Book Review

Book Review: The Total Money Makeover

Welcome to my book club! My dreams of having a real-life financial book club have faded dramatically as many of my friends have come to have grown-up things like jobs, kids, and overseas moves. So you get me instead, and I'm hoping this will be a monthly occurrence. To kick things off, it seems right to start with Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover, which was the first actual hard-copy personal finance book I read after spending a couple of years following various finance blogs online. I was a skeptic -- celebrity finance gurus (or anything "gurus") like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey tend to raise my BS meter to the moon. My impression was that they provide one-size-fits-all advice that's only applicable to a small segment of the population, while they make themselves a boatload of money preying on people's fear -- charging obscene sums for their workshops, courses, books, and celebrity appearances. Not my cup of chamomile, if you know what I mean.  (more…)

By Cheddar Pie, ago
Frugality

The Frugality of Morality

So have you guys been following the Ashley Madison story? The one about the dating website for cheaters (whose motto is “life is short, have an affair”)? Long story short, the website got hacked and the hackers were holding all of the data of its members hostage, threatening to release Read more…

By Cheddar Pie, ago
Frugality

On Self-Flagellation

I overstepped my frugal bounds recently and did something I've never done before: I bought an armchair. (Cue thunder and lightning.) I know, it's probably something most of you have done too. But do you feel as guilty as I do? I hope not. Guilt seems to be my specialty these days. Not to mislead, I already HAVE two armchairs in my living room, one a hand-me-down from my parents' basement, the other inherited from my grandparents. But I was greedy, and wanted a third -- one for my bedroom on which to pile clean laundry for the three days it generally takes me to put it away. I had been looking for oh, about three years. There was a chair I had my eye on at West Elm and finally! it went on sale in a fabric I loved (online), so I thought "gee, a bargain, I must snap this up!" The chair arrived. "Gee," I thought, spying the giant box on my front porch, "my new chair! I'm so excited" And then I took it out of the box. (more…)

By Cheddar Pie, ago
Frugality

Investing 101: Seeking Professional Help

Maybe you've read my last four posts and still aren't sure you want to tackle investing on your own, or maybe you've already got some investments in a managed account somewhere, or maybe you're already a bazillionaire (in which case, please stop reading this blog and go do something useful), but I'm sure some of you are still thinking that you would rather hire someone else than have to think about all this gobbledygook on your own. You know what? That's OK. This is a space of no judgments. (Ok, maybe a few, but not on this particular topic...) But how do you decide who can help you? Sadly, there's no magic machine that will make money for you. Your best bet, hands down (apart from doing it yourself, of course), is to hire a fee-only advisor -- someone who you pay a flat fee to give you advice. I know this sounds cuckoo given my previous rants about fees, but think of the alternative: if you're not paying them a fee, how do they make their money? [embed]https://youtu.be/MPPRVZajtPo[/embed] Yep, they work on commission. Great for them, but big mistake for you. Many "financial advisors" (which go by many names, including stockbrokers, broker/dealers, advisors, and planners) earn money based on what products they sell you. Seem like a conflict of interest? It is. The crazy part is that this is how the system is designed to work. Disclosures of fees are often limited and confusing, and you the investor are often left thinking that the "advisor" is working in your best interest. They're not. Instead, broker/dealers and the like must meet a standard of "suitability" -- is the product they're selling "suitable" for your needs? What that means, I have no idea, nor do they, nor do you. Unlike attorneys, for instance, there is no required "fiduciary" standard that says your stockbroker should recommend investments based on YOUR best interests rather than theirs. (more…)

By Cheddar Pie, ago