Best Resources for Financial Planning

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Life is fraught with a series of complicated financial decisions, from financing an education or a first home to distributing an estate after death. Luckily, on almost every aspect of personal financial planning, there is at least one guide that can help you through. I use many sources to keep current the latest innovations, legal developments and information about personal finance. I’d like to share the ones I think are most reliable and readable.

–Social Security

My favorite guide is Andy Landis’ “Social Security: The Inside Story” (www. andylandis. biz). The book, which Landis updates regularly, is well organized and easy to read, and he includes references relevant to Social Security regulations. Landis answers questions from readers promptly and clearly.

–IRAs and other retirement accounts

Ed Slott’s “Retirement Decisions Guide: 2020” ( is the most recent iteration of his comprehensive and authoritative guide to retirement accounts. He and his staff at Ed Slott & Co. stay up-to-date with all new issues. I count on Ed and his staff to respond quickly and accurately to any issues.


Annuities are a complex subject. My favorite expert is Stan Haithcock, an annuity agent with whom I have been working for 10 years. Haithcock has prepared readable and accurate brochures, available at no cost, on every type of annuity that discuss the pros and cons. His website, www. stantheannuityman. com, has a wealth of information. Stan responds quickly and accurately to readers. As an agent, he only recommends cost-effective products to his clients and does not push products for high commissions. I have recommended many readers to Stan and have yet to receive a complaint.

–Retirement planning

The best general book on the subject is “How to Make Your Money Last” by Jane Bryant Quinn (Simon and Schuster). The book is very comprehensive and readable, and has been recently updated. It discusses all major retirement issues, including Social Security, health care, pensions, retirement plans, investing, housing issues (including reverse mortgages) and life insurance. She identifies her sources so readers can seek additional information.

–Reverse mortgages

When I first started writing my column, I had a very low opinion of reverse mortgages, owing to deceptive ads and high costs. Costs are still pretty high, but some authors have presented a good case for the advantages of reverse mortgages for some homeowners. The best book I have read on the subject is “Reverse Mortgages: How to Use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement” by Wade Pfau (Retirement Research Media). He has presented a reasonable case for some homeowners. I would recommend that anyone considering a reverse mortgage read his book before committing to anything.

–Index investing

Readers of my column know that I am a strong believer in the advantage of index investing. A leading proponent is Charles Ellis, one of the most influential investment writers, who makes a strong case for it in his book, ‘Winning the Loser’s Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing” (McGraw Hill). His book his excellent and readable and recommended reading by many of the leading investment experts. Ellis regularly updates this book.

–Investment strategy and risk control

I haven’t read an investment book that covered the subject of risk as well Howard Marks’ “The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor” (Columbia Business School Publishing). Considered a must-read by John Bogle, Warren Buffett and many other prominent investors, the book is comprehensive and readable. Marks is the cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, which manages over $120 billion for clients.


(Article written by Elliott Raphaelson)