Most financial how-to books start with some sort of inventory or assessment. The experts seem unanimous on the point that you can neither eliminate your money woes nor commence wealth-building until you have an orderly catalog of what you have and what you owe.

However, for so many real estate consumers, the last couple of years have involved simply battling to keep their homes — more or less successfully, as the case may be. When your home and real estate assets are down in value, all the other elements of your financial life seem secondary or even lower down on the priority list. With all the talks of personal economic recovery as the reigning theme and aim of 2010, though, it’s time to get back to basics and revisit the whole picture of our finances. And it’s a topic that deserves more than a single chapter.

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