A funny man's take on personal finance

February 26, 2006|By EILEEN AMBROSE | EILEEN AMBROSE,SUN REPORTER

Move over, Suze Orman. Watch your back, Jim Cramer. There's a new personal finance guru in the bookstores.

After tackling other vital topics, including marriage, guys, bad songs and exploding urinals, humorist Dave Barry has turned his talents to personal finance. Dave Barry's Money Secrets is full of tips and observations from how to argue with your spouse about money and the financial advantages of early death in retirement planning to Donald Trump's hair.

Here's one Barry tip: You won't have to bother saving for college if your child's grades are poor enough so he or she can only get into a bad, low-cost college. "But bad grades don't just happen by themselves," Barry warns. "You need to closely monitor your child's study habits and set strict guidelines. ("There will be no studying until after you've watched your five hours of television, young man!")

And how to ensure that this college grad doesn't come home to live with you? "You and your spouse should start walking around the house naked."

Before mailing in that 1040, check out Barry's chapter on taxes. One tax-saving tip: Write "Deceased" on your tax return. "In case the IRS checks up on you, you should also change your telephone answering-machine message to something like, `Hi, this is (your name). I can't come to the phone right now because I am currently dead, at least for tax purposes.'"

Barry recently answered questions from The Sun via e-mail:

Why the topic of personal finance?

I looked at the thousands of other books about personal finance and I realized that they all had a serious flaw: None of the royalties went to me. My book is an effort to correct that problem.

The book offers great insights to how business and the economy work. What sort of research did you do?

I sat around thinking very, very hard about business and the economy, trying to have insights. I didn't actually have any that I know of, but I tried. Also I read an entire book by Donald Trump. This took me nearly an hour, which is 45 minutes longer than it took him to write it.

Is way too much being expected of people by asking them to save and invest for their retirement and children's college education on top of all the other financial decisions they face?

It does seem like a lot. But if you sit down and take some time to analyze all your financial obligations, breaking them down into manageable pieces, you'll soon realize that all you need to do is rob a major bank.

Do you handle your own finances and investments?

Are you out of your MIND?

What's the worst mistake you made with your own money?

I probably should not have trusted that Nigerian businessman I met via e-mail.

What personal finance advice do you find the most ridiculous?

"A penny saved is a penny earned." Who cares? A penny is WORTHLESS.

Any recommendations for shoring up Social Security?

My personal strategy involves death.

Have you heard from any readers that took your advice? Did it work?

I am hoping that any readers who took my advice are unable to find me.

eileen.ambrose@baltsun.com

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