Some people think that they are two people. They believe that they suffer from a form of split personality, two individuals with differing tastes and inclinations that awkwardly share the same body and, more to the point, the same bank account.
It is an interesting, but which I mean amusing, theory. It is not that I do not think that there really are folks, even millions of them, who have mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, which could be trivialized as two versions of the same person sharing one body. Others have substance abuse problems that cause an irresistible need to ingest certain chemicals.
But the people I am thinking of do not have such problems. They have nothing more profound than an inability to save as much of their income as they think they ought to. This they ascribe to mental illness.
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Continuing a long tradition that dates back four weeks, I’m using this last day of the week and month to round up a few things I’ve found lately on the interwebs that deserve comment but not whole posts.
Kiyosaki in Canada
The Consumerist asked the other day Is Rich Dad Robert Kiyosaki Getting Rich Off Suckers? Excellent question. Let’s examine it logically.
1. Kiyosaki is rich.
2. What he does for a living is sell books and seminars.
3. Those books and seminars are basically worthless.
4. Purchasers of those books and seminars are therefore suckers.
5. Ergo, Kiyosaki has gotten rich off suckers.
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[This is Part 2 of my review. If you haven't yet, you should read Part 1 first.]
The Latte Factor® is not the only registered trademark from previous books that David Bach revisits. Also making a prominent appearance in Start Over, Finish Rich is the DOLP® debt reduction system.
DOLP®, Bach tells us, stands for dead on last payment. What on Earth that means he does not disclose. (Not in this particular volume anyway.) In practical terms DOLP® is a method of deciding which of your debts to pay off first.
In what order you should pay off your debts is a surprisingly controversial topic in the personal finance world. The two leading theories are the Debt Snowball, as advocated by Dave Ramsey, in which you pay the smallest debts first, and the Right Way, as advocated by rational people, in which you pay the highest interest rate debts first.
DOLP® is, somewhat remarkably, a third method. You divide the outstanding balance on each of your debts by its minimum monthly payment. You then pay off the loan that has the lowest ratio of minimum payment to balance first.
Why? Bach doesn’t say. He claims "the DOLP® system works by identifying the card you can pay off most quickly…." But, assuming that that was your goal, isn’t the card you can pay off most quickly simply the one with the lowest balance? That is, wouldn’t the Debt Snowball be the way to go?
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About a year ago I reviewed Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan. I felt certain that it would be the first in a series of annual paperbacks from Ms. Fabulous. Sadly and inexplicably, she seems to have passed on this particular opportunity.
But all is not lost. David Bach, of Latte Factor® fame, has stepped into the breach with Start Over, Finish Rich: 10 Steps to Get You Back on Track in 2010. It works well as a sequel to Orman’s book. Aside from the similar title it shares the same peculiar 4 x 7 1/2 paperback format and a cover laden with gold leaf. (Of course, by law, all personal finance books have some gold leaf on the cover. But this one has an Orman amount.) And Bach cribbed Orman’s gimmick of giving away electronic copies of the book for a limited time to build sales momentum.
But while Orman’s 2009 book had the tone, if not the substance, of a collection of emergency maneuvers to help the reader deal with a calamity, Bach’s 2010 book is more of a pep talk to get the reader back on track now that the calamity is over. Indeed, it is endearingly old school. The goal is to get rich, not merely avoid becoming poor. And Bach generally resists what must have been a strong temptation to make his book seem more timely by claiming that his advice is specially tailored for times like these.
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Free Money Finance had a "Help A Reader" post the other day with an email from a woman asking if folks thought it was a good idea to take money out of her mutual funds to pay off $24K in credit card debt.
The broad consensus from commenters on the post was yes, cash out the mutual funds and pay off the cards, provided those funds are not inside an IRA or something similar. Okay, fine.
A few commenters obliquely approached the core craziness here by asking if the reader would have borrowed money on her credit cards to invest in the mutual funds. Of course that sounds like a really loopy idea, and of course that is what she (effectively) did.
Not paying off a credit card or other high-interest consumer debt so you can save or invest is, or at least should be, an intuitively bad move. The returns on the investments are unlikely even to approach the cost of borrowing the money.
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