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Four Terrible Books About Money

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Last week, Nickel polled a few personal finance bloggers for their favorite personal finance books and reached a nice set of eleven great books. My personal favorite was The Richest Man in Babylon because: “This book does what no other personal finance book does. It keeps the generally simple tenets of personal finance very simple. Too often books try to be very complicated so they sell more copies, but The Richest Man uses very easy to understand allegories that won’t trip anyone up.”

So, of course, after a post about 11 Great Books About Money, you must be wondering about what the 11 Terrible Books About Money are right!? Well, I polled the same set of bloggers and found that it was much harder to remember the terrible books because we often just put them out of our minds. In fact, several of them weren’t even able to come up with one (perhaps they just wanted to be positive!) But, a few of them did share their opinions and so we have four. That’s right, only four… but one book was hated by four bloggers, so we have representation from eight bloggers (including myself).

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki was declared terrible by four bloggers. The comments ranged from “not actionable” (that is, the advice might be good but how exactly do I use it?) to “insulting.”

  • NCN: “While I was intrigued by the idea of the book, I found the advice to be hollow, somewhat cold, and non-specific.”
  • Trent: “It was arguably inspirational, but it was factually incorrect (or at least not directly actionable) and it did a lot to encourage an actively antisocial mindset and a ridiculous disdain for people who don’t have an entrepreneurial spark. Kiyosaki goes so far as to call people who work for a salary “hamsters,” which goes beyond ridiculous to disturbing.”
  • Leo: “It was a nice story, but it’s one thing to give advice and another to actually put it into action. Unlike some of my favorite personal finance books, RDPD doesn’t give enough concrete advice about investing or running your own business. It says that these are good things, but we already knew that. Now how do we implement them? It was a disappointment to me, as I was looking for more.”
  • Jeremy: “If you want a an inspirational book that puts ideas into your head, yet gives ideas that are simply unrealistic for you to accomplish, this is the book for you. For the average person, you simply can’t put many of the ideas in this book to use. Not everyone can jump into real estate or start their own business. While these ideas can be great ways to free yourself from being an employee just trying to earn a paycheck, most people should be focused on the basics: getting out of debt, increasing their income, and investing some of their money for the future. According to Mr. Kiyosaki, investing in the stock market is for suckers. I guess Warren Buffett is a sucker.”

The next book listed is actually a Rich Dad Poor Dad spinoff/branded book, Rich Dad’s Advisors: Real Estate Riches by Dolf de Roos, picked by Will of Wisebread:

  • Will @ Wisebread: “I blame books like this for the subprime mortgage crisis. This book is a glossy ad for real estate investment. The author spends most of his time trying to convince you how easy it is to make money from real estate. Charmingly written and marketed under the “Rich Dad” brand name, this book arms the novice investor with just enough information to be dangerous.”

The next book is another real estate related book, The Real Estate Coach by Bradley Sugars, not liked by FMF:

  • FMF: “No new information and written in an annoying format. It’s told as the story of “Brian” and “Sarah” who are helped by a “Real Estate Coach.” Yuck! Please spare me the third-grade bedtime story and just give me the facts.”

And finally, Nickel dislikes yet another home related book, The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner by David Bach:

  • Nickel: “This isn’t a particularly bad book, but… compared to The Automatic Millionaire, this book was more of the same with a slightly different twist. Sure, it’s motivational, but so are a ton of other financial books. Do yourself a favor and just read the original. Then pay off your mortgage early. There, I just saved you $12.95.”

So, which book did I think was terrible? Actually, it’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, which was disliked by four bloggers (really five). I think the general idea is sound, that you should have your money work for you instead of you working for your money, but I don’t like the game it plays. Kiyosaki’s “rich dad” and “poor dad” characters are silly but I think that’s the hook, that he can “point” to two different mindsets and use that to explain his point. Anyway, John T. Reed, who has “exposed” a bunch of real estate experts, shares his review of Rich Dad Poor Dad and I think it he hits the mark on the head.

What’s your most hated personal finance book and why? As an incentive, in about a week I’ll just randomly pick a few names from the list and send them some personal finance books I have lying around.

{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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14 Responses to “Four Terrible Books About Money”

  1. Traciatim says:

    I didn’t think the rich dad series is all that bad. Sure it’s not that actionable, but it does get you thinking about finances, taxes, and the ‘rich mindset’. It’s the same with things like the millionaire mind. If you think that something can be so, it will be so because you will find a way. That’s the message of the more motivational rather than technical books like RDPD or TMM.

    RDPD actually was the book that introduced me to thinking about personal finance, investing, and financial education. If I hadn’t read that first I would probably be still in an apartment thinking about how I’m going to eat next week rather than a home making my plans for 2008 for taxes, retirement planning, and security. I’d say Mr Kiyosaki has accomplished his goal here.

    • adam carolla fan says:

      i agree with traciatim.

      RDPD was simply an oft-informative, easy read that “got me thinking” about my finances, no more, no less. it challenged my financial prejudices, but that wasn’t too hard since i’m a novice. i particularly liked the section on identifying the difference between assets and liabilities, but there were other sections that could be dismissed as rubbish.

      there’s been speculation that kiyosaki’s “rich dad” never existed – that he’s fictional. i’m definitely dubious…

  2. fn says:

    Any book written by Wade Cook. He recently was sentenced to 88 months in jail for tax evasion. He preyed on the gullible with get rich quick stock trading schemes. A synopsis of him can be found here in this Seattle Times article:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002659152_wadecook02.html

  3. I’m 99% sure I would dislike Rich Dad, Poor Dad if I read it, but I haven’t so I can’t comment on it.

  4. I really like RDPD. I forget which one I read, but I would put it in my top two list of entry level books, the other one being “Your money or your life”. While your money or your life made me reevaluate whether an expense was really worth it, RDPD changed the way I thought about money. I must admit that prior to reading RDPD my whole mindset regarding money was that it was something I earned in order to spend. The more I earned, the more I could spend.

    Frequently when we are very set in a paradigm it is hard to see the alternatives. I mean, the idea of accumulating enough money to get the money to work for me instead of having a job, a previously alien concept, coupled with a reevaluation of whether all my expenses were really worth it changed my financial frame of mind completely. I mean, in my mind, these concepts go way beyond working and saving for a comfortable retirement. Rather for me it was a question of replacing my job with an asset based income sufficient to fulfill my needs. To do that some extreme measures had to be taken lest it be many many years before my investment income would even compare to my regular expenses. So I credit RDPD and YMOYL for that.

    Being a fairly intuitive or abstract person, I actually prefer to get the concepts rather than the specifics. This is very person specific. Some people prefer to understand why or how things are what they are. Others prefer a 5 step program and mnemonics.

  5. plonkee says:

    Whilst I do indeed dislike Rich Dad Poor Dad, at least it’s readable. Unlike another book that the m-network were each sent a couple of months ago which I don’t think a single one of us has finished. I’m glad I didn’t waste any money on it.

  6. Lord says:

    Any book that is detested must be doing something right!

    Not the worst book, but the most overrated, is probably the Automatic Millionaire. Too simple minded. No recognition of its waning applicability. Yet his designation of savings rates is apropos.

  7. Slava says:

    2 out 4 books in your list related to Real Estate. Do you think they made it to this list only because of current situation? So what if you poll 2-3 years ago? Would people praise books about RE investing?

    P.S. I agree on RDPD uselessness. Lots of talk and almost no practical implementation.

  8. Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is actually a pretty decent book, but just about everything else he’s written is utter trash. Trump and Kiyosaki’s book “Why We Want You To Be Rich” takes the cake. Who in their right mind would take the advice of taking on risk and venturing into quesionable real estate investments from people who have both had personal/business bankruptcy by taking on too much risk?

  9. mbhunter says:

    I like the change in mindset that comes with RDPD but many of the specifics are wrong. John Reed is a bit of a pill and he does bring a lot of negative energy to the real estate world AND he is peddling his own books, but he does have some points.

    I’ll still have to say though that my most hated PF book is Douglas Andrew’s Missed Fortune 101. The premise behind it — borrowing against your house to buy life insurance — may be good for some people who have no other option for retirement income, but it can easily backfire and it’s very expensive. The overall advice goes counter to just about every sound piece of personal finance out there, and claims to be able to deliver a free lunch.

  10. fathersez says:

    I agree with Mathew and ERE.

    It was RDPD that got me started on thinking where I was heading financially. I did not read the book as an “idea giver”. Perhaps this is why I feel a lot more charitable to RK.

    But I think he has about hit the limits on overselling. The rest of his books, are a real pain.

  11. Long Time Reader says:

    Anything said or written by Suze Orman. She is stupid, uneducated and she projects an unprofessional image of women in personal finance related fields. Thoughtless advice given credibility by a television show. The books are comprised of inane repetitions of advice given more intelligently by others, sprinkled with a lot of “you go girl” feel good junk.

    Kiyosaki struck a nerve with a lot of people with RDPD. He got a lot of people thinking about earned vs. asset-based income, as several of the comments show. I found Cash Flow Quadrant to be his most interesting book. I don’t care for what he has done since, but his greed and bad judgement do not invalidate the ideas put forth in the books.

  12. Lazy Man says:

    “I like the change in mindset that comes with RDPD” – I have to agree with MBHunter. This was the book that got me to think about assets and liabilities.

    A lot of the other books seemed common sense or things that I’ve gotten from years of reading Money Magazine. With RDPD isn’t actionable, it at least got me started thinking about a life where a 9-to-5 job isn’t necessary. I think that’s a very good thing.

  13. Marie Casas says:

    Top of mind…
    Rich Dad Poor Dad. I’m glad and grateful to Kiyosaki and his co-writer (he had one right?) because this is the book that got me started thinking about generating passive income and managing money. But it didn’t really help me in how to get started. Network marketers recommend this to new recruits but it’s just to romanticize their business model.

    I also don’t fancy reading Colayco’s Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo! (Grow your money!) books. The illustrations are an okay touch but I didn’t really relate to the examples. He writes in a “you do this, you do that” tone that wasn’t conversational. I felt very detached that I just started skipping pages to see what information I could relate to. And the binding was too tight for that thick a book, so you couldn’t open up the book too much to enjoy reading it. I didn’t learn anything new. The author’s an elderly professional though so I guess a lot of people respect him and would listen to him. There are very few books written on personal finance for Filipinos. I should get started on my own soon!

    I do love Science of Getting Rich and listening to Napoleon Hill. I should list a few books I like next time.

    Right now, I carry around with me a hardbound Your Money and Your Man. Got it for PHP199 ($5) at the new bargain bookstore beside the department store at Walter Mart Pasay Road, Makati City.


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