There exist many ways, which people use to spend their money. One of the common ways of spending money is to meet individual and family expenses. Individual and family expenses compete. Therefore, it is relevant that an individual is armed with ways of prioritizing and keeping in check that his or her manner of spending is right or wrong. For this endeavor, knowledge of personal finance becomes relevant. Personal finance refers to the application of various financial principles in making individual or families’ monetary decisions. It focuses on the manner “in which families and individuals acquire, spend, budget, and even save their monetary resources with time while taking into consideration the myriads of financial risks imminent during future events” (Bajtelsmit 11). More interactively, the scope of personal finance covers several financial aspects of an individual or family including estate planning, budgeting, insurance, taxes, saving, salaries and incomes, loans, investment, expenses and debt management. Many personal finance aid books and other printed aids are normally widely available. They all address these subjects from similar dimensions. However, in this paper, the focus is not to review all the available personal finance aid books. Instead, the focus is on reviewing Personal finance: Skills for life by Bajtelsmit Vickie. The paper, indeed, conducts an analysis of the book’s target audience, how effective the book is for that audience, how the material presented in the book compares to what has been learnt in class coupled with the determination of whether or not the book is recommendable.
Reviewing Personal Finance: Skills for Life by Bajtelsmit Vickie
On reading a variety of personal finance books, one of the significant queries that may arise is whether there is a need for another book on the same topic. This query is significant bearing in mind that many of these books address similar topics from various perspectives interactively. To Bajtelsmit, the answer is a big yes. In fact, she responds by writing Personal Finance: Skills for Life, which is published by Wiley. Arguably, this book is a wonderful resource for teaching in various universities as part of primary personal finance text both during normal semesters and or in the internet courses. It is perhaps also crucial to note that every class has its own unique requirements. This comes in because classes differ in terms of age and gender mixes coupled with a valid wealth of experience in personal finance. With all these differences in the nature of classes and teaching methodologies notwithstanding, the structure of this book acts as an essential means of ensuring that students respond positively by articulating the personal finance knowledge transferred via the book. The reason behind the likelihood of students responding positively to the book becomes conspicuous when one gets a glance at the book. Arguably, Bajtelsmit coupled with her editors dedicated lots of time trying to make the book appealing to the eyes of the reader. Hence, from the dimension of the students’ reception of the book, it is evident that the book can constitute one of the counts in myriads of personal finance help books available in bookshops. Arguably, this is widely true even though in comparison to the other personal finance books, the book is slightly bigger in terms of volume and content. Inside the book, an eye-catching blend of colorful visuals, cutely designed charts, and not negating vital news and fiction or facts inserted therein, dominate the book. Indeed, the entire charts and illustrations sound and appear as products of intense research written in a solid manner to constitute an effective core material of the book.
The wide scope of the book is disintegrated into four key areas of the personal-finance organization. These cores areas include the foundations of financial planning, securing a basis for household needs, building wealth, and protection of household wealth. Spreading across every chapter are the vital activities, which ensure the inculcation of personal finance concepts into real-life applications. To achieve this, Bajtelsmit utilizes facts or myths in the quest to evaluate students’ knowledge based on personal finance. With the help of these tools, it is arguable that the book is effective in clearing the previously preconceived wrong perceptions about the critical elements of personal finance. Despite the fact that the approach of presentation of any book material in the form of “go figure” and “learning through participation” is not popular among students, the approach, as used in Personal finance: Skills for life, is incredibly instrumental in ensuring cute development of personal finance knowledge in the reader. In the context of writing the book, the participatory tasks of the students are math-related. Each of the tasks calls for the student to apply the techniques coupled with the tools developed in the previous sections preceding it. Arguably, if these tasks are ardently utilized systematically in the course of the semester, they may incredibly enable students to consider reading the material contained in the book more broadly. Hence, more development of personal finance knowledge is anticipated. Therefore, the self-test tasks are critical tools for enhancing the effectiveness of the book in capturing both the attention and the interest of its target audience. The section at the end of every chapter entitled “learning about yourself” aids students to perform self-assessment tests that are plausible in enabling them to come to cute terms with the money attitudes and styles of decision-making. Additionally, “learning about yourself” is incredible in fostering the capacity of the target audience- students- to reflect and meditate on their accustomed money management styles and skills coupled with how such styles and skills afflict their financial behaviors.
Tantamount to all books in the modern era, Personal finance: Skills for life is enormously integrated with internet resources. However, for the case of tutors and students who immensely consider papers and pens as the most essential tools for enhancing author-reader interaction, a multitude of opportunities through the provision of in-text quizzes and worksheets are availed. This is subtle for facilitating the reinforcement of readers’ personal financial skills. Indeed, at the end of every chapter, unlike other personal finance books, the book avails questions and mini-cases articulating running cases that are comprehensive. It provides worksheets for selected chapters. Bundled with the book is a personal financial planner, which is separate comprising of worksheets. In the endeavor to enhance the effectiveness of the book, the book pays incredible consideration to kinesthetic and visual appeal. In particular, there is a good blend of bullets, text, graphics, and short summaries. This goes far in enabling the reader to break the boredom and monotony associated with long prose. Hence, it goes into enhancing the effectiveness of the book. Somewhat also, the book has important features that make it a wonderful resource for personal finance information: the provisions for the web sites companion. Additionally, power-point slides are availed at the end of every chapter coupled with a solution to chapter problems and case studies. In the ancillary bank of materials, instructional aid and resource guides for instructors are available.
Not all the features discussed in the above discussions are predominantly unique to Personal Finance: Skills for Life. Every decent personal finance book endeavor to stimulate its audience visually by presenting sound content coupled with endeavors to deploy effective presentations of the book materials. In this context, the difference between all personal finance books rests on what each author does extra to the ‘basics’. Just as other personal finance books do, Bajtelsmit avails of learning styles and problems to aid her audience in the determination of their nature of learning styles. Arguably, this is an essential endeavor since it plays a proactive role in refocusing on the text elements that are critical in enhancing students’ learning styles. One of the peculiar things about the Personal Finance: Skills for Life that makes the book highly recommendable is the intense consideration of financial risks from a research-based perspective. Instead of presenting personal financial risks in a simplistic manner, the author deploys the approach of making use of characteristics of various risk-takers, as opposed to risk avoiders. She then conducts a discussion of the way tolerance to risks affects an enormous range of varying personal finance decisions. The concept of financial planning as a profession is also a unique aspect of the book. To this end, rather than over-dwelling on the concerns of financial planning associations and or credentials of a financial planner who is certified, Bajtelsmit pays more attention to the application and employment of varying certifications coupled with designations. More precisely, she looks into the way consumers can make use of such information while working with various personal finance advisers. This approach largely makes the book compare with what has been learned in class. Another element of the book that compares greatly with the knowledge on personal finance acquired in class is the treatment of issues on employee benefits coupled with an in-depth analysis of the job. Indeed, issues on employee benefits and the in-depth analysis of jobs play pivotal roles in bringing into the limelight the retirement, disability, and health insurance plans to a dimension that is immensely relevant to the upcoming professionals joining the workplace environment.
Considering the knowledge acquired in class, the book articulates well the concepts of financial position, budgeting, recordkeeping, credit, and various other forms of personal debts. In the management of personal finances, record-keeping is particularly essential. In fact, it is one of the fundamentals of personal finance (Bajtelsmit 56). Consistent with the knowledge acquired in class, record-keeping embraces the maintaining of tracks in every individual or family’s financial transaction. In the context of Personal Finance: Skills for Life, such financial transactions entangle every coin earned, how the owner spends and or saves it among other ways of spending household and individual incomes. Arguably, consistent with the material learnt in class, Personal finance: Skills for life presents budgeting as a corollary of recordkeeping. However, it extends into the consideration of estimations of future incomes and or expenditures. The element of financial position, on the other hand, is treated as an attempt to establish a balance of expenditures and incomes. The purpose of investing and saving is treated in the Personal finance: Skills for life as a means of ensuring that people have buffers of financial resources to help in mitigating unforeseen and unprecedented future financial emergencies. This is consistent with the knowledge acquired in class.
Amid the heavy consideration of the effectiveness of the book, it is also relevant to give some plausible attention to some of its drawbacks. Arguably, the challenges of the book rest on attributes. As a way of example, in some instance, end of chapter problems fails to match with what is reflected in the text. In some other instances also, answers at the end of chapters, as well as the answers to test bank problems, are unintentionally incorrect. While this may not be a weakness of the author, such problems are widely experienced in the first book editions. Indeed, such discrepancies contribute immensely to the frustration of the target audience-students, as they endeavor to comprehend concepts that are essentially difficult to them. Another significant drawback of the book is in the presentation of the Morningstar case. However, it is perhaps important to appreciate that Bajtelsmit provides incredible data on investment in the field of bonds and stocks coupled with mutual funds, which is a critical concern in the personal finance discipline. Nevertheless, considering the role that Morningstar plays in the lives of an enormous number of consumers, it is discouraging that mutual fund sheets of Morningstar are left out un-described. This is especially startling to students since many of them are likely to develop more interest on mutual funds, as opposed to bonds and individual stocks. This drawback is even more conspicuous by taking into perspective R2 and alpha concepts, which are neither introduced nor described. The theory of duration coupled with its application while selecting bonds and bond funds is also left out. This means that the target audience is left with an ungrounded knowledge base on these concepts.
In the light of the above drawbacks of the book Personal finance: Skills for life, it is plausible to argue out that Bajtelsmit’s book is amongst the best introductory books in the field of personal finance by virtue of the fact that the book treats concepts of personal finance from an all-round-table dimension. Apart from being highly recommendable to students and tutors of the discipline of personal finance, the book is also essential for financial planning and counselors. From the context of the author, the book is highly recommendable for students seeking intense knowledge on how to manage their personal finances. Precisely, Bajtelsmit has the knowledge and experience deserved for writing the book. She has been a long and strong advocate of financial planning and counseling. From the dimensions of meeting the requirements of students, Bajtelsmit perhaps knows the needs of upcoming personal finance professionals. This is particularly true by considering that Bajtelsmit taught at the college level for a period of not less than 21 years. Her research was specifically in the field of personal finance. This is in fact the knowledge that Bajtelsmit collects in her book Personal finance: Skills for life for the student to acquire a share of it. Thus, the book is widely recommendable.
The paper has shed light on the myriads of ways by which people spend their money. In this regard, the paper proposes that knowledge of personal finance is critical for enabling people to prioritize the various ways of spending their money especially by noting that all the ways are ideally in a competitive mode. For the purpose of discussion in the paper, personal finance has stood out as the application of various financial principles in making individual or families’ monetary decisions (Bajtelsmit 11). From this dimension, the focus was then to conduct an analysis of who the book targets, how it is effective to its target audience, and how the material presented in the book compares with what has been learnt in class, coupled with the determination of whether the book is recommendable. To this end, the paper holds that the book is fit for a variety of audiences including personal finance specialists in planning and counseling, personal finance tutors in colleges, and more importantly, personal finance students. The effectiveness of the book has been thoroughly enhanced by the structuring of the book in a format that fosters interactivity of the target audience with the author’s thoughts. Some drawbacks of the book include the argument that, in some instances, the end of chapter problems fails to match with what the content presents. In some instances, the answers at the end of chapters and the answers to test bank problems are also incorrect. However, amid the existence of the drawbacks voiced in the paper, there is a need to consider the wealth of experience of the author and her ability to articulate such knowledge and experience to match the needs of students. Therefore, the paper argues that the book is highly recommendable, not only for students and tutors of the discipline of personal finance but also for financial planning and counselors.
Bajtelsmit, Vickie. Personal Finance: Skills for Life. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006. Print.