What's on tap this month that executives won't want to miss

Laura Adams' free weekly personal finance podcast, Money Girl, promises quick tips for a richer life. The helpful recordings, which seldom exceed eight minutes, include topics ranging from taxes and investing to real estate and retirement.

A scroll through the archives of more than 100 podcasts reveals something clickable for everyone: a lesson on exchange traded funds; a primer on coupons; how to find a financial adviser; avoiding Ponzi schemes; and a crash course in Coverdell Education Savings Accounts.

Money Girl's March schedule:

• Tuesday. How much money should you have on hand for emergencies in the current economy?

• March 10. Where to stash your cash, but still have it working hard for you.

• March 17. How to avoid penalties if you exceed IRA contribution limits.

• March 24. Is it time to get back in the market?

• March 31. Dividend-paying stocks can be less stressful investments.


Fight for Your Money:

How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune, by David Bach (Broadway Books, $26, Tuesday.

Popular Start Late, Finish Rich author David Bach says his latest book is an A-to-Z guide for consumer advocacy, vastly different from any of his nine previous books.

"It's designed to pull back the curtain, show all the industries that are taking advantage of us and show you how they're making billions but how it's costing you hundreds and sometimes thousand of dollars a year," Bach says.

Among his targets: payday loans with interest rates higher than 400%; $200 early-termination cellphone fees; and companies that are still slapping fuel surcharges onto bills. It's best to educate and stick up for yourself, is the implication, because no one else has your financial interest at heart.

"What Americans need today is their own economic stimulus plan, because fighting for your own finances … is going to get your money back in your pockets faster than waiting for the government to get your money back in your pocket," Bach says.

By Michelle Archer, Special for USA TODAY


The man bethind the math

Ever hear of the Gaussian copula function? Few have outside of Wall Street and academia. It's a mathematic equation that allowed complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than before. The March edition of Wired magazine introduces readers to the math wizard behind the formula, David Li. Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels, writes Felix Salmon. Li's method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to rating agencies and regulators, Salmon says. "And it became so deeply entrenched ... that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored."

Don't do as Japan did

Economist Richard Koo, author of the definitive book on Japan's decade-long recession in the 1990s, distills The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan's Great Recession in the latest edition of The International Economy. To Koo, Japan prolonged its recession by failing to sustain an aggressive fiscal policy. His advice to America: keep the foot on the fiscal pedal. Emphasize spending — not tax cuts. "A large part of any tax cut may be used by the private sector to increase savings or decrease debt as we have seen in the recent U.S. income tax rebate," Koo writes.

Celebs became financial prey

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