to read, but it can also be used as a solid reference for years to come. Based on well researched and actionable information this book presents a helpful, doable plan for starting over and thriving in our new economy in five simple steps: 

1. Adapt your banking and borrowing.
2. Fix your credit and debt.
3. Protect your savings, investments, and retirement.
4. Decide if home-ownership is (still, now, or someday) right for you.
5. Spend less and earn more.

Each chapter opens with a helpful introduction that includes two short paragraphs: What Will You Learn from the Chapter and How Will This Know-How Help You. Additionally each chapter ends with the eponymous The Bottom Line. another helpful structural aspect to the book are the prevalent One Minute Mentor sections that detail a specific piece of advice built for quick consumption.

Overall I found Ms. Olefson’s latest to be readable, helpful and at times eye-opening. A must read for anyone looking to start over fresh and find success in our post recession economy.

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