Book Review: The Spenders Guide To Becoming A Millionaire

I had the opportunity to read The Spenders Guide To Becoming A Millionaire by Ilona Dolinska-Reiser.

Ilona is a native of Poland (I’m of Polish descent so this was of immediate interest to me), and came to America as a young woman with nothing more than $10 and her suitcase. In the roughly twenty years since, she has accumulated a net worth of $1.2 million and shared her story in the book.

I enjoyed the book and thought it was a fun read. The book is divided into chapters, each with it’s own set of financial lesson. The book is very narrative with the author not only going through the main financial points, but discussing how she learned these lessons and how she applied them to her life. Along the way, she is very candid about some of the mis-steps she took along the way, and how she was able to learn from them.

Dolinska-Reiser hits many key personal finance topics, and drives the point home very well by sharing how she came to understand and cultivate what she learned. Some of the topics she covers are:

  • Making savings automatic
  • Paying yourself first
  • Achieving your goals by first defining exactly what you are hoping to accomplish (a step that seems simple but that I know many people often overlook)
  • Staying motivated not just in the short term but for the long haul

For those looking for a simple, outlined ‘how-to’ personal finance book, this probably isn’t the best read for you. For those who are looking for a unique perspective and who can learn and better relate to personal experiences, I would definitely recommend this book.

You can purchase a paperback copy or it can be purchased via e-book through the author’s website.

Disclaimer: I was provided an e-copy of this book for review.

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Book Review: Living Trusts for Everyone

Many people are getting a handle on their finances with their day to day activities.  More people are saving money, reducing costs, and making sure that every dollar is accounted for.  Can you say that the same things hold true for your money after you die?

Properly managing your estate is the main focus of the book Living Trusts for Everyone: Why a Will is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates by Ronald Farrington Sharp.

Mr. Sharp is an attorney who has dealt with setting up and managing trusts for many years.  Living Trusts for Everyone is a useful tool in understanding how trusts work, what the comparisons are to other methods of estate handling (such as a will or even doing nothing at all), who benefits from a trust, and some of the things to ensure you look out for when setting up a trust.

The book makes clear very early on that it is not meant to serve as a how-to guide to set up your own trust.  Having a properly setup and maintained trust involves many complexities which are best handled by an attorney.  Setting up a trust costs money and this book will not get you around that, but it can provide checklists, thought starters, and knowledge to ensure the money spent on setting up a trust is money spent wisely.

There are steps on how to make sure that your attorney is properly equipped to handle a trust.  While many attorneys claim to be able to handle a trust, the book illustrates the difference between those who will work with you to set up a trust that works for your situation versus those who will use boilerplate templates, and gives you advice on how to spot the differences.

As the sub-title suggests, a great deal of time is spent outlining the differences between a will and a trust.  While many people think that a will has them covered after they die, the fact is wills often cannot avoid assets having to go through probate, especially if there is property involved.  The book discusses how a trust can be more advantageous in this regard.  This is interesting material that serves to at least give the reader some key points to look for when researching the best method to have their estate handled.

Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about a trust or how they would be set up.  Now that I’ve read the book, I understand the basic elements of a trust, how, if setup properly, they can effectively manage an estate, and key elements to look out for when setting up your trust.  Setting up a trust is something that I would like to do someday, and this book is an excellent primer for anybody thinking about estate planning and who might be wondering if a trust is good for them.

Living Trusts for Everyone is 160 pages long, and is organized into small, concise chapters that walk you through the basic elements of a trust.  It is published by Allworth Publishing and is available in paperback form for a list price of $14.95.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book for review.

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Of Course….

Wouldn’t you know it?  Within ten minutes of my post on Craigslist, I got a call about my car.  Long story short, after doing a showing yesterday during my lunch hour, there is somebody that wants to buy it, full price, and hopefully can be taken care of this week or early next week.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I guess I need to complain about things more often, then maybe they’ll suddenly resolve.


Anyways, wish me luck!

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Lamenting On Craigslist

BREAKING NEWS: A shrink wrapped package containing a shaker of salt and a shaker of pepper, on sale at the Ravenna, OH ‘Everything’s A Buck’ dollar store was discovered as the single item for sale in the United States that is not posted on Craigslist.  Workers stared dumbfounded at the package, discovered behind a stack of yellow smiley face plates, wondering how it could be possible that an item for sale is not listed on Craigslist.

Having started the process of trying to sell my car, I am absolutely amazed at how Craigslist has seemingly taken over the world.  I listed my car and within an hour, my car wasn’t even on the first page of used car listings.  And each page holds 100 listings.

It’s unbelievable!

I sold some stuff on Craigslist a couple of years ago before I moved, and it was remarkable at how fast things generated interest.  Most everything at that time was furniture.  Stupidly, I believed that, combined with my sister-in-law selling a car within two days last year, would set the stage for a quick sell.

Alas, it hasn’t happened.

I’m, of course, using other ways to try to sell the car, but was certainly hoping that Craigslist would be a bit more ‘useful.

Here are a few observations about Craigslist:

  • I think it has officially ‘jumped the shark’.  That’s the term used to describe a TV show that goes from good to out of ideas.  My little fake paragraph of a news story illustrates that it has gone from useful to I think a bit ridiculous.  It’s definitely a fad that seems to have caught on a little too well.
  • I think they should cut out retail establishment postings – Wasn’t the original point of Craigslist to give people a chance to sell stuff online that didn’t have a great way of selling things otherwise?  Sorry, but I think it’s crazy that car dealerships have taken over the auto listings page.  When I did some investigating to find out just how 100 posts appeared in a matter of minutes, it didn’t take long to figure out that 18 straight posts from ‘So-And-So Chevrolet’ multiplied by a lot of dealerships, would tend to push out a lot of posts.  Give Craigslist back to the people it was designed for!
  • Enforce the right rules – They now make it so that you can’t even think about re-posting your ad unless it’s been active for two days.  Try it even a minute before and you’re prohibited from adding your ad.  But, a car DEALER posting in the ‘by owner’ category?  No problem, go right ahead.  Again, pandering to the retail establishments and pushing out the little guy, not so much for the individual sellers anymore.
  • Update the site already! – I get how Craigslist still wants to be ad free, but really, if you’re going to let the car dealership and retail networks take over the postings, why not give some additional features that might help out the little guy?  Would it kill to show a page view counter for postings to see how many people are viewing the listings?  Would adding a few categories so people could search a little easier really hurt?

If Craigslist still did what the founders set out to do when they started expanding in the 2002 timeframe, then the the lack of technology and offerings would be OK.  But, with the explosive growth as well as the fact of how they’ve pandered to the retail shops that have taken over, what they offer now to help the individual seller is extremely disappointing.

I still think Craigslist holds a lot of value and can be useful, but the current experience of trying to sell my car has made me realize that it has become a lot less meaningful, because they had the opportunity to grow and adapt as their popularity increased.  But they chose not to, and I find that a shame.

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