It’s Time to Choose Another Book for the Billfold Book Club

Are you ready to apply a critical eye to another personal finance classic?

The Billfold Book Club is taking suggestions for its next installment. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio by Ben Stein
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke by Suze Orman

Let me know what you want to read in the comments. Pick off this list, or name a financial book you’ve always wanted to read and/or skewer.

Photo: Spykster


28 Comments / Post A Comment

Pitts (#5,529)

I’d love to reread Suze Orman. I read it … back in the early aughts? I remember some of the credit card advice being simultaneously very good and helped me get out of debt, but some of it was also Cracker Jacks.

coastalelite (#2,528)

I got the Suze Orman book as a college graduation gift, so I vote for that

la_di_da (#1,425)

Also vote for Suze Ortman because every article i’ve read by her is great.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

I think I got the Suze Orman book for a college graduation gift, too! It may be in my parents’ attic somewhere.

samburger (#5,489)


Millionaire Nextdoor is about as well-written as garbage and it makes some specious claims, but it also makes some earth-shatteringly great observations about the relationship between consumption and wealth (spoilers: If you spend your money you will have none, ya turds).

That said, I listened to the audio book on my eternal commute to my first well-paying job, so I was in a weird place when I enjoyed it.

I would totes read Suze, though. My curmudgeonly Jewish grandmother gave it to me when I was like, idk, 12. I did not read it.

ThatJenn (#916)

@samburger I vote both, in some order or another.

But then, I would also read any/all of these books and look forward to it. I feel a little weird that I’ve never read any Suze Orman (probably because of the ex-girlfriend who thought she was the smartest woman on earth).

By the way, would there be any interest in reading Helaine Olen’s book (Pound Foolish, talked about pretty frequently here) later in the series? It’s sort of the opposite of all of these books in that it’s about why much of what’s in THESE books are bunk, so perhaps it doesn’t fit the theme, but I enjoyed reading it and will definitely be rereading it after we’ve gone through some more of the authors she talks about in it.

Pitts (#5,529)

@ThatJenn ooh yes to Pound Foolish!

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Michelle Pittman@facebook @ThatJenn Pound Foolish also fits the “books written post-recession” guideline.” I like it.

chic noir (#713)

@ThatJenn Yes I got the Pound Folish ebook right after her interview with the Billfold. One of the best books of 2013 IMO.

cryptolect (#1,135)

@ThatJenn I also loved Pound Foolish, let’s do that one next!

samburger (#5,489)

@ThatJenn Pound Foolish! Great idea. I CHANGE MY VOTE TO POUND FOOLISH

Tax Token (#6,772)

I’m going to put in a vote for The Millionaire Next Door. I just finished The Stranger Beside Me, so the thought of reading those back to back makes me laugh.

jwhittz (#6,602)

Already own the Suze Orman book, but have never read it, so that one gets my vote, as well!

helloginny (#3,801)

I vote for whatever has the most recent publication date. A lot of advice in these books is relevant to the economic situation of the country when they were written, and we all know there have been many changes in the US economy since 2007. I’m sure books published before the great recession have many timeless gems of wisdom nestled within their pages, but a lot of what is in them will seem outdated to us today in 2014.

cawcawphony (#2,990)

@helloginny I agree with helloginny.

samburger (#5,489)

@helloginny I disagree, actually! Financial advice that’s developed because of 2008 is definitely bogus. In the world of long-term-thinking financial experts, 2008 was a perfectly normal economic event (I’m thinking like, Jack Bogle and Warren Buffet types).

@helloginny: Doesn’t it depend what you’re looking for? What makes all books of this sort seem plausible at the time is that they rehash or riff upon the then-conventional wisdom. A little distance and the ability to notice failed predictions make it easier to see what was good advice that “stands the test of time” and what was merely speculative/ephemeral. Actual wisdom might be more useful, but outdated cruft is more fun to snark about, which makes for entertaining reading.

Of the choices given, I vote for Millionaire Next Door.

Another option to consider is “Die Broke” by Mark Levine

(Looking back on finance-related books that seem outdated now, I think my favorite is “Bankruptcy 1995″ by Harry Figgie. That one fooled me! The failed premise at the heart of it was that interest rates wouldn’t decline.)

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

I think the “can we find a recent PF book” is a good point, so I just ran a search on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases in Personal Finance.”

Titles include:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Greg McKeown)
Smart Money Smart Kids (Dave Ramsey)
House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again (Atif Mian)
Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending (Elizabeth Dunn)

Any of those sound interesting?

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

A’ight, I just read the online excerpt of Helaine Olen’s Pound Foolish, published in 2012. It will be an interesting and thought-provoking read.

It looks like we have two strong options:

1. Read Suze Orman’s Young/Fabulous/Broke and have a fun time snarking
2. Read Pound Foolish and face a serious conversation about the current economy and the bunko presented by the personal finance self-help industry


ThatJenn (#916)

@HelloTheFuture I would like to read one of Suze Orman’s books before rereading Pound Foolish, myself, because she’s discussed repeatedly in the book. But I’d really like to read Pound Foolish here at some point – that’s a preferred order, not a ranked preference. But I’ll read them in any order if it is the will of the people!

cryptolect (#1,135)

@HelloTheFuture I don’t even think we will snark *that* much about Suze Orman! I read YF&B standing up in a Barnes & Noble (back when THEY were the enemy of book-loving folk, oh we were so young then), and a lot of it is pretty solid advice. I don’t remember Pound Foolish perfectly, but I think the Orman chapter focused on the change in her persona (I am only familiar with the present-day Orman) and her shilling for some Suze-Orman-branded financial software, which I don’t think she does on her show or in her books, so I’m a little removed from it.

samburger (#5,489)

@ThatJenn Suze before Pound is a good idea! I’m not that interested in Suze, but knowing that Pound will critique her is motivating.

Aconite (#6,401)

I defended Rich Dad Poor Dad, so my vote is for one I can’t defend at all – The Millionaire Next Door. It’s not half as bad as Millionaire Women Next Door, though. The constant blithering on about how ladies don’t have to be fancy, and how if they just tried being a bit more humble and did more for their COMMUNITIES they’d soon watch the wealth roll in. Sure, teach me how to make money. But don’t lecture me about how to spend it, son.

The Suze Orman! I had an ex who raved about it, so I got a copy and was very unimpressed.

chevyvan (#2,956)

Say what you will about Suze Orman (there is a lot to criticize), but back in the 90’s I made a comment on one of her message boards about having tons of student loans and not knowing how to handle it. She personally responded and recommended that I check out one of her books *at the library*! The woman practices what she preaches!

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@chevyvan She absolutely does! I don’t have loads of problems with Orman’s writing. There’s a bit of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” in there, and plenty of self-help jargon to poke fun at, but her advice is sound.

chevyvan (#2,956)

@HelloTheFuture Yeah, maybe the “Rich Dad” people don’t need her advice, but my parents were/are clueless about money and we never had it growing up. So when I was on my own at 18, all I knew about money is that I should balance my check book. Her books were my gentle introduction to financial literacy and also dealt with the emotional baggage surrounding money (of which I had/have tons).

facepalm (#4,409)

Millionaire Next Door, or I will Teach you to be Rich are my two votes.

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