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Personal Finance For Dummies®, 6th Edition

Book Description

Now updated-the proven guide to taking control of your finances

The bestselling Personal Finance For Dummies has helped countless readers budget their funds successfully, rein in debt, and build a strong foundation for the future. Now, renowned financial counselor Eric Tyson combines his time-tested financial advice along with updates to his strategies that reflect changing market conditions, giving you a better-than-ever guide to taking an honest look at your current financial health and setting realistic goals for the future.

Inside, you'll find techniques for tracking expenditures, reducing spending, and getting out from under the burden of high-interest debt. Tyson explains the basics of investing in plain English, as well as risks, returns, investment options, and popular investment strategies. He also covers ways to save for college and special events, tame your taxes, and financially survive the twists and turns that life delivers. .

  • The bestselling, tried-and-true guide to taking control of finances, now updated to cover current market conditions

  • Provides concrete, actionable advice for anyone facing great economic hardship

  • Helps you avoid or get out of debt and budget funds more successfully

  • Eric Tyson, MBA, is a nationally recognized personal finance counselor and the author of numerous For Dummies titles, including Home Buying For Dummies, Investing For Dummies, and Mutual Funds For Dummies, among others

There's no need to stress over an uncertain economy-just read Personal Finance For Dummies and protect your financial future!

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. About the Author
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Publisher's Acknowledgments
  5. Introduction
    1. About This Book
    2. Conventions Used in This Book
    3. What You're Not to Read
    4. Foolish Assumptions
    5. How This Book Is Organized
      1. Part I: Assessing Your Fitness and Setting Goals
      2. Part II: Saving More, Spending Less
      3. Part III: Building Wealth with Wise Investing
      4. Part IV: Insurance: Protecting What You Have
      5. Part V: Where to Go for More Help
      6. Part VI: The Part of Tens
    6. Icons Used in This Book
    7. Where to Go from Here
  6. I. Assessing Your Fitness and Setting Goals
    1. 1. Improving Your Financial Literacy
      1. 1.1. Talking Money at Home
      2. 1.2. Identifying Unreliable Sources of Information
        1. 1.2.1. Recognizing fake financial gurus
        2. 1.2.2. Understanding how undeserving investment gurus become popular
        3. 1.2.3. Pandering to advertisers
      3. 1.3. Jumping over Real and Imaginary Hurdles to Financial Success
        1. 1.3.1. Discovering what (or who) is holding you back
        2. 1.3.2. Developing good financial habits
    2. 2. Measuring Your Financial Health
      1. 2.1. Avoiding Common Money Mistakes
      2. 2.2. Determining Your Financial Net Worth
        1. 2.2.1. Adding up your financial assets
        2. 2.2.2. Subtracting your financial liabilities
        3. 2.2.3. Crunching your numbers
        4. 2.2.4. Interpreting your net worth results
      3. 2.3. Examining Your Credit Score and Reports
        1. 2.3.1. Understanding what your credit data includes and means
        2. 2.3.2. Obtaining your credit reports and score
        3. 2.3.3. Improving your credit reports and score
        4. 2.3.4. Getting credit report errors corrected
          1. 2.3.4.1. Telling your side of the story
          2. 2.3.4.2. Sidestepping "credit repair" firms
      4. 2.4. Knowing the Difference between Bad Debt and Good Debt
        1. 2.4.1. Consuming your way to bad debt
        2. 2.4.2. Recognizing bad debt overload
        3. 2.4.3. Assessing good debt: Can you get too much?
        4. 2.4.4. Playing the credit card float
      5. 2.5. Analyzing Your Savings
      6. 2.6. Evaluating Your Investment Knowledge
      7. 2.7. Assessing Your Insurance Savvy
    3. 3. Determining Where Your Money Goes
      1. 3.1. Examining Overspending
        1. 3.1.1. Having access to credit
        2. 3.1.2. Misusing credit cards
        3. 3.1.3. Taking out car loans
        4. 3.1.4. Bending to outside influences and agendas
        5. 3.1.5. Spending to feel good
      2. 3.2. Analyzing Your Spending
        1. 3.2.1. Tracking spending the low-tech way
        2. 3.2.2. Tracking your spending on the computer
    4. 4. Establishing and Achieving Goals
      1. 4.1. Creating Your Own Definition of "Wealth"
        1. 4.1.1. Acknowledging what money can't buy
        2. 4.1.2. Managing the balancing act
      2. 4.2. Prioritizing Your Savings Goals
        1. 4.2.1. Knowing what's most important to you
        2. 4.2.2. Valuing retirement accounts
        3. 4.2.3. Dealing with competing goals
      3. 4.3. Building Emergency Reserves
      4. 4.4. Saving to Buy a Home or Business
      5. 4.5. Funding Kids' Educational Expenses
      6. 4.6. Saving for Big Purchases
      7. 4.7. Preparing for Retirement
        1. 4.7.1. Figuring what you need for retirement
        2. 4.7.2. Understanding retirement building blocks
          1. 4.7.2.1. Counting on Social Security
            1. 4.7.2.1.1. How much will I get from Social Security?
            2. 4.7.2.1.2. How much work makes me eligible?
          2. 4.7.2.2. Planning your personal savings/investment strategy
          3. 4.7.2.3. Making the most of pensions
        3. 4.7.3. Crunching numbers for your retirement
        4. 4.7.4. Making up for lost time
  7. II. Saving More, Spending Less
    1. 5. Dealing with Debt
      1. 5.1. Using Savings to Reduce Your Consumer Debt
        1. 5.1.1. Understanding how you gain
        2. 5.1.2. Discovering money to pay down consumer debts
      2. 5.2. Decreasing Debt When You Lack Savings
        1. 5.2.1. Reducing your credit card's interest rate
        2. 5.2.2. Understanding all credit card terms and conditions
        3. 5.2.3. Cutting up your credit cards
        4. 5.2.4. Discovering debit cards: The best of both worlds
      3. 5.3. Turning to Credit Counseling Agencies
        1. 5.3.1. Beware biased advice at credit counseling agencies
        2. 5.3.2. Ask questions and avoid debt management programs
      4. 5.4. Filing Bankruptcy
        1. 5.4.1. Understanding bankruptcy benefits
        2. 5.4.2. Coming to terms with bankruptcy drawbacks
        3. 5.4.3. Deciphering the bankruptcy laws
        4. 5.4.4. Choosing between Chapter 7 and 13
        5. 5.4.5. Seeking bankruptcy advice
      5. 5.5. Stopping the Spending/Consumer Debt Cycle
        1. 5.5.1. Resisting the credit temptation
        2. 5.5.2. Identifying and treating a compulsion
    2. 6. Reducing Your Spending
      1. 6.1. Finding the Keys to Successful Spending
        1. 6.1.1. Living within your means
        2. 6.1.2. Looking for the best values
          1. 6.1.2.1. Don't waste money on brand names
          2. 6.1.2.2. Getting your money back
        3. 6.1.3. Eliminating the fat from your spending
        4. 6.1.4. Turning your back on consumer credit
      2. 6.2. Budgeting to Boost Your Savings
      3. 6.3. Reducing Your Spending
        1. 6.3.1. Managing food costs
          1. 6.3.1.1. Eating out frugally
          2. 6.3.1.2. Eating healthy at home without spending a fortune
          3. 6.3.1.3. Joining a wholesale superstore
        2. 6.3.2. Saving on shelter
          1. 6.3.2.1. Reducing rental costs
          2. 6.3.2.2. Reducing homeowner expenses
        3. 6.3.3. Cutting transportation costs
          1. 6.3.3.1. Research before you buy a car
          2. 6.3.3.2. Don't lease, don't borrow: Buy your car with cash
          3. 6.3.3.3. Replace high-cost cars
          4. 6.3.3.4. Keep cars to a minimum
          5. 6.3.3.5. Buy commuter passes
          6. 6.3.3.6. Use regular unleaded gas
          7. 6.3.3.7. Service your car regularly
        4. 6.3.4. Lowering your energy costs
        5. 6.3.5. Controlling clothing costs
        6. 6.3.6. Repaying your debt
        7. 6.3.7. Indulging responsibly in fun and recreation
          1. 6.3.7.1. Entertainment
          2. 6.3.7.2. Vacations
          3. 6.3.7.3. Using thrift with gifts
        8. 6.3.8. Lowering your phone bills
        9. 6.3.9. Technology: Spending wisely
        10. 6.3.10. Curtailing personal care costs
        11. 6.3.11. Paring down professional expenses
        12. 6.3.12. Managing medical expenses
        13. 6.3.13. Eliminating costly addictions
        14. 6.3.14. Keeping an eye on insurance premiums
        15. 6.3.15. Trimming your taxes
    3. 7. Trimming Your Taxes
      1. 7.1. Understanding the Taxes You Pay
        1. 7.1.1. Focusing on your total taxes
        2. 7.1.2. Recognizing the importance of your marginal tax rate
        3. 7.1.3. Defining taxable income
        4. 7.1.4. Being mindful of the second tax system: Alternative minimum tax
      2. 7.2. Trimming Employment Income Taxes
        1. 7.2.1. Contributing to retirement plans
        2. 7.2.2. Shifting some income
      3. 7.3. Increasing Your Deductions
        1. 7.3.1. Choosing standard or itemized deductions
          1. 7.3.1.1. Organize your deductions
          2. 7.3.1.2. Shift or bunch deductions
        2. 7.3.2. Purchasing real estate
        3. 7.3.3. Trading consumer debt for mortgage debt
        4. 7.3.4. Contributing to charities
        5. 7.3.5. Remembering auto registration fees and state insurance
        6. 7.3.6. Deducting miscellaneous expenses
        7. 7.3.7. Deducting self-employment expenses
      4. 7.4. Reducing Investment Income Taxes
        1. 7.4.1. Investing in tax-free money market funds and bonds
        2. 7.4.2. Selecting other tax-friendly investments
        3. 7.4.3. Making your profits long-term
        4. 7.4.4. Does funding retirement accounts still make sense?
      5. 7.5. Enlisting Education Tax Breaks
      6. 7.6. Getting Help from Tax Resources
        1. 7.6.1. IRS assistance
        2. 7.6.2. Preparation and advice guides
        3. 7.6.3. Software and Web sites
        4. 7.6.4. Professional hired help
          1. 7.6.4.1. Preparers
          2. 7.6.4.2. Enrolled agents (EAs)
          3. 7.6.4.3. Certified public accountants (CPAs)
          4. 7.6.4.4. Tax attorneys
      7. 7.7. Dealing with an Audit
        1. 7.7.1. Getting your act together
        2. 7.7.2. Surviving the day of reckoning
  8. III. Building Wealth with Wise Investing
    1. 8. Considering Important Investment Concepts
      1. 8.1. Establishing Your Goals
      2. 8.2. Understanding the Primary Investments
        1. 8.2.1. Looking at lending investments
        2. 8.2.2. Exploring ownership investments
      3. 8.3. Shunning Gambling Instruments and Behaviors
        1. 8.3.1. Forsake futures, options, and other derivatives
        2. 8.3.2. Ditch daytrading
      4. 8.4. Understanding Investment Returns
      5. 8.5. Sizing Investment Risks
        1. 8.5.1. Comparing the risks of stocks and bonds
        2. 8.5.2. Focusing on the risks you can control
        3. 8.5.3. Discovering low-risk, high-return investments
      6. 8.6. Diversifying Your Investments
        1. 8.6.1. Spreading the wealth: Asset allocation
        2. 8.6.2. Allocating money for the long term
        3. 8.6.3. Sticking with your allocations: Don't trade
        4. 8.6.4. Investing lump sums via dollar-cost averaging
      7. 8.7. Acknowledging Differences among Investment Firms
        1. 8.7.1. Focusing on the best firms
          1. 8.7.1.1. No-load (commission-free) mutual fund companies
          2. 8.7.1.2. Discount brokers
        2. 8.7.2. Places to consider avoiding
          1. 8.7.2.1. Commissions and their impact on human behavior
          2. 8.7.2.2. Investment salespeople's conflicts of interest
          3. 8.7.2.3. Valuing brokerage research
      8. 8.8. Seeing through Experts Who Predict the Future
        1. 8.8.1. Investment newsletters
        2. 8.8.2. Investment gurus
      9. 8.9. Leaving You with Some Final Advice
    2. 9. Understanding Your Investment Choices
      1. 9.1. Slow and Steady Investments
        1. 9.1.1. Transaction/checking accounts
        2. 9.1.2. Savings accounts and money market funds
        3. 9.1.3. Bonds
      2. 9.2. Building Wealth with Ownership Vehicles
        1. 9.2.1. Socking your money away in stocks
          1. 9.2.1.1. Discovering the relative advantages of mutual funds
          2. 9.2.1.2. Understanding exchange-traded funds, hedge funds, and managed accounts
          3. 9.2.1.3. Investing in individual stocks
        2. 9.2.2. Generating wealth with real estate
          1. 9.2.2.1. Real estate: Not your ordinary investment
          2. 9.2.2.2. The best real estate investment options
          3. 9.2.2.3. The worst real estate investments
        3. 9.2.3. Investing in small business (and your career)
          1. 9.2.3.1. Launching your own enterprise
          2. 9.2.3.2. Buying an existing business
          3. 9.2.3.3. Investing in someone else's small business
          4. 9.2.3.4. Investing in your career
      3. 9.3. Off the Beaten Path: Investment Odds and Ends
        1. 9.3.1. Precious metals
        2. 9.3.2. Annuities
        3. 9.3.3. Collectibles
    3. 10. Investing in Funds
      1. 10.1. Understanding the Benefits of Mutual Funds
      2. 10.2. Exploring Various Fund Types
        1. 10.2.1. Money market funds
        2. 10.2.2. Bond funds
        3. 10.2.3. Stock funds
        4. 10.2.4. Balancing bonds and stocks: Hybrid funds
        5. 10.2.5. U.S., international, and global funds
        6. 10.2.6. Index funds
        7. 10.2.7. Specialty (sector) funds
      3. 10.3. Selecting the Best Mutual Funds
        1. 10.3.1. Reading prospectuses and annual reports
        2. 10.3.2. Keeping costs low
          1. 10.3.2.1. Eliminating loads
          2. 10.3.2.2. Decreasing operating expenses
        3. 10.3.3. Evaluating historic performance
        4. 10.3.4. Assessing fund manager and fund family reputations
        5. 10.3.5. Rating tax friendliness
        6. 10.3.6. Determining your needs and goals
      4. 10.4. Deciphering Your Fund's Performance
        1. 10.4.1. Dividends
        2. 10.4.2. Capital gains
        3. 10.4.3. Share price changes
      5. 10.5. Evaluating and Selling Your Funds
    4. 11. Investing in Retirement Accounts
      1. 11.1. Looking at Types of Retirement Accounts
        1. 11.1.1. Employer-sponsored plans
          1. 11.1.1.1. 401(k) plans
          2. 11.1.1.2. 403(b) plans
          3. 11.1.1.3. 457 plans
        2. 11.1.2. Self-employed plans
          1. 11.1.2.1. SEP-IRAs
          2. 11.1.2.2. Keoghs
        3. 11.1.3. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
        4. 11.1.4. Annuities: An odd investment
      2. 11.2. Allocating Your Money in Retirement Plans
        1. 11.2.1. Prioritizing retirement contributions
        2. 11.2.2. Setting up a retirement account
        3. 11.2.3. Allocating money when your employer selects the investment options
          1. 11.2.3.1. Money market/savings accounts
          2. 11.2.3.2. Bond mutual funds
          3. 11.2.3.3. Guaranteed-investment contracts (GICs)
          4. 11.2.3.4. Balanced mutual funds
          5. 11.2.3.5. Stock mutual funds
          6. 11.2.3.6. Stock in the company you work for
          7. 11.2.3.7. Some asset allocation examples
        4. 11.2.4. Allocating money in plans you design
          1. 11.2.4.1. Vanguard
            1. 11.2.4.1.1. A conservative portfolio with 50 percent stocks, 50 percent bonds
            2. 11.2.4.1.2. An aggressive portfolio with 80 percent stocks, 20 percent bonds
          2. 11.2.4.2. Fidelity
            1. 11.2.4.2.1. A conservative portfolio with 50 percent stocks, 50 percent bonds
            2. 11.2.4.2.2. An aggressive portfolio with 80 percent stocks, 20 percent bonds
          3. 11.2.4.3. Discount brokers
            1. 11.2.4.3.1. A conservative portfolio with 50 percent stocks, 50 percent bonds
            2. 11.2.4.3.2. An aggressive portfolio with 80 percent stocks, 20 percent bonds
      3. 11.3. Transferring Retirement Accounts
        1. 11.3.1. Transferring accounts you control
        2. 11.3.2. Moving money from an employer's plan
    5. 12. Investing in Taxable Accounts
      1. 12.1. Getting Started
        1. 12.1.1. Paying off high-interest debt
        2. 12.1.2. Taking advantage of tax breaks
      2. 12.2. Understanding Taxes on Your Investments
      3. 12.3. Fortifying Your Emergency Reserves
        1. 12.3.1. Bank and credit union accounts
        2. 12.3.2. Money market mutual funds
          1. 12.3.2.1. Watch out for "sales"
          2. 12.3.2.2. Recommended money market mutual funds
      4. 12.4. Investing for the Longer Term (A Few Years or More)
        1. 12.4.1. Defining your time horizons
        2. 12.4.2. Bonds and bond funds
          1. 12.4.2.1. U.S. Treasury bond funds
          2. 12.4.2.2. Buying Treasuries from the Federal Reserve Bank
          3. 12.4.2.3. State- and federal-tax-free bond funds
          4. 12.4.2.4. Federal-tax-free-only bond funds
        3. 12.4.3. Certificates of deposit (CDs)
        4. 12.4.4. Stocks and stock funds
        5. 12.4.5. Annuities
        6. 12.4.6. Real estate
        7. 12.4.7. Small-business investments
    6. 13. Investing for Educational Expenses
      1. 13.1. Figuring Out How the Financial Aid System Works
        1. 13.1.1. Treatment of retirement accounts
        2. 13.1.2. Treatment of money in the kids' names
          1. 13.1.2.1. Traditional custodial accounts
          2. 13.1.2.2. Education Savings Accounts
          3. 13.1.2.3. Section 529, state-sponsored college savings plans
        3. 13.1.3. Treatment of home equity and other assets
      2. 13.2. Strategizing to Pay for Educational Expenses
        1. 13.2.1. Estimating college costs
        2. 13.2.2. Setting realistic savings goals
        3. 13.2.3. Tips for getting loans, grants, and scholarships
      3. 13.3. Investing Educational Funds
        1. 13.3.1. Good investments: No-load mutual funds
        2. 13.3.2. Bad investments
        3. 13.3.3. Overlooked investments
    7. 14. Investing in Real Estate: Your Home and Beyond
      1. 14.1. Deciding Whether to Buy or Rent
        1. 14.1.1. Assessing your timeline
        2. 14.1.2. Determining what you can afford
        3. 14.1.3. Calculating how much you can borrow
        4. 14.1.4. Comparing the costs of owning versus renting
          1. 14.1.4.1. Mortgage
          2. 14.1.4.2. Property taxes
          3. 14.1.4.3. Tax savings in home ownership
        5. 14.1.5. Considering the long-term costs of renting
        6. 14.1.6. Recognizing advantages to renting
      2. 14.2. Financing Your Home
        1. 14.2.1. Understanding the two major types of mortgages
        2. 14.2.2. Choosing between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages
          1. 14.2.2.1. How willing and able are you to take on financial risk?
          2. 14.2.2.2. How long do you plan to keep the mortgage?
        3. 14.2.3. Shopping for fixed-rate mortgages
          1. 14.2.3.1. Trading off interest rates and points
          2. 14.2.3.2. Understanding other lender fees
          3. 14.2.3.3. Shunning balloon loans
        4. 14.2.4. Inspecting adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs)
          1. 14.2.4.1. Understanding the start rate
          2. 14.2.4.2. Determining the future interest rate
          3. 14.2.4.3. Adjustment period or frequency
          4. 14.2.4.4. Understanding rate caps
          5. 14.2.4.5. Other ARM fees
        5. 14.2.5. Avoiding the down-payment blues
        6. 14.2.6. Comparing 15-year and 30-year mortgages
        7. 14.2.7. Finding the best lender
          1. 14.2.7.1. Shopping for a lender on your own
          2. 14.2.7.2. Hiring a mortgage broker
        8. 14.2.8. Increasing your approval chances
      3. 14.3. Finding the Right Property
        1. 14.3.1. Condo, town house, co-op, or detached home?
        2. 14.3.2. Casting a broad net
        3. 14.3.3. Finding out actual sale prices
        4. 14.3.4. Researching the area
        5. 14.3.5. Working with Real Estate Agents
        6. 14.3.6. Recognizing conflicts of interest
        7. 14.3.7. Looking for the right qualities in real estate agents
      4. 14.4. Putting Your Deal Together
        1. 14.4.1. Negotiating 101
        2. 14.4.2. Inspecting before you buy
        3. 14.4.3. Remembering title insurance and escrow fees
      5. 14.5. After You Buy
        1. 14.5.1. Refinancing your mortgage
          1. 14.5.1.1. Spending money to save money
          2. 14.5.1.2. Using money for another purpose
          3. 14.5.1.3. Changing loans
        2. 14.5.2. Mortgage life insurance
        3. 14.5.3. Is a reverse mortgage a good idea?
        4. 14.5.4. Selling your house
          1. 14.5.4.1. Selling through an agent
          2. 14.5.4.2. Selling without a real estate agent
          3. 14.5.4.3. Should you keep your home until prices go up?
          4. 14.5.4.4. Should you keep your home as investment property after you move?
  9. IV. Insurance: Protecting What You Have
    1. 15. Insurance: Getting What You Need at the Best Price
      1. 15.1. Discovering My Three Laws of Buying Insurance
        1. 15.1.1. Law I: Insure for the big stuff; don't sweat the small stuff
          1. 15.1.1.1. Buy insurance to cover financial catastrophes
          2. 15.1.1.2. Take the highest deductible you can afford
          3. 15.1.1.3. Avoid small-potato policies
        2. 15.1.2. Law II: Buy broad coverage
          1. 15.1.2.1. Recognizing fears
          2. 15.1.2.2. Preparing for natural disasters — insurance and otherwise
        3. 15.1.3. Law III: Shop around and buy direct
          1. 15.1.3.1. Employer and other group plans
          2. 15.1.3.2. Insurance without sales commissions
      2. 15.2. Dealing with Insurance Problems
        1. 15.2.1. Knowing what to do if you're denied coverage
        2. 15.2.2. Getting your due on claims
          1. 15.2.2.1. Documenting your assets and case
          2. 15.2.2.2. Preparing your case
          3. 15.2.2.3. Approaching your claim as a negotiation
          4. 15.2.2.4. Practicing persistency
          5. 15.2.2.5. Enlisting support
    2. 16. Insurance on You: Life, Disability, and Health
      1. 16.1. Providing for Your Loved Ones: Life Insurance
        1. 16.1.1. Determining how much life insurance to buy
        2. 16.1.2. Comparing term life insurance to cash value life insurance
          1. 16.1.2.1. "Cash value policies are all paid up after X years. You don't want to be paying life insurance premiums for the rest of your life, do you?"
          2. 16.1.2.2. "You won't be able to afford term insurance when you're older."
          3. 16.1.2.3. "You can borrow against the cash value at a low interest rate."
          4. 16.1.2.4. "Your cash value grows tax-deferred."
          5. 16.1.2.5. "Cash value policies are forced savings."
          6. 16.1.2.6. "Life insurance is not part of your taxable estate."
        3. 16.1.3. Making your decision
        4. 16.1.4. Buying term insurance
          1. 16.1.4.1. Selecting how often your premium adjusts
          2. 16.1.4.2. Ensuring guaranteed renewability
          3. 16.1.4.3. Deciding where to buy term insurance
        5. 16.1.5. Getting rid of cash value life insurance
        6. 16.1.6. Considering the purchase of cash value life insurance
      2. 16.2. Preparing for the Unpredictable: Disability Insurance
        1. 16.2.1. Deciding whether you need coverage
        2. 16.2.2. Determining how much disability insurance you need
        3. 16.2.3. Identifying other features you need in disability insurance
        4. 16.2.4. Deciding where to buy disability insurance
      3. 16.3. Getting the Care You Need: Health Insurance
        1. 16.3.1. Choosing the best health plan
          1. 16.3.1.1. Major medical coverage
          2. 16.3.1.2. Choice of healthcare providers
          3. 16.3.1.3. Lifetime maximum benefits
          4. 16.3.1.4. Deductibles and co-payments
          5. 16.3.1.5. Guaranteed renewability
        2. 16.3.2. Buying health insurance
        3. 16.3.3. Dealing with insurance denial
        4. 16.3.4. Looking at retiree medical care insurance
          1. 16.3.4.1. Closing Medicare's gaps
          2. 16.3.4.2. Long-term care insurance
          3. 16.3.4.3. Making sense of Medicare's prescription drug program
    3. 17. Covering Your Assets
      1. 17.1. Insuring Where You Live
        1. 17.1.1. Dwelling coverage: The cost to rebuild
        2. 17.1.2. Personal property coverage: For your things
        3. 17.1.3. Liability insurance: Coverage for when others are harmed
        4. 17.1.4. Flood and earthquake insurance: Protection from Mother Nature
        5. 17.1.5. Deductibles: Your cost with a claim
        6. 17.1.6. Special discounts
        7. 17.1.7. Buying homeowner's or renter's insurance
      2. 17.2. Auto Insurance 101
        1. 17.2.1. Bodily injury/property damage liability
        2. 17.2.2. Uninsured or underinsured motorist liability
        3. 17.2.3. Deductibles
        4. 17.2.4. Special discounts
        5. 17.2.5. Little-stuff coverage to skip
        6. 17.2.6. Buying auto insurance
      3. 17.3. Protecting against Mega-Liability: Umbrella Insurance
      4. 17.4. Planning Your Estate
        1. 17.4.1. Wills, living wills, and medical powers of attorney
        2. 17.4.2. Avoiding probate through living trusts
        3. 17.4.3. Reducing estate taxes
  10. V. Where to Go for More Help
    1. 18. Working with Financial Planners
      1. 18.1. Surveying Your Financial Management Options
        1. 18.1.1. Doing nothing
        2. 18.1.2. Doing it yourself
        3. 18.1.3. Hiring financial help
          1. 18.1.3.1. Commission-based "planners"
          2. 18.1.3.2. Percentage-of-assets-under-management advisors
          3. 18.1.3.3. Hourly-based advisors
      2. 18.2. Deciding Whether to Hire a Financial Planner
        1. 18.2.1. How a good financial advisor can help
        2. 18.2.2. Why advisors aren't for everyone
        3. 18.2.3. Recognizing conflicts of interest
          1. 18.2.3.1. Selling and pushing products that pay commissions
          2. 18.2.3.2. Taking a narrow view
          3. 18.2.3.3. Not recommending saving through your employer's retirement plan
          4. 18.2.3.4. Ignoring debts
          5. 18.2.3.5. Not recommending real estate and small-business investments
          6. 18.2.3.6. Selling ongoing money-management services
          7. 18.2.3.7. Selling legal services
          8. 18.2.3.8. Scaring you unnecessarily
          9. 18.2.3.9. Creating dependency
      3. 18.3. Finding a Good Financial Planner
        1. 18.3.1. Soliciting personal referrals
        2. 18.3.2. Seeking advisors through associations
      4. 18.4. Interviewing Financial Advisors: Asking the Right Questions
        1. 18.4.1. What percentage of your income comes from clients' fees versus commissions?
        2. 18.4.2. What portion of fees paid by clients is for money management versus hourly planning?
        3. 18.4.3. What is your hourly fee?
        4. 18.4.4. Do you also perform tax or legal services?
        5. 18.4.5. What work and educational experience qualifies you to be a financial planner?
        6. 18.4.6. Have you ever sold limited partnerships? Options? Futures? Commodities?
        7. 18.4.7. Do you carry liability (errors and omissions) insurance?
        8. 18.4.8. Can you provide references from clients with needs similar to mine?
        9. 18.4.9. Will you provide specific strategies and product recommendations that I can implement on my own if I choose?
        10. 18.4.10. How is implementation handled?
      5. 18.5. Learning from Others' Mistakes
    2. 19. Using a Computer to Manage Your Money
      1. 19.1. Surveying Software and Web Sites
        1. 19.1.1. Adding up financial software benefits
        2. 19.1.2. Surfing hazards online
          1. 19.1.2.1. Considering the source so you can recognize bias
          2. 19.1.2.2. Watching out for "sponsored" content
          3. 19.1.2.3. Steering clear of biased financial-planning advice
          4. 19.1.2.4. Shunning short-term thinking
      2. 19.2. Accomplishing Money Tasks on Your Computer
        1. 19.2.1. Paying your bills and tracking your money
        2. 19.2.2. Planning for retirement
        3. 19.2.3. Preparing your taxes
        4. 19.2.4. Researching investments
        5. 19.2.5. Trading online
        6. 19.2.6. Reading and searching periodicals
        7. 19.2.7. Buying life insurance
        8. 19.2.8. Preparing legal documents
    3. 20. On Air and in Print
      1. 20.1. Observing the Mass Media
        1. 20.1.1. Alarming or informing us?
        2. 20.1.2. Teaching questionable values
        3. 20.1.3. Worshipping prognosticating pundits
      2. 20.2. Rating Radio and Television Financial Programs
      3. 20.3. Finding the Best Web Sites
      4. 20.4. Navigating Newspapers and Magazines
      5. 20.5. Betting on Books
        1. 20.5.1. Understanding the book publishing business
        2. 20.5.2. Books at the head of their class
  11. VI. The Part of Tens
    1. 21. Survival Guide for Ten Life Changes
      1. 21.1. Starting Out: Your First Job
      2. 21.2. Changing Jobs or Careers
      3. 21.3. Getting Married
      4. 21.4. Buying a Home
      5. 21.5. Having Children
      6. 21.6. Starting a Small Business
      7. 21.7. Caring for Aging Parents
      8. 21.8. Divorcing
      9. 21.9. Receiving a Windfall
      10. 21.10. Retiring
    2. 22. Ten Tactics to Thwart Identity Theft and Fraud
      1. 22.1. Save Phone Discussions for Friends Only
      2. 22.2. Never Respond to E-Mails Soliciting Information
      3. 22.3. Review Your Monthly Financial Statements
      4. 22.4. Secure All Receipts
      5. 22.5. Close Unnecessary Credit Accounts
      6. 22.6. Regularly Review Your Credit Reports
      7. 22.7. Freeze Your Credit Reports
      8. 22.8. Keep Personal Info Off Your Checks
      9. 22.9. Protect Your Computer and Files
      10. 22.10. Protect Your Mail
  12. Glossary