pound-foolish

Sometimes you know the truth but don’t want to think about it, because it hurts or goes against everything you believe in. I’ve always had a keen interest with the financial markets, whether reading The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune or watching CNBC. But, one area I always thought was a bit murky was the area of giving personal finance advice.

Many of the magazines such as Kiplinger’s Personal Finance would scream “10 stocks to help you retire” or “make your 401(k) work harder for you” to attract readers. But, when you would read the articles you realize it’s pretty worthless information. And yet every time I would read an article along the same genre and expect different results…stupid I guess. I knew the advice was mostly wrong but I didn’t want to believe it.

My eyes were opened when I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and he had Helaine Olen on as a guest. After the show, I downloaded her book “Pound Foolish” where she slams the entire personal finance industry for providing worthless information. It’s pretty clear she’s not looking to make friends and is just speaking the truth.

The whole “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” line of books – apparently the Rich Dad never existed. Wow, is all I can say. If you really did follow his advice and took on massive debt to buy houses all over the US, then welcome to the great housing bust of 2008. Feels good don’t it! Even Robert Kiyosaki the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” got hit by the housing bust, one of his companies filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in late 2012.

The book goes on to mention almost every personal finance guru – David Bach, Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey and many others. Bach was the guy that talked about skipping that cafe latte at Starbucks and instead saving the money. Overnight, he was on every morning talk show speaking about the “Latte Factor”. Honestly, if you are that hard pressed for $4.00 a day you got bigger issues and listening to some joker on TV for financial advice is the least of your concerns.

After reading the book you realize people are looking for quick and simple answers. However, many financial products sold are complex for a simple reason – to hide the fee structure. I’ll never understand why people work 40-80 hours a week for a paycheck and then take zero time to understand their personal finance well being. Stop the madness and start small, take one hour a week and start to understand your money situation and investments. Nobody gives a damn about your money more than you.