The Best Financial Books for Beginners

the best personal finance books for beginnersIt’s been YEARS since we’ve talked about the best personal finance books for newbies, so we figured today we’d discuss the best financial books for beginners. Paying off debt, saving for retirement, and managing your money in general can seem overly complicated and intimidating no matter what your age — but especially when you’re a young professional — and these books use simple rules and straightforward concepts to educate people who are new to personal finance. What is your favorite personal finance book (or blog, or magazine, or podcast)? What was the best advice you took from it? 

Psst: In the past, we’ve shared our money roadmap, offered financial tips for women lawyers, pondered how to make a budget, discussed the pros and cons of cash savings vs. retirement savings accounts as well as paying down debt vs. saving, and much more. We also included several recommendations for finance podcasts in our podcasts for working women post.

Here are six of the best financial books for beginners:best personal finance books for beginners - image of book covers including Get a Financial Life, You are a Badass at Making Money, You Need a Budget, The Financial Diet, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, and The Total Money Makeover

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What Are Your Favorite Stores for Winter Coats?

favorite stores for winter coats

Alas, I think I’ve waited too long to do my Hunt for winter coats, as there are only lucky sizes left for everything I like. So instead, let’s have a discussion about three things:

  • where would you go if you’re looking for an AFFORDABLE BUT DEPENDABLY WARM COAT?
  • where would you go if you were looking for a STATEMENT COAT (that’s slightly affordable)?
  • where would you go if you were buying an INVESTMENT COAT?

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Engagement Rings: Have You Ever Upgraded, Downgraded, or Swapped It Out?

engagement ring upgradeSo here’s something that I know people do but never really hear people talk about: upgrading engagement rings. If you’re married, engaged, or just fond of thinking about rings: when, if ever, can one “upgrade” an engagement or wedding ring to get a larger diamond, adding more stones like baguettes or upgrading the setting to something like a Halo? When, if ever, can one replace a wedding ring for fashion/style reasons? (Obviously, the easy answer is “whenever the heck you want,” but there’s an etiquette issue here with your partner, as well as budgetary issues, fashion/lifestyle issues, and more.) We’ve talked about whether you have to take a diamond ring off to interview — but we’ve never talked about an engagement ring upgrade or anything else from this angle.upgrading an engagement ring etiquette

A few questions, to focus discussion: is buying “too much of a ring” ever a problem? For example, if your partner were to propose with an engagement ring — but still be in the midst of paying it off when you get hitched — how do you feel about that? Would you prefer zero debt in your union and a smaller ring — or did you have a mindset of “hey, you only get one engagement ring so let’s make it huuuuge!”, but then be OK with a monthly loan payment to which you contribute (or where your partner pays for it alone but then has less resources to contribute to family discretionary spending)? (After all, there are lots of different married money management methods!) Irrespective of engagement ring size, I know of several women who found that ultimately they preferred to just wear their wedding bands, and leave their engagement rings in the drawer (or safe, as the case may be)…

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How to Care for Curly Hair in Winter

how to care for curly hair in winterHere’s a question for all the curly girls out there: what are your best tips for taking care of your curly hair in the winter? What are your best tips for controlling frizz, moisturizing your hair, caring for your scalp, and so forth? We had a great discussion about curly and wavy hair in the winter a loooong time ago, and I thought we’d have an updated discussion.how to care for curly hair in winter

Here are the major questions for curly hair in the winter: when do you shower? Do you wet your full head every day — or just attack it with a spray bottle in the morning? How do you avoid wet hair on your commute (does anyone do the spray/rejuvenate curls step at the office?) What hats, headbands, or other types of things do you like best to preserve your curls? Do you find that you need to cleanse your hair MORE–or less in the winter — and if it’s less does your scalp need extra TLC? What curly hair products do you like best for winter? (Does anyone prefer to just wear updos in the winter?)

As I’ve noted before, my hair always had a wave to it, but as I get older it gets curlier and curlier. There are huge differences in my curl pattern, though — the back of my head is super kinky, while the pieces in the front are looser, almost wavyish — and although I would say I’m getting more in control of when it looks “good” (maybe 80% of the time now versus 40% of the time in previous years), I still get a blowout for major events.  So: I consider myself to be a “part-time curly” in that I only wear it curly some of the time. Accordingly, I get “straight” cuts, not curly cuts, because the few times I’ve had curly cuts (years ago now) I hated getting blowouts because there were so many odd, choppy layers. (When my curly cut was blown straight, my hair definitely had that “toddler attacked my hair with scissors” (or, hey, “I got drunk and tried to cut my hair”) kind of look to it — and that’s from the Mothership of curly cuts, the Devachon salon in SoHo.) Last year I also started getting keratin treatments based on the recommendation of another curly friend — it’s made blowouts easier and faster, and it’s made my regular curls less frizzy and slightly looser. Expensive and time-consuming (the keratin appointment is 3-4 hours), but I kind of like it.

Curly Hair Products I use and like:

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Do You Have to Give Your Salary History?

Do You Have to Give Your Salary History?When you’re applying for a job, do you have to give your salary history? How can you avoid providing it without taking yourself out of the running? More and more cities and states (NYC, California, Oregon, Delaware, etc.) have moved to target the gender pay gap by preventing employers from asking for salary history during screening and interviews, while Amazon and other companies are making the change on their own. (Note that, depending on the particular law, it’s still legal for companies to ask for your salary history post-offer.) So let’s talk about it today! What are your strategies for answering salary history questions on job applications and in interviews? What do you think about these new laws, and do you live in a city or state that has passed one?

We even got a question recently from Reader F, who had gotten burned by giving her salary history. As she explained:

I had 3 interviews with a large firm. I have 5 years experience in the exact field I was interviewing for. The firm has their 1st year associate salary posted online. At end of the 3rd interview they asked my current salary at my small firm. After pushing I gave it to them — it’s $40k less than their 1st year associate salary. Through the recruiter they then offered me my current salary, and then upped by $20k. I declined, citing their advertised first year being way more. Why would this happen?

That totally stinks, reader F, and this is exactly the kind of problem all of the new legislation is aiming to prevent. (In this exact situation it might have been because she was interviewing for a non-partner track position — without knowing more about the job as listed and negotiated it’s hard to say.)

The best defense is a good offense — and knowing how to respond to salary question. Here are a few recommendations from career experts on how to carefully navigate the salary question:

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What to Wear to Work in the Winter

what to wear to work in the winterAt some point, every stylish young professional wonders what to wear to work in the winter. We’ve had a ton of great discussions over the years, from how to do business casual in cold weather, to specific advice on navigating a New York winter with style and grace (watch out for subway puddles!) I thought we’d round up some of our best advice in one spot!

What Tops to Wear to Work in the Winterwhat to wear to work in the winter - image of a woman in a coat, hat and mittens

  • It’s hard to beat cashmere sweaters or merino wool sweaters for warmth, and you can find them in a huge range of styles, colors, and prices. We round up our favorites on a regular basis — see our most recent roundups of our favorite affordable cashmere for work or our favorite merino wool sweaters.
  • Don’t be afraid of layering for additional warmth, particularly on top — a silk button front blouse layers nicely under most sweaters as well as some sleeveless sheath dresses; a thin turtleneck can also be a great layering piece when you just need warmth.
  • Whether it’s a holiday networking event or a holiday office party, I’ve always been a fan of the festive blazer in fabrics like velvet or tweed — here’s our last roundup of the best winter blazers to wear to work.
  • Sheath dresses or sweater dresses can also be great — especially if you’re dealing with a warmer winter with a lot of slush and puddles. They’re warm enough that you’re not freezing, and the tights + dress + boot combo leaves you without any too-long trouser legs to get wet. (See more thoughts on tights/stockings below!)

The Best Bottoms to Wear to Work in the Winter

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