When it comes to personal finance, the rules may have changed, but the time-tested principles of sound personal financial management haven't. Those starting out on their paths to financial security just need to learn them better and apply them earlier than ever before - ideally, right from the start. Previous generations have had some help in achieving financial security that young people can't count on today: generous employer pensions, steady housing price increases, and a well-funded Social Security program, to name a few. In short, the old "muddle through" approach won't cut it anymore - not even close. A steady income is still a must, but parlaying this into long-term financial security is now an entirely different proposition than ever before. The institutions of the past can no longer be relied upon to handle the process; each person now needs to manage the long-term financial planning and decision making on their own. Fortunately, though, anyone just starting out can still achieve a very strong financial future from almost any income level - but only by doing the right things to make it happen. Those things aren't particularly hard to understand or to do, but it is important to do them right, to do them consistently, and to do them in the right order. Most importantly, if you get an early start, the risks are minimal and the payoff is substantial. But each year that passes, the risks go up and the payoff goes down. If you have just started out in your financial life, or if you are just about to, and you want a complete and practical education in the fundamentals of personal finance for a secure future, then this book is for you. Chris Smith guides readers through the basics of saving, investing, and financial planning in language that is clear, accessible, and lively, making difficult concepts understandable to the novice, and enjoyable to those who already have some understanding. He shows readers how to apply this knowledge, and to avoid the most common pitfalls, to insure the best possible outcome for long-term financial security.