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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Facebook’s true story and financing the kids

Here was my investment column for this week. I highly recommend both books mentioned here:

AS I’M quickly discovering, having a child brings about a new set of financial challenges and questions. Not that I’m complaining. My newborn is a blessing for which I feel very fortunate. But there’s no question that becoming a parent forces you to think about a whole new series of financial matters.

Some are obvious and don’t require much study. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the cost of strollers, car seats, nursery furniture, diapers, clothes and more are going to force you to tweak the budget.

But there are many other financial matters involving children that take some studying to master, many of which involve grasping the U.S. tax code. How do child tax credits work? What is the best way to take advantage of flexible spending accounts? What expenses are tax deductible? How do you start saving for college? How do I protect my child if something happens to me?

Fortunately, personal finance writer Stacey L. Bradford recently published a short book on this subject that answers all these questions and more. Bradford’s book is called “The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.”

I read the whole thing on a recent train ride up to Philadelphia and back. It’s detailed enough to give all the pertinent facts but is written in an easy-to-understand manner.

Among the topics Bradford covers: maternity leave, returning to work, children-focused tax breaks, choosing where to live, child care, health insurance, saving for college, wills, trusts, life and disability insurance, and money-saving tips.

I highly recommend it.


People are flocking to theaters to learn the story behind Facebook’s amazing growth. That’s made “The Social Network” the top movie at U.S. box offices the past two weekends.

Problem is, the movie (which is supposed to be excellent) doesn’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

People interested in reading the real story behind Facebook should pick up David Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World.”

Facebook’s top executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, cooperated with longtime Fortune magazine writer Kirkpatrick on the book, which came out in June.

Kirkpatrick has said “The Social Network” is a good movie but one that is “an amalgam of fact and fiction.”

On the other hand, Kirkpatrick spent a year and a half interviewing Facebook’s executives and founders and reading any document he could find on the company.

So if you want to be entertained, go see “The Social Network.” If you want to know the accurate story behind a company that is changing the world, read “The Facebook Effect.”