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Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industryby Helaine Olen
Synopses & Reviews
If you’ve ever bought a personal finance book, watched a TV show about stock picking, listened to a radio show about getting out of debt, or attended a seminar to help you plan for your retirement, you’ve probably heard some version of these quotes:
“What’s keeping you from being rich? In most cases, it is simply a lack of belief.” —SUZE ORMAN, The Courage to Be Rich
“Are you latte-ing away your financial future?” —DAVID BACH, Smart Women Finish Rich
“I know you’re capable of picking winning stocks and holding on to them.” —JIM CRAMER, Mad Money
They’re common refrains among personal finance gurus. There’s just one problem: those and many similar statements are false.
For the past few decades, Americans have spent billions of dollars on personal finance products. As salaries have stagnated and companies have cut back on benefits, we’ve taken matters into our own hands, embracing the can-do attitude that if we’re smart enough, we can overcome even daunting financial obstacles. But that’s not true.
In this meticulously reported and shocking book, journalist and former financial columnist Helaine Olen goes behind the curtain of the personal finance industry to expose the myths, contradictions, and outright lies it has perpetuated. She shows how an industry that started as a response to the Great Depression morphed into a behemoth that thrives by selling us products and services that offer little if any help.
Olen calls out some of the biggest names in the business, revealing how even the most respected gurus have engaged in dubious, even deceitful, practices—from accepting payments from banks and corporations in exchange for promoting certain products to blaming the victims of economic catastrophe for their own financial misfortune. Pound Foolish also disproves many myths about spending and saving, including:
Weaving together original reporting, interviews with experts, and studies from disciplines ranging from behavioral economics to retirement planning, Pound Foolish is a compassionate and compelling book that will change the way we think and talk about our money.
"The worth of the personal finance industry is inversely proportional to its ubiquity, according to Forbes.com blogger Olen in his breezy romp through recent financial history. According to Olen, given today's increasing income inequality and shaky employment prospects, a secure livelihood or retirement is a chimera. Olen's fast-paced narrative focuses on the rise of media celebrities and financial pundits who assure us: 'You can do it!' What we can do is sign up for overhyped and overpriced investment seminars and services, promoted largely by the powerful motivator of fear. Such luminaries as Suze Orman, Jim Cramer, Robert Kiyosaki, and Peter Schiff may be household names, but their (often self-serving) advice did not prevent American retirement vehicles from losing trillion in 2007 — 2008. The proposition that media icons are also self-promoters will astonish no one, and Olen's frequent iteration of this point diminishes the value of her observations. Though her intention is to provide an exposÃ©, not financial advice, her own observations are commonplace. One can enjoy her glimpses of the world of financial celebrity while remaining skeptical about the scope of her proposed remedy. Agent: Andrew Stuart, the Stuart Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In this meticulously reported and shocking book, journalist Helaine Olen goes behind the curtain of the personal finance industry to
expose the myths, contradictions, and outright lies it has perpetuated.
Olen calls out some of the biggest names in the business, revealing how even the most respected gurus have engaged in dubious, even deceitful, practices—from accepting payments in exchange for promoting certain products to blaming the victims of economic catastrophe for their own financial misfortune.
Its rare to come across a realistic and readable book about personal finance . . . Helaine Olen . . . offers an exception.” —The New York Times
An exposé of the personal finance industry and the irrational choices it leads us to make.
When Helaine Olen joined The Los Angeles Times, she was flabbergasted to be asked to write a "Money Makeover" column. Knowing nothing about personal finance, she gave it her best shot and soon realized that her ignorance barely mattered. Pretty much anyone could fashion themselves as a money expert.
This experience inspired Olen to investigate the transformation of personal finance-from a few practical, well-meaning, post- Depression advice givers to a multibillion-dollar industry predicated on the promise of quick and easy wealth for everyone.
Weaving together behavioral economics, psychology, and her own reporting, Olen exposes all the ways we've allowed ourselves to be duped-whether by listening to so-called advisers whose main objective is to get rich themselves, placing risky bets on the stock market, or cutting out lattes in an effort to save while ignoring ever-increasing income inequality. Full of shocking stories and data, Pound Foolish will allow us to make smarter choices about money by opening our eyes to the realities of where wealth comes from.
About the Author
Helaine Olen is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times.
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