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How to Ruin Your Financial Life Hardcover – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stein delivers a practical message in his own brand of wry, dry humor. Maybe money can’t buy happiness, he writes, "but it sure gives a good impression of a long-term lease." And so, by pointing out the myriad ways too many people wreck their financial status, he illustrates how to attain a life in which—even if you’re not a billionaire—money doesn’t keep you up at night. Running through a series of 55 "tips" (such as "as soon as you’ve succeeded in maxing out your credit cards… get new ones!" and "put all your eggs in one basket—that is, your company’s 401(k)—‘cause only sissies diversify"), Stein backs into explanations for why these oft-practiced habits are so damaging, and stupid. This probably isn’t the only financial planning book one should read, but it is entertaining—and it’s a surefire shot of reality for anyone heading down the well-worn path to financial ruin.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Ben Stein, a nationally renowned "Renaissance man," was host of the long-running quiz show Win Ben Stein’s Money and is currently a judge on Star Search. He is a former White House speechwriter, Wall Street Journal columnist, trial lawyer, law school professor, scriptwriter, and novelist—and author of several self-help books; including How to Ruin Your Life; ISBN: 1-56170-974-3; and How to Ruin Your Love Life, ISBN: 1-4019-0240-5. He has seen the biggest (Richard Nixon) and the most famous (many Hollywood stars) ruin their lives. He has also seen how some seemingly ordinary people made something great of their lives—by doing the opposite of what he sees as ruinous acts and modes of thought. He resides in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and son.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Hay House; As stated, 1st priting dated Mr., 2004 edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401902413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401902414
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Stein (Los Angeles, CA) is a respected economist who is known to many as a movie and television personality, but has worked more in personal and corporate finance than anywhere else. He has written about finance for Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Fortune; was one of the chief busters of the junk-bond frauds of the 1980s; has been a longtime critic of corporate executives' self-dealing; and has cowritten eight finance books. Stein travels the country speaking about finance in both serious and humorous ways, and is a regular contributor to CBS's Sunday Morning, CNN, and Fox News. He was the 2009 winner of the Malcolm Forbes Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ben Stein's real point is that financial success in life doesn't require being a genius at handling money -- it's about avoiding the dumb, completely preventable mistakes that we all make sooner or later. If I had read this hilarious book when I was sixteen, I would be far richer today. Read it yourself, and then get copies for your kids. It's everything you wish they knew but won't listen to coming from you. If this means you don't have to bail them out of debt later on, the money you save may end up being your own!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Everyone makes mistakes with their money. We use it for foolish things, we spend too much, don't save enough, make dumb investments, and on and on it goes. Most of the time we try not to think about our mistakes and if we don't learn our lessons we end up making the same kinds of mistakes many times. So, sometimes it is good to get a reminder of all the kinds of mistakes we make and spend some time thinking about what we really should be doing to get our financial house in order.

Ben Stein has written "How To Ruin Your Financial Life" in a gently humorous way that lets us see most clearly the foolishness of the decisions we excuse ourselves in making. By writing the book as 55 financial principles you can follow to ensure complete and utter ruin, it is easier for us to recognize ourselves as having done far too many of these idiotic things. I call them idiotic because you will find yourself saying, "What kind of idiot would do THAT!" and then you will remember that it was you (me). So, the learning will begin and things will get better when you do the opposite of everything in the book.

For those that don't get it, the Afterword sets out the fundamental principles in a positive way.

One of the problems with reading little books is that you can dash through them quickly. Don't! Spend time thinking about each of these principles. Better you should take one a day and really ponder it than try to swallow everything Mr. Stein is offering in one sitting. Getting control of your money is too important to leave to happenstance.

Thanks, Mr. Stein!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Considering the impending doom of the American financial situation in years to come, all High School students need to read this book to understand simple economics. One of the biggest complaints about Americans economically is that they don't save. Well Stein's virtually sarcastic way of telling you excactly how to ruin your life financially is amusing and direct such as "don't worry about maxing out your credit cards, you can always get another one and no one will foreclose because people really like you". Written in a way that teenagers will get the message and the humor, direct, short and sweet. This book is within a teenagers attention span, the smart ones will get the message in a few short chapters.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on March 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A Wonderful book detaling many simple ways to ruin your financial life. Ben Stein does it again! This great little book is the opposite of all the `how to be succesful' books because here we learn how to not ruin our lives. In a way this book is more important because most of us are more concerned with protecting our finances then we are with making millions. This little instruction book details everything not to do, from credit cards to wasting time watching the late night financial success stories. A wonderful fun book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on July 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ben Stein knows how to dispense basic financial advice. Don't put it in a stuffy investment tome and don't give it as a lecture. Instead use sarcasm and satire, presenting poor financial decisions in an absurd manner which will hopefully induce people who need the advice to follow it. Let's face it-nothing Ben says is complicated-it's all common sense-and nothing should really even need to be said. But this book is for people who don't have a lot of financial sense, who don't save money and have a tendency to get bamboozled by get rich quick schemes. Stein shows, in a simple and unmistakable way, the folly of 55 poor financial decisions that are, alas, common. An example: in one short chapter Ben advises making only the minimum payments on credit cards, and in another he advocates transferring balances so you'll never have to pay them off. In doing so he points out what a poor decision this really is, and hopefully inspires people to avoid this pitfall. This book works because it is both simple and informative, without being either condescending or boring.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nell on September 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Ben Stein: his books, his knowledge and wisdom, his vast range of experience, his articles in the NYTimes.... His style of communication has the capacity to touch a chord with a broad range of people.

I've read most of his books, and enjoyed them all. This one is the second of three "tongue in cheek" volumes that I've had the pleasure to read. It's funny and quick to read, and makes some terrific points about flawed, short-sighted attitudes that I see all around me: "I'm always going to have money. Good things will always happen to me" (magical thinking). If you've ever heard or seen Ben, at times you can imagine his voice narrating a passage - and I would actually chuckle out loud at those times.

(BTW, if an audio version of this book is ever made, Ben Stein must be the narrator.)

Yes, the slim volume DRIPS with sarcasm, as was intended, but all of the points that are made in a series of very-short chapters (that flow from each other in logical fashion) are filled with solid money management information (if you would do the REVERSE, so as not to "ruin" your financial life!) - and the book should be required reading for every teenager and young adult. In fact, plenty of adults could benefit, as well, now that I think about it. It's rare that an educational volume is so funny (or that a humorous book is so educational!) The author is well-versed in the subject of finances and, in this book, manages to break the topic down into manageable and understandable elements so that the rest of us may also GET A CLUE.

I originally bought the book for my 19-year-old son but then realized that the young single mothers at my workplace were struggling with most of the issues presented in the book, and needed it more than my son, so I merely left the book in the breakroom when I had finished reading it. It was "borrowed" by someone before the day was over! I hope it keeps circulating.

Thanks, Ben, for another WINNER.
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