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:
- 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.
"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.
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.
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, practicesfrom 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
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.
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 dountil 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 sectorboth as executive and customer, investor and creditorgive 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 controlbut 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.
About the Author
CARL RICHARDS is a certified financial planner, author of The Behavior Gap, and the director of Investor Education for The BAM Alliance. His column, and#147;The Sketch Guy,and#8221; runs weekly on The New York Times Web site, and he is a columnist for Motley Fool and Morningstar Magazine. He speaks frequently worlwide at financial planning conferences. He lives in Park City, Utah.