Monday, April 8, 2013

Dubious financial advice


I’m always anxious to read good advice, so I had high hopes for the short book “The Death of Money Report” by Tracy Piercy and Lisa Maxwell.  Any book that contains insights on how to better manage finances is surely welcome in these trying times.  Or so I thought.  I didn’t find much useful information in this book, and I thought a lot of the advice was downright alarming.  The first part of the book reinforces why so many people are in financial difficulties:  the conflicting messages they receive to “save” and “spend.”  All financial advice seems to be geared toward instructing people to save as much as possible in order to have a comfortable retirement.  At the same time, we are constantly bombarded with marketing messages encouraging us to spend and aim toward a more luxurious lifestyle.  The authors rightly state that this causes many people to either go on spending binges (after virtuously saving toward retirement gets to be too much) or else relying on a big lottery win to get them out of financial trouble.  The middle part of the book concerns a somewhat confusing incident that happened to one of the authors in her business.   Somehow she was swindled and the company nearly folded, but I didn’t really follow all the ins and outs of the story beyond the fact that people looking for a quick pay-off were lured into unwise investments by a con artist.  The final part of the book is where I really became alarmed.  The authors do encourage people to think outside the box and reject the old financial wisdom, but their advice for new thinking is dangerous.  Statements like “You are not a slave to debt when you understand it as a wealth building tool” made me extremely uneasy.  Surely this book is meant to encourage people who are having a difficult time with finances already, so encouraging them to go into debt for “investing” or “accessing the equity in your home” to do so seems to be extremely bad advice.  The authors even counsel that if you get into trouble with credit cards, if you can manage to pay them off you shouldn’t close the account because “that reinforces lack of confidence” in your financial decision-making.  Well, duh!  Starting a part-time business to earn extra income is a great idea, but going into debt (even to the extent of putting your home in jeopardy) seems to be wildly inappropriate advice, especially for people who might have a history of financial missteps already.
 
Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book as part of the Book Sneeze program.

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