Don't Judge a Finance Book by Its Cover

Physician's Money Digest, September 2005, Volume 12, Issue 13

Consumer Reports

Can a book purchased for $30 provideas adequate and professionaladvice as a fee-only financial planner,many of whom can charge $2000 andup to develop a personal financial plan?(www.consumerreports.org) wondered the same thing. Agood book is certainly less expensive, butjust as with financial planners, not allbooks are created equal.

Blind Test of Seven

Consumer Reports

Making the Most of

Your Money

The Road to Wealth

The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom

Personal Finance for Dummies

The Motley Fool

Personal Finance Workbook

Smart Women Finish Rich

Pay Yourself

First: The African American Guide to

Financial Success and Security

recentlytested seven personal-financebest sellers: (Simon & Schuster;1997) by Jane BryantQuinn; (Riverhead Trade; 2003) and(Random House;2000) by Suze Orman; (Wiley; 2003) by Eric Tyson; (Simon & Schuster;2003); (Broadway;2002) by David Bach; and (Wiley;2001) by Jesse B. Brown.

Judged in a blind test, the books werestripped of their covers, cut up by topic,and numbered by section, with all referencesto titles and authors blacked out.They were then presented to 32 experts in10 fields for evaluation, two personal-financegeneralists, and an AfricanAmerican financial expert.

Winners and Ratings

Making the Most of Your Money

The Road to Wealth

Personal Finance for Dummies, Smart Women Finish

Rich, The Motley Fool Personal Finance Workbook,

The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom

Pay Yourself First

Overall, the reviewers ratedand "very good." Both books providedetailed, comprehensiveinformation on the most important personal-financesubjects, such as estate planning. The following books,listed in order of ratings, were assessed as "good":and . The reviewersrated "fair."

Consumer Reports

Smart Women Finish Rich

According to , despite the commercialsuccess experienced by each of these books,most of the books fell short in terms of providingreaders with reliable advice and information to helpthem make sound financial decisions. Notably absentwas information on health, homeowner's, and autoinsurance. Moreover, some of the advice providedwas either unwise or outright dangerous. Whileclaims that it's okay toleave half of your 401(k) money in your employer'sstock, most learned financial planners consider thatdecision a risky allocation. In addition, the booksdevoted to women and African Americans missedopportunities to tailor guidance to their audiences.

Consumer Reports

As a final note, suggests thatif you truly seek financial advice, don't limit yourselfto a book. Computer programs such asQuicken or Microsoft Money can help with sortingout expenses and assessing net worth. However, ifyou don't have the time to do it yourself, make sureto get the advice of a well-recommended financialadvisor.