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BeHappyNOW (< 20)

The top 10 Personal Finance advisors… who are the good ones? (Personal Finance NOT stock picking)



March 21, 2010 – Comments (26) | RELATED TICKERS: ATVI , RIG , VLO

According to what I found on Amazon & PBS, these are 10 of the most sought after people who can, theoretically, give you the secrets to becoming rich.

1)  Robert “Rich Dad/Poor Dad” Kiyosaki – about 80,001 books out. But is he a Guru or snake oil salesman?

2)  Suze Orman  - about 80,000 books out. Is she deservedly a top dog financially, or is she a “nut job”? 

3) Tom & David Gardner aka The Motley Fools - lots of books out. Fools or fools? (Remember we are talking about their financial advice only.  NOT their entrepreneurship and building of this site / community, for which I think it is obvious they are capital “F” Fools – which means smarter than most)

4) David Bach - “The Automatic Millionaire".  Moron or genius? 

5) Tim Ferris - “4 Hour work-week”.  Is this a pipe dream or can it really be done?

6) Robert G Allen - “Nothing Down”, “Creating Wealth”, “Multiple Streams of Income.  Is he a millionaire creator or book salesman?

7) Charles Givens - “Wealth Without Risk”, “More Wealth Without Risk”, “Financial Self Defense”.  Is this bunk or is 20% with low risk sometimes a reality that we are foolish not to be looking for?

8) T. Harv Elker - “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, and “Speedwealth”.  Is he for real, a millionaire in 3 years!!?

9) Ed Slott – a PBS mainstay with “Stay Rich Forever”

10) Jonathan Pond - another PBS mainstay with “Grow Your Money”.  Most things put forth by PBS seem to be a cut above.  Does this hold for personal finances? 

11) Bert Whithead - “Why Smart people do Stupid things with money”.  (I don't think he is really a top guy, but I put him on the list cuz he is talking about smart people being stupid financially – Hey didn't I do that in my last post?  That can only mean one thing - “My boy is wicked smaht” (to quote Good Will Hunting) ;)  

I think everyone of these people has been lambasted and lauded.  Interestingly it seems that the praise often comes from the people taking the advice, and the criticism comes from those who haven’t tried it.  It seems pretty reasonable to give more weight to feedback of actual users, right?  But does that makes sense here?  In any case, unless we have tried them all, we all must wonder - just a bit - what is the truth behind these advisors, and if there are hidden gems in their words.  Lets find out.  BTW, my list was not created with any rigorous standards.  If there are people I left out add them - even if they are not in the "top ten", so long as you feel a discussion of thier advice is warrented

I think we can really help each other to become better investors on this one.  By sharing our thoughts on the top people all in one place, this can be the “go to” post for what is happening in the real world with all these people. 

I have 4 basic questions (feel free to add a question - in the comments attached to this post - if you’ve got one that would be instructive to have answered by the CAPSaicins, which is my word for a member of the CAPS Community because they are all so gosh darned spicy).

 1) Is anyone of us following the advice of ANY of these people?

2) If not, why not?

3) Which “secrets” / ideas really work (& which don't)?

4) Do you have a general financial strategy and why? If so what is it called (if it has no name, how would you describe it)? What I mean is that most CAPS folks seem to follow one or more named stock market strategies (such as “Buy & Hold”, DRIP, GARP, Indexing, etc), is this paralleled at the level of personal finance?  

More detailed questions would be like…

Has any CAPSaicin become an “automatic millionaire” ala Bach?

Does any CAPSaicin have “multiple streams of income” as Allen advocates (if so what)?  

Is any CAPSaicin on a 4-hour workweek as Ferris makes sound so easy? Etc.

I have thoughts on many of these folks, but others I don't know much about.  I will share my thoughts alongside everyone in the comments.

I am new to blogging so I don't know if asking too much of people.  Am I breaking some unwritten rule that you can't expect commenters to spend more than 30 seconds on their comments? Or that blog posts are supposed to only be fleeting in nature, never to be revisited after a few months? If that is the case I hope we break the rules here and capsaicins will spend a bit of time and give their opinions (with reasoning behind them) and take the time to describe their real world experiences, so that, as I said, this can be the “go to” post for a long time to come. 

For those playing the “Who am I?” game, I don't have time for clues in this entry.  Sorry, but it is actually very time consuming trying to come up with stuff that is neither too hard nor too easy.  Also I want to mix fun and practicality together as much as possible.  Too much fluff and no substance is annoying and “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.  So please forgive my putting the game on hold now and again.  

If you live in the Northeast I hope you enjoyed this weekend’s weather.  I was starting to think that there was no such thing as “outside” and that the govt was using TV to trick us into believing that there are trees and clouds and sky and stuff – ya know like they did with the lunar landings ;)

 As always – Be Happy (when?)… NOW

26 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 21, 2010 at 10:05 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

Those are the well-known ones, but I prefer the advice of personal finance bloggers such as free money finance, brip blap, get rich slowly, and more.  I'm extremely glad to see Dave Ramsey's not on your list, because his idea that the market always returns 12% is absurd.

Honestly, you must:
1. Have a decent income and receive decent raises every year
2. Spend a good amount less than you earn
3. Earn a good return on your saved money

I know a lot of people who want to get rich quickly, but it takes time and hard work.  Also important is balance, of course.  You must save a lot, but not so much that it cripples your current way of living.

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#2) On March 21, 2010 at 10:47 PM, russiangambit (28.90) wrote:

I am only familiar with top 5:

1. Rich Dad - has some very good ideas, but they don't seem he to be his own. He sells other people's good ideas as well snake oil, it makes no difference to him as long as it makes money.

2. Suze Orman - she is just dumb. And to think that people who listen to her must be even dumber, and there are  lot of them, sad. Her shows remind me of televized confessions -  dear Suzy, I know I sinned, please forgive me so that I can continue doing exactly the same.

3. Actully, I didn't read any of the books.

4. Automtic millionaire - it might work but what is the point when  a million is not enough to retire on? Also, it assumes a stable economic environment, which we don't currently have.

5.  4 Hour workweek - my sister is a big fan, she implemented some ideas in practice. In short, you get a whole bunch of indians doing things for you remotely for $5 per hour, so you don't have to do it.Without the indians it is a pipe dream. The caveat here  - if indians can do it all, what is your value add, why are you even needed, just to collect  the money? 

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#3) On March 22, 2010 at 12:07 AM, FoolBeater (< 20) wrote:

Suze Orman, is Super DANGEROUS. STAY AWAY!!!

Johnathan Pond is Dangerous. Stay away!

David Bach is a con artist, russiangambit nailed it about him.

Rich Dad has some good, but mixed in is some really bad stuff.  In some ways this makes him more dangerous than Orman or Pond cuz it is like mixing truth with lies.  So I guess he would be DANGEROUS for newbies, but good for those with enuf knowledge to separate his good ideas from his crazy ones.

Tim Ferris.  I think this is real, BUT it may not be as easy as it sounds.  I started to look into it and quickly got bogged down.  But, in all fairness, I think it was more pilot error - the problem was with me.  I am actually jazzed about this post cuz I am realizing I need to give it anohter go.  I had sort of forgotten about it. I will post again as I learn more.


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#4) On March 22, 2010 at 12:15 AM, DragontoadX (< 20) wrote:

In response to your 4 basic questions:

1) No

2) In general personal finance type books seemed overly simplistic to me...  I always felt that, for me personally, my time would be better spent learning how to pick stocks than reading a myriad of personal finance books.. That's not to say of course that the information in them is bad.. I think different strategies can work for different people.

3) I wholeheartedly agree with bullishbabo's 3 points above, especially #2... If you can have the discipline to live well below your means, it goes a long way...

I think for some people, personal finance "rules of thumb" can do more harm than good because it keeps them from thinking about things too much and gives thema false sense of security.  For example, given the idea that you should spend no more than 30% of your income on housing, people then feel comfortable paying pretty much anything less than that when they might have been able to find something much cheaper that they would be comfortable with.

4) Don't spend money on things you don't need.  If there's something expensive that you really want that will improve your quality of life, put in the effort to at least find a good deal on whatever it is.  Invest the money you save in the stock market... If you don't know what you are doing, invest in an index fund.

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#5) On March 22, 2010 at 12:29 AM, DragontoadX (< 20) wrote:


Are you a BeHappyNOW alternate profile?

...I ask because your profile is new, your pitches are all "Lord knows", and of course there is another profile, BeaterOfFools who also has a new profile, and has a bunch of pitches saying "Red Raider is Lord"

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#6) On March 22, 2010 at 12:47 AM, Tastylunch (28.70) wrote:

the fact that all these guys are trying to sell you advice should tell you something.

reminds me of diets or love help books. If there were a one size fits all answer their likely wouldn't be zillions of books on the subject.

The Motely Fools are the only ones I like, but I don't always agree with what they say either.

thanks for reminding me I need to read Ferris. I'm extremely incredulous that his concept is feasible for 90%+ of america but you never know where you might find a good idea even if it's embedded in a bad one.

p.s. you goin to make any picks Behappy?


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#7) On March 22, 2010 at 2:16 AM, coattails (< 20) wrote:

Just my two cents on personal finance...

1  A good job is probably the most important.  It should be something that you love to do.  If not, you might be tempted to keep hittin the blackjack tables or flyin off to the wsop.   

2  Live below your means

3  Take care of the things you have..(house, car , health  )

4  Set realistic goals

 That should be a good start.

Also as far as gurus, i like Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon


As far as making a million dollars,...ive been there.  And it only cost me two.



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#8) On March 22, 2010 at 9:16 AM, GeneralDemon (26.31) wrote:

What? The genius Ben Stein didn't make the list???? Did I mention he is a genius and probably graduated from genius school? 

I used to watch Louis Rukeyser's show for what, thirty years straight? Now, that was a great, great guy. Two hundred CNBC shows on simultaniously could not match him!

Actually, you can learn something from everybody, even turds with feet.

Jim Cramer has feet.

Maybe the best advice is to learn to have a good filter.

I hope you're not Jim.


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#9) On March 22, 2010 at 9:58 AM, WallaceSean (< 20) wrote: took Bert Whitehead’s concepts to the next level.  They help smart people avoid doing stupid things with their money. Instead of selling you a book, People’s Financial Advisor gives you a Financial Plan tailored to your situation for $99 only.  In a way, they help you implement the methodology Bert developed, deployed at ~150 financial planners across the country (called the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors), and served thousands of people over the past 30 years or so.

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#10) On March 22, 2010 at 11:05 AM, Turfscape (< 20) wrote:

The problem I have with the majority of these types of "advisors" or "authors" or whatever they should be called is that, typically speaking, they suggest that there is A path to financial success. They suggest that all people can get to that success by following a single source of advice.

Quite simply, financial success...or financial adequecy...will come in MANY different forms for MANY different people. Personality will actually play a HUGE role in what someone is able to accomplish, financially.

The advice that Kiyosaki, Orman, Ferris offer may be good advice for some...hell, it might be good advice for a plurality of people...but they sell it to the majority of people. And that's just wrong.

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#11) On March 22, 2010 at 11:15 AM, Yort2000 (91.18) wrote:

Beware of "Investment Advisors" bearing gifts.  One thing to always remember is that nobody is going to put money in your pocket other than you.  If someone has some risk-free/easy/quick method of making money, THEY ARE NOT GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT.  Why would they?  It would decrease their return and quite possibly make the method unprofitable.  These GURUs have found an easy method of making money and it is not within their pages.  It is the pages.  Their money tree is selling their books, systems, and advice on web pages.  If someone can make so much money following their system, then why aren't they making so much money that they don't need to publish their books?  Are they giving you all of this wisdom out of the goodness of their hearts?  If so, why don't they just give it away instead of selling it?

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#12) On March 22, 2010 at 12:01 PM, lemoneater (57.10) wrote:

I like the personal finance advice I've gleaned from reading articles compliments of Schwab and from reading articles from the Motley Fool staff. Not to mention the help I've gotten from other Capsters who know more than I do :)

However, the earliest, most foundational personal finance training I've gotten from is from my parents. They made certain that I wouldn't be tempted to make the same mistakes they did. Don't co-sign on a debt. Don't buy a cheap property in an area with high unemployment. Don't sell things for almost nothing--others will assume the objects have no value. For a list of Do's follow wise principles found in the Proverbs of Solomon.

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#13) On March 22, 2010 at 12:23 PM, cthomas1017 (98.44) wrote:

OK, I have to throw this one out there...  Dave Ramsey.  He seems to be the antithesis of just about everyone mentioned so far.

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#14) On March 22, 2010 at 1:14 PM, miteycasey (29.02) wrote:

The problem with 'investing' is it takes many large concepts and tries to put them under one umberella.

Rober(#1)t and Suzie(#2) are perfect examples.

Robert has the idea of growing wealth from zero. If I was in my 20's and just started out in life I'd definately follow his advice because I'd have nothing to lose. If I went bankrupt 2 or 3 times that's cool because I have time on my side.

If I was in my 40's or 50's I don't think I could take the chances that Robeert wants you to take also I wouldn't have the time because of 'family' etc. 

I'd probably have a good job that pays well, as realated to a 20-21yo., so taking my 'wealth' I've already accumulated and growing it as Suzie suggests would probably be best for me.


It all comes down to risk and how much you could handle, you rability to learn something new, and determination. 




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#15) On March 22, 2010 at 2:38 PM, Jimhandi (< 20) wrote:

Is it not as simple as?

1. Earn- do the work

2. Save- according to your dreams

3. Spend- less than your income

4. Give


I have read or reviewed  4 of the 10, and would have included Dave Ramsey and Ben Franklin.  Each offered nuggets of knowledge, which when applied altered and improved my financial condition.  Today, I find, than when I work the principles, I am blessed, and when I do not, it is at my own peril.


10, 20, or even 25 good books, even those not in the top ten, will offer a nugget, which rises above the content and is of Value when applied.

My best to each of you, and thanks for the focus.  Jim Oberschmidt

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#16) On March 22, 2010 at 3:27 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Great idea for a blog.  I've been reading each of your posts and there are fun and interesting.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Koyasaki hijacked a lot of ideas and style from Think and Grow RIch, a book I read back and forth about 15 years ago.

However, I did get a lot of value from the original by Napolean Hill.  It's vague and unusual, so perhaps I read into it what I wanted.

The evidence, however, is that the ideas stayed with me and I was an unemployed ex-Marine with no skills, no job, no girlfirend, no degree, no home, and $3 in my checking account about 6 six years ago.  Today, I make well over six figures, have no debt, and I travel the world 2-3 times per year. 

Did Napolean Hill do that for me?  Nope  Did his ideas affect me?  Definitely.  Would I have made it without him?  I don't know.

David in Qatar

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#17) On March 22, 2010 at 3:30 PM, SUPERMANSTOCKS (39.40) wrote:

Yeah just buy Qwest ( Q ) and you will make money

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#18) On March 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM, JWN2010 (< 20) wrote:

I'm giving my personal opinion here about Robert Kiyosaki. I've been searching for an idea that made complete sense to me about investing. Not a system. I would put Roberts advice above all others in this list because not that he has sold a lot of books but because what is written in them. The common theme in his books is that a person can become a good investor if they have a good financial education in what their particular investment of choice is. I would describe it as a longterm investment strategy leveraging the three asset classes in a specific order in which your particular investment dollars are best maximized through the leverage of certain interest and tax advantages to your bottom line. Get yourself good advisors to help you with that. His books are easy to read and packed full of good information that can be applied to a persons financial situation in any market condition.  Check me out on facebook!/profile.php?id=100000026515084&ref=nf

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#19) On March 22, 2010 at 5:14 PM, PDTBiotech (85.22) wrote:

I know he was a day trading guru and not a financial advisor but I do miss the Waxie (Michael Parness) "Trend trading to win" commercials, they were hilarious.  

I don't own anything by anyone on that list, and only recognized two of the author's names (Orman and the Gardners).  As a rule I never pay for anything that purports to a) tell you how to make money or b) gives you direct advice on what to buy and sell, and am to the point where I don't register a guru's name once I see the hokey book cover.  I love Taleb's books because he never tells you directly what he thinks you should do, he gives you something to think about and leaves you to arrive at your own conclusions and act accordingly.  I also like Vic Niederhoffer's books, they're a great study of the psyche of a blowup artist - it's interesting to see how his tone changes (and doesn't change) following getting destroyed.

Honestly the entire financial advisor industry's continuing existence astounds me.  A huge percentage of Americans hoping to retire in the next few years are in a horrible position right now because their advisors didn't get them out of harms way, not once but twice in the past decade.  Scaling into a bond ladder or buying the occasional put isn't rocket science, but it doesn't seem like many had any sort of downside protection whatsoever.  Apparently like sell-side analysts, as long as everyone went off the cliff everyone keeps their job.  This happened to my parents, and even though I've nagged them profusely to quit paying for someone who is simply going to do the same thing for them as he's doing for every other one of his clients their age they're too intimidated to think they can handle it.

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#20) On March 22, 2010 at 5:53 PM, Starfirenv (< 20) wrote:

 DragontoadX-Good call. Responding to his/her own q's no less. I call B.S. on the whole game. C'mon Big Player, Pony up. Maybe you should call Eric for some tactics here. You claim to have been asked in by GMan. Are you serious? If you were a millionaire by 30 you were born that way. You claim to have divested before the crash "10 yars ago", well were'nt you fresh out of school- or still in, since, as you say, you "almost failed to graduate"? Or a Marine by then?. Ten yrs ago you were what 26, 25 (born '74) and out of equities 3 yrs before you, the "average Joe, "average goofball"... "Schlub, who knew nothing about investing, finance or business".... were "thrust into the Lion's Den" of Wall Street With the scary "Harvard vals" ..with your "lack of relative intelligence"? Right. If, as you claim, you "retired at 34" ('08) and went all in to RE in the anus of So Cal, then my guess is you're BK, and stuck holding the "upside down bag". I will buy your statement that "I AM NOT VERY SMART.  REALLY". Secrets? You have secrets?  Read what  Yort2000 said in #11. Or is that your meta-think plan, to sell a video here? You "forget" if you sang with Peter Noone? Right. No singer would. So c'mon BP, it's ante time. Just "cuz".
Again, I don't care who you are or who your daddy is, but be real and lose the fake ID's. Till then I call B.S. CNN? Right.

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#21) On March 22, 2010 at 9:54 PM, TheOneOfLight (< 20) wrote:

First time to this website..

1) Is anyone of us following the advice of ANY of these people?

I try to follow the advice of rich dad/ Robert Kiyosaki

2) If not, why not?
I guess I feel I am not educated enough to apply the advice in real life.  I need to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

3) Which “secrets” / ideas really work (& which don't)?
There are too many, I don't pay attention to how I put out the ideas, I just live by them.  Education is key, is all I can offer.

4) Do you have a general financial strategy and why? If so what is it called (if it has no name, how would you describe it)? What I mean is that most CAPS folks seem to follow one or more named stock market strategies (such as “Buy & Hold”, DRIP, GARP, Indexing, etc), is this paralleled at the level of personal finance?

Education through books and I will meet with a successful business owner when I am ready.  If I learn how to make money in a stock market crash I might invest for Capital Gains to get me started on other Assets.

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#22) On March 22, 2010 at 11:04 PM, BeHappyNOW (< 20) wrote:

Ok some of my thoughts. I will also start by going down the list. 

After we have enough responses I will try to summarize the feedback from everyone into a nice concise, easy to read summary so people wont have to troll through every response to figure out who is good and who isn’t. And what ideas the CAPSaicins (members of the CAPS community) think are good regarding financial planning. I think some of the responses were surprising, and interesting.


1) Kiyosaki.  I am not all that familiar with him, cuz I saw him on TV (PBS I think) and was totally turned off when he said some remarkably stupid things (that I can't recall).  But he did say some things that I thought were also intelligent, in fact very intelligent.  I wish I could remember the details, but it was almost as if he was 2 different people speaking (Hey, I just realized that that this makes sense IF he is taking ideas from others, but can't add any value himself).  But in his defense, even if all he was doing was selling retread information, there is real value in compiling the info, and I don't begrudge him for being smart enough to take advantage of the informational arbitrage that comes with compiling data to make it more user friendly.   But that aside, it seems to me that he is definitely a mixture of good ideas with bad.  This means he could be really dangerous for someone, like a beginner, who cannot separate the wheat from the chaff.  What I think he does fairly well (2nd hand info from a quasi-friend) is the motivational part. 

2) Orman – certifiable.  I cannot believe that she is arguably the #1 provider of financial planning advice to US citizens.  I would love to know the behind the scenes story of her rise to financial icon-itude.  Is it her personality?  Maybe, but besides her moronic advice she made my lifetime dookie-list when a caller into her show said very solemnly (I am paraphrasing) “I need some financial advice cuz my husband was murdered”.  Orman actually says to a grieving widow, “Did you kill him?” and gives a big “look at how clever I am” grin to the camera.  And they took Howard Stern off the air for his inconsiderate statements – go figure.

More Later.

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#23) On March 25, 2010 at 9:54 AM, miteycasey (29.02) wrote:

Is it not as simple as?

1. Earn- do the work

2. Save- according to your dreams

3. Spend- less than your income

4. Give

Depends on your dreams. If you want a 3BR/2B  mortaged house with 2 kids, work till your 65, and retire then it's that simple.

But I feel people on this site have a bit higher goals.


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#24) On March 25, 2010 at 10:07 PM, dantefromsomm2 (40.02) wrote:

^^^ lol no.  i follow n do what kiyosaki teaches and its made a world of difference in my life. hes not just taking other peoples stuff n selling as his own. the more i puch my self to do things the way kiyosaki says the better my life gets

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#25) On March 26, 2010 at 12:02 PM, shabazzgroup (< 20) wrote:

Personally we think that Mr. Kiyosaki has done the world a great service by unraveling the mystery of business development and the nuances of how that someone lack of knowledge does not protect from poverty, and loss, as well the prognosis of a dying age.

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#26) On March 31, 2010 at 4:31 PM, Pandorabelle (80.16) wrote:

I've done very well by the Fools here, but was especially surprised to see a name missing from the list:

Ric Edelman, Edelman Financial -- voted #1 Independent Investment Advisor last year by Barrons.

I have gleaned some of the most intelligent and RELEVANT perspective from his advice on market stats, trending and ETF's.

 PS....Jim Kramer --- a bag of hair has more usefulness.

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