By Lisa Holton
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
Gary Silverman owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, and writes the newspaper columns Your Money and Biz2Biz.
First off, this is not an encyclopedia; at least not like the Funk and Wagnalls I grew up with. However, I'm willing to accept the title as the book is really big (412 pages) and contains a vastness than can be labeled encyclopedic.
This tome is written to the consumer. The intro states: "The book is designed to help you make smart financial decisions and realize your life's dreams, whatever your financial situation and whatever your stage in life."
That's a tall order. It's accomplished by having a very broad range of topics, but sticking to the basics in each. Past that, "... the guidance in this book is not intended to replace the tailored advice a financial planner can give you."
Before the reader gets into the meat of the book (assuming they don't skip ahead) they run into sections on:
- What Financial Planners Do for People
- Why Advice is Critical
- 14 Reasons You May Need a Financial Planner
- What is a Financial Planner?
- How Do I Hire a Financial Planner?
- And several other pro-advisor messages.
Yes, the book is incredibly biased (as is this reviewer) toward the need for competent professional advice.
The book is divided into 12 parts, each of which contains several chapters. Let's look at Part II: Dealing With Problem Debt. The first thing you run into is a little intro "What a Planner Can Do for Someone in Debt Trouble." That's followed by chapters on:
- Good Debt vs. Bad Debt
- Getting Control of Debt in Your Teens and 20s
- Debt over Age 50 (I guess there are no debt problems in your 30s and 40s)
- What Bankruptcy Really Means (I guess they didn't fix their debt problems)
- And, Building a New Financial Life (This is really an intro to budgeting and maintaining credit)
Each part of the book is set up in a similar manner. The chapters are short, readable, and written to the average, non-savvy consumer. This isn't a book written to someone delving into grantor trusts or wanting to learn about the derivative market. But in speaking to the intended audience, The Encyclopedia of Financial Planning does its job well.
FPA Press (2006)
$19.95 member; $29.95 nonmember