The Busy Family's Guide to Money


Simple steps to take control of your family's finances.

Most of us are so busy living our day-to-day lives we don’t always have time to think through important financial decisions.

Written by top USA  TODAY personal finance columnists Sandra Block and John Waggoner and reporter Kathy Chu, The Busy Family’s Guide to Money cuts to the chase with real, practical financial solutions - fast.  Learn how to rework ...

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Busy Family's Guide to Money

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Simple steps to take control of your family's finances.

Most of us are so busy living our day-to-day lives we don’t always have time to think through important financial decisions.

Written by top USA  TODAY personal finance columnists Sandra Block and John Waggoner and reporter Kathy Chu, The Busy Family’s Guide to Money cuts to the chase with real, practical financial solutions - fast.  Learn how to rework the family budget or shop around for the best college savings account and get a handle on the most pressing financial issues your family faces.

The book covers concise, sensible information on how to:

 discuss money with a spouse create a budget the family can stick to get the best mortgage take control of debt teach kids about money management get the most out of healthcare plan for college and retirement simplify investments and avoid mistakes

You'll also find out how to claim kids as tax breaks, deal with major one-time expenses, save for retirement and protect your loved ones with basic legal documents.

Filled with helpful charts, checklists and resources, The Busy Family's Guide to Money makes managing finances a snap!

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Editorial Reviews
Contrary to what some popular money books would have you believe, we Americans are not idiots, we're not stupid - we're just BUSY! The Busy Family's Guide to Money dispenses with the disclaimers and digressions to offer stripped-down straight talk for people on the go. No time to read a money book? This one's for you.
— Jay MacDonald
Parent & Child Magazine
This book can be a huge money-saver if you play your cards right.... provides all you need to know about budgeting basics and beyond.
Library Journal

These are the first three titles in a new series coproduced by Nolo and USA Today. In The Busy Family's Guide, USA Today personal finance columnists Block, John Waggoner, and Kathy Chu focus on the building blocks of family security: budgets, savings, investing, insurance, and estate planning. They begin by coaching readers on how to talk about money and how to set up a plan, then tackle taxes and tax breaks, controlling and dealing with debt, home buying and mortgages, and the components of an estate plan. A chapter on investments demystifies the options by comparing and explaining cash investments, stocks, and mutual funds.

Attorneys Fishman (Lower Taxes in 7 Easy Steps) and Fitzpatrick's Work from Home Handbook is for those considering working at home either as an employee or a freelancer. Essentially, it is a narrative checklist of issues to consider and the steps to take to make home-based employment feasible. Readers will learn to assess whether a job can be done from home, how to make the case for it with an employer, and how to find existing telecommuting jobs. The section on freelancing helps those ready to create their own home-based businesses with information on setting fees, finding clients, and dealing with tax implications.

Finally, in Retire Happy, attorney Stim (Patent Pending in 24 Hours) and Nolo cofounder Warner (How To Run a Thriving Business) advocate thinking through retirement well before turning out the office lights. They present strategies for constructing the elements of a successful retirement (e.g., health, money, rewarding activities, a circle of friends) and devote significant space toretirement money issues. Particularly useful is the section on calculating the amount needed for a long and secure retirement. Each of these books is clear, practical, and nicely enhanced by charts and checklists. Recommended for public libraries.
—Joan Pedzich

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sandra Block, Kathy Chu and John Waggoner are personal finance writers for USA TODAY covering a wide range of topics, including budgeting, investing, mutual funds, taxes, IRAs, and REITS. Block's popular "Your Money" column appears Tuesdays in the newspaper. Waggoner's column "Net Gains" runs Mondays. All three writers are regularly featured at
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Just You Two: Talk About Your Approach to Money
• How people's feelings about money-its purpose, whether it's a good thing or the root of all evil, whether to save or spend-reflect their deeply held personal values and habits.
• Advice for couples on exploring and comparing their money beliefs, coming to terms with any conflicts, and agreeing on principles to guide their future financial practices.

Chapter 2: Create a Budget You Can Live with
• Analyze how much money is really coming in each month (after taxes and other fixed costs) and where you're spending it.
• Create a workable budget, trimmed of unnecessary major expenditures.

Chapter 3: Draw the Line: Take Control of Credit Card and Consumer Debt
• Prioritize your existing debts.
• Reduce your overall debt burden.
• Stay on top of future debt, including wisely choosing a select few credit cards.
• Brief word on credit repair, importance of a good credit score for other goals like buying a house.

Chapter 4: Little-Ticket Spending: Help Your Kids Handle Money
• Modeling money behavior for your kids.
• All about allowances: when to begin, how much is enough, what it's meant to cover, whether to include a portion designated for charity. Household chores to help realize value of time, savings potential.
• Teaching kids wise spending habits, how to save.
• Teaching teens to handle first paychecks.

Chapter 5: That's Just My Co-pay?: Manage Your Health Care Expenses
• Make sure your whole family is covered.
• Claim what you deserve from your health insurer.
• Use flexible spending or savings accounts.
• Deduct medical expenses at tax time.

Chapter 6: April Refund Showers: Claim the Tax Breaks You Deserve
• Child-related tax breaks: dependent exemption, child tax credit, childcare expense deductions, breaks for single and adoptive parents.
• Home mortgage and related deductions.
• Other itemized deductions (health, charity, and more).
• Other tax credits.

Chapter 7: Brace Yourself: Prepare for Big Expenses (Car, House, Braces)
• Most likely expenses to plan for: house, car, private schooling, orthodontics, child care, medical.
• Choosing between private and public schools. Knowing when you're ready to buy a house, choosing the right mortgage.
• Arrange a loan from friends or family.
• What to do when you can't make a mortgage payment.

Chapter 8: College or Retirement? Get Your Savings Goals Straight
• How to start saving.
• Prioritizing without panic.
• College education financing options, including savings plans.
• Retirement planning strategies.

Chapter 9: Invest Intelligently (Without Obsessing About It)
• Basic principles of sound investing.
• Benefits vs. risks of stocks, savings bonds, mutual funds, CDs, etc.
• Put the max into your 401(k)

Chapter 10: Expect the Best, But Plan for Calamities
• Draft your will
• Choose a guardian for your children.
• Buy life insurance
• Check whether you have enough homeowners' insurance.
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