Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry [NOOK Book]

Overview

If you’ve ever bought a personal finance book, watched a TV show about stock picking, listened to ...
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Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
It's rare to come across a realistic and readable book about personal finance. Most are laden with rosy promises, followed by acronyms and turgid advice. Helaine Olen…offers an exception with Pound Foolish…It's a take-no-prisoners examination of the ways she says we have been scared, misled or bamboozled by those purporting to help us achieve financial security.
—Caitlin Kelly
Publishers Weekly
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. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Dishy dirt on the "financialization" of American life and the hordes of carrion-pickers who swarm us in the hope of lifting still more dollars from our pockets. By Forbes.com blogger and former Los Angeles Times writer Olen's account, this financialization was a bit haphazard and not entirely well-planned-out. The IRA, for example, was intended as a supplement to other retirement measures, whereas "what we today think of as the natural retirement planning landscape started as an accident, a 1978 shift in the tax code designed to clarify a few highly technical points about profit-sharing plans offered by many corporations to high-ranking employees." Lest it make you feel cuddly to think that your retirement account has its source in something meant for the rich and powerful, Olen observes that it's a mook's game these days: Whereas in the 1950s, only 5 percent of Americans were in the stock market, by 2000, that had gone up to fully half, with a vast industry peeling off dollars in the form of management fees, commissions and so forth. The stock market and its ancillaries received promotion as "a way to gain wealth we could not gain through conventional savings or earnings strategies." Unconventional means risky, as a generation of shorn investors has recently come to appreciate, but that risk doesn't stop us from wanting to try our luck again--and that brings in a bunch of Olen's bugaboos, including the "wealth creation seminar business" and people like Suze Orman, "whose riches came from…lecturing the rest of us on our inability to manage our funds." A nice takedown, particularly in its acknowledgement that the deck is always stacked against "participants in a vast experiment" of the deregulated marketplace--namely, the little guys.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101575307
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/27/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 167,578
  • File size: 1,017 KB

Meet the Author


HELAINE OLEN is a free­lance journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Forbes, Business­Week, and elsewhere. She wrote and edited the popu­lar Money Makeover series in the Los Angeles Times. She lives in New York City with her family. Follow her on Twitter at @helaineolen.
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Read an Excerpt

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.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 What Hath Sylvia Wrought? 13

Chapter 2 The Tao of Suze 27

Chapter 3 The Latte is a Lie 48

Chapter 4 Slip Slidin' Away 74

Chapter 5 The Road to Pas Tina 102

Chapter 6 I've Got The Horse Right Here 127

Chapter 7 An Empire of her Own 150

Chapter 8 Who Wants to be a Real Estate Millionaire? 172

Chapter 9 Elmo Is B(r)ought to You by the Letter P 196

Conclusion: We Need to Talk About Our Money 219

Acknowledgments 237

Notes 241

Index 285

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Almost worth the purchase price

    The author makes some interesting points concerning the abuses of the Financial Industry. Rightly so, but not everyone in the industry is a hack, criminal, shyster, or worse yet a demon possessed banker. I get tired of reading how we need more government intervention to protect us from all evils, when the government can't seem to protect itself from making ill advised financial decisions. Financial education is not a bad thing, but it must be done without the pretext of someone trying to sell or influence the hearer into purchasing the next great financial product.

    I believe the author was on the right track in many cases but never really seemed to deliver the final goods.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 19, 2013

    Important Point Over-Long

    This book deals with the essential problem that with stagnant wages it is becoming impossible for ordinary people to save for retirement etc and the advice gurus having been dishing out bad advice and making people feel guilty at the sae time. While tis is important, it seems to me that there are too many repetetive chapters on assorted failed gurus, some still quite active and busy trying to change their advice after it has failed.

    It would have made an excellent long article, but is not enough to sustain interest through a whole book. either fewer gurus or briefer accounts.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Disappointing

    I had already come to the scant conclusions drawn in this book. If you're searching for a solution, you won't find it here.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    HEY LOOK AT MEH

    This is sick. Yall have twisted minds. Instead of doing this, read a self help book or some nicholas sparks

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Nice, but not great

    Poor EPUB, the book has more than 50 pages of notes, but there are NO footnotes in the text. Plus the "index" section does not work. I have seen much better EPUBs.

    The book was fairly good. Nice look at the world of financial "guidance". Many case of people selling "advice" that if it really worked they would be using it, not selling it.

    The small part of the book where the author tries to say the problem is not individuals, but the system was very weak and should have been left out. But that is only a small piece.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

    Illuminating expose

    We know that the perdonal finance industry is crooked. This will show you just how much it really is

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    E

    Y

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Ally

    :o O.o NOOO!!!! ITS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Phantom Cyre

    <br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Hey.<br><br><br>"Guess what"<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>"You're dead."<br><br>:p<br><br><br>I draw my scythe and kick the door shut.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Jamie

    Ahola. My name is jamie. I have brown hair and blue eyes. I love 1D. I play basketball. I have a hourglass figure .

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    PARTY!!!

    Help me create the best party in human rp history!!!! I need your help to spread the word and bring all of your rp friends to 'party hat' first result.!!!! This party lasts all night every night!!!!! Please come!!!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Peter

    Hello have dirty blinde hair qith almond colred eyes.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Yn

    Jy

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    To kelly

    Yeah sure! I have 1 qurstion though do you live in a tlwn called canton? Cause i think i might know u

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 18, 2013

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