Tuesday, June 1, 2010

AP Finance Bookshelf: Orman's latest, career games

AP's personal finance team has reviewed three new books.

The first of them is by the eccentric and a little ... annoying Suze Orman. But she IS kind of entertaining in a "look at my bad haircut and Chico's wardrobe" kinda way. Snide comments aside, Orman's money advice is usually quite practical and easy to understand, and she has published a new book, "Action Plan," which is nicely priced at under $10 in paperback to help you get over bad economic times.

Here they are:

AP Finance Bookshelf: Orman's latest, career games

By The Associated Press

Teachable moments often arise from painful experiences. One example is the recession, which has inspired books about what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.
Suze Orman updates her "Action Plan" with fresh advice on taking charge of your finances. This time, there's an emphasis on recovering from hard times.

If you're not afraid of challenging long-held beliefs, check out "Don't Buy the Bull: Dispelling Disastrous Investment Advice and Money Myths in Our New Economy." The author, Cassandra Toroian, takes issue with common notions she argues have been exposed as obsolete in this recession.

Recent graduates or mid-career professionals may want to pick up "Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals." It shows how the skills that reality TV show contestants use to best their rivals can be applied in the workplace.

The new titles:

TITLE: Suze Orman's Action Plan
AUTHOR: Suze Orman

PRICE: $9.99 (paperback)

SUMMARY: The ubiquitous personal finance guru Suze Orman has updated her 2009 book aimed at helping readers pick up the pieces from the recession and get their financial lives in order.

The book's chapters focus on credit; retirement; saving; spending; real estate; college; protection through planning and insurance; and kids and money. It concludes with a few inspirational pages dubbed, "The Right Way."

Each chapter depicts financial scenarios, and Orman offers ways to fix the problem. She also uses her typically direct approach to push readers into taking control of their finances. Orman offers practical advice and proven strategies in plain language that takes much of the mystery out of money.

QUOTE: "A welcome outcome of the financial crisis is that it has made very plain the need to return to the values of acting responsibly when it comes to your money. You now understand why it's important to have an emergency savings fund at a federally insured bank or credit union. You now know you need to shift your retirement savings into high gear. You now truly appreciate the urgency of getting out from under the credit card industry and paying off your balances once and for all."

— Eileen AJ Connelly

TITLE: Don't Buy the Bull: Dispelling Disastrous Investment Advice and Money Myths in Our New Economy

AUTHOR: Cassandra Toroian

PRICE: $19.95

SUMMARY: Cassandra Toroian, chief investment officer with the money management firm Bell Rock Capital, seeks to debunk 23 financial and investing myths that she says have become pervasive. Toroian faults other personal finance experts for perpetuating outdated advice. For example, she argues that buy-and-hold investing for the long-term doesn't work in an era when many blue chip names like Lehman Brothers and General Motors can collapse or end up in bankruptcy court.

She also challenges the notion that dividend-paying stocks are almost always a good long-term play. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, not all debt is bad. The book is written in a conversational style. So even if you don't accept her provocative arguments, you can zip through the 128 pages and decide for yourself without investing too much time.

QUOTE: "The old-world myth of buy and hold for a long, long time — no matter how great of a company we are talking about — is just a bad idea. Technology advances too quickly; it is impossible to say today's high-flying tech company will be tomorrow's superstar."

PUBLISHER: Sterling & Ross

— Mark Jewell

TITLE: Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals

AUTHORS: Nathan Bennett and Stephen A. Miles

PRICE: $24.95

SUMMARY: Game theory is a discipline usually applied in warfare and reality TV shows like "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," where rivals try to outsmart one another. Nathan Bennett, a management professor at Georgia Tech, and Stephen Miles, vice chairman of the executive search firm Hedrick & Struggles, argue game theory also holds important lessons for professionals climbing the career ladder. The authors have advised top executives, and found that even their seemingly accidental career moves had a certain logic behind them. The book features interviews with those executives, who explain how they got where they are, and the lessons learned. One recurring theme: Think several moves ahead about how your next career step might help you reach your ultimate goal. Despite the currently tough job market, the authors advise against haphazardly jumping at the next career opportunity. First, evaluate your competitors for the position, identify potential mentors, survey the job marketplace, and consider where your career niche is heading.

QUOTE: "Game theory helps us frame the career game — to understand its rules, boundaries, and ways of winning. Then, understanding career agility — a characteristic that individuals can develop — is explained as the key ability to playing the game well. Each is necessary, and neither is sufficient on its own, to win at the game of your career."

PUBLISHER: Stanford University Press

— Mark Jewell

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