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The Ladder

A Blog from New America's Asset Building Program

How We Became Finance Fools

Published:  March 21, 2013
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Justin King and Helaine Olen via New America

Editor's note: A version of this post originally appeared on New America's In the Tank blog.

In her new book, Pound Foolish, journalist and author Helaine Olen takes a deep dive into the world of America's personal finance industry and emerges with a wake-up call for anyone who has ever taken advice from self-described personal finance gurus like Suze Orman. According to Olen, American people have too often been given bad advice on their finances, offered by salesmen with conflicts of interest. We've been sold a series of myths that enrich the purveyors and leave the rest of us struggling to make ends meet amidst the surging costs of housing, health and education --  and income stagnation. Olen's book ends with a call for Americans to open up about their financial difficulties. She says a more honest conversation can help to pave the path for positive change in the financial service marketplace. What would a candid conversation look like – and how do we begin to change a culture that treats personal finance as a taboo topic? Following the public event we had with her earlier this week, I sat down with Olen to explore how to start that new conversation, and what it looks like today, on this In the Tank podcast. Have a listen here.

Also be sure to check out Olen's piece from earlier this week for the Guardian in which she looks at the retirement security crisis and the failings of the 401(k) in greater depth.

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