I want to start this blog with a post which appeared on mint.com more than one year ago but still of great interest.
When you reach into a broad-ranging topic like personal finance, you find everyone and their cousin trying to reach across the Internet to give you advice. There’s so much information there that it can literally be overwhelming; there’s literally too much for the average person to sort through.
… But there’s no reason that personal finance can’t be thoughtful, cohesive, and comprehensive, so we’ve probed through the web to find 30 free e-Books/booklets across the topics you’ll reference most.
We’ve sorted these e-Books into specific categories, along with a brief description we’ve written up on each of them. Everything is in PDF format, so if an e-Book strikes your fancy, consider downloading a copy by right-clicking on the link, then clicking “Save As.”
Basics of Personal Finance
- Building Wealth: A Beginner’s Guide to Securing Your Financial Future (1.2 MB 39 pg) – An excellent e-Book from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (putting all the other Feds to shame), this guide helps individuals and families develop a plan for building personal wealth. It presents an overview of personal wealth-building strategies that includes setting financial goals, seeking guidance, budgeting, saving and investing, and managing debt.
- Pathways to Getting Ahead (882 KB, 48 pg) – A very good booklet, this guide is targeted to young adults, and aims to spur thinking about the importance of asset building in their personal lives and about how larger policy decisions impact the choices they make.
- Money Matters: Your Guide for Financial Security (24 MB, 32 pg) – Get helpful tips on how to set financial goals, organize your financial files, find a financial professional, understand your investment options and responsibilities, and be a wise borrower.
- Banking Basics (721 KB, 44 pg) – From the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, this e-Book provides an introduction to banking for young people that answers many basic questions: What is a bank? What makes one type of account different from another? Why do banks fail and what happens when they do?
- Simple Strategies for Managing Your Money (7.5 MB, 12 pg) – From the FDIC. Use the helpful checklists to get financially fit, avoid bad deals and scams, insure all your deposits, and effectively resolve problems with financial institutions.
- Taking Control of Your Finances (1.3 MB, 12 pg) – Another handy guide from the FDIC that’s geared toward young adults — from those still in school to just starting a career or a family. Learn the right ways to save and manage money, and how to avoid some common mistakes people make with their cash flow.
- Consumer Action Handbook (11 MB, 178 pg) – This is one of the most popular books published by the federal government (seriously). The 176 page e-Book is an easy-to-read guide offering general buying tips and ways to resolve marketplace problems (including sample complaint letters), as well as information on specific topics such as credit, cars, insurance, and travel. There are thousands of names, addresses, telephone numbers and websites for corporations, trade groups, state and local consumer protection offices and federal agencies.
- Consumer’s Almanac (562 KB, 32 pg) – Organize your expenses, save for the future, and manage your credit with monthly calendars and worksheets.
- Ten Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Planner (347 KB, 14 pg) – A straight-forward brochure from the Certified Financial Planners on 10 questions you should ask when you look for a financial planner — an important decision that should be accompanied by important questions.
Credit & Credit Cards
- Building a Better Credit Report (235 KB, 24 pg) – Learn how to legally improve your credit report, how to deal with debt, how to spot credit-related scams, and more.
- SHOP: The Credit Card You Pick Can Save You Money (213 KB, 13 pg) – This consumer awareness brochure provides tips on picking the right credit card that meets your spending and repayment habits. It focuses on key costs and terms to consider such as the annual percentage rate (APR), the cash advances, the annual fee, and the grace period, to name a few.
- Healthy Credit (1.2 MB, 12 pg) – Learn more about how your credit report and credit score affect your ability to borrow money and stay healthy financially.
Saving & Investing
- 66 Ways to Save Money (78 KB) – One of the classic publications with over two million copies distributed. It details practical ways to cut everyday costs on transportation, insurance, banking, credit, housing, utilities, food, and more.
- Get the Facts on Saving and Investing (5.7 MB, 32 pg) – From the SEC. A road map to start you on a journey to financial security through saving and investing. Use this guide helpful tips and worksheets for calculating net worth, income, and expenses.
- How SIPC Protects You (3.3 MB, 10 pg) – If your brokerage firm closes due to bankruptcy or other financial difficulties, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) works to return your assets. Find out what SIPC does and does not cover.
- All About… The Foreign Exchange Market in the United States (assorted PDF) – Discusses in detail the operations, participants and instruments in the U.S. segment of the global foreign exchange market.
- Tools of the Trade: A Basic Guide to Financial Derivatives (2.1 MB, 15 pg) – This guide offers insight into when and how derivatives can be valuable tools for managing financial risk and focuses on pertinent questions to ask yourself and others before you or your company invests.
- Know Before You Go… To Get a Mortgage (684 KB, 16 pg) – The purpose of this guide is to provide general mortgage information to consumers and to shed some light on the risks associated with today’s more complex mortgage offerings. It is by no means meant to counsel consumers to avoid certain products, but rather to alert them to potential risks, and encourage them to make informed decisions and to be aware that certain products may be appropriate for some borrowers but not for others.
- Interest-Only Mortgage Payments and Payment-Option ARM’s: Are they for you? – Information to help you decide if an interest-only mortgage payment is right for you (Note: In Mint’s opinion, they’re likely not).
- Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future (3.2 MB, 16 pg) – Create your personal savings plan and prepare for retirement with this step-by-step guide.
- 401(k) Plans (41 KB, 7 pg) – Explains what these plans are, what happens when you change employers, and what to do if you need the money before retirement.
- Variable Annuities: What You Should Know (11.3 MB, 24 pg) – Explains what they are, how they work, what you have to pay, and questions to ask before you invest.
Estate Planning & Insurance
- Estate Planning (48 kb, 9 pg) – Covers why a will is important and how to prepare one; how to estimate the size of your estate and minimize taxes; and how to set up powers of attorney and advance medical directives.
- Living Trust Offers (132 KB, 4 pg) – From the Federal Trade Commission, a small pamphlet to find out if living trusts are right for you and how to protect yourself from scams when planning your estate.
- What You Should Know About Buying Life Insurance (312 KB, 28 pg) – A quick 28 page pamphlet that describes various types of life insurance, with tips on choosing a company, an agent, and a policy that meets your needs.
Privacy & Security
- ID Theft: What It’s All About (711 KB, 36 pg) – A small information pamphlet from the FTC that details how thieves can steal your personal information and use it to commit fraud for long periods without your knowledge. Here’s how to protect yourself, and what to do if you are a victim.
- Identity Theft (452 KB, 22 pg) – This booklet is designed to help you understand what identity theft is, how it happens, how to protect yourself, and what steps to take if your identity is stolen. There is a companion video along with the booklet, available here.
- Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information (77 KB, 6 pg) – A small booklet that explains your right to opt out of sharing some of your personal information and lists the types of information that financial companies can share about you.
- Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number (218 KB, 8 pg) – Someone illegally using your Social Security number can steal your financial identity and your money. Find out how to prevent identify theft, how to report it if you suspect it, and if you can get a new Social Security number if you are a victim.
- Phishing and Pharming: Helping Consumers Avoid Internet Fraud (387 KB, 8 pg) – The increase in online transactions has been accompanied by an increase in online identity theft. Fraudulent access to personal information over the Internet is increasingly prevalent and sophisticated. Two forms of identity theft are at the forefront of this Internet piracy: phishing and pharming.
Bonus e-Book from Awesome Readers:
What Women Need to Know About Retirement (300 KB, 78 pg) – A project from the Heinz Family Philanthropies and The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, this 78 page e-Book covers the why, where, and what of retirement (and it’s not just for women!). Topics include: stocks, bonds, social security, and health care. A very decent can’t miss e-Book!