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Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry

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Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry Cover

ISBN13: 9781591844891
ISBN10: 1591844894
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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:
  • Small pleasures can bankrupt you: Gurus popular­ized the idea that cutting out lattes and other small expenditures could make us millionaires. But reduc­ing our caffeine consumption will not offset our biggest expenses: housing, education, health care, and retirement.
  • Disciplined investing will make you rich: Gurus also love to show how steady investing can turn modest savings into a huge nest egg at retirement. But these calculations assume a healthy market and a lifetime without any setbacks—two conditions that have no connection to the real world.
  • Women need extra help managing money: Product pushers often target women, whose alleged financial ignorance supposedly leaves them especially at risk. In reality, women and men are both terrible at han­dling finances.
  • Financial literacy classes will prevent future eco­nomic crises: Experts like to claim mandatory sessions on personal finance in school will cure many of our money ills. Not only is there little evidence this is true, the entire movement is largely funded and promoted by the financial services sector.
 
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.

Review:

"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 exposé, 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.

Synopsis:

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

Synopsis:

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Writers Voice host Francesca Rheannon, March 21, 2013 (view all comments by Writers Voice host Francesca Rheannon)
When the market tanked in 2009, millions of Americans saw their retirement funds go up in smoke. It wasn’t supposed to happen -- for years, we were told to expect double digit returns on our investments forever. Wall Street used to be the playground exclusively of the rich, but as wages stagnated and the old style pension went the way of the Dodo, more and more Americans turned to the personal finance industry for solutions to financial insecurity. It hasn’t turned out so well.

In Pound Foolish, journalist Helaine Olen exposes the hype and hokum the personal finance industry has perpetuated. She shows that while most Americans believe their financial fate is in their own hands, the deck has been stacked against them. In this terrific book, Olen covers the history of personal finance and its seamy present in an engaging style that pulls the reader in. A must-read. You can hear my interview with Olen about the book at http://wp.me/pE740-1v4
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9781591844891
Author:
Olen, Helaine
Publisher:
Portfolio
Subject:
Personal Finance - General
Subject:
Business - Personal Finance
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20121231
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Business » Featured Titles
Business » General
Business » Investing » Stocks
Business » Personal Finance
Metaphysics » General

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry Used Hardcover
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$19.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Portfolio - English 9781591844891 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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 exposé, 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.
"Synopsis" by ,
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

"Synopsis" by ,

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.

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