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April 18, 2014



Book Review: Dave Barry’s Money Secrets

If you were reader of the Sunday paper in the past, you might remember the regular column written by Dave Barry and syndicated in numerous newspapers, prior to when he stopped writing his column several years ago.  Well, luckily for us, Mr. Barry is still writing, and has turned his studied eye towards the world of personal finance in Dave Barry’s Money Secrets.  What great secrets will he have to share with us?  Follow along and let’s find out!

Synopsis:

In course of creating this book, Dave Barry includes advice on almost every personal finance topic you could imagine.  He starts by sharing one of his own experiences: in spite of the warnings of his friends, he forwarded a total of $10,000 in advance fee money to a businessman in Nigeria and, as you can probably already guess, ended up receiving $47 million in 578 large cardboard boxes.  This story shows the excellent financial fortitude illustrated throughout the rest of the book.

A complete description of all the wonderful tips given out in this book could easily fill a book itself.  So instead, we’ll truncate matters a bit, and simply use a bulleted list of the highlights of the book:

  • A history of money, pointing out that in our current monetary system, money only has value because we believe it has value.
  • The answer to the question in the book’s subtitle (‘Why is there a giant eyeball on the dollar?’), namely, the designer was drunk at the time.
  • Why corporate executives make such bad decisions (such as ‘New Coke’); it turns out that executive office furniture shrinks your brain.
  • Ethical guidelines for executives, including being sure not to know exactly how your corporation works.
  • How to argue with your spouse about money.
  • How to steer your child toward an inexpensive college.
  • How to make money in the stock market.  (It involves three steps: gathering historical information, carefully studying it, and then time traveling.)
  • How to manage a hedge fund in less than two hours a day (Hint: know the difference between short and long, in financial terms).
  • Ways to lose money in real estate
  • The car dealership code of ethics (Ethic #7: The customer is an idiot).
  • The truth behind the U.S. Tax Code. (Hint: it’s a code; the entire thing is a collection of secret messages from one lawmaker to another.)
  • A bullet-point list of the major points in Donald Trump’s Trump: How to Get Rich (now you know where I got the idea).
  • A guide to tipping (including a guide to what behaviors deserve higher tips).
  • Tips on planning for your retirement (including the suggestion to die early)
  • Finally, a guide to planning your estate, including the vital importance of deciding on your last words well before the final event.

Overall:

If the preceding bullet-points haven’t convinced you, allow me to reiterate: Dave Barry’s Money Secrets is one of the best guides to money that you can find (1).   Almost any money issue you might have is addressed in this book, making it the only personal finance book you’ll ever need (2).  Go out and get the book now! (3)

(1) At least, if you’re only hoping for a funny, funny book about money to break up all your ‘real’ personal finance reading.
(2) If you don’t actually need to learn anything about personal finance
(3) This line is about the only serious comment I make in this entire book review.  It is a good book, albeit a humorous one.  It’s definitely a fun read.

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