The Best Financial Books Are Well Worth the Price
publication date: Aug 4, 2009
Personal finance books, when done well and by an author with expertise and objectivity in the subject area, offer a crash course at a reasonable price. The best books provide enormous value. You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars attending some "financial seminars" and learn a fraction of what you can from the best books (see my recent article about John Cummuta). Even worse are the many examples I've learned about over the years where high priced seminars, CDs, audiotapes, etc. end up by being nothing more than infomercials and don't teach you anything useful.
The challenge is to find the best books and it isn't easy for most people. For starters, if you're not an expert in the field, it's difficult and challenging to evaluate the competence and professional track record of various authors. Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr eloquently stated, "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field." After a lifetime of money mistakes you'll be an expert or more of an expert but you don't get do-overs!
Publishers make your job of book and author evaluation even more challenging because most of them exercise woefully far too little due diligence when deciding who to publish. The single most important factor for most publishers isn't the quality of the writing or legitimacy of the advice or author's credentials and professional background. What matters most is simply how well the publisher thinks that the book will sell.
In the financial world, one of the keys to a book selling well is the author's having a "platform" to promote his or her book. Those who are already doing lots of media interviews and conducting seminars around the country are attractive to publishers. Hype sells. Cutesy stories sell. And by the time that the truth comes out - if ever - millions of copies may have already sold and nothing will probably happen. I've written about and exposed the nonsense behind:
Day trading is gambling on very short term moves in stock prices. It literally means buying a stock early in the trading day in the hopes and expectation of selling it later that same day at a profit. The short-term movements of stock prices are not predictable and day trading is a dangerous, gambling type approach to playing the stock market. Day trading increases one's transaction costs and when you do have profitable trades, their taxes as well (short term profits are taxed at high ordinary income tax rates which for most people are more than double the rate applied to profits realized after holding for more than one year). If day trading stocks wasn't risky enough, books appeared that advocated day trading even more dangerous financial instruments such as futures and options. One electronic day trading book proclaims it as "...Wall Street's Hottest Phenomenon" while another trumpets, "...Catch the Wave." Well, those who grabbed their surfboards quickly got wiped out.
Throughout articles on this site and in my own books, I recommend the best books on specialized money and related topics. I do my homework before I recommend a book and you should too. Your financial health is at stake.