Author: Shari Olefson
Publisher: Amacom
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

Shari Olefson provides advice on how to rebuild your financial life.

The 2008 collapse of the financial sector added millions more people to the rolls of the unemployed. Today 22,282,247 people have no jobs, according to the website, which gets its facts and figures from Federal government agencies.

And according to Kevin Drum, author of the Aug 03, 2012 Mother Earth article Will Congress Screw Underwater Homeowners on December 31? some $700 billion in equity had been lost by ‘underwater’ homeowners, or those owing more to lenders than the worth of their houses.

Shari cites other startling statistics: 43 million people in the U.S. have poor credit scores, and trillions of dollars have been lost from retirement accounts.

Here’s more: from 2006 to 2012, the average home price plunged 36 percent, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In New Jersey, with its punishing levels of property taxes (the highest in the nation and 40 percent higher than the No.2 state) home prices have declined 40 percent or more since 2006.

Some $2.3 trillion in paper dollars has been printed since January 2009 and the actual current inflation rate is an annual 9.7 percent for the last few years, according to the well-known economist John Williams.

He also states that U.S. gross domestic product has been declining at about 2 percent per year, with money being pumped into the economy not pulling it forward, but pushing it  backward. Need I cite more, or are these numbers enough to make you sick to the stomach?

The author Shari Olefson is a real estate attorney and a mediator in the supreme court and civil courts in Florida. She is the founder and director of the Carnegie Group, a think tank based in that state. She holds degrees in law, journalism and psychology.

She is a news commentator and author of The Foreclosure Nation (2009, Prometheus Books). She is also a speaker and has been quoted in Forbes, USA Today and Wall Street Journal. She has also appeared in television shows on CBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and PBS.

In this book, she provides a “five-step plan for adapting and prospering in the new economy.” We cite the plan below but ask: where is the new economy? Nothing has changed. The economy that has been going downhill for about four years or so continues to go downhill (with many economic indictors mentioned above) and there is absolutely nothing on the horizon that shows anyone that the economic decline has ended or is ending

In any case, if the national economy is not getting better, the more the reason to improve your personal economy! A strong net worth and balance sheet can help you weather the storm if it gets worse. A strong cash flow situation resulting in more net income can lessen your stress and make you happier!

So below is the  ‘barebones’ of her plan. We suggest you get the book right now to see the flesh, so to speak, and learn the details of the  who, what, when, where and how.

To make a fresh start of your financial life, she suggests that you

  1. Adapt your banking and borrowing
  2. Fix your credit and debt
  3. Protect your savings, investment and retirement
  4. Decide if home ownership is right for you
  5. Earn more, spend less.

She discusses many details after you made a fresh start along your new path, some of which are: avoiding hefty overdraft fees; getting a Qualified Residential Mortgages loan; avoiding escalating interest rates from your credit card company and successfully disputing their errors;

Protecting yourself from aggressive debt collectors; if and when to declare bankruptcy; ensuring your 401k is being handled well; minimizing taxes from your retirement account withdrawals; and cutting all sorts of your expenses.

The book starts with Getting a Handle on Your Big Picture in chapter 1 and devotes one chapter each (chapters 2 through 6) on the five steps enumerated above; and an additional two chapters – 7 and 8 – respectively on Getting the Help You Need and Paying It Forward: Education, Training, and Your Future Prosperity.

So this book can certainly help you weather possibly worse storms ahead, since there is no evidence – at least not yet – of a ‘new’ economy. Our government is not giving us the right facts and our national media are not digging beyond the press releases they are fed with, to give you the truth you need.

But that is no reason why we cannot get those facts and numbers directly through the Internet and take the necessary steps to protect and enlarge our assets, and lessen and get rid of our liabilities, as this book can do for you. So what are you waiting for? Go buy this book and get started on your own financial fresh start, with the help of Shari Olefson!