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By Juleyka Lantigua

Get_a_financial_life Despite all the depressing news about the evaporating worth of money, the imploding world economy and the impending doom about to befall us, right now is exactly the time to make one important financial investment: improving your personal finance knowhow.

My recommendation is a $16 investment in Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties, a book that changed my life when someone recommended it to me a decade ago. Like many of you out there, I grew up in a working class household (in the South Bronx) where we got by paycheck to paycheck. Those circumstances made for very pragmatic money managing principles: if you don’t have cash in hand, you can’t afford it. If you want something extra nice, start saving today. Those solid principles form a sturdy foundation for building financial stability and wealth, but without the right tools and knowledge, you won’t reap the benefits of living in the most advanced capitalistic system in history.

Stocks, bonds, insurance, compound interest and all such financial terms, did not enter my vocabulary until I was considerably in debt and headed straight for a financial abyss. In a moronic and robotic way, I was just making monthly payments and trying to avoid the dreaded collections calls, while making decent salaries and living well beyond my means.

Then I read this exceptional primer and began a serious overhaul of my financial life. Today, I’m no millionaire, but I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I would be—in terms of managing my debt, saving for retirement, and making smarter money decisions—than I would have ever been without this guide.The author, Beth Kobliner, is a contributor to the New York Times, and a former staff writer for Money magazine and financial columnist for Glamour. Her no-nonsense, jargon-free approach will decode the otherwise intimidating worlds of real estate, investment portfolios, savings plans and much more.Maybe you’re all set when it comes to managing your money. Congratulations. Now help out your sibling or friend who’s still struggling: buy them this book.

Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner, 2009 edition, paperback, $16 

Juleyka Lantigua is a writer whose work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers around the world.

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