When Life Strikes, by Cal Brown (Hardcover, 2011)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This is an excellent book. Not everyone has the same interests, so not all
books "work" for all people. This book, however, really is for everyone. While
reading it, I composed a mental list of people for whom I should buy a copy.
Thank you, Cal Brown, for an excellent contribution to the personal finance
This book stands above most others in its genre. The professionalism and
honest desire to help the reader just emanate from page after page.
- Brown sticks to what he knows.
- What Brown does know, he knows very, very well.
- Brown writes in the kind of tone I associate with a mentor. He's never
- If Brown made any errors in grammar, composition, or spelling, I don't
- Everything is crystal clear!
- He's not advocating any political agenda, nor is the book a shill for
My father died, with no will, about 9 months before I read this book. He
left a huge mess (financial, legal, etc.), which my sister cleaned up with
only a little help from me. She's not a complainer, but I know what she went
through was awful. Unfortunately, this kind of outcome is normal rather than
the exception. All of that could have been prevented, had all concerned
parties read this particular book and put the advice into practice. While
Brown does give solid advice on estate planning (for parents to follow and
for children to follow), that's only part of what he covers.
Think about some major life events you've endured. For example, layoff,
illness, or investment setback. Those experiences aren't pleasant, but they
don't have to be as rough as they typically are. The purpose of this book is
to show you how to plan for, and respond to, these kinds of events.
This book is limited in scope, which is the proper way to frame a book.
Too often, advice-type books come out and are full of factual errors because
the author considers a component topic important but lacks the expertise to
correctly address it. It's good to see that Brown felt no need to try to
impress anyone with what he does not know.
Rather than try to address a laundry list of scenarios, Brown stuck to
what he knows (as I mentioned earlier). This means you won't get bad advice
on what to do if some event for which he's not qualified to give advice
happens. On that score, however, he does mention where to look for
resources. For example, he briefly touches on some legal aspects. But being
a financial expert, he doesn't pretend to be a legal expert. Given his
background, I'm fairly certain he's had a Business Law class or two but he
realizes that doesn't make him an expert. In fact, he points out that even a
licensed attorney may not be an expert in the area of law in which you have
Brown draws on a quarter century of experience, plus formal credentials,
to provide answers to some very tough financial questions. He explains the
essentials of wealth preservation, money management, financial crisis
prevention, financial blow recovery, estate planning, eldercare planning,
tax planning, and some other important financial issues. He offers real
solutions you can implement without hiring a team of lawyers and
While we can't totally prevent nasty surprises and can't escape dying, we
can plan for both. Just some small changes made ahead of time can make the a
huge difference. Brown explains what options you have to reduce the sting
from the zingers life might hit you with, and how to prevent some from
hitting you in the first place.
This book doesn't just make a nice addition to your collection of "how to
survive life" books. It's a book that a family should make time to discuss.
That means adult children discussing with their elderly parents what to do
as their twilight approaches. It means a married couple looking at issues of
what to do if one spouse dies. It means any family considering the
ramifications of several specific types of financial emergencies.
This book consists of fourteen chapters divided into eight parts.
Obviously, some parts have only one chapter. The body of the book runs 216
pages. Following the main text is a very useful appendix, which is 42 pages
long. Its title is Financial Toolbox. The book also includes the requisite
"About the Author" information, which tells us about Brown's qualifications.
While I appreciate having this info to read, it became abundantly clear to
me only partway into the book that Mr. Brown was eminently qualified to