‘A Purse of Your Own’

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Nobody has to tell you that the economy is uncertain. You live it.

The job (if you have one) is shaky. The savings account (if you have one) is emptying. Debt (you have that!) is growing and your way of life has changed, perhaps forever.

You’d like to make your money go in a different direction but as far as you’re concerned, financial information might as well be written in Greek. But there’s help: if you just don’t get it, get “A Purse of Your Own” by Deborah Owens.

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You’ve never invested in stocks because it’s scary, right? It’s hard to understand, and besides, you don’t have the money in the first place.

Wrong, says Owens. Take baby steps. Begin by looking at your assets, liabilities, and overall budget. When everything’s written down, you might be surprised to see that you can shave a little money here or there to invest. Even $5 a week can turn into thousands of dollars in profits if you have the patience.

Once you have a nest egg and are comfortable enough to invest, remember to do four things: diversify, diversify, diversify, and don’t let fear keep you from acting.

Because of the Internet, it’s easy to research the businesses in which you want to invest. Owens says to look for the companies whose business models reflect your values. Buy stock in those that make the products you like.

So how to get started? You can buy stocks online or you can use a broker; there are advantages and disadvantages to both. In either case, Owens says, a financial adviser may be your portfolio’s BFF.

Embrace the “7 Wealthy Habits,” one of which is to keep an eye on “the big picture.” Reach for more than what you can immediately see. Ignore naysayers but accept real help when it’s offered. Do your homework and pay attention. Never put your eggs in one basket. Educate yourself about investments, bonds, mutual funds and tax-deferred retirement plans by reading up on them. Treat your portfolio as you would a family member. Be sure to “pay it forward.”

Tired of seeing your money disappear? Then dig in your purse, sharpen your pencil, and get ready to learn how to stop the drain by reading this book.

Owens’ advice is solid, real, and a little outside-the-box and the quizzes she includes (what is your Purseonality?) are eye-opening, all of which makes the entire finance industry seem seriously fun.

Even if you’ve only got a few dollars to spare but you want to see it grow, “A Purse of Your Own” is a book to bag. Invest a few dollars in it, and you’ll soon be investing like a pro.

(By Deborah Owens c.2010, Fireside Books $15/$19.99 Canada, 290 pages, includes index.)

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