Caught this article from a carnival on Earn What You Spend:
As Ring Lardner said, “Them’s fighting words.”
Personal finance is far from throwing in the towel, and if anything, will be more important in the coming years.
Author Helaine Owen happily assumes the role of Monday-morning quarterback to call into question the advice of MSM gurus such as Suze Orman, Jim Cramer, and Jean Chatzky after seeing it fall apart before everyone’s eyes in the past months. It’s not especially difficult to see that stocks were not the place to be recently. Owen finds it distasteful that the Giant Personal Finance Advice Machine promotes individual empowerment for tackling finances, with the (reasonable) flip-side that if you don’t tackle them, and instead get into trouble, that it’s your fault. Clearly seeing that the advice being fed to us is of little profit to us, she admits that personal finance is not likely “to crawl away and die anytime soon for a simple reason: We think we need it.” She then gives a hat tip to those calling for change at a federal level.
Personal finance is personal. Suze Orman gives advice — some of it reasonable, some of it otherwise — but the way she takes care of her finances is different than the way she recommends we take care of ours (whoever “we” are). As she should: Suze Orman’s finances are hers, and hers alone, just like our finances are ours, and ours alone. Suze Orman has become very successful helping people to wake up to their problems and dig themselves out of them, and I’m not taking away any credit she should get for helping those people. But she cannot possibly know, or care, about those people’s finances as much as is necessary. It is our job to take care of our finances. It can’t be anyone else’s job.
The real problem that’s coming up has nothing to do with whether Jim Cramer or Suze Orman or Jean Chatzky or Liz Weston or even Larry Winget are right. The real problem is the notion that it can’t be we that are responsible. That’s wrong. We are responsible for processing the advice we receive, getting enough of it, and, above all, thinking for ourselves. Don’t just write down the stocks that Jim Cramer yells out in between sound effects. Don’t just dollar-cost-average because it’s what your financial planner recommends. And don’t even do what they do: If Suze Orman has municipal bonds, I hope they’re not CA state munis. Think about your own finances, because no one else really will. They’re thinking about their own finances.
We do what we can, and we live with what happens. We don’t sue, we don’t blame, we don’t open our hands for a bailout. Personal finance is here to stay, but we need to take it personally.