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Guide to Understanding Money and Investing Review

Free Money Finance did a 24 hour blogathon where he gave away a ton of books [3] and a ton of money [4]. One of those books was the Wall Street Journal’s Guide to Understanding Money & Investing [3] and I was the lucky recipient so I thought I’d give this colorful 160 page book a review. The book bills itself, right there on the cover, as “An easy to understand, easy to use primer that helps take the mystery out of money, indexes, treasury bulls, stocks, commodities, options, bonds, tracking performance, risk/return, mutual funds, futures, and inflation” and I think it backs up those claims in spades through the use of colorful pictures, informative tables and graphs, and easy to understand explanations of sometimes complicated concepts. This particular edition was written in 1999 and is a bit dated considering in the stocks section it teaches you how to read the stock information usually printed in the newspaper (not many people go there for stock information nowadays) but in general it’s still on the money.

The tall but relatively thin book is separated into color coded sections, each one governing a different topic, and each of the sections does give you a nice 30,000 foot view of that financial idea or instrument. For example, the first section is about money itself and begins by telling stories about the origins of bartering and fiat money. As the section continues, it delves into the banking structure of the United States, a few economic concepts such as money supply, inflation, forms of money (checks, credit cards), consumer confidence, currency in other nations, and then finishes it off by explaining the foreign exchange markets. Throughout the section, it illustrates and expands on its points through the use of colorful diagrams, which help to keep the content interesting instead of dry and boring.

I think the book speaks at a high enough level and uses enough images to supplement the text that anyone can really understand it and it might be something you want to get your future burgeoning teenage businessman or woman (if they’re interested in money!).