The Personal Finance Industrial Complex and Our Raison D’Etre

Helaine Olen has written a book about why the personal finance industry is pretty much disgusting, and in this great interview with Anna Clark for the American Prospect, she explains it all. BAAASSICCALLLYYY this is exactly why our site exists: “One of my complaints with the whole personal-finance industrial complex is the censorious, judgmental tone, that all too often sounds like a modern updating of a Victorian morality tract, complete with the wealthy so-called personal-finance experts lecturing the less financially well-off on how to behave.”

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

Morbo (#1,236)

Yep, but isn’t that the same with:

-the fashion industry
- the diet industry
-all the real estate porn on HGTV

where there is an instructional morality play going on, over and over again for our amusement?

All of these are like having AA meetings televised. Someone has a problem with debt or food, or unrealistic expectations about granite counter-tops. While we 95% of time chuckle, or maybe say “By the grace of God go I”, there is no denying these people have issues.

We have to understand that people’s ways out of these problems are varied. You might disagree with the spiritual nature of AA, but it has helped a ton of people better their lives. That’s the tact I take with Orman and Ramsey – I don’t agree with a lot of it, but the stripped down approach is what some people need to get back on their footing.

Olen is dead on with the “dysfunctional relationship with class” observation, though. That was the housing bubble’s #1 cause.

I definitely feel that a lot of the personal finance industry is dedicated to the idea that poverty is a choice and poor people are 100% to blame for their circumstances. Which is why I am so very happy that a site like The Billfold exists.

Some years back, I got a free copy of Suze Orman’s Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke, and upon opening it I realized, “Hey, this advice isn’t for broke people! THIS ADVICE ISN’T FOR BROKE PEOPLE!”

Also, much of the reason why the Billfold is preeeeetty much the only money-related thing I read is because other personal finance publications seem to be aimed at people who are obsessed with money, really deeply interested in the most boring aspects of personal finance, etc. While the Billfold is handy for people like me who don’t earn a whole lot of money, honestly have very little interest in money at all, but recognize that we need some of it in order to stay alive.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@werewolfbarmitzvah And it’s ALSO handy for people like me who earn a decent amount of money, still have very little interest in money, but recognize that we’ll need some of it later.

I turn right off when Step One is “amass a year’s worth of expenses in a savings account.”

chic noir (#713)

@werewolfbarmitzvah well said. Perfect summary of this site . I would like to add that a major theme of this site is to avoid debt as much as possible.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@chic noir yes. while maintaining a reasonable life. whatever that means for you. ah billfold, i heart you.

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