Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money

In the recent past (a couple months ago), I read Bert Whitehead's Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money: Overcoming Financial Dysfunction, and here's some of my thoughts on it.

Whitehead, for the most part, writes in easy-to-understand language for people who may not be familiar with every concept he speaks about. He occasionally goes off into something that, to me, didn't always make sense, or sometimes left things without examples, but I guess that's to be expected sometimes.

One thing I did like about the book, was that Whitehead talked about different Money Personalities that he created by observing his clients. (That link goes to a completely different site since I could not find the personality matrix on Whitehead's own site, which you'd think would have it.) The personalities are The Bon Vivant, The Entrepreneur, The Nester and The Traveler, and each has it's own different quirks and "dysfunctions" about them. While no one thing can pinpoint any one person, the personality types are a great way to get an idea on what makes one "tick" as far as money and to start to identify ways to help direct things the way that is wanted/needed.  So that is one positive thing about the book.

However, Whitehead has some distinct things he writes about that I simply don't agree with, and would never practice in my own life or recommend  to others. For example, he talks about NOT paying your house off early if you are able to and says instead that you should keep the mortgage for the entire term and put the money into the stock market, giving an example of how much more it can grow over time, etc. While that could be true, there's no guarantee of it, and while a house is NOT an investment and also carries no guarantees, I feel that if you are able to pay off your house early, it's a good idea to do so since at least you'll have a place to live. Suze Orman agrees with me on this.

Another point that Whitehead makes that struck me as odd and I don't really agree with, is that he would like people to "upgrade" their mortgage and take on more debt at different stages of their lives, almost regardless of their need for a different house. If you're making more money, he wants you to upgrade the mortgage to a more expensive one. I don't agree with this simply for the fact that you should not take on more debt just because you may make more money or something changes in your life that DOESN'T require a different dwelling-in fact, if you make more money than when you bought your house, that's a great way to add to your retirement nest egg through your chosen method of investment or savings. If your life circumstances change and you need to upgrade or downgrade, then by all means, explore your options for changing your dwelling and/or mortgage, but not simply because your income increases.

Overall, I think there is some value in some of the information provided in the book-such as the money personalities listed above-but that many things are either so far removed from the average person that they are not entirely helpful or that things (like above) are out of the scope of reality to the point of being bad advice. If using the star rating system, I'd have to say for me, this book falls in the category of 3/5 stars.

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