7 Billion Stories in Personal Finance…and Counting

7 Billion Stories in Personal Finance…and Counting

You know that friend you have, whom you love dearly, but who drives you CRAZY because each time you talk you eventually travel down a familiar road. You know, the one where s/he complains about the same old thing? When the conversation pivots to this topic, you partially tune out because: a) s/he is rehashing the same details, and b) despite your advice, which they’ve requested, they never listen. Your frustration most likely stems more from your feeling like the details of their situation never seem to evolve – because, well, they don’t seem to have evolved in this area. Your friend is stuck; you can see it clearly; they can’t. You want to shake them and say, “you just don’t get it…do you? If you can relate to this, you just might be able to understand Tess Vigeland’s feelings regarding the relationship between people’s questions and actions and the tenets of personal finance. For eleven years, Tess hosted NPRs “Marketplace and Marketplace Money.” Before I go any further, you need to know that while I’ve never met Tess in person, she holds a special place in my heart. She kicked off the media blitz for my book, “Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate.” Tess was my very first official book interview, interviewing me in September of 2009 – a full month before my book pub’s date. While I had done a lot of TV and phone interviews and some radio, it was the first time I was in a radio studio with all the fancy-dancy equipment. Thanks to the PR...
The Biggest Problem with the Personal Finance Industry is…

The Biggest Problem with the Personal Finance Industry is…

Fair warning: this is a long post…:) Last Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 14,000, which is where it’s been hovering the last few days. Reaching this benchmark is a pretty big deal; it’s a threshold the Dow hasn’t seen since 2007 – right before the crisis that led to the Great Recession. If you’re asking, “And what does this have to do with me?” – perfect! It’s a great lead in to the open-ended statement that serves as the title for this post: The biggest problem with the personal finance industry is… In a moment, I will share what I believe is the biggest problem with my beloved industry. (And yes, I do love my very flawed industry.) But let me first set the stage to provide context for my musings, beginning with this week’s announcement by the U.S. Justice Department. Standard & Poor’s The rating agency Standard & Poor’s is being sued by the U.S. government for its alleged role in the 2008 financial crisis. If you are so inclined you can check out the 128-page document, which details the allegations by clicking here. In short, the complaint is that S&P mislead investors by giving “stellar ratings on toxic mortgage securities” and not disclosing its conflicts of interest of getting paid by the very banks they were favorably rating. “Pound Foolish” Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry is a recently released book (January 2013) by Helaine Olen. And it is causing quite the stir! In her book, she questions the structure of the personal finance industry and the value of...