Your Take 
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Your Take: Your Favorite Personal Finance Book

Every year, hundreds of personal finance books are published. Every year, personal finance bloggers, experts, and columnists always refer back to a handful of books that have stood the test of time. Many bloggers are fans of Your Money or Your Life and the Richest Man in Babylon, many investors call The Intelligent Investor their Bible, and lots of people look up to the books of Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, and Robert Kiyosaki.

I want to know, what is your favorite personal finance book ever? It can be the book that has had the most impact on your life, the book that you most enjoy reading, or the book you’d most likely recommend to a friend.

I’ve listed my must read personal finance books and even written one sentence summaries of ten personal finance books, but have I ever told you my absolute favorite?

The Motley Fool’s Money Guide by Selena Maranjian. As they say, you never forget your first. This book was the first personal finance book I ever read, back in 2003 when I started my first job, and it gave me all the tools to help me succeed. The best thing about the book was how broad it was. It gave me a sense of the landscape and enough of a vocabulary that I could learn anything Maranjian missed by researching it on my own. Is it the best book? That I can’t say, but I do know it’s my favorite.

So what’s yours?


 Personal Finance 
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NAPFA Consumer Education Series

NAPFA Consumer Webinar Series
Every year, National Association of Personal Finance Advisors (NAPFA) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance get together for their Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days, where you can talk to a fee-only advisors from NAPFA. It’s a pretty good resource if you take advantage of it, it’s not every day you can talk to a financial advisor for free without the pressure of them trying to sell you something (one reason why fee-only beats commissioned advisors).

NAPFA is putting together a NAPFA Consumer Education Series they bill as:

… designed to help consumers across the country better understand personal financial matters. Presented by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), each session will be led by a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor who commits to the highest of standards in the financial planning industry. Many of our instructors are authors, educators and leaders in the industry.


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 Frugal Living 
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How to Live Like a Broke College Student

Empty WalletRemember the good ol’ days of ramen noodles and $5 cases of beer? Or how about those midnight cramming sessions where the only things you cared about was acing a test and that gallon of coffee next to you?

Most of us have moved on from those glory days (well, except for that gallon of coffee still next to us), but if there was one thing I learned from it all it was was this: I survived! And not only that, but I did it with a budget 1/10th of what it is today.

How is that possible?

Well, I was forced to. The Bank of Mom & Dad had done their part in helping out, but It was up to me to make ends meet and make sure I graduate on time. That meant long hours working at the dining hall, and even longer nights studying. It also meant not rolling with my friends (aka the Jones’) and hitting up Cancun every Spring Break ;)

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 Credit 
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Go Direct To Credit Bureaus for Credit Score

Whether it’s driving on the highway or surfing on the information superhighway, I’ve been seeing a lot of ads for credit reports and credit scores. With the economy weak, people are looking to play defense and advertising are looking to capitalize. Like I’ve said in the past, checking your credit report annually is one of the best financial things you can do for yourself.

I have one word of warning for you: Don’t ever go to a company that isn’t Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, or Fair Isaac. Never ever.

Here’s why:

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 Credit 
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Canceling A Credit Card

Credit cards with bullet holesBreaking up is hard to do, but canceling a credit card is easy. Call the company, tell them it’s just not working out, then cut up the credit card! Easy right?

What’s a little harder? Understanding the impact that can have on your credit history and score.

Fortunately, the answer isn’t as complicate as you might think.

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 Cars 
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Make Your Own Windshield Wiper Fluid

Windshield Wipers in Heavy WaterA few nights ago, on our drive home, I remarked about the dirtiness of my wife’s windshield. That’s when she told me she’d been driving without windshield wiper fluid for a few weeks! At first I was a little surprised, then I realized it was the summer. Not having windshield wiper fluid in the winter is very dangerous, in the summer it’s only a mere inconvenience.

That’s when we started trying to guess what was actually in windshield wiper fluid. You can pick up a gallon of the blue/orange/green stuff at Wal-Mart for around $2, so we figured it couldn’t be anything too expensive. When we got home, I started research online whether it’s possible for us to make windshield wiper fluid and wasn’t surprised to find out that we could.

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 Personal Finance 
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What Are Refundable Tax Credits vs. Non-Refundable Tax Credits?

Last year, I wrote about the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction. Like marginal tax rates, it’s a tax topic that is often misunderstood because, well, our tax code is confusing!

Today, I want to talk about refundable tax credits vs. non-refundable tax credits, because it’s been in the news a lot lately after the big stimulus bill was passed. If you’re unsure what the difference is between a tax credit and a tax deduction, I invite you to review my article from 2008.

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 Banking 
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Where To Invest $1,000

Every once and a while I get an email from a reader that asks where he or she should invest $1,000.

My answer? An online savings account or a certificate of deposit.

Unfortunately, $1,000 just simply isn’t enough for you to invest in the stock market. It’s certainly not enough for real estate and it’s usually not enough for investing in any asset class.

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