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America, Welcome to the Poorhouse: What You Must Do to Protect Your Financial Future and the Reform We Need [Hardcover]

by Jane White
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 24, 2009 0137020171 978-0137020171 1

“Crack open this book and enter a bromide-free zone. Jane White knows why American families feel as if they are on a treadmill running out of control, and she explains the reasons with clarity, insight, and rare honesty. She also offers several practical suggestions for how we as individuals, families, and a nation can get out of the mess. Policymakers would be wise to listen.”

Evan Cooper, Deputy Editor, InvestmentNews


“This eye-opening book sounds the alarm about many Americans’ dim financial futures if consumers, businesses, and politicians don’t change their ways. Jane White lays blame and names names. Until change happens, White offers prescriptions for your biggest money concerns--retirement, housing, college costs, and credit cards--featuring tried-and-true advice.”

Gregory Karp, Syndicated Newspaper Columnist and Author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan and Living Rich by Spending Smart


“Americans need this vigorous wake-up call if they are to make it through the first half of the 21st century. They are burying themselves in debt--for education, for homes, and for toys--leaving too little for savings and investment. Jane White shows them where they are going wrong and how they can put themselves right.”

Thomas G. Donlan, Editorial Page Editor, Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly


“Jane White has written a barnburner of a book. Though the title may cause alarm, America, Welcome to the Poorhouse is ultimately reassuring. We can protect our own financial futures if we get wise--and get together to demand real change.”

Jacob S. Hacker, Author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream


Too many American families are racing toward financial catastrophe--saddled with exploding credit card and college debt, out-of-control housing costs, and underfunded 401(k) accounts.


America, Welcome to the Poorhouse reveals the political and economic forces that got us into this predicament, strategies to get Congress to enact needed reform, and practical tips you won’t find anywhere else on how to make the most of your money until reform happens. White offers indispensable practical advice for regaining control of your own financial future--specific strategies for reducing your debt, safeguarding your retirement, and helping your children get the education they’ll need to compete in today’s world.


Shrimp on the barbie, Koala bears, and a secure retirement. Why most Australians will end up with at least half a million dollars in their version of a 401(k) plan--and what we can do to transform our 401(k) plans into actual pensions.


How the mortgage industry lobbied to dismantle regulation and offer bait-and-switch adjustable rate mortgages.


How to protect yourself--no matter what happens. Your personal plan for saving for retirement, finding “bargain” colleges, and getting out of credit card debt.


How to build a citizens lobby that wins. Making taxpayers as powerful as the so-called financial services industry and getting rid of the members of Congress that do its bidding.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

White (The Cost Conscious Homebuyers Guide) paints a grim picture of America's financial future in this scathing indictment of our big banks, retirement system, mortgage brokers and legislators. White argues that middle-class families are headed for an even more disastrous financial catastrophe down the road, a result of our undersaving, overspending and overcharging ways, not to mention an excessively expensive educational system that leaves our citizens mired in debt before they've even begun earning. She explores the roots of our present woes, including underfunded 401(k)s, bad mortgages and unaffordable college tuition, offering such helpful advice as avoiding adjustable rate mortgages and steering clear of home improvements that don't add to your home's resale value. Despite the validity of White's tips, the consumer finance directives seem incongruous along with her pleas for legislative reform and diatribes on larger political issues. While she tries to solve too many problems—large and small, personal and political—in one volume, the tone is winning, and this book will appeal to cash-strapped, mortgage-challenged Americans who are looking for answers. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"The starkly titled ''America, Welcome to the Poorhouse,'' talks about the severe lifestyle changes ahead for future retirees if they don't prepare now. "  -- The New York Times,  October 23, 2009.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (September 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137020171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137020171
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an important and informative book. It covers four important (and difficult) economic realities of life in 2010 America, from college and retirement costs, to mortgage and credit card debt. So it is especially important for the legion of Baby Boomers (born 1946) who will begin retiring in 2011 and for the new generation of consumers, who'll have to make difficult economic choices in the world the Boomers have left them.

I don't understand the reviewers who've criticized "America: Welcome to the Poorhouse" for being "scattershot". Personally, I can't imagine how it could have been better organized or more focused than it is. And the thesis is clear, too: American lives and financial choices are linked to an American economy that creates and perpetuates great financial stress.

Jane White divides the book into four financial themes: retirement; mortgages; college expenses; and credit card debt. In each section, she takes a clear-eyed and specific look at what the problem is, why it continues, and what should be done about it--both by the consumer and through specific legislative reforms.

Essentially her legislative recommendations are: regulate/eliminate lobbyists...require greater employer contributions to employee 401Ks...get rid of adjustable rate mortgages...and reduce your credit card debt and reliance on home equity loans.

I appreciated the clarity of this book and the numerous examples and facts that were used to support the recommendations for change--both change in consumer behavior and legislative change.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but interesting! December 8, 2009
I admit it I am not very intelligent when it comes to political issues and retirement. To keep myself up-to-date, I do try to watch the news, but mainly I read. I love to read personal finance books that are for the everyday Joe as I am always looking for tips and ideas. I may have to re-read a few pages and sometimes I admit I get lost, but I do like to try out personal finance books.

"America, Welcome to the Poorhouse" by Jane White is a book that deals with ways to protect your future by offering current problems and solutions. Now the book offers White's opinions on how to fix issues, which may or may not work and be something I agree with, but I enjoyed how she spoke up. Too many times people keep ideas to themselves and it always helps to put your thoughts out there and have others work together to build upon them.
According to a CNN Opinion Research poll, only 39% of respondents felt they would be able to continue their current quality of life, 50% were confident they would be continue to be able pay their mortgages, 24% felt they would be able to send their children to college and only 22% had saved enough for retirement. Now I don't know about you, but those figures scare me. I know college and retirement are a long ways off, but really they are things my husband and I should be thinking about. Now this book does not offer personal plans, as much as it is a "We need to do this" and "The government needs to fix this." It was still an interesting read and brought up some good ideas. She also references personal experiences in the book.

Through the following topics of Empty Nest Eggs, Unaffordable Homes, Overpriced Colleges, and Credit-Card Debt, White uses current issues to explain how we are as a society are in trouble.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bunk! September 26, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The usefulness of political polemics generally depends on whether the individual reader agrees with the political viewpoint of the author. If the reader of this book is of a liberal bent, he or she will probably enjoy and agree with this book. If not, then this book will only lead to an increase in blood pressure.

Books like this have no real intellectual value, they are briefly in vogue for a few months after publication, then when no longer current, they are consigned to the remainder bins to make way for the next batch of political jeremaids from the political commentariat. This book is no different.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting information, but the reform... January 4, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book for concisely telling the story of how monumentally bad things are for the majority of Americans. Rather than pull punches about affordable homes, making payments, etc., the author clearly shows how most people can't afford to keep up with the lifestyles they've become accustomed to. While those at the top continue to do well, the rest are falling further behind, led by mortgages they cannot afford, retirement savings they don't make, and college tuition that is growing faster that inflation. In the face of all these costs, people are actually earning less per hour of work than they did 30 years ago. Certainly, it's a middle class crisis.

Unfortunately, the author, instead of pushing for rational improvements, pushes her own agenda of mandatory government savings plans, encourages us to contact Congress to push the agenda, and follows up with some diatribe about how the government should be paying for school, since they do in other countries. It's a shame that her solutions aren't more reasonable and attainable, because her indictment of the current system was truly a 5 star effort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not on-target or even mostly on-target
America, Welcome to the Poorhouse - never in my lifetime has this been more truly said, and things still seem to be getting worse! Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
1.0 out of 5 stars Spineless
Cowardly author who pushes her political opinions but hasn't the courage to allow feedback via ANY social media. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Thomas J. Landry
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe a primer for a teenager..........
I've had a financial adviser for decades, read The Economist, watch 60 minutes etc. If you want to know about U.S. debt, here is a site that tells it all: [... Read more
Published 18 months ago by R. Eye
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Coming True
This is coming true. The dollar is doomed and the middle class is disappearing. I think we are a bit beyond the solutions she is pushing for as the problem is much larger that just... Read more
Published 18 months ago by M Masaki
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
The economic climate and rules change every day. This book has been out for a while now but there is still alot of revelance in it. Read more
Published on February 13, 2012 by RDtoo
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth reading
This is simply a lot of bunk - superficial and ill-informed. What is the author's super-duper, secret, terrific advice for recouping all the loses people have suffered in the... Read more
Published on January 2, 2011 by Jon Norris
2.0 out of 5 stars Has Needed Warnings but Terrible Solutions
Like many books, there were good parts and terrible sections. White does an excellent job of identifying and proclaiming problems in our society today. Read more
Published on December 4, 2010 by pbcook
4.0 out of 5 stars Sober warnings and solutions
This book is a bit relentless.

Our financial system is stressed in various ways. Many Americans share certain characteristics in how they are not prepared for... Read more
Published on November 19, 2010 by Dustin Farahnak
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of information even if it comes late
I pushed back my review on Jane White's America, Welcome to the Poorhouse because I wasn't really sure how to review it. Read more
Published on April 1, 2010 by
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opening read that really hit home.
I can't think of anyone I know that hasn't been adversely affected by the current economic climate. I know dozens of real estate investors who lost their life's work as they... Read more
Published on April 1, 2010 by pixels and bits
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