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

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

by Helaine Olen
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Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591846796
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/31/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 306,326
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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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Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
WendyNYC More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We know that the perdonal finance industry is crooked. This will show you just how much it really is
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ahola. My name is jamie. I have brown hair and blue eyes. I love 1D. I play basketball. I have a hourglass figure .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is sick. Yall have twisted minds. Instead of doing this, read a self help book or some nicholas sparks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello have dirty blinde hair qith almond colred eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah sure! I have 1 qurstion though do you live in a tlwn called canton? Cause i think i might know u
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.