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man in a shirt and tie reads a book with a pen in his hand (Rob Friedman)
man in a shirt and tie reads a book with a pen in his hand (Rob Friedman)

Ted Rechtshaffen

Achieve financial success, one book - and bite - at a time Add to ...

Last week I wrote about five specific areas to focus on that would improve your financial situation in 2012. Much like any change in behaviour – knowing what you need to do is often the easy part. Doing it is the hard part.

From a financial perspective, there is often two reasons why changes don’t happen. One reason is that people don't fully understand all the various aspects of their personal finances, so simply gathering the necessary information is a challenge, and the second is that some people make financial planning and management out to be a huge task. They are somewhat correct. It is a big task. But like all big tasks, it can be broken down into several smaller topics.

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To help with these challenges, there is a new book out called How To Eat An Elephant – One Day a Month to Financial Success. While there are many books out there that tell you what to do, what makes this book rather unique is that it really focuses on helping you actually do it. The book breaks down the process of getting all your financial affairs in order. Of course, there is no magic formula. All changes take some work, and your financial life is no different. The idea here is that you only need to spend four hours or less, one day each month to achieve financial success. For some, that is far too much time. For others, that seems very reasonable for something as important as your financial security.

The book is written for a Canadian audience by Frank Wiginton who is a highly accredited Certified Financial Planner. I know Frank well as he was part of TriDelta Financial before he left to write this book and focus on helping employees with financial education and coaching. He is very passionate about helping people build the foundation of financial success, and it comes across clearly in his book. He is an advocate for greater financial education in the school curriculum, and this book would probably form an excellent template for a high school or university course on personal finance.

Another trend that we are seeing more in ‘how to’ books, is the partnering of the written page with online tools. Mr. Wiginton’s book is almost an online course.

As Mr. Wiginton says, “1. Read one chapter in the book. 2. Log into the website and fill in the blanks of the tool for that chapter. 3. Print off your monthly report and after one year you will have all your personal financial affairs in order.”

Sections of the book range from setting goals to organizing your financial affairs to paying down debts and understanding your insurance, retirement, and investment needs. Each is broken down into small manageable “bite-sized” pieces.

Of course, there is another group of relatively new personal finance books you can go to for help with your financial world. Here’s a few popular ones:

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton. The follow up to the original best seller is a little light on depth but entertaining and easy to read in 1 to 2 page chapters.

Pensionize Your Nest Egg: How to Use Product Allocation to Create a Guaranteed Income for Life by Moshe Milevsky and Alexandra MacQueen. Mr. Milevsky and Mr. MacQueen tend to focus a lot on annuities, which may not be ideal in such a low interest rate environment, but the idea of guaranteeing retirement income is certainly timely.

52 Ways to Wreck Your Retirement….and how to rescue it by Tina Di Vito. Ms. Di Vito is the head of retirement strategies and the BMO’s Retirement Institute, and the book covers a wide range of typical financial mistakes.

Retirement’s Harsh New Realities by Gordon Pape. This newly published book highlights all of the reasons that we can’t rely on the government and employers for our retirement peace of mind.

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