Most people who save and invest do so for similar reasons: to buy a house, to secure their children's education, to be able to retire comfortably. However, as Ric Edelman reminds us, these worthy goals are just part of a much larger picture: What about traveling the world? Or taking oil painting classes? Or making a donation to a worthy cause? While it's crucial to plan for the most important events in your life, such planning needn't be an imprisoning or all-consuming process: In fact, it should still allow you to realize your more individual dreams as well.
In Discover the Wealth Within You, Edelman's fifth book, he offers a sometimes irreverent but always sensible take on financial planning that might just excite you -- especially those of you who would rather do anything else than make a financial decision. First, Edelman argues, you must have specific goals, and therefore he carefully guides the reader through the goal-setting process. He admonishes his readers not to list such items as retirement or college education, but to include the things that will make their present lives more fulfilling. If you're stumped as to possibilities, Edelman offers extensive lists in a handy journal section.
Once you've established your goals, it's time to make them happen. Edelman uses the analogy of baking a cake to liven things up, and it's a charming tactic. He lists various types of "cakes" (or financial plans) but advocates using mutual funds to create a diversified portfolio. There's plenty of charts and numbers to make his case, as well as an indispensable guide to understanding the Morningstar ratings. There are also warnings about Wall Street analysts, mutual fund "window dressing," and the noise of the less-than-informative news media.
Whether you're just beginning to invest or already have a plan in place, Discover the Wealth Within You should be a wonderful source for advice. The funny footnotes and asides (as well as pertinent cartoons) are icing on the cake, so to speak. Read, learn, and reap the benefits down the road. (Holly McGuire)
Holly McGuire is a book editor and consultant based in Chicago, Illinois.