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The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need: Newly Revised and Updated

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Revised throughout and expanded with new information on Internet investment resources, this personal finance classic is “so full of tips and angles that only a boobie or a billionaire could not benefit” (New York Times). Index.

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1999 Trade paperback 2nd Expanded and Updated ed. New. No dust jacket as issued. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival guaranteed. No Marks. Pristine. Trade paperback (US). ... Glued binding. 256 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Revised throughout and expanded with new information on Internet investment resources, this personal finance classic is “so full of tips and angles that only a boobie or a billionaire could not benefit” (New York Times). Index.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In print for more than 20 years, this classic personal finance reference, updated to take into account ongoing changes in the financial world, is a must-have for anyone who wants to manage their money more effectively. As Andrew Tobias notes in his introduction, this book wasn't written for people who want to get rich quickly -- the advice presented here is smart, commonsensical, and designed for those who are courting long-term success. Some of Tobias's recommendations will sound familiar and comfortable -- pay off your credit cards on time, conserve energy, do research online before you buy, save money whenever you can -- while others, like his belief that you should trust no one when it comes to your money, come across as somewhat more hard-nosed; however, they are all worth reading about and, more important, putting into practice.
Old Favorite: This book is back again...Tobias remains the funniest of financial writers.
New York Times Book Review
What Tobias has to say is as rational as a pocket calculator.
Library Journal
You've probably got the original it was a million-copy best seller so here's a revised version covering new laws and the joys of the Internet. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Irreverent (and sometimes flip) and entertaining, Tobias serves up his tips with iconoclastic common sense.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156005609
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.33 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

ANDREW TOBIAS is the author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestsellers Fire and Ice and The Invisible Bankers. He has been a regular contributor to such magazines as Time, New York, and Parade and cohosted the PBS series Beyond Wall Street. He currently serves as a treasurer for the Democratic National Committee.

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Table of Contents

1 If I'm So Smart, How Come This Book Won't Make You Rich? 3
2 A Penny Saved Is Two Pennies Earned 13
3 You CAN Get By on $165,000 a Year 35
4 Trust No One 48
5 The Case for Cowardice 57
6 Tax Strategies 87
7 Meanwhile, Down at the Track 111
8 Choosing (to Ignore) Your Broker 139
9 Hot Tips, Inside Information - and Other Fine Points 153
10 What to Do If You Inherit a Million Dollars; What to Do Otherwise 178
App. How Much Life Insurance Do You Need? 195
App. How Much Social Security Will You Get? 199
App. Cocktail Party Financial Quips to Help You Feel Smug 203
App. Selected Discount Brokers 205
App. Selected Mutual Funds 206
App. Fun with Compound Interest 210
Index 213
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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, January 15th, welcomed Andrew Tobias to discuss THE ONLY INVESTMENT GUIDE YOU'LL EVER NEED.

Moderator: Welcome, Andrew Tobias. Thank you for joining us this Friday evening as part of our Renew Yourself series. Your ONLY INVESTMENT GUIDE YOU'LL EVER NEED is now revised and expanded. Can you tell us about some of its new features?

Andrew Tobias: Thanks for having me. The basic ideas are as they were 20 years ago, but some specifics change. For example, in the last five years we've seen the arrival of a thing called the Internet. Commissions, which used to be prohibitive, really can now be trivial. And there's the Roth IRA, there's Treasury Direct -- lots of specific little ways to shop smarter, get better deals. It was fun adding all this.

Wayne from Sausalito: What is your outlook for the market over the next year?

Andrew Tobias: My head tells me it should be a rough year. After all, valuations are historically very high. Greenspan used the phrase "irrationally exuberant," albeit not specifically or directly about the U.S. market, less than two years ago, when the Dow was 6,500. Today, as you know, it's over 9,000. We have Y2K to worry about, impeachment, maybe a bit of global financial collapse, and the market totally shrugs off everything. My head tells me trouble looms one of these days. But logic and one's head are only half the game. When will euphoria end? Who knows? Did it just end for Yahoo! and the rest this week? Or is that just a breather? I don't know.

John from Boston: How do you figure out if it makes sense to convert to a Roth IRA? What do you do if you find out that you've exceeded the income limit in a year when you convert?

Andrew Tobias: The big advantage of the Roth IRA is that it lets you put more under the tax-deferral umbrella. Yes, it's $2,000 either way, but with the Roth it's $2,000 after-tax money, which means you have, in effect, saved maybe $3,000 pretax dollars. So usually, if you can afford it, Roth is better. But naturally, if you are in a 40 percent tax bracket this year and will retire next year and move to a no-tax state and drop to the 20 percent bracket, there's no point giving up the deduction this year. But most people aren't in that situation.

Laurie from Hoboken: If you have a child, is it smarter to invest for future education expenses using investments in your name as the parent, or in the child's name?

Andrew Tobias: Six of one.... In the kid's name, you can save on taxes, but the college may expect more of that money to go for college. So there's no clear-cut answer.

Amy from New York: Is it smart to invest in high-tech companies? I have friends who seem to be addicted to the gambling aspect of such investments but don't really seem to be making any additional money -- like a trip to Vegas.

Andrew Tobias: The paradox is that high-tech is the future (and to me a very exciting one) of our economy -- our species, even. Yet the prices of the stocks, in my view, more than reflect this already, for the most part. And those who are just jumping in casinolike, without special expertise in a specific field (they don't themselves work in the industry, et cetera), are just feeding the commission slots, paying the spreads between bid and asked and, generally, racking up short-term (fully taxable) gains when they win. They've won for so long, I worry that a hefty correction may come one day.

Carol from Cape May, New Jersey: How would you invest $10,000 that you don't need for a long time?

Andrew Tobias: So many possibilities. And I hope it would be joined by, or be joining, lots of other $10,000s. But the kind of thing to think about might be to split it among some closed-end Asian mutual funds, on the theory that one day Korea and Japan and Thailand and India, et cetera, might come back. It was barely a decade ago that people pretty well imagined Japan would overtake the U.S. Look what happened. Now we imagine Asia is over forever and the U.S. market will just keep zooming. Maybe not.

Mike from New York: How long do you think the Internet stock frenzy will last?

Andrew Tobias: The Internet itself is very much here to stay and just in its infancy, with profound implications (mostly good for consumers). But the crazy valuations? A few of these companies may actually grow into today's prices. Many, I think, will turn out to have been classic bubbles. Did we see the top last week? I kind of think so, but if I know anything, it's that I don't know.

Charles from New York City: Do you believe that Clinton's impeachment -- if that occurred -- would affect the stock market?

Andrew Tobias: Well, he's been impeached. No effect. This miserable trial is going on -- no effect. If he was convicted and we had Al Gore, it's easy to posit no effect. It's easy to posit an excuse to rise, because the uncertainty of trial, et cetera, would be over. And it's easy to posit fall, if this finally broke the "spell" that has tipped the eternal fear/greed balance to greed (not bad greed, you understand, just fear of missing out on profits). What causes someone's depression to lift? Or a funk to fall? It's probably as hard to say for markets as for people. And very often the events of the day are not the causes of these mood swings, but rather the handy explanations.

Georgia from Coventry, CT: How do we know that the government won't change the rules in the future and tax Roth IRAs?

Andrew Tobias: Well, of course, going to a sales tax and getting rid of the income tax would sure make Roth folks feel a little foolish -- there was no tax at withdrawal anyway! But I sure don't see that happening, and I sure don't see Congress messing around with seniors' benefits when they will be such a huge portion of the electorate. Only at the fringes might this happen, if they started counting withdrawal money toward calculations for other things, like eligibility for Social Security benefits. But you pay your money and you take your chances....

Claire from Charlottesville, VA: If you are in your mid to late 20s and your salary is not very high, what percentage of it should you put in an IRA? Should this percentage increase as your salary increases in your 30s? And if you have a few thousand dollars of credit-card debt, should you be putting money in a retirement fund or paying off the debt first?

Andrew Tobias: I would try very hard to fully fund ($2,000) the Roth IRA (a Roth because with low salary, you have a low tax benefit from the traditional IRA). I know it's hard -- especially because it's also so important to rip up those credit cards and get off the 18 percent (or 22 percent!) debt treadmill just as soon as you can. Not having to pay 18 percent or 20 percent is as good as earning it tax-free -- risk-free! An astonishing return. I guess if you could only do one, it should be pay off the cards. But really. And then, ASAP, start funding the IRA.

Curt from Dallas: What will be the trend of 30-year T-Bonds in 1999?

Andrew Tobias: Down, as global crises require further easing of rates and as deflationary tendencies (including the great effect of Internet shopping on prices, cutting out middlemen and making things ever cheaper) keep inflation low. Up, because people will fear Asian and Latin American inflation, needed to stave off global collapse. Maybe IMF will change its traditional model, which seems to be killing, rather than rescuing, economies lately. So...I don't know, and no one else really does either.

Alex from New York: Is it ever a good idea to rent housing as opposed to purchasing?

Andrew Tobias: Sure! Especially if you don't plan to stay put for a while, because the transaction costs of buying and selling can be quite large. But even if you do plan to stay put, that's no reason to buy into a really high market. In some places, prices have gone through the roof, maybe tied to Wall Street riches. In other places, values may be okay. But life is not a business, as my dad used to say, so if you do love a house or condo, and can afford it, you may want to buy even if it doesn't turn out to be the absolute shrewdest investment you can make. Certainly mortgage rates are great these days.

Steve from NYC: President Clinton just proposed tax benefits for investments in underdeveloped urban areas. Can you recommend any investments to take advantage of this incentive?

Andrew Tobias: Sorry, I don't know.

Megan from New York: How are you preparing for Y2K?

Andrew Tobias: I'm going to have the same kind of supplies I'd have for a hurricane or ice storm or earthquake or whatever kinds of potential problems you have in your part of the country. I actually think we're likely to muddle through reasonably well, but there is the genuine (small) risk of considerable disruption. So we are better off as individuals, but also as communities, if we all can get by okay for a week or two without running out of small bills, small food, small cans of Sterno, matches, ketchup -- the essentials. I also think just-in-time inventories and such will be rejiggered, and that all this could certainly cause a recession or odd business cycles, or change the psychology we talked about earlier. So I wouldn't be in the stock market on margin betting that everything will always go up, up, up.

Dave from Ithaca, NY: I recently switched jobs and have only a few weeks to decide what to do with my 401(k). It didn't earn me much at my last job, and I was there for nearly four years. Is it worthwhile for me to transfer the money into another 401(k)?

Andrew Tobias: Absolutely keep it in a tax-sheltered vehicle -- the new 401(k) or your own rollover IRA. I don't know the details and choices of the new 401(k), but take a close look before giving up on it.

Jake from Colorado Springs, CO: What method, in your opinion, is the best to make money quickly and to save for the future?

Andrew Tobias: The surest way to lose money is to try to make money quickly. Sad (and boring!) but true.

Elise from Iowa: What are the proper things to take care of financially if you plan to live abroad for an extended period of time -- say two years?

Andrew Tobias: Sign up with an online Internet banking account, for one thing, to make payments easy. Likewise an Internet broker, for investing.

Valerie from Los Angeles: What is your opinion of DRIPs? I'm thinking of investing long-term in a couple of blue-chip companies, and I'd like to invest directly.

Andrew Tobias: DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans) are excellent from a personal-discipline point of view, and great for effortless reinvestment, et cetera. Logically, if you were a zillionaire, it wouldn't make a lot of sense, because it's basically saying, Of all the things I can do with my money, the best investment at any given time happens to be the same company that happened to pay this dividend. So for big investors: nah, at least logically. But for convenience and good savings habits, et cetera: yep.

Fred from NYC: How do I convince my parents to start bequeathing me money so that I can pay less estate taxes when they die? They are both in their 80s, and I know there are allowable amounts of "gifts" that can be given or assets that can be handed over. Can you amplify?

Andrew Tobias: Be very nice, always come over for Sunday dinner, and accidentally leave Money magazine open to the periodical estate-planning articles it (and everyone) run, which explain that each parent can give up to $10,000 a year to each child (and grandchild and anyone else) free of gift or estate tax (so $20,000 a year from the two of them jointly to each child).

Sam Murphy from San Diego, CA: Mutual funds consistently underperform the market. Why does everyone buy them? Why not buy index funds instead?

Andrew Tobias: Because mutual funds are sold, and you have to be a buyer, not a seller, to choose index funds. That's one of the things my book pushes: to be a buyer (in everything, not just mutual funds), not a seller.

Claire from Charlottesville: Thanks for answering my earlier question. Another one: If you have access to a 401(k), would you sink your money in that in addition to a Roth, or just do the 401(k)?

Andrew Tobias: If you can afford to do both, for sure do both. If the 401(k) involves an employer match, that is definitely the one to do first, and fully. Nothing beats free money.

Rex from Southside: Brazil refloated its currency, the real, and it didn't crash. The stock market went down last week, but now it is back up again. What can we make of this?

Andrew Tobias: I'm sure there are much better, much more sophisticated answers (in other words, I haven't a clue). But I like to think, in my wildest dreams, that the world and the world capital markets -- awash in cash, incidentally, from our own 401(k) contributions, from Japanese oversaving, et cetera -- somehow sense that a new era is at hand: less money spent on war and trade wars, a global binding of people through communications and things like America Online circling the whole world, almost-free communications among people everywhere, and so on; and that Brazil's problems and a lot of others will be solved, so we're skipping the panic phase. Of course, there's an equal chance that this is just part of the dream-on mindless euphoria, and we are about to plunge into another Dark Ages. [grins] Best of luck to all....

Mark from San Francisco: Do you use an online broker? If so, which one?

Andrew Tobias: Ameritrade.

Mina from Atlanta: What are the odds of getting caught not paying the nanny tax? Can anything happen to you other than a tax penalty if you are caught?

Andrew Tobias: The odds are pretty good, now that you've posted this message. [grins]

Moderator: Thank you, Andrew Tobias, for your thoughtful financial advice. Do you have any closing comments for your online audience?

Andrew Tobias: Shop at It does a great job.

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Customer Reviews

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( 14 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2000

    Truly the only book you'll need

    We needed a place to start. It definatly gave us good ideas and suggestions. It gave us avenues to begain and carry through. Out of the three other books we baught at the same time, this one was the most help.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2011

    Highly Recommended for folks with limited understanding of finance

    I have read this book four or five times. I get something new out of it every time. The writing is clear and relatively easy to understand, even for folks with a limited understanding of finance and investments.

    I am a retired CPA. I have read hundreds of books on accounting, finance, economics, and investing. This is the one book that I recommend for a beginner who wants to get his or her financial house in order and begin to lay out a plan to accumulate significant personal wealth.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2002

    Buy This Book!

    I'm especially leary of finance books, and have learned that the best way to select books is to read a chapter or two at the book store before you buy. Three chapters into the book, the store closed, so I took it home with me and read it in two days. Tobias very clearly explains a number of issues that most people are simply unaware of, and makes it entertaining along the way. After I finished the book I was moved enough to check his web site and drop him a line. This book will make my XMAS shopping very easy this year.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2011

    Great read

    Perfect for beginners like myself. Buy this book if you are looking for a great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    Same old story

    Could eliminate all sections on puts, calls and other fancy investment tools and just say if you don't understand don't bother. Frugal list could be just a list not long explanations. Important sights could be a list. Alot of this book is capable of shorter summaries.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2000

    Great investment primer

    I've always admired Mr. Tobias's work. This book is a great starting point to try to sort out the stock market and other investments.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 21, 2012

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