There’s a new book out by Helaine Olen that apparently skewers Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Ramsey, and other self-help financial “gurus”. She’s gotten a lot of publicity for her book and ended up on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. See Part I and Part II. On the show, they talk about systemic problems (the stagnation of wages, inflation, etc.). In the excerpts I have read, she talks about the harm that is done by these people, especially if you follow their advice. She points out that Robert Kiyosaki and Robert Allen advocated buying real estate for no money down and getting rich that way and that if you had done, you could have had some real financial problems.
Then doing a Google search I pulled up an article about Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Bankrupt Dad by Helaine Olene again that informs everyone that one of Robert Kiyosaki’s corporations filed for bankruptcy protection after losing a $24 million lawsuit. She takes some pretty good shots at him in the process. There’s other negative press out there about Suze (she has flip flopped her advice) and Dave Ramsey (he personally was bankrupt).
All this got me thinking…
Is it bad to read financial self-help books and listen to the various speakers, television people, entertainers? Will it ruin your finances? Are people worse off than before?
Let me start by explaining how I learn and value things. When I take a class, read an article, book, etc, I am looking for an idea. I filter a lot of the information out as not critical or important even. I am looking for the idea. Then I run with that and investigate other things to develop the idea.
I think the first financial self-help book I read was Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The main takeaway, the idea, was that your home was not an asset and that to truly get ahead you needed to acquire assets. Suze Orman’s advice (at least her earlier books) were more on the emotional level and understanding what you want to do with your money. That you can afford things and you get to choose what you buy, but you can’t buy everything. So if you value having season tickets to a sports team, then by all means do that, but know that you can’t then buy a new car every year. Prioritizing your spending and making sure you stay within your means. Both of those ideas are extremely valuable.
The other idea that I found to be extremely valuable is ready, fire, aim. I believe that most people don’t get ahead because they don’t try, they don’t take their shot, they overthink and over plan and never actually pull the trigger.
So basically, these three books gave me some ideas. They started my idea muscle working out.
So, if you throw out all the invest in the stock market to earn 12% and buy gold and buy homes with no money down and invest here and invest there advice, what can you do with these three ideas (plus the concept of the idea muscle and exercising your mind)? I’ll share mine in the next post.