Making Dollars, Stowing Away Cents

Brooke Stephens' new book pushes financial basics

Fraunces Tavern, a cozy watering hole tucked away in the winding, narrow streets at the tip of Manhattan, is a favorite lunch spot of the Wall Street set. It’s a pivotal spot for author and financial advisor Brooke Stephens, who was inspired by the tale of owner Samuel Fraunces, a former ship’s cook hailing from the British West Indies. In fact, Stephens starts her personal finance guide, Talking Dollars and Making Sense: a Wealth Building Guide for African-Americans (McGraw-Hill, $14.95) in that very spot, recounting Fraunces’ legacy as a black entrepreneur and questioning why so much African American money has yet to turn into financial wealth.

Although it starts off spelling out the reasons behind African Americans’ lack of investment savvy, Stephen’s book isn’t meant to be a 300-odd-page tirade. Instead, if readers wade through the statistics and rather bleak overview, there’s a trove of very good, fundamental advice on everything from buying a home to estate planning. Stephens has provided a good collection of financial planning basics and this book is particularly recommended to people starting to get their finances in order.

Her tips are basic, but thorough. Sections covering the stock market and mutual funds give readers the nuts and bolts and are good launching points for further, more detailed research. Stephens fills the book with plenty of good examples of African Americans setting their finances straight, all in the name of making this an effortless read that’s nonetheless quite worthwhile.

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