Making the Most of Your Money Now  by Jane Bryant Quinn is a massive 1,200 page tome of personal finance information.
The book starts with a must read introduction to Quinn and her experience with money. It goes back to her childhood days as a page at a local public library, her paycheck to paycheck lifestyle when she first started working, her first experience with stockbrokers and mutual fund mistakes, all the while picking up personal finance insights that will be expanded upon later in the book. Reading this introduction, a prologue of sorts, gives you an understanding of why Quinn is qualified to write such a book. She’s lived and learned a tremendous amount, even when the book was first released in 1991, and she’s captured it in a mere 1,200 pages.
Don’t let the size of the book intimidate you. It’s organized in a logical and compartmentalized way that you only need to read the sections that apply to you now. The “steps” act as chapter buckets and they are:
- Step 1. Building Your Base – covers the basics such as general personal finance, banking, wills & trusts, and milestones in your life.
- Step 2. Finding the Money – covers how to spend and save money intelligently, including how to use credit cards responsible.
- Step 3. Your Safety Net – covers insurances such as life insurance, health insurance, disability, auto, and everything else (fire, theft, wind, flood!)
- Step 4. Your Own Home
- Step 5. Paying for College
- Step 6. Understanding Investing – covers the basics and the specifics from how investing works, how to pick a mutual fund, working with brokers, stocks vs. bonds, emerging markets and even real estate.
- Step 7. Retirement Planning
- Step 8. Making it Work – covers financial planning, whether it’s being your own planner or hiring one.
As you can see, it’s very well laid out and you can skip whatever you aren’t ready for. If you aren’t planning on more college (or paying for your kids), then skip the 80 pages in Chapters 19 and 20. If you aren’t ready for a home, then the 60 pages of Chapter 17 and 18 are irrelevant (now). Not ready to look at your will? Then that’s 50 pages in Chapter 6 that you can save for later.
I’m hesitant to call it a reference book because it just doesn’t read like a reference book (it’s not an encyclopedia) but it’s something you can reference again and again. While I haven’t read every page, I’m pretty confident that anything you want to know about personal finance is in this book somewhere.