Book review: Eric Tyson’s “Personal Finance in Your 20s For Dummies”




“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”— ancient proverb.

Whether you’re just starting out in college, in the military, or moving to a civilian career, there are thousands of books to advise you on every step of the way. The “problem” is (1) finding the time to read any of them and (2) finding one that works for you.

Eric Tyson expands his personal-finance franchise once again with a great book for a demographic who sorely needs the help– even if they don’t realize it yet.

He’s written several other books on investing and real estate since his 1990s classic “Personal Finance For Dummies”.  He’s also a syndicated columnist who’s been answering reader questions for years. His writing introduced a generation to simple, low-cost investing.

“Personal Finance in Your 20s” focuses on the beginner who doesn’t have a lot of spare time (or interest!) to research all the important questions. It’s not only very readable advice from a credible source. It’s organized around the “… For Dummies” style book for fast, easy reference. You get what you need without having to plow through a bunch of buildup or amplification.

Eric helps get over the analysis paralysis caused by fear of making the wrong decisions. He starts with the very basics of tracking of your net worth, watching your budgeting and spending, and setting up your financial accounts.  He moves on to first-time challenges like building your credit score and renting your first place. You’re beginning a career, so he covers the options and how to get the most out of your choices. He spends several pages on the tradeoffs of an advanced degree, how to change careers or start your own business, and how to handle unemployment.

Since most 20-somethings are just starting their own tax returns and investments, he devotes several chapters to the topics. He covers tax-efficient investing, understanding the risks of asset classes, and pursuing your savings goalsIf you didn’t learn about these subjects before you left the nest, then you’ll feel as if you’ve discovered the “secret rule book” of investing. Once you’ve read these chapters you can research the options, make the choices, and put your investing plan in autopilot.

Instead of trying to tell you how to manage your money for the rest of your life, Eric teaches you how to start by protecting your assets and your future earnings. It’s not just the basics of car and health insurance, but also the grim topics of life and disability. Most of us would rather avoid contemplating these vulnerabilities, so he quickly drills down to what to look for and where to get it.

In the book’s last section, he offers more advice on… advice. The financial industry is full of experts at spreading fear and uncertainty that “only” they can handle, so Eric shows you how to filter out the noise and focus on the quality of the wisdom you’re seeking.

Eric gets your life going so that you can get on with living it. This book is the perfect antidote for the dismay at being overwhelmed by the complications of personal finance. If you’re just starting out, then start here.

If you know someone who’s about to start their own financial life, then make this teacher appear. Don’t wait until graduation week or terminal leave– give it to them now so that they have the time to get ready!


Related articles:
Book Review: Liz Weston’s “The 10 Commandments of Money”
How many years does it take to become financially independent?


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About Doug Nordman

Author of "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" and co-author of "Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence."
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