Self-help books are popular in the financial field. Many offer different approaches to money management and shopping on the theory that no one system works well for everyone. Here's a sampling from books that have recently come across the desk:
- "The Bank of America Guide to Making the Most of Your Money," (H. Darden Chambliss Jr., Dow Jones Irwin, $11.95) gives the usual help with budgeting, using credit, investing and planning for retirement. But it also offers insight into the emotional role money may play in your life.For example, if you use money as the primary way of keeping score on how you're doing in your life, you may be setting up a no-win situation, says Chambliss.
Ask yourself these questions: Do you make a strong effort to know the salaries of your friends and associates? If you made more money than your colleagues, would you want them to know? Does it bother you if you discover that a friend or neighbor is making a lot more money that you? When completing an anonymous survey, do you overstate your income? Have your established salary goals for yourself to attain at specific age levels?
If you answer "yes" to more than 3, you use money to keep score on yourself, and your self-worth may depend on consistently racking up income points.
If that attitude seems to be working for you, says Chambliss, there's no reason to change. After all, money is society's official tally for success. "If, however, this tendency is interfering with your enjoyment of life, if you feel your happiness is in the hands of people who control your income, maybe you DO want to change."
- Published by the People's Medical Society, a non-profit consumer health organization, "Getting The Most of Your Medical Dollar," (Charles B. Inlander and Karla Morales, Pantheon, $15.95) is designed to help consumers get the best medical care, in the best setting and at the best price.
A sample of the practical tips:
$ Make it clear to your doctor that all tests must be specifically approved by you before ordering. Diagnostic tests are big money-eaters, both in hospitals and in the doctor's office. Make sure you know what each test is for and that you feel it is necessary before agreeing to it.
$ Buy a medical guide to aid you in deciding whether or not to see a doctor. Books authored by major university medical schools, and even the American Medical Association, are useful and easily available at bookstores. They are a good first line of very basic information.
$ Don't offhandedly substitute an emergency room for your doctor. Except in absolute emergencies, never go to an emergency room unless you try to contact your doctor first. If your doctor does not make provisions for seeing people at relatively short notice during office hours, find another doctor.
- Salt Laker Brian G. Marshall believes that everyone loves a bargain - and hesays you can save up to 99 percent on just about anything, if you know where to look. In "Bargains, Deals & Steals," (Discovery Publications, $14.95) covers such things as auction houses, bankruptcy sales, estate and farm sales, hotel sales, General Services Administration sales, Housing and Urban Development Sales, IRS sales, Resolution Trust Corporation Sales and more.
Tracking down some of these can be fairly time consuming, but Marshall offers some shortcuts. Among them: Read the legal notices and classified ads sections of the newspaper regularly.
- With tips on discipline, sibling interaction and managing family dynamics, "Raising A Large Family," (Katherine Schlaerth, Collier Books, $12.95) is more than just a financial book. But Schlaerth offers economizing strategies gleaned from her experiences as both a pediatrician and a mother of seven.
"Gone are the days of `cheaper by the dozen.' And who ever heard of spending only $2,000 dollars on each child per year - the deduction allowed by the federal government on our income tax?"
The cost of raising a child from pregnancy through age 18 is estimated to be nearly $200,000, she says, so every bit of economizing can help. Some tips:
$ Most cities now have membership warehouse-type grocery outlets where you can make commercial purchases. These are ideal for large families who can go through a 106-ounce commercial can of tomato sauce in a couple of meals.
$ The vacuum has yet to be invented that will adequately service the large family. But it should be a canister type, with attachments. It must also have a pliable enough hose to permit the passage of small toys and Legos, which can be retrieved later from the dust bag. The hose also has to be strong enough so that objects passing through don't rip it. The motor must be very powerful and sturdy enough to resist all the banging and dragging inflicted by children. Even commercial-type vacuums seldom function this well, so buy the best quality and be prepared for servicing expenses.
$ It is difficult to buy reasonably priced family furniture such as tables and dinette sets. Some families have their furniture custom made. Some buy used furniture and refurbish it themselves. One family bought three collapsible, picnic-type tables and installed them side by side the length of the family room. A very long, very durable tablecloth always covers the tables.