Your Take 

Your Take: Your Favorite Personal Finance Book

Every year, hundreds of personal finance books are published. Every year, personal finance bloggers, experts, and columnists always refer back to a handful of books that have stood the test of time. Many bloggers are fans of Your Money or Your Life and the Richest Man in Babylon, many investors call The Intelligent Investor their Bible, and lots of people look up to the books of Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, and Robert Kiyosaki.

I want to know, what is your favorite personal finance book ever? It can be the book that has had the most impact on your life, the book that you most enjoy reading, or the book you’d most likely recommend to a friend.

I’ve listed my must read personal finance books and even written one sentence summaries of ten personal finance books, but have I ever told you my absolute favorite?

The Motley Fool’s Money Guide by Selena Maranjian. As they say, you never forget your first. This book was the first personal finance book I ever read, back in 2003 when I started my first job, and it gave me all the tools to help me succeed. The best thing about the book was how broad it was. It gave me a sense of the landscape and enough of a vocabulary that I could learn anything Maranjian missed by researching it on my own. Is it the best book? That I can’t say, but I do know it’s my favorite.

So what’s yours?

 Bank Deals 

Suze Orman’s Save Yourself Promotion

Suze Orman Women & MoneyMy friend Rachel told me about Suze Orman’s Save Yourself promotion with TD Ameritrade. Open a non-retirement Save Yourself account at TD Ameritrade, make 12 consecutive monthly deposits of $100+, don’t touch the money, and TD Ameritrade will give you $100. The Save Yourself account is essentially a high-yield money market deposit account with a 0.50% APY and FDIC insured as the funds are held at TD Bank USA. It’s a bank account, not a brokerage trading account.

In addition to the $100, you get online access to her book Women & Money (you don’t have to be a woman to take advantage of this offer).

Seems like a pretty screaming hot offer, $100 for $1200 in deposits? Am I missing a catch?

(Click to continue reading…)

 Personal Finance 

BVC #1 – Filter Personal Finance Experts [VIDEO]

I spent the last week out in San Francisco and couldn’t sleep the other night so I thought I would, in my sleepy yet unable to sleep haze, put up a video blog post to kick off the Bargaineering VideoCast (BVC) series. This one will talk about how you should always take what personal finance experts say with a grain of salt. Whether it’s an advisor or some talking head, the adage still holds true. If you don’t follow it, then you deserve everything you get.

Word of warning, the camera does have a little bit of shake (I’m holding it) and I’m new at this so I hope to improve it. Please don’t get sick! 🙂

Here’s the Wikipedia page for Suze Orman, ranked number 1 by Google (through some fine SEO I’m sure!) for personal finance expert. I have nothing against Suze Orman (unlike James Scurlock), I merely pointed her out because she’s one of the hot names in personal finance right now. At times I think her abrasive attitude is a bit over the top (but for some, it’s absolutely necessary) but that’s hardly a fault.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this little experiment, on what I have to say, on pretty much everything!


Don’t Buy Suze Orman FICO Kit Platinum (Yet)

Suze Orman Show - Maserati DENIED!If you were planning on buying Suze Orman FICO Kit Platinum, just wait a week.

MyFICO is going to announce a 20% sale on Suze Orman’s FICO KIT Platinum next week that will run from February 17th through March 7th. To get $20% off, just use the coupon code SUZEFEB09 after February 17th. The product is normally $49.95 so the 20% off will get it to you for $39.96, a savings of almost ten dollars.

I’m not a huge fan of Suze Orman, whenever I stumble onto her television show it seems like she’s berating someone (probably with good reason), and I don’t know much about the FICO Kit outside of what the marketing materials tell me so I can’t say whether it’s a good deal, 20% off or not. It appears to a tool that helps you maintain good behavior that will improve your credit, rather than a product like MyFICO ScoreWatch, which monitors your credit report and score. It has personalized plans to help you improve your credit, it lists all your credit reports and FICO scores (except Experian, because they pulled out), and it contains a myriad of other tools to help you maintain those good behaviors. Whether or not that’s worth forty bucks is up to you but if you do want it, but it in a week and save yourself ten dollars.

(Photo: smokedjerky)

 Retirement, Reviews 

Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit Review

Suze Orman Will & Trust KitIt’s not easy thinking about Wills because doing so forces you to confront your mortality and that one day you will die. However, if you do not take care of this very important piece of business, the State will take care of it for you. In every state there are rules that dictate what will happen to your assets in the event of your death. Unfortunately, they may not match what you’d choose to do with it (chances are they don’t). Creating a Will is one of the most important and significant actions you can do for your finances and shouldn’t be put off. The preparation of Wills is big business too and can cost quite a large sum in lawyer fees, but there’s a way to significantly cut your costs – Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit.

My tentative plan is to create a Will with Suze Orman’s system and then get it reviewed by a lawyer. By having at least a draft, you save a ton of money on the hours that would’ve been spent preparing it. What makes this even better is that the kit is free for a limited time (meaning I have no idea how long it’ll last).

(Click to continue reading…)


Free Copy of Suze Orman’s Women & Money from Oprah

This offer has ended.

Oprah is giving away free digital copies of Suze Orman’s Women & Money until 8pm (7pm Central) tonight (February 14th). (Direct download link) A Spanish translation of the book is available as well.

This book is copyrighted. You may view and download the file, but you may not copy the file or share or forward it to any other person.

 Devil's Advocate 

Ignore Personal Finance Experts

Devils Advocate Logo
This is a Devil's Advocate post.

What do Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki, David Bach, and every other personal finance expert out there have in common? They don’t know you but they know exactly what’s wrong with you and how to fix it. Suze Orman thinks you’re a moron, that you need tough love, and that those 0% financing offers from Ford are awesome. Robert Kiyosaki says that you suck like his poor dad (who isn’t real), you should aspire to be like his rich dad (who also isn’t real), and that you should buy one of his books. David Bach thinks, without the indignation that comes with a Suze orman, that you should get out of your own way and make things automatic. I think you should ignore personal finance experts… all of them.

You might think this is a self-serving Devil’s Advocate post – and it is, because personal finance bloggers aren’t experts. Then again, bloggers don’t treat you like crap and tell you how you need a wake-up call (that’s Suze), bloggers just write about themselves and invite you to check out how normal and bad at personal finance we are. Experts? Heh, totally different animal… here’s why you should ignore them.

Cater To The Masses

This isn’t really their fault, it’s a product of the marketing machine that drives their popularity. On the web, you have folks who talk about themselves and by nature fall into a small niche. You have the family of six, you have the bloggers battling debt (or just finished), you have a fee-only certified financial planner (JLP has never ever written a post selling his services), you have the husband-wife tandem, and you have a whole host of other blogs that fall into one niche or another. None of those sites are trying to be everything, they’re only trying to be themselves and therein lies their popularity. When you graduate, you perhaps find the debt bloggers and the tandem bloggers to be your thing. As you get older, you might find the family of six or the CFP blog more your style. With so many options, you can find one that works for you.

Too General

Since they cater to the masses, usually their advice is too general to be of true value. I’m not saying that bloggers are better in this case, I’m just saying that experts aren’t going to give you the level of advice that you need. I’m also not saying you should run out to a financial planner and pay for advice, I’m recommending that you ignore the big names in the bright lights and read articles written by folks who aren’t so keen on hearing or reading themselves. Read from the perspective that you’re reading valuable information that may not be valuable for you. Don’t read from the perspective that you’re going to do the next thing that comes out of an expert’s mouth. Experts in any field are wrong often enough that listening to them 100% of the time will result in disappointment.


A product of their popularity is the fact that experts simply aren’t accessible. You can certainly try to ask them a question but the reality is that an answer won’t be thought out and personalized. If anything, you might get it read on-air and get a simple 30-second response (or a 5 minute chastizing). Why is accessibility important? It’s not tremendously important but if you have a specific problem and you want to hear an experts opinion, the likelihood of them happening to answer that problem is zero.

Was that a compelling enough argument against experts? Maybe, maybe not, please let me know. Think I was too harsh of Suze Orman? (I don’t think I was as harsh as she generally is) Think David Bach shouldn’t have been lumped in with the experts? Fire away!

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