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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.
Bobby Monks is alarmed because far too many investors have fallen asleep. Sure, we occasionally wake up to glance at our statements and notice that our investments are growing or withering. But thats usually all we do—until our sleep is disturbed by nagging doubts. How did we end up with these funds? Why is it so hard to know where our money actually goes, who is managing it, and in whose interests? What if its being invested in companies we deplore, complicit in environmental ruin, financial apocalypse, and political dysfunction?
Monks is determined to help investors get out of their unhappy dream state. His experiences in the financial sector—both as executive and customer, investor and creditor—give him a unique perspective on how we got to this point and how to fix it. He also draws on original research and interview with key figures such as Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, legendary investor Carl Icahn, and former Congressman Barney Frank, co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act. Monkss conclusion:
When we outsource our investing, whether we use a money manager or a mutual fund, we sacrifice control—but not responsibility. My goal in writing this book is to convince you that the best (and only) way to fix this broken system is to awaken a critical mass of engaged investors and recruit them to participate more fully in the investing process. I want to empower investors by enhancing their understanding of what really happens.”
This book is for anyone who cares about their own financial future, as well as the broader problems facing our economy and society.
The acclaimed New York Times columnist and author of The Behavior Gap helps readers reframe their decisions about money
Financial decisions arenand#8217;t really about money. They're decisions about how we spend our lives. When most financial professionals talk about planning, however, they focus on numbers and technical details. Enter The One-Page Financial Plan.
Too often, the complexity of the planning process paralyzes people before they even begin. Carl Richards sweeps away that complexity and reframes these discussions to focus on the things that actually matter to real people. Rather than identifying arbitrary and impersonal goals (such as trying to beat the market or knowing exactly how much money youand#8217;ll earn years from now), he empowers readers to identify the goals that align with their values. Through a series of steps, he shows readers how simple these decisions can beand#151;once readers are clear about what matters most.
Based on Richardsand#8217;s twenty-plus years of working with clients, The One-Page Financial Plan refocuses readers away from useless financial plans and on the incredibly helpful process of true financial planning. Using his popular sketches that break down big concepts into easy-to-remember visuals, the book is a provocative, even fun, exercise that moves people toward the lives they want.
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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