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Color of Money

Useful Dictionary of Financial Terms Explains the ABCs of IRAs

By Michelle Singletary
Thursday, August 5, 2004; Page E03

In my mailbag recently was a question that helped me choose the August selection for the Color of Money Book Club.

A reader asked: "Is there any book you can recommend that will just give a plain-English description of mutual funds and other types of funds and bonds for someone like me? I have tried reading a couple of magazines but they immediately jump into jargon I don't understand. Even if I hire a financial planner, I still want to be able to understand what they're doing with my investments."

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Good question. I would recommend "Dictionary of Financial Terms" by husband and wife authors Virginia B. Morris and Kenneth M. Morris (Lightbulb Press, $14.95).

The couple produces a series of financial guides through Lightbulb Press. He is the chairman and chief executive of the company, and she is its editorial director.

What I like best about "Dictionary of Financial Terms" and the reason I made it this month's pick is the use of plain language and colorful illustrations to make dry material interesting.

This is a dictionary for the average man or woman. It can also serve as a refresher for people who think they know it all (and they often don't).

Really, folks, if you have money to save or invest, you've got to have at least a basic understanding of the words and phrases that have become germane as to how we conduct our consumer business.

For example, I recently conducted a budgeting workshop for some women at my church. We were talking about how much to invest and how important it was to build that into your budget. At that point, I decided to ask the women if they knew what an IRA was.

Well, almost everyone nodded. Not quite convinced, I decided to test them a little further.

"So, ladies, what does IRA stand for?" I asked.

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