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How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio by Ben Stein

Most people of my generation know Ben Stein as the monotone voiced teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and then host for Win Ben Stein’s Money with Jimmy Kimmel (he won five Daytime Emmy awards!), but his first success was as a speechwriter for President Nixon and Ford. He’s since done a lot of speaking, on economic and social issues, and was most recently in the news for saying taxes were too low while on Fox & Friends (Stein is a Republican).

He recently came out with a book titled How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio by Ben Stein [3] in which he injects a little humor and straight talk to many topics in personal finance and investing. The book is extremely easy to read but be careful, they’re all written tongue in cheek and you should do the opposite of all of them.

For example, Chapter 9 suggests that you “Put Your Money in a Hedge Fund” and there’s no mistaking Stein’s feelings on hedge funds. Here’s the first paragraph… “Do you know what a hedge fund is? It is a pool of money guided by a great super genius to make stupendous profits for those fortunate enough to invest in it.” If that isn’t enough tongue in cheek for you… here’s a line from a paragraph further into the chapter – “Years ago, as I like to repeat, one of the smartest lawyers I ever knew told me that while he might not know much about trying a case, he had learned how to bill. That turned out to be mainly what the hedge fund managers knew. It turned out that few if any of them were great geniuses for the ages.”

The book is an entertaining read and you can likely read through all 49 steps in the “how NOT to” guide pretty quickly. If you’ve ever thought about dabbling in foreign exchange, there’s a chapter to convince you of how stupid that would be. If you wanted to find ways to sue your boss or how to do just enough not to get fired, there are chapters on that as well.

Lastly, you can expect Stein to say exactly what he means. He’s not one to mince words or care about what other people think… and before I go, here’s the video of him saying taxes are too low on Fox News:

See? You get it straight from him all day, every day. That’s why people like him.