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January 2007 Monthly Archive

Stop Buying Crap #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18 | #19

More Trans Fat, Please

mmm... 4g of trans fat

Yeah, you’ve read that right.

Apparently the Federal Reserve of New York has been pumping out comics with topics on money and economics for the past 50 years.

In fact, according to Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, the New York Fed has distributed over 800,000 copies just last year alone. Want to sample some copies for yourself your kids? You can order them for free via New York Fed’s publication website.

WSJ’s recommendations (other works are supposedly snoresville):

  • “Once Upon a Dime”
  • “A Penny Saved”
  • “The Story of Money”

Check out 50 fun facts about credit cards from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

The fun part is that over 10 of those facts aren’t favorable facts to consumers like you. Yay!

On an unrelated note, if you have a few minutes to kill, head over to and fill out the survey available on the site.

The group is lauching a supposedly kick-ass personal finance application, so the more input from potential users — the better the chance for the software to meet everyone’s need.

This may generate some flame war, especially since some of the gurus mentioned may have a following (within the personal finance blog community, too). You may also find it silly to have yet another anonymous jerk calling out your “guru,” but that’s the Internet for you.

I. The Urgh Ones

No, it's not a comb over.

Donald Trump

It’s tough to hate a on person you’ve never met before — but as a financial “guru,” Donald Trump is a douche. It’s not because he was brought to the brink of bankruptcy that makes him a questionable financial guru; there’s also no question that he has have many success in various field, notably real-estate and recently in the media; but as a financial guru — that is, someone to go to for a financial framework to achieve financial independence — he’s not what you’ll want.

Head to a local Borders or B&N to sample his work, which include books such as: Trump: How to Get Rich (more about how he got rich than how you’ll get rich); you’ll also find his latest co-authored book: Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men — One Message, to be lacking in clear depth and direction for a workable financial road map.

As a media personality Trump does just fine (if that’s what you’re into), but don’t expect to get much out of him as a financial guru.

$200 cashflow board game, anyone?

Robert Kiyosaki

Of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame, which is probably an okay book — although once you’ve read his first work, you’ve read them all. You will find that his many other works (even those written by others in the same Rich Dad, Poor Dad series) to be repetitive, lacking in actionable courses, and generally just pages after pages of: “you should start a business, buy gold or other precious metals, consider MLMs, or buy an apartment complex and try other various spiffy real-estate deals.”

Every online mentions of Kiyosaki will generally follow a link to John T. Reed’s analysis of Rich Dad, Poor Dad; and this one is no exception. It’s a good read, and you’ll find it to be more objective than this blog’s view on Kiyosaki.

The real reason why Kiyosaki is on this list though, is because of his irresponsible recommendations and suggestions on achieving financial independence. Many other personal finance bloggers have frequently mention his ill-considered financial advice as a Yahoo Finance columnist, which mostly consist of the same advices mentioned above.

In fact, just a few days ago, you’ll find Robert Kiyosaki on CNN telling people to buy into silver because the stock market “isn’t going anywhere.” Right. Let’s not utilize one of the more practical investment vehicle and throw all our eggs into one basket for 2007. Now that’s a sure bet!

II. The Iffy Ones

Credit cards are evil! (They probably are)

Dave Ramsey

Before you start looking for that unsubscribe feed button, there’s a few good reasons why Dave Ramsey may be a bit iffy as a financial guru.

There’s little question that Ramsey is the one to go to for some extreme debt elimination. His actionable method and steps are all achievable, if not practical for some. If you follow Ramsey’s often-tout debt snowball plan to the letter, you will most likely be well on your way in getting rid of your debt.

The problem with Ramsey is his delivery method (and supposedly his targeted audience).

Advocating debt reduction, sensible spending and elimination of unnecessary expense is all fine and dandy, but to be pushing your various products at the same time is a bit troubling. As you visit Ramsey’s website, or check out his latest book: Total Money Makeover, you’ll notice numerous offer for programs and packages on debt reduction, notably the pricey $130 ~ $250 Financial Peace University programs.

Imagine how you would feel if you visit a website called, which tries to send out a message of sensible spending — only to be greeted with offers of a $130 “how to save money” guide on the very same website. A bit of a turn off? Probably.

There’s nothing wrong with marketing a good message, but when the commercialization crosses path with your underlying message, things may get a bit iffy.

Booyah! Buy AAPL and dump RIMM now!

James “Jim” Cramer

Jim Cramer hosts CNBC’s Mad Money, where he provides viewers with investment advice, strategy, and the occasional chair throwing spectacles.

The wild on-screen persona aside, Cramer’s stock picks have often been criticize by sites such as, which pits Cramer’s Lighting Round stock recommendations against that of a monkey — often showing that Cramer’s sell/buy recommendations are no better than that of a random number generator. Of course, the site tracks the performance for only 30 days, which isn’t enough of a time frame to show long term changes.

Although it’s nice that Cramer’s Mad Money brought the mindset of stocks investing to a younger audience, it’s always a bit troubling when you have a person making broad investment advice with lights and sound effects — even if it is just for entertainment, and even if there was a disclaimer before the show.

On the flip side, Cramer’s books such as Sane Investing in an Insane World, and Confessions of a Street Addict are miles ahead of those from Trump and Kiyosaki, even if Confessions isn’t exactly a “how-to” finance book.

III. The Ones That I’ll Wash Their Dishes For

I wish there are clearer pictures of me.

Jonathan Clements

Jonathan Clements is a personal finance writer for the Wall Street Journal, his column “Getting Going” can be found on Wednesday issues of the WSJ, back in the Personal Finance section (now the Personal Journal section).

Here’s the low down: the average person who’s interested in financial independence will garner more from a sentence written by Clements, than an entire book written by both Trump and Kiyosaki.

Clements’ columns and books are sensible and actionable. When they may be a bit broad, he gives cautions. When they may sound like the same old general personal finance advice, he reaffirms (because they work).

What many people fail to realize is that the basic underlying core of a sound financial lifestyle is very simplistic. You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to know that spending beyond your means is a bad idea, or that savings diligently is a key to financial success. It is a very simple value that Clements continues to push through out his numerous columns.

If you’re interested in Clements’ common sense personal finance and don’t subscribe to the Journal, check out 25 Myth You’ve Got to Avoid at your local library. You can also find two of his other works that focuses on mutual funds and starting/rebuilding investments.

IV. To Be Added To The List:

Here are the few others that will be added to the list. Graham and Malkiel will both be on the “washing dishes” category, while the others listed will be placed to their perspective category once more of their works and materials are digested.

  • Benjamin Graham
  • Burton Malkiel
  • Suze Orman
  • David Bach
  • Jane Bryant Quinn

I’m totally screwed.

It really is a tough habit to break as the article mentions. Argh.


Unmoderated message boards are usually pretty messy to sort through, but this is still pretty bad (the stock message boards anyway).

Talk about a group of angry people. Besides the frequent exchange of insults, you’ll also find useful stock advice such as:

…don’t get scared now man. This is the time where you grab your nuts and buy some more…

This is after the stock sank 23% earlier in the day, due to decade long poor business practices, and the fact that the company is knocking on bankruptcy door. And no, the current price is still no where near liquidation value.

Avoid like the plague.

Lately I’ve been obsessing over things I’ve done (or didn’t do) in the past. Very unhealthy.

About five years ago when I worked at Bank of America, one of my manager set me aside to talk about the 401(k) benefit I’m entitled to as a peon of the corporation.

Now, I’m not sure if it was corporate policy to encourage employees to seriously consider planning for retirement, or my boss just cared for my financial well being (probably the latter), but she told me that if I start to save for my retirement (then at the age of 20), I would be miles ahead of the game.

Of course, being the air head that I am, I soundly ignored and dismissed her advice.

“A cut to the already measly paycheck? No way!”

“But Cap, it’s important to seriously consider your financial future. The company match can be significant over a long period of time,” said the concerned manager, “I’m 36, and if I can go back in time and get started at 20, I would take the chance in a heart beat.”

“Well.. I don’t think I’ll work here that long. Moving this plan to another employer is such a hassle…”

“That may be true, but even if you don’t utilize the 401k, I would seriously recommend you look into other various individual retirement accounts available out there.”

“In fact,” she continues, “if you need any help on getting started, I’m more than willing to walk you through the necessary steps.”

“Ah, I’ll get back to you on that. But yeah, I appreciate the offer!”

And of course I never talked to her about retirement planning again. Another moment in my life where I ignored a genuine offer of help. Dammit all to Omicron Persei VIII.

Suggested Reading:

Mmm... A380 first class concept

Because Separating Yourself from Lesser Beings via a Curtain Rules

Being the plebeian that I am, I have never flown first or business class.

Each time I board a flight, I would shuffle my way through the spacious front compartment to reach my seat far in a distant land. Although I’ve flown economy class time and time again, each time I reach my eventual seat, I would always wonder if it was my imagination or were the economy class seats getting smaller and smaller.

First and Business class airfare can cost many times more than that of coach/economy class, although in some occasion (for shorter flights), business class may not be much different than regular class in terms of seating arrangement.

I’ve often peeked through the curtains (and watched my share of movies) to have a glimpse of first class service, yet I still often wonder: is the cost worth it?

Perhaps I need to pray harder to the air travel fairy, and hope for a bump to first/business class on my future flight (as Max did when he flew to Poland), so that I can fully appreciate and bask in the glory that is first class service.

Poll Result:

Looks like semi-crap, flight marshal!

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