Saturday, March 20, 2010

Master Your Debt by Jordan E. Goodman

Master Your Debt: Slash Your Monthly Payments and Become Debt Free (Lynn Sonberg Books)Title:  Master Your Debt: Slash Your Monthly Payments and Become Debt-Free
Authors:  Jordan E. Goodman with Bill Westrom
Publisher:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Publication Date:  January 26, 2010
Format:  Hardcover, 208 pages
Age Group:  Adult, non-fiction

When I received Master Your Debt by Jordan E. Goodman, I was expecting a finance book similar to one authored by Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey.  However, instead of advice on creating a budget, lowering expenses, and paying off debt, Master Your Debt is more about helping you navigate today's financial landscape.  Goodman explains how we got into our current mess of an economy and how that has changed the way loans, mortgages, credit cards, and even student loans are handled today.

Of course in order to figure out where you are going and how to get there, you still have to know where you are starting from.  Goodman does provide the basics for getting a handle on the current state of your finances and emphasizes that the best way to move forward financially is to be completely honest about where you are.  The next two chapters are dedicated to understanding how credit scores are calculated and what steps you can take to improve yours and how to reduce the risk of identity theft.  Although identity theft can be devastating to one's finances, it is not a topical I have seen so thoroughly covered in a finance book.

Goodman offers some interesting advice on how to negotiate the best mortgage with the chances in lending practices and also on using a HELOC to repay your mortgage at a faster rate.  I would caution that one must be very financially responsible to use his recommended payment methods because, unless you are paying very close attention, it would be easy to simply get deeper into debt instead of reducing it.

Goodman completely covers the new laws covering credit cards that recently went into effect and the impact those laws are having on even consumers who regularly pay their credit card bills in full and on time.  Car loans and student loans are other topics with devoted chapters.  There is one chapter on what to do if you are already in serious financial trouble and another on different financial strategies at different stages in life.

For the most part, I found Master Your Debt easy to read and understand with the advice given in a very straightforward manner.  There were two main downsides to the book for me.  First, Goodman regularly promotes companies and services to help with many different aspects of handling personal finances.  While I believe that sometimes it can be helpful to work with experts, I am sure that many of these companies charge fees that many people simply cannot pay currently due to job loss or facing foreclosure.  He even recommends credit counseling services despite acknowledging that this industry has been cited for promising much more than it delivers.  Goodman also admits to having his favorites among these companies or personally knowing people involved in founding or running them.  While this does not necessarily mean there are any type of kickbacks involved, it does raise red flags.  The second issue, and this is one Goodman freely admits, is that this book will become outdated rapidly.  Because Goodman discusses specific financial products and types of loans, there is no way of knowing if those products or loans will even be the same ones available in a few months.  Washington and Wall Street are also rapidly changing the way our financial system works so the advice that is sound today may not work tomorrow.  Goodman heavily promotes websites and the Internet is certainly not a static place for information.

Despite these flaws, I do think this could be a useful book if only for a limited amount of time and if the reader does a lot of his or her own research before making serious financial decisions.

Thank you to Julie at FSB Associates for providing me a copy of Master Your Debt so that I could write my honest review.

Note: All opinions provided on this blog are my own. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links and I do earn a small percentage for each item purchased through those links. Any other referral or associate links will be noted within the post.

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