Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry is a blistering critique of the personal finance industry, starting with its self-proclaimed gurus and extending to the planners that hawk commission-rich solutions and the institutions that lobby for ever less regulation of their fees and doubtful selling practices. Wonderful stories, occasionally scary ones, to remind us all that greed does not create the best advisors.
Alas, it seems that the author’s real agenda is that, as long as economic inequality is severe in the US (which it is), no amount of personal financial planning can possibly make sense. I beg to disagree. While we should not fool ourselves into thinking that we can undo poverty through personal financial wizardry, I just cannot accept her (unjustified) assertions that financial literacy does not work or (my fave) that financial literacy peaks at 53, meaning that seniors are doomed. Clearly it’s helpful to know that unpaid credit card bills incur interest charges, or that annuities charge large fees, regardless of individual income level. I would suggest abolishing a few ridiculous topics in today’s “Health” class required for high school students and replacing them with a discussion about credit cards and college loans. And since public universities have free services that tell gardeners and farmers what to plant in a particular area, why not offer a similar service for how to save and invest?
But enough of this. I only have a few months of peak financial literacy left. Gotta run and make some investing decision before my brain liquifies.